Ajanta and Ellora caves are two popular UNESCO World Heritage sites in Maharashtra state of India. These caves lies in Western region of India and remain open in all seasons. They are magnificent example of imagination, creativity, art & sculptural work. They are also the great example of human persistence carried over many decades. Ajanta caves are open for visitors from Tuesday to Sunday and remain closed on every Monday. Similarly Ellora caves remain closed of every Tuesday. They are well accessible from Aurangabad city of Maharashtra state, which is well connected from rest of the world.
Ajanta caves are approx. 120kms from Aurangabad city and well connected by road. Its first Buddhist cave monument is dated back from 2nd and 1st centuries BC. During rule of Gupta period i.e. in 5th & 6th centuries, further more caves were added in count and they are magnificently decorated. They all are 30 rock-cut Buddhist caves and great example of mural paintings and rock-art. It constitutes worship halls, meditation centers, monasteries etc. These rocks are flood basalt rocks of a cliff which is part of Deccan traps, originally formed due to volcanic eruptions.This site is a protected monument, managed by Archeological Survey of India. It was declared as UNESCO World Heritage site in year 1983 due to which tourism increased in this region and its popularity spread across boundaries. Here I would like to clarify that Ajanta and Ellora caves are two distinctly located cave sites and doesn’t means the same site. Many time it is spoken together due to which few people assumed them single site so it is important to understand the difference.
If we have a look to all the Ajanta caves and go through their history, we will find that these caves are made in phases. These caves were built in the period when both the Buddha and the Hindu gods were simultaneously revered in India. As Hindu is the oldest religion of India thus their followers were always in majority in India. According to scholars, not only Ajanta caves, but many other nearby cave temples were originally sponsored and built by Hindus. During that time, India was fully ruled by Hindu rulers under which these caves were made. 05 out of 30 caves are “Chaityas” which means “Prayer Halls” and remaining are “Viharas” which means “Accommodation for Monks”. Here Cave numbers 8,9,10,12,13,15 are early Buddhist caves. They were built first. Other caves are date from around 5th century. Here we can spend whole day in visit but in order to avoid over-crowding, causing damage to paintings, it is advisable to spend limited time and make best use of that time in gaining knowledge. Guide service is highly recommended to understand the caves. Here caves like 3, 5, 8, 22, 28, 29 and 30 remain either closed or inaccessible. Sometimes, due to some maintenance work, caretakers closed them for some period of time.
Best time to visit
Ajanta caves are ancient human marvels, accessible throughout the year. Still it lies in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, which remain hot during summer period thus we recommend our readers to visit them in winter period. Here summer period is from March to June month and winter period is from November to February month. Thus we can say that Winters is the best period to visit them. They are open in daytime only. As it is in Western region of India so winters are less cool and doesn’t pose any climatic challenge.
Other than Ajanta Caves
After visiting these magnificent caves, if you are interested to explore more in surrounding areas then we have some suggestions for your. You can visit to Ellora caves, another UNESCO site, just 100 kms away from Ajanta caves. Apart from this we can visit to invincible Daulatabad fort which was one time capital of India and considered among safest forts of India. Its layered security system and hill-top locations was amazing so it is worth to visit this fort. If you are interested in spirituality then we have suggestion to visit Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple, close from Aurangabad city and visited by many devotees and tourists. Out of 12 Jyotirlinga temples of India, it is one, located in same Maharashtra state. Similarly many tourists proceeds to visit Shirdi town to visit Sai Temple and witness the service & management over their. After covering all of them, we have option to proceed towards north i.e to enter into Madhya Pradesh state to explore its tourism centers like famous Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Mandu, Burhanpur etc.