En route to the greens and fresh air of Ajanta and Ellora caves, located at a distance of just a hundred kilometres from the airport of Aurangabad. For the travelers planning for a tour to the city of dreams, Mumbai, this place is one of your top five must-visits. An exclusively exquisite journey option to this place, for those planning for an immensely luxury trip, is the one by the luxury trains of India- ‘The Deccan Odyssey’ or ‘Maharaja’s Express’. However, you choose your journey to be, here’s a detailed tour guide of Ajanta and Ellora caves, serving your wanderlust to the utmost.
When is the best time to visit this heritage reserve of India?
Being separated by a distance of about hundred kilometers, it will take you roughly 2 hours to drive from the Ajanta caves to that of Ellora. The time spanning from the month of June to that of September has this place often soaked in spells of showers. The time spanning from the month of November to that of February brings in a pleasantly cool weather for the tourists. With a much nominal entry fee of rupees 10 for the adult residents of India and rupees 250 for those from foreign lands, the Ajanta caves are open from 9 am to 9:30 pm, all week long except Mondays; and the Ellora caves are open from the time of sunrise to that of sunset on all seven days of a week.
The 30 rock–cut vintage caves of Ajanta have a few highlights in four of its caves- 1, 2, 4 and 17. This horse-shoe shaped rock cave houses the best of sculptures and paintings depicting the various phases of Buddha. The first cave is perhaps the most popular among the visitors with its doorway living to the grandeur of Bodhisattva murals. Also, you will find the wall paintings of the two significant life phases of Buddha- one portraying him the moment prior to his enlightenment and the other portraying him turning into multiple images. The detailed abstract designs on the ceiling of the second cave are praised by every visitor, till date. The fourth cave being a half-done architectural piece is counted among Ajanta’s largest monasteries.
Ellora caves at a glance
Scattered at a distance of 60kms from the caves of Ajanta, Ellora houses a collection of 34 caves. If not all the 34 then cave 1, 2, 15, 16 and 29 are the must-visits in your Ajanta Ellora tour. The first cave depicts the simplistic eight monastic cells. The second cave amazes you right from the doorway, with a sculpture- carved into Maitreya Buddha holding a lotus. Also, the sculpture of Buddha resting on a fierce lion amidst the 12 ornately carved square pillars explains the splendid artistry. The sixteenth cave is the major attraction of the devotees of Lord Shiva. Cave 15 has paintings portraying Lord Vishnu’s ten reincarnations while the 29th cave portrays sheer similarity with the elephant caves.
Apart from the architectural splendor, the Ajanta Ellora cultural festival, conducted during the winter months, stages folk performances and showcases special handcrafted Buddha sculptures and paintings. For those with a long weekend’s plan, there are worthy options of guest houses in this area as well.