Ajanta, Maharashtra

The Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra are 29 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE. They are carved into a 250 feet wall of rock and were used mainly as a monsoon retreat for monks. Since 1983, they have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The caves include mural paintings and rock-cut sculptures which are considered masterpieces of Buddhist art. The paintings depict the life of the Buddha, pictorial tales from Aryasura’s Jatakamala, and sculptures of Buddhist deities. These works influenced Indian art that follow.

There are daily flights from Delhi to Aurangabad, the closest airport. A taxi ride to Ajanta takes approximately 3 hours. I traveled there with two friends during the first weekend of July. The monsoon had just started and the caves were surrounded by luscious greenery. No wonder the monks chose this beautiful place to build their monasteries.

 

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