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Ajanta Caves in Ajanta near Aurangabad

Monday, May 19, 2014

When it comes to Caves, the first thing that comes to our minds is Ajanta and Ellora Caves. Though I had never been to these before, I decided to take this trip to explore these caves.

Ajanta Caves
As I was fascinated with Ellora Caves, I decided to visit Ajanta Caves located on the outskirts of the city.

Ajanta Caves are situated in Ajanta at a distance of 105 km from Aurangabad. So I am guessing that it would take around three hours to reach it. So three hours to go, three to comeback and two to see it. That means an entire day is gone is viewing the caves. That did not stop us from visiting the caves.
Painting in the Cave premises

We asked a day before at the City Bus Stand regarding the bus to board and the timing, so that we can plan the day accordingly. The person sitting at the “May I Help You” board replied that we can board any bus going to Jalgaon and alight at Ajanta to view the caves and those buses ply every 30 minutes.

So the next morning at 630 hours we were at the Bus Stand, we were lucky to get a place in the bus. The bus started off at 645 hours, we got ourselves tickets at the cost of Rs.91 per head, Namrata told the bus conductor to intimate us when we reach. We had also told the passengers nearby to intimate us in case the bus conductor forgot.
Beautifully carved Pillars

At 845 hours we were alighted on the road that leads to Ajanta Caves, and our bus moved on to Jalgaon. From there we took a ticket at a cost of Rs.10 per head to enter the market area.

The market area was full of small shops that cater to food requirements and souvenir shops selling  stones and ornaments.

Finally we landed at the bus stop to take us to the entrance of the fort. Non AC buses charge Rs.7 and AC buses charge Rs.12 for the 20 minute journey to the hills. Note that no private vehicles are allowed here. Private vehicles need to be parked near the market area. These buses are run by the State Govt. of Maharashtra.

At the entrance we were greeted by cheap jacks selling precious stones as they claimed and CD’s on Ajanta and Ellora Caves. Some of them even had CD’s on the Khajuraho Temple. Wonder how he can make a sale of those CD’s here in Ajanta.
Beautifully Carved Caves
We got ourselves a ticket at a cost of Rs.10 per head plus another ticket at a cost of Rs.5 for both to see the paintings within the cave. The caves are open from 900 hours to 1730 hours. They are closed on Mondays but open on National Holidays.

We started our climb up the stairs to reach the cave. The stairs pressurize your knees till to reach the top, meaning the climb is difficult.

There are chair cars available at a cost of Rs.600 to see the caves. We decided to take the services of our legs to see them.
The caves can all be seen from the start point. Meaning the caves are built in a circular formation. Inner circle.  There are 29 caves in all. Out of which the last three are inaccessible to public. Some of these caves were built in the 2nd century BC. These were built by the Buddhist monks for prayers and as monasteries. 

They were later abandoned. Later in the 18th century they were rediscovered by the British who had come hunting there for a Lion who took shelter in these caves. The British intimated the Nizam about the same, as this area was under his rule and so started the exploration of the caves. As told to us by the guide.

All the caves are numbered from the east to the west.
Paintings on the Cave Ceiling
All the caves are beautifully carved out of the rock. Some had beautifully carved pillars in them along with carvings of Buddha on the walls and a huge Buddha sculpture carved in the middle. This was the phenomenon in all caves.

Some caves had paintings on the walls and the ceilings too. Imagine in that time they painted the walls and the ceilings and the paint has survived for centuries. Look at the paint which we paint our houses from the inside and outside, it needs to be changed every 5 years as it is spoilt by the heat and water leakages. Maybe the paint manufactures should go back in time and take tips from the monks who had painted these caves.
I like Cave.26 the most has it has a huge reclining statue of Buddha carved on the walls along with other poses of Buddha. It also has a stupa and many beautifully carved pillars in its premises.

Some of the caves were so dark and so poorly lit that it was difficult to take photos in it without using the flash, as flash was banned in the caves. Flash spoils the paintings on the wall hence no usage.

The good news is that drinking water is available on the cave premises and so are toilets available. These are usually missing all over the historic sites in Maharashtra.
Beautifully carved Stupa
Our guide told us that the Japanese Govt is investing in the up keeping of these caves. To this I was ”What, Why”, is it that our Govt has no money in the bank that they need to take the help of the Japanese to upkeep the caves. This is ridiculous as Maharashtra is the richest amongst all the other states and we still begging for help. That is ridiculous.
I guess we are more interested in making money that the moment we found someone ready to invest we could not resist the offer. Any which ways it’s good that the caves are being looked after. Though we are late but still we can protect what remains.

The wooden bridge on the river Waghora, offers an amazing view of the Caves. If you have a camera with a 14mm wide angle then you can get the caves in a single shoot instead of sewing images together on a normal camera.
A big thank you to the Japanese for investing in the up keeping of the caves. Though I didn’t like the nets that are placed at the openings in the caves. I guess the nets are placed to keep bats away from the caves that stay there and have droppings all over the caves. The caves are home to them, so I guess they should be kept the way they are.

I personally don’t like the new net covering for the caves. The same is spotted even at Ellora Caves located in Aurangabad.

It took us around two hours to see the caves.
Ajanta Caves
Again we boarded the Non AC bus to reach us to Ajanta Car Park from there we landed on the highway to board a ST bus to take us to Aurangabad.

Finally after travelling in the bus for three hours at 1600 hours we were at the City Bus Stand. Tired. Phew.


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