Excursion to Ajanta Caves
Duration: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
All days of the week except Monday
What this tour is about:
The caves of Ajanta are in the Sahyadri hills, about 2.5 hrs drive from Aurangabad. In a mammoth horseshoe-formed rock, there are 30 carved caves overlooking a gorge, with a river flowing below. At Ajanta, the artisans have excavated Chaityas (chapels) for prayer and Viharas (monasteries) where they lived and taught.
Many of the caves have the most exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, pillars and entrances as well as magnificent wall paintings. The painted figures are of supple form and classic balance. The refined lightness of the decoration, the balance of the compositions, and the marvellous beauty of the figures place the paintings of Ajanta among the masterpieces of the world’s pictorial art.
Ajanta provides a panorama of life in ancient India. It is an authentic source of all kinds of information; for example, hair styles, ornaments, textiles, musical instruments, details of architecture, customs etc. It was from this collection of classical Indian art that a particular style was formed that traveled with Buddhism to many parts of the world. Similar paintings can be seen in Sigiriya in Sri Lanka, Bamiyan in Afghanistan, temples and shrines in Tibet, Nepal, China and Japan.
In 1983, the caves at Ajanta were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
How it works:
We will pick you up from your hotel at 7:30 a.m. and drive to Ajanta. The drive time is 2.5hrs and the route goes through the countryside, with farms, villages, shepherds etc. There are small motels en route where you can take a restroom break if you wish, but the facilities are basic.
At Ajanta, we will leave our vehicle at the parking lot and take the government shuttle bus for the last 5 kilometers to the caves. The bus will drop us at the base of the caves, from where we begin climbing up. The climb is steep, but it is feasible for those with moderate fitness levels. The steps are staggered, with flat surfaces after every 10 steps or so, where you can rest. There are also chair-palanquins (locally called doli) available for those who wish to be carried up; these can be hired at the base of the hill.
The guided tour of the caves lasts approximately 2-3 hours based on your interests. After the tour, we climb down to the base again, where there is a restaurant serving basic but tasty Indian meals. You can either eat there, or bring packed lunch from your hotel. After lunch, we board the shuttle bus again to reach the parking lot where your car will be waiting for you.
We will leave Ajanta at approximately 2:30 p.m. and return to Aurangabad by 5:00 p.m.