The Ajanta caves are situated in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. The caves, thirty in number, are said to have witnessed the prosperity as well as the decline of the two sects of Buddhism, the Hinayana and the Mahayana. They are adorned with paintings, scriptures and architecture of both the sects. The Ajanta caves served as the residence of the Buddhist monks and religious devotees for more than 800 years. Today, these caves hold the distinction of being declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Caves signify the transition from the Hinayana sect of Buddhism to the
Mahayana sect of Buddhism. The Hinayana sect made use of the stupas and
other rock forms to represent Buddha. On the other hand, Mahayana sect
used idols. Cave number 8, 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15 belong to Hinayana, the
older sect. While, those of number 1, 2, 16, 17, 19 and 26 are related
to Mahayana sect. The 19th and 26th caves are Chaityas. Some of the
caves have not been finished till date.
Cave number nine, ten, twelve and thirteen were prepared in the first
phase and date back to somewhere between 2nd century BC and 1st century
BC. Cave number nine and ten comprise of the Chaitya Halls or shrines.
Cave number twelve and thirteen basically served as viharas or
monasteries. The second phase came up with cave number one to seven,
eleven and forteen to twenty-nine. All of these caves date back to
somewhere between 5th century AD to 6th century AD.
Cave number nineteen, twenty six and twenty-nine comprise of Chaitya
Halls or shrines. While, cave number one to seven, eleven, fourteen to
eighteen, twenty to twenty-five, twenty-seven and twenty-eight are
viharas or monasteries. Cave number two, three, five, eight,
twenty-three to twenty-five and twenty-eight are still unfinished. Many
caves are adorned with sculptures depict Buddha preaching in a sitting
How to reach Ajanta Caves
The nearest airport of Aurangabad is approximately 108 km away.
Apart from Aurangabad, one can also go to the Jalgaon railway station,
approximately 58 km away.
Ajanta Caves are well linked to Mumbai by road. Bus services are easily available.