About Ajanta Caves

Country: India | State: Maharashtra

Ideal Trip Duration: Full Day

Nearest City to Ajanta Caves: Aurangabad (98 Kms)

Best Time to Visit Ajanta Caves: September to March

Peak Season: December to February

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 and also one of the top attractions you must include in Maharashtra tour packages. 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 among the major heritage places to visit near Aurangabad. The Caves were carved between the 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 the 2nd century BC, while the second group was built between the 4th & 6th centuries.

Ajanta Caves are excavated in the horseshoe-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 the Madras Regiment of the 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 the Vakataka period. Caves 9, 10, 12, 13, and 15A were built in the first phase during the Satavahana dynasty and they belong to the 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 among the must-see places as part of Ajanta tour packages. 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 the 5th - 6th centuries and continued for the next two centuries. The specimen of these exemplary paintings of the 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 visit Ajanta as a day trip as part of Aurangabad holiday packages.

The nearest airport is Aurangabad, 98 km away from Ajanta Caves. Jalgaon Railway station is the nearest railhead, which is about 78 km from Ajanta Caves. It has trains from Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Ajmer, Puri, Pune, Bilaspur, Mumbai, Aurangabad, Jammu, Lucknow, Kolkata, Okha, Rameshwaram, Patna, Kanpur, Varanasi, Bangalore, Goa, Amritsar, and Hyderabad. Ajanta Caves Bus Stop is the nearest bus stop, which is about 4 km from the caves and connected by Tourism Dept Eco-Friendly Buses. It is well connected by bus with Jalgaon, Aurangabad, and Bhusawal. Aurangabad and Jalgaon are the two major towns near Ajanta Caves and are well connected with all major cities and towns in Maharashtra. Visitors can also hire a private car from Aurangabad city.

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. 10 for Indians and Rs. 250 for Foreigners.

Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM on all days except Mondays.

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Other Info
Internet Availability: Poor
STD Code: Details Not Available
Languages Spoken: Marathi, Hindi, and English
Major Festivals: Ajanta - Ellora Festival in Aurangabad

How to Reach Ajanta Caves

By Air

Nearest Airport: Aurangabad - Aurangabad Airport (98 Kms)

By Train

Nearest Train Station: Jalgaon (78 Kms)
Aurangabad Railway Station (98 Kms)

By Bus

Nearest Bus Station: Ajanta Caves Bus Stop (4 Kms)

Top 10 Places to Visit in Ajanta Caves


#1 of 14 Places to Visit in Ajanta Caves

At a distance of 350 m from Ajanta Foot Cave Bus Stop, Cave 1 is an ancient rock-cut cave situated in the cave complex of Ajanta. It is one of the best-preserved caves, and among the most popular places to visit as part of Ajanta Caves tour packages.

Cave 1 is situated on the eastern end of the horseshoe-shaped bend of the rock surface and is the first cave the visitor encounters. Cave 1 is considered to be the most splendid Buddhist vihara in India and among the famous places to visit in Ajanta Caves. Possibly created to be an imperial cave of king Harishena, the monastery, consists of a hall sided by 14 cells, vestibule, sanctum sanctorum, an open verandah flanked by a cell on each side, and an open courtyard with two cells on the sides, datable to 4th - 5th centuries AD. There are three doorways: a central doorway and two side doorways. .....

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#2 of 14 Places to Visit in Ajanta Caves

At a distance of 400 m from Ajanta Foot Cave Bus Stop, Cave 2 is situated just beside Cave 1 in Ajanta. It is one of the famous and most visited tourist places in Ajanta.

Cave 2 is known for the paintings that have been preserved on its walls, ceilings, and pillars. It is one of the must include places in Ajanta tour packages. Its architectural plan is quite similar to the neighbouring Cave 1 and is in a better state of preservation. This cave consists of cells, sanctum sanctorum, and two pillared sub-shrines datable to 6th century AD. The facade of this Mahayana monastery cave shows the kings of Naga and their followers.

