The Ajanta caves consist of 30 Caves including the unfinished ones, dating back from 200 BC to 250 AD. These caves are situated 104 kms from Aurangabad and 52 kms from Jalgaon Railway Station. The caves are cut from the volcanic lava of the Deccan in the forest ravines of the Sahyadri Hills and are set in beautiful sylvan surroundings. They were discovered accidentally by a British Captain, John Smith in 1819, while on a hunting expedition.
Ajanta provides a unique combination of architecture, sculpture and paintings. Two basic types of monastic Buddhist architecture are preserved at Ajanta, the Chaitya or prayer hall (9, 10, 19, 26 and 29) are chaitya-grihas and the rest are sangharamas or viharas (monasteries). After centuries of oblivion, these caves were discovered in AD 1819.They fall into two distinct phases with a break of nearly four centuries between them. All the caves of the earlier phase date between 2nd century BC-AD.
The caves of the second phase were excavated during the supremacy of the Vakatakas and Guptas. According to inscriptions, Varahadeva, the minister of the Vakataka king, Harishena (c. 475-500 AD), dedicated Cave 16 to the Buddhist sangha while Cave 17 was the gift of the prince, a feudatory. An inscription records that- Buddha image in Cave 4 was the gift of some Abhayanandi who hailed from Mathura.
A few paintings which survive on the walls of Caves 9 and 10 go back to the 2nd century BC-AD. The second group of the paintings started in about the fifth century AD and continued for the next two centuries as, noticeable in later caves. The themes are intensely religious in tone and centre round Buddha, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas. The paintings are executed on a ground of mud-plaster in the tempera technique.
Timing : From 09 hours to 17:30 Hrs or Sunset whichever is earlier (Closed on Mondays)
Entry Fees :
For Indians above 15 years : Rs. 10/- per head
For Others above 15 years : US$ 5 or corresponding to Rs.250/- per head.