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Ajanta Caves

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Introduction of Ajanta Caves (UNESCO-World Heritage Site):

Ajanta Caves – Among the most important monuments in India are the magnificent caves at Ajanta and Ellora, both featuring some of the world’s most exquisite rock carvings. At Ajanta and Ellora, statues and monumental structures were chipped out of solid basalt rock, where as at Ajanta, one can also see the most remarkable cave paintings which has survived over the centuries.

The caves are now like chapters of splendid epic in visual form, recalling the life of the Buddha, and illustrating tales from Buddhist Jatakas(fables). They are cut from the volcanic lavas of the Deccan trap into a steep crescent-shaped hillside in a forested ravine of the Sahyadri Hills. After the late seventh century, the jungle took over and they lay unnoticed for centuries. These caves were only rediscovered in 1819, by a group of British tiger hunters.

The Ajanta caves not only contain sculptures, but remarkably preserved frescoes as well. The frescoes and sculptures of Ajanta are from the heavy period after the death of Buddha when the priests felt the need to give a representational form to their teachings, of Buddha to proliferate. Thus began the process of Buddhism acquiring some of the sensuousness of Hinduism. They are secluded and were discovered by accident only in the 19th century, which explains why the monuments escaped the depredations of invading armies.

The miraculously preserved paintings and sculptures that decorate 30 Ajanta caves cut into the basalt rock of a beautiful crescent-shaped gorge provide the most extensive idea of early Buddhist artistic traditions in India. They are also the sources for iconography and styles found in later Central Asian and Far Eastern Buddhist Art.

The Ajanta caves date mostly from two periods: the second and first centuries B.C., then the late fifth century A.D., when the Vakataka rulers, especially Harishena, were energetic patrons. These caves contain the most impressive sculptures, ranging from votive images to narrative tableaus with many figures and an elaborate decorative motif.

Ajanta caves also have India’s only extensive series of Buddhist paintings of such virtuosity, quality, and wide range of subjects. The masterpieces retell the life story of the Buddha and reveal the life and culture of the people of the times, royal court settings, family life, street scenes and superb studies of animals and birds. The Jatakas relate the Buddha’s previous two births-showing the progress of the soul. Ajanta’s excavations are adorned with a swirling profusion with murals.

Over the period of seven centuries, the cave temples of Ajanta evolved into works of incredible art. Architectures continue to be awestruck by the sheer brilliance of the ancient builders and techniques, which, undaunted by the limitations of their tools, materials, and skills, created a marvel of artistic and architectural splendour. In all, 30 caves were carved, 15 of which were left unfinished; some of them were viharas (monasteries) complete with stone pillows carved onto the monks’ stone beds and others were chaityas (Buddhist cathedrals). All the caves with intricate sculptures and murals depict the many incarnations of Buddha.

The first to be excavated was Cave 10, followed by the first Hinayana caves (in which the Buddha is not depicted in human form), on either side. Later Mahayana caves were discovered, completing the spectrum of Buddhist development in India.

Time has taken its toll on many of the murals, and modern- day restoration projects have even contributed to the near- ruin of some of the work. Despite this, the paintings continue to enthral, and it’s hard to imagine the patience and profound sense of spiritual duty and devotion that led to the creation of this, arguably the best Buddha site in India, the voluptuousness of much of the imagery.

Read More Articles on Ajanta Caves…………….

How to Reach Ajanta Caves:

By Air: GM_Air_S

Aurangabad is the nearest Air port for Ajanta. The bus or taxi drive from Aurangabad takes about 2.5 to 3 hours.

Aurangabad, where corporate majors have their industrial sites, has magnificient cave sculptures and 50,000-year-old meteorite crater. From here you can visit Daulatabad, Ellora and farther away, Ajanta.

By Rail: GM_Railway_S

Although Aurangabad is nearest railway station for Ajanta, it not vey well connected by trains to Major hubs.

Alternatively you can go up to Jalgaon and make rest of the journey by road. This journey may take about 3 hours.

By Road: GM_Bus_S

For Ajanta Caves there is excellent network of road transport connected to most of the major cities like Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Jalgaon, Nasik, Shirdi, Hyderabad, Indore, etc. Direct buses and taxis shuttling between Aurangabad and Ajanta Caves are also available.

Other Interesting Places you may wish to visit

Ajanta Caves – ArticlesEllora Caves – Articles:Forts of Maharashtra:Arts of Maharashtra:
Ajanta Caves IntroductionEllora-IntroductionDaulatabad FortPaithani Saree
Ajanta Caves 1Ellora-Cave 1Lingana FortWarli Paintings
Ajanta Caves 2Ellora-Cave 2Lohgad Fort
Ajanta Caves 3Ellora-Cave 3Murud Janjira Fort
Ajanta Caves 4Ellora-Cave 4Panhala Fort
Ajanta Caves 5Ellora-Cave 5Raigad Fort
Ajanta Caves 6Ellora-Cave 6Sindhudurg Fort
Ajanta Caves 7Ellora-Cave 7Vijaydurg Fort
Ajanta Caves 8Ellora-Cave 10
Ajanta Caves 9Ellora-Cave 11
Ajanta Caves 10Ellora-Cave 12
Ajanta Caves 11Ellora-Cave 13
Ajanta Caves 16Ellora-Cave 14
Ajanta Caves 17Ellora-Cave 15
Ajanta Caves 18Ellora-Cave 16
Ajanta Caves 19Ellora-Cave 21
Ajanta Caves 20Ellora-Cave 29
Ajanta Caves 21Ellora-Cave 30
Ajanta Caves 24Ellora-Cave 32
Ajanta Caves 26Ellora-Cave 34

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