Cave 2 has a porch quite different from Cave 1. The cave is supported by robust pillars, ornamented with designs. The front porch consists of cells supported by pillared vestibules on both ends. The paintings on the .....

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#3 of 14 Places to Visit in Ajanta Caves

At a distance of 450 m from Ajanta Foot Cave Bus Stop, Cave 4 is situated near Cave 2. This is one of the popular and most visited caves in Ajanta.

Cave 4 is the largest vihara planned on a grandiose scale but was never finished. An inscription on the pedestal of the Buddha's image inside the shrine mentions that it was a gift from a person named Mathura. This cave consists of a hall, sanctum sanctorum, pillared verandah and is datable to first half of the 6th century AD. The verandah which is supported by eight octagonal pillars with bracket-capitals has a cell at either end. The rear wall of the verandah contains the panel of Litany of Avalokitesvara.

The hall has 28 pillars arranged in a square, which are similar to those in the verandah. On the three sides of the hall are hewn a number of cells, many of which can be seen at different stages of excavation. The hall has one main entrance and two side-doors with wide windows in between. Flying figures, guardians, images of .....

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#4 of 14 Places to Visit in Ajanta Caves

At a distance of 650 m from Ajanta Foot Cave Bus Stop, Cave 16 is one of the popular caves situated in the middle of the Ajanta complex. Some of Ajanta's finest paintings can be seen in this cave and is one of the later Vihara caves.

Cave 16 is called the Welcome Gate of Ajanta. Two elephants are at the doorway to welcome the visitors. It also contains some renowned paintings like in Cave 1, 2 and 17. According to an inscription found here, the excavation of this cave was caused by Varahadeva, the minister of Vakataka king Harishena (circa AD 475-500).

The cave consists of a central hall surrounded by 14 cells on three sides, vestibule and a sanctum for Buddha image. Two elephant statues at the base of stairway lead to the cave. The inner shrine has a giant statue of Buddha seated on a throne in the abhayamudra or teaching gesture. Lions and other active animals support the throne. Bodhisattvas stand behind him. This cave gives a good view of the ravine.

The cave chamber .....

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#5 of 14 Places to Visit in Ajanta Caves

At a distance of 700 m from Ajanta Foot Cave Bus Stop, Cave 17 is one of the popular caves in Ajanta and is situated just beside the famous Cave 16.

Cave 17 is a Mahayana monastery covered with many well-preserved wall paintings. A Brahmi inscription found here records the excavation of this cave by a feudatory prince under Vakataka king Harishena. This monastery consists of a spacious hall surrounded by 17 cells on three sides, a vestibule and a sanctum containing the image of Buddha. The porch doorway of cave 17 is similar to that of cave 16, with which it is contemporary. The panel above the doorway depicting the seven Manushi Buddhas (Buddhas in human form) together with the Maitreya or future Buddha seated under their respective Bodhi trees.

The plan of this cave is simple and severe. The pillars in both the porch and interior are arranged in a strict order. The pillars near the shrine have intricate carvings. The Buddha in the shrine is seated in Dharmachakra mudra, or .....

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#6 of 14 Places to Visit in Ajanta Caves

At a distance of 710 m from Ajanta Foot Cave Bus Stop, Cave 19 is one of the popular caves in Ajanta and is situated just beside the Cave 18.

Cave 19 is a chaityagriha datable to 5th century AD and could be the gandhakuti. The same donor as cave 17, a feudatory prince under Vakataka king Harishena, patronized this cave. This is a small cave but singularly well-proportioned chaityagriha and is one of the most perfect specimens of Buddhist rock-cut architecture at Ajanta.

Though separated in date from the earlier chaityagrihas by several centuries, it traditionally maintains the older plan with the only innovations that the image of Buddha is now introduced on the votive stupa. The imitation of wooden beams still persists in the stone ribs of the vaulted ceiling. Of the seventeen interior pillars, thirteen resemble those of Ajanta Cave 1, both in workmanship and design, their capitals having the seated figures of Buddha at the center and the projecting brackets being occupied .....

