1:- ELLORA CAVES
At a distance of 28 km from Aurangabad, 98 km from Ajanta Caves, 104 km from Shirdi, 176 km from Nashik, 253 km from Pune, and 344 km from Mumbai, Ellora Caves are ancient historical caves locally known as 'Verul Leni'. The caves are located near Verul on the Aurangabad-Chalisgaon road to the northwest of Aurangabad in Maharashtra. The Ellora Caves were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Ellora is the most visited ancient monument and also one of the top Tourist places in Maharashtra. Ellora is also one of the top tourist places near Mumbai.
Ajanta - Ellora Caves are one of the most visited ancient monuments in India. The caves at Ellora were carved out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills between the 6th and 10th centuries AD. The carving work began around 550 AD, about the same time the Ajanta Caves were abandoned. The Ellora Caves were built at time when Buddhism was declining in India and Hinduism was beginning to reassert itself. The Brahmanical movement was especially powerful under the patronage of the Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas, who oversaw most of the work at Ellora - including the magnificent Kailash Temple built in 8th century. The last period of building activity took place in the 10th century, when the local rulers switched allegiance from Shaivism to Digambara sect of Jainism.
The Ellora Caves are an impressive complex of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain Cave temples. The caves have a slightly less dramatic setting than those at Ajanta, but more exquisite sculptures. The cave complex comprises of 34 caves that were hewn out of solid rocks of the Charanandri hills. The Ellora complex includes 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain Caves. Caves 1 to 12 are Buddhist monasteries, chaityas and viharas, while caves 13 to 29 are the Hindu temples. Dating back to the 9th and 10th century, Caves 30 to 34 are the Jain shrines. The coexistence of structures from three different religions serves as a splendid visual representation of the prevalent religious tolerance of India.
The central attraction at Ellora is Kailash Temple (Cave16), which is the most remarkable. Shaped by hand from a single massive rock, it includes a gateway, exhibition area, square, hall, sanctorum and tower which bear testimony to the excellence of Dravidian art. The Kailash Temple is a stupendous piece of architecture, with interesting spatial effects and grand sculptures. It is believed to have been started by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I (756-773).
Every year Ajanta-Ellora Festival is organised in Aurangabad to pay tribute to the legendary caves of Ellora, Ajanta and other historical monuments in the region. This grand ceremony is attended by the greatest artists of Indian art and culture. The cultural events include performances in classical and folk dancing, singing and instrumental music. Earlier the venue for this festival was Kailasa Temple of Ellora Caves; however, it has now been shifted to Soneri Mahal, which is a historical palace in Aurangabad.
Hotel Kailas which is located just opposite the Ellora Caves is the only accommodation option nearby. It offers cottages and hostel accommodation for the budget traveler. Most tourists prefer to stay in Aurangabad and do a day trip to Ellora which is 28 km away.
The nearest airport is at Aurangabad, 35 km away from Ellora Caves. Aurangabad Railway station is the nearest railhead to Ellora Caves. There are public & private buses from Aurangabad to Ellora Caves. Visitors can also hire a private car from Aurangabad city. Aurangabad is well connected by bus with Pune, Mumbai, Shirdi, Nashik, Hyderabad, Goa, and Nagpur.
The best time to visit Ellora Caves is during the months of June to February while the peak season is from October to January. These are the best time to visit Ellora Caves, as the weather is really pleasant during these months.
Cave Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM on all days except Tuesdays.
Entrance Fee: Rs. 25 for Indians and Rs. 250 for Foreigners.
2:- AJANTA CAVES
At a distance of 98 km from Aurangabad, 98 km from Ellora Caves, 202 km from Shirdi, 272 km from Nashik, 326 km from Pune and 443 km from Mumbai, Ajanta Caves are ancient Buddhist caves situated near Ajanta village in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. Ajanta Caves are one of the oldest UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. The caves are now protected by the Archaeological Survey of India
Ajanta - Ellora Caves are one of the most visited ancient monuments in India and also one of the top Tourist places in Maharashtra. The Caves were carved between 2nd Century BC and 6th Century AD. Construction of the caves was carried out in two phases; the first group of caves was built around 2nd Century BC, while the second group was built between 4th & 6th centuries.
Ajanta Caves are excavated in horse-shoe shaped bend of rock surface nearly 76 m in height overlooking the Waghur River. Built using only hammer and chisel, these caves served as secluded retreats for Buddhist monks for about nine centuries, then abruptly abandoned. These caves were rediscovered by an Army Officer in Madras Regiment of British Army in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions. Instantly the discovery became very famous and Ajanta became an important tourist destination in India.
The complex consists of 29 rock-cut cave monuments built in two distinct periods, out of which one part of the complex was developed during the Satavahana period and the other was done during Vakataka period. Caves 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15A were built in the first phase during Satavahana dynasty and they belong to Hinayana phase of Buddhism. Of these Cave 9 & 10 are chaityagrihas and Cave 12, 13, & 15A are viharas. These caves are datable to the pre-Christian era, the earliest among them being Cave 10 dating from the 2nd century BC. The second period of construction was carried out during the rule of Emperor Harisena of the Vakataka dynasty. Close to 20 cave temples were simultaneously built which resemble the modern day monasteries with a sanctum at the rear end of the structure. Though all the caves are interesting to watch, Cave 1, 2, 16, 17, 19 and 26 are must see attractions in Ajanta.
The caves at Ajanta are famous for beautiful mural paintings and sculptures that depict tales of Jatakas. The world famous paintings at Ajanta also fall into two broad phases. The earliest is noticed in the form of fragmentary specimens in Cave 9 & 10, which are datable to 2nd century BC. The headgear and other ornaments of the images in these paintings resemble the bas-relief sculpture of Sanchi and Bharhut. The second phase of paintings started around 5th - 6th centuries and continued for the next two centuries. The specimen of these exemplary paintings of Vakataka period could be noticed in Cave 1, 2, 16 and 17. The artwork in the caves comprises well preserved wall paintings of Bodhisattva, Padmapani and Avalokiteshvara. Various incidents from the life of Gautama Buddha and the Jataka Tales are represented and recreated on the walls of these caves. Scenes from the royal court of the respective eras are also painted.
MTDC Hotel is the only accommodation at Ajanta Caves. Most tourists prefer to stay in Jalgaon or Aurangabad and do a day trip to Ajanta.
The best time to visit Ajanta Caves is during the months of June to February while the peak season is from August to September and December.
Entrance Fee: Rs. 25 for Indians and Rs. 250 for Foreigners.
Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM on all days except Mondays.