Located in Northern Maharashtra, Ajanta and Ellora Caves have an extraordinary appeal. This is why travelers from all over visit these caves throughout the year.
Ajanta and Ellora caves in Aurangabad are well-known worldwide for the art and skill of Indian artisans, which is displayed through the architecture of the caves.
There is a lot more to the paintings and sculptures in these caves. You can find a complete travel guide to the Ajanta and Ellora caves of Maharashtra in our special segment below:
The Ajanta Caves, located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, is one of India’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The caves have 29 Buddhist cave temples built in the 2nd century B.C.
The caves represent both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions. The Ajanta Caves thus have the best masterpieces of Buddhist art in India. In addition, the caves have paintings and sculptures which represent Indian art.
Locally known as ‘Verul Leni,’ Ellora caves are located in the Sahyadri hills of Maharashtra. These caves are among the largest rock-hewn monastic-temple complexes in the entire world. Ellora caves are known to represent the key essence of Indian rock-cut architecture.
Ellora has a total of 34 caves, including Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain cave temples built long back in the 6th and 9th centuries. The caves take back to the renaissance of Hinduism under the dynasties of Chalukya and Rashtrakuta.
Why should you visit these caves?
Ajanta and Ellora caves are best described as simply magical. Yet, years later, they still manage to fascinate travelers from all around the world. They are undoubtedly one of the best man-made creations, but these words cannot describe what you can experience. Ajanta caves have ancient paintings that can rarely be found in all of India, while the Ellora caves are identified for the remarkable architecture they represent. So, these caves are worth visiting once in your lifetime.
Here are the top reasons why you should visit these caves once in your lifetime.
- If you are a heritage and history lover, visit Ajanta and Ellora caves and fall in love at first sight. Visit “Kailasha Temple” of Ellora Caves to get mesmerized. Feel the stones; their touch will make you realize that they speak (not literally!)
- These are a photographer’s paradise. They can take some fantastic shots here. And if you want to capture the sprawling greenery, visit in monsoons.
- There is nothing like Ajanta and Ellora caves. The work done on the walls is out of this world. You will be able to see the dedication and hard work that was put into its making.
- This series of caves and temples should be visited at least once in your lifetime. All the Buddha followers, Hindus, and Jains must visit to get a deep insight into their religion.
- Although these caves were discovered and destroyed by the invaders, which were built with a peaceful mind, you will feel a positive aura.
- Paintings speak to you through their colors, blend, and perfect lines that represent the Indian history of arts and culture.
While Ellora caves are located in Aurangabad city in the Indian state of Maharashtra, Ajanta Caves are situated near Jalgaon, which is around 100 km from Aurangabad city.
Aurangabad city is only 100 km from Ajanta and 30 km from Ellora. To reach Ajanta and Ellora caves, you can take a taxi or bus. The highway which connects Aurangabad to Mumbai is further well-connected to different cities of the country, including Delhi, Indore, Bijapur, Udaipur, and Jaipur.
Aurangabad is connected via rail to major cities like Pune and Mumbai. The Jalgaon Station is the nearest station to Ellora. After reaching the station, you can take any local transport to reach the Ajanta and Ellora caves.
Aurangabad is the nearest airport to the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. In addition, the city is connected to the airports of New Delhi and Mumbai.
Opening/closing timings of the Ajanta and Ellora Caves
The caves open for the public at 9 am and close by sunset, usually around 5.30 pm. While the Ajanta caves are closed on Mondays, the Ellora caves are closed on Tuesdays. Entry to the caves is open on national holidays.
Ajanta and Ellora Cave Festivals
An exotic dance and music festival is organized yearly at the Soneri Mahal in Aurangabad. The festival is organized by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation. At this festival, attendees can enjoy dance and music performances by well-known musicians and dancers worldwide.
The festival shows performances by famous artists such as Pandit Jasraj, Zakir Hussain, Ghulam Ali, Hari Haran, and Hema Malini. The Ajanta Ellora Festival is one of the biggest festivals presenting the country’s best talents. This allows all the visitors to enjoy such performances while exploring the magnificent caves.
Ajanta and Ellora Cave Entrance fees and charges
The entry fee for foreigners is Rs. 250 for foreigners. For Indians and citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries, the entry charge is Rs. 10. There is an additional charge of Rs. 25 in case you wish to use a video camera inside the caves. Entry is free for children below the age of 15 years.
Best time to visit Ajanta Ellora Caves
Summers (March to May):
The temperature during the summer reason ranges between 37°C and 21 °C. The maximum temperature during this period reaches somewhere around 42 °C. April and May are the hottest months of the season.
Monsoons (June to September):
Heavy rains during the monsoons provide relief from the hot weather. The Caves remain open during the monsoons, and it is a good period for exploring the Caves.
Winters (November to February):
Winters come with a pleasant climate where the minimum temperature drops down to 10 °C. It is the best time to visit Ajanta and Ellora Caves. While Ajanta and Ellora Caves can be visited throughout the year, the best time to visit here is from October to March. The climate during this period is pleasant and the best for exploring the caves.
Interesting Facts about Ajanta and Ellora Caves
To fully enjoy your trip, you must opt for a full-day Ajanta Ellora Caves tour. But before that, one must learn some interesting facts about these ancient caves.
- It is said that many Buddhist monks spent a specific duration at Ajanta caves during the rainy season as they were not allowed to travel during monsoon time. This was the time they got creative and painted the walls of these caves.
- In 1819, John Smith of the 28th Cavalry accidentally stopped on a horse-shoe-shaped rock while tiger hunting around the Deccan Plateau. This intrigued the British officials, and made their way to the caves across the Waghora river. Soon, archeological experts excavated these caves and unraveled some new discoveries making it a popular location among Europeans.
- Ajanta and Ellora caves are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- All the sculptures you see inside the caves are carved using a hammer and chisel.
- Unlike any other caves found in India, these caves are high, 70 meters from the ground level.
- Ajanta caves date back to the 2nd century BCE to 480 or 650 CE.
- Ellora caves were excavated after Ajanta between the 5th and 10th century CE.
- More than 30 caves in the cave complex were discovered; one part was developed during the Satvahana period and the other during the Vakataka period.
- According to several studies, artifacts, historians, and archaeologists speculated a link between the Vakataka dynasty that ruled the district and the Gupta dynasty of North India.
- The sanctuaries called the Chaitya-grihas were made in the canyons of the Waghora River. Also, Caves 9, 10, 12, and 15 A were developed in the first phase of the Satavahana dynasty.
- The second phase of development was carried out during the rule of Emperor Harishena of the Vakataka dynasty. Near 20 cave temples were built simultaneously, matching the modern-day monasteries with a sanctum in the rear end of the building.
- Various events from the life of Gautam Buddha and the Jataka Tales are described on the walls of these caves. The Ajanta caves have paintings and sculptures that represent the importance of Buddhist philosophy and the religious teachings of the Buddha.
- Buddha didn’t like the idea of his painting, but after his death, his followers wanted to worship him, so these paintings were one of the things they were able to hold onto.
- Though these caves are over 2,000 years old, the Buddha sculptures had been added close to 600 years later.
The Ajanta and Ellora Caves are counted among the best examples representing the arts and crafts of ancient India. Built long back, these caves are believed to be home to Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist monks. The beauty and mystery of these caves leave all the visitors spellbound. This makes travelers from all over the world visit here. So, if you also wish to look at the history of India’s art and culture, pay a visit to these caves by booking a holiday with Indian Holiday.