|First view of Ajanta Caves.|
Ajanta caves are more than 2 hours drive from the city of Aurangabad. We left early in the morning and reached Ajanta at around 10 a.m. The whole site is a UNESCO world heritage site and private vehicles are not allowed near the caves. You need to take a special bus that winds through the mountains for about 10 minutes before you reach the caves.
The main difference between Ellora and Ajanta caves is that Ellora caves are spread over different mountains and have influences of 3 different religions (Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism). The Ajanta caves, on the other hand, are all from the Buddhist influence. More historical information about the caves can be found on this wikipedia page.
|Ajanta caves had colorful paintings, which have faded now..|
|The colorful ceilings.|
The first thing we did after reaching the caves is hire a guide - and its a good idea, because a guide can point our minute details that we would miss otherwise. For example, he pointed out some paintings on the ceiling that are designed in such a way that if you look at it from different points, it shows a different effect. The optical illusion is created by a 3D effect in the painting. Very clever.
|A section of the ceiling that is better preserved than the rest.|
|Prayer hall with a stupa.|
|Detailed and exquisite carvings on the cave exterior.|
|More detailed carvings.|
|One of the few caves with lighting inside.|
|Statue of Buddha.|
It seems just too incredible.
|Rock carved like arches.|
|An alternate exit out of Ajanta.|
I told my wife to take our daughter Erika and go with the driver in the car - since the trek would be too tiring for them. They would meet me and Shawn at the top of the mountain (called the viewpoint). Though it was a straight trek for us, it would take them nearly 2 hours to reach the same point because they had to take the bus, and go to the gate where the car was parked, and then drive across the mountain to reach the viewpoint.
We took some water and headed off.
|Panoramic view of Ajanta caves - on our way to the top.|
|The vast size of the caves can be appreciated from this distance.|
|Another section of the caves.|
|Full view of the caves.|
|View of the caves from the viewpoint.|
|View of the valley and the river that cuts through the mountain.|
|Shawn relaxing after a hard trek, and enjoying the view.|
|Colorful mountain side at Ajanta.|
It was definitely a memorable visit. If I get a chance to visit the place again, I most certainly will.