The brilliantly constructed caves of Ajanta [Ref] and Ellora [Ref] are situated near the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra. These caves are a great example of rock-cutting by hand. The carvings depict stories from Jataka tales. There are in all 34 caves at Ellora and 29 caves at Ajanta. These caves were discovered accidently in 1819 by British Army officer, John Smith. Ajanta caves are considered as World Heritage Site and are well preserved for the ages to come.

Ajanta Caves

The caves of Ajanta are beautifully carved rocks and depict the stories of Buddhism from 200 BC to 650 AD. These caves were discovered within the Sahyadri hills and above the Waghora River in 19th century. These caves are carved along the mountain side.

There are 29 caves built for Buddhist monks. They were constructed for the monks to perform rituals in chaityas and viharas. Buddhist monks utilised simple tools like hammer and chisel to carve out brilliant structures. The walls of these caves adorn beautiful carvings and paintings. The paintings and sculptures depict stories of Jataka tales.

Ellora Caves

There are in all 34 caves at Ellora. These caves depict the faith in three prominent religions in India viz Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. These caves are brilliantly carved on the sides of a hill at a distance of 30 kms from Aurangabad.

Ellora caves were constructed between 350AD to 700 AD. The 12 caves devoted to Buddhism are situated in South, 17 devoted to Hinduism are situated in centre and remaining 5 caves devoted to Jainism in the North. The carvings and sculptures in these caves depict nobleness and composure of Lord Buddha.

The 16th cave comprises Kailas Temple. The temple is beautifully carved on a rock and it took over a century for the temple to get complete. The temple is an architectural wonder and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The mountain of Kailas Temple is the world’s largest monolith. It is believed that the carving was started from the top of this huge mountain.

The beautiful Jain caves are situated at a distance of a mile from Kailas Temple. The 32nd cave features a beautiful carving of lotus flower on the roof and a yakshi lion under a mango tree. The caves 32 and 34 also contain a splendid statue of Parasnath. These caves attribute most to the heritage of Indian culture.

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