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#7 of 14 Places to Visit in Ajanta Caves

At a distance of 750 m from Ajanta Foot Cave Bus Stop, Cave 26 is a chaityagriha situated beside the Cave 25. This cave belongs to Mahayana school of Buddhism and is one of the most popular caves to be visited in Ajanta.

Cave 26 is quite similar to Cave 19, but of a larger dimension and with more elaborately and exquisitely carved sculpted figures. An inscription (AD 450 - 525) found on the wall of the front verandah records the gift of this chaityagriha by a monk Buddhabhadra, a friend of Bhavviraja, a minister of the king of Asmaka (Vidarbha).

The chaityagriha consists of a hall, side aisles (pradakshina) and a rock-cut stupa with an image of Buddha. The facade, inner pillars, triforium (between pillars and roof), and side walls are extensively carved with images and decorative designs. The cave contains a stupa with an image of Buddha seated on a lion throne. He is flanked by riders and flying attendants.

However, the most striking and prominent image of this cave .....

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#8 of 14 Places to Visit in Ajanta Caves

At a distance of 450 m from Ajanta Foot Cave Bus Stop, Cave 5 to 8 are situated beside Cave 4 at Ajanta in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.

Cave 5 is an unfinished vihara in Ajanta group of Caves. The richly-carved doorway and the female figures standing on makaras are the main attractions of this cave. The design of frescoes are intricately done and portrays are some of the best designs in Ajanta.

Cave 6 is a double storeyed vihara consisting of a hall, sanctum sanctorum and a pillared hall in the lower storey and a hall with cells, subsidiary cells and sanctum sanctorum in the upper storey. Buddha in preaching attitude is housed in both the shrines. The depiction of Miracle of Sravasti and Temptation of Mara are the important paintings in the lower storey. The upper floor of Cave 6 has many private votive sculptures, and an unfinished Buddha Shrine. Besides the main shrine, there are two more chapels containing images of Buddha. The cave has a profusion of carved figures .....

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#9 of 14 Places to Visit in Ajanta Caves

At a distance of 550 m from Ajanta Foot Cave Bus Stop, Cave 9 to Cave 11 are situated beside Cave 8 at Ajanta in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.

Cave 9 is an apsidal chaityagriha datable to 2nd century BC and belongs to the Hinayana phase of Buddhism. The chaityagriha consists of an entrance door, two side windows, central hall, nave flanked by side aisles (pradakshina) on either side separated by a row of 23 pillars and a stupa, the object of worship.

The chaityagriha exhibits reproduction of wooden architectural styles, in the form of inward tapering octagonal pillars, evidence of fixing wooden beams & rafters, etc. The chaitya was in use during later period also as indicated by the sculptures of Buddha on the facade and side walls facing the court. The cave consists of two layers of paintings, the earlier dating back to the second half of 1st century BC and the later to 5th - 6th centuries AD.

Cave 10 is also a chaityagriha datable to 2nd century BC and belongs .....

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#10 of 14 Places to Visit in Ajanta Caves

At a distance of 600 m from Ajanta Foot Cave Bus Stop, Cave 12 is situated adjacent to Cave 11 at Ajanta in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.

Cave 12 is a Hinayana vihara which was excavated in the 2nd century BC and it is probably one of the earliest excavations at Ajanta. The facade has collapsed and reveals the plain interior square hall. It has 12 cells and each cell having two stone-beds. The skillfully carved sleeping berths in the cells. An inscription on the back wall of the monastery records the gift of this cave by one merchant Ghanamadada and paleographically datable to 2nd - 1st century BC perhaps slightly later than Cave 10. The walls of the hall above the cell-doors are ornamented with chaitya-window motifs.

Cave 13 is an incomplete vihara belongs to Hinayana phase of Buddhism. This is a small monastery and consists of an astylar hall with seven cells on three sides. The cells are provided with rock-cut beds.

Cave 14 is an unfinished monastery and was .....

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