Aurangabad is known for its proximity to the world famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves. These are sculpted out of rocks …. Rock cut temples, probably the toughest way to create a monument since it has to be built from top to bottom and not the other way. The UNESCO world heritage sites, an amalgamation of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples, attract a large number of tourists and is perhaps one of the most visited places in India. Ajanta is around 105 kms from Aurangabad while Ellora is around 32 kms from there.
The superb grottoes or caves of Ajanta, which rival those of Ellora, and perhaps in general beauty surpass them, occupy the lower end of a small valley about half a mile from the town.Jules Verne
- Destination: Maharashtra
- Location: Aurangabad
- Google Map Co-ordinates: 19.8762° N, 75.3433° E
- Nearest City (Airport): Aurangabad
- Nearest City (Railway Station): Aurangabad
- Duration: 1D, 2D/1N, 3D/2N, On request
- Dates: On request
- Price: On request
Aurangabad is the nearest rail/air location from where you can reach the UNESCO world heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora. Ajanta is around 105 kms and Ellora around 32 kms from Aurangabad. These are basically Buddhist, Jain and Hindu monuments … predominantly Buddhist. Looking at the scale of the temple, you cannot but wonder how such a huge monument, huge by today’s standards too was built thousands of years back. How were rocks excavated, how was the structure planned, what kind of machines/instruments were used, what kind of material was used to build, what was used to create the intricate paintings which after centuries does not lose colour.
The Taj of the Deccan (Bibi Ka Maqbara) was built by Aurangzeb for his wife and is strikingly similar to the Taj Mahal that his father had built for Aurangzeb’s mother.
The Daulatabad Fort where the imperial capital was to be shifted by a maverick King. The fort has all the elements of a pot boiler.. Amazing planning, imagery, guile, trickery, suspense and a surprise raid.
PLACES TO VISIT:
Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Bibi Ka Maqbara (Taj of the Deccan) & Daulatabad Fort.
It has 32 caves and one will be stupefied on seeing the scale of the temple, the intricacies of art and of course the complexity of making rock cut monuments. The caves located here can be chronologically divided into two phases viz. the early Buddhist caves of 2nd century BCE to 1st century CE and the Mahayana caves dating to 5th century CE. The caves in the first phase were built by Satavahana Kings and the ones in the second phase by the Vakatakas.
A stupa is a place where Buddhist relics are kept. A chaitya is a Buddhist shrine or a prayer hall housing a stupa. A vihara is a Buddhist monastery. One is spellbound by the Buddhist legacy and artistic masterpieces, including narratives painted on the walls of ‘chaityas’ and ‘viharas’. The caves include paintings and sculptures described by the government’s Archaeological Survey of India as “the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting” and these are representative of Buddhist religious art with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales.
Ajanta was located on an ancient trade route, and as was the norm then, donations for building monuments were done by traders. There are more than 100 inscribed and painted inscriptions narrating stories of these donors that also included monks, kings, ministers, and others.
The monastery continued functioning here at least till 8th century CE and then the site was forgotten till its rediscovery in 1819 by a British Officer named John Smith, who while hunting tigers accidently discovered the entrance to a Cave, when a local shepherd boy guided him to the place.
Visiting hours: 0900 to 1730 hours. Holidays on Mondays.
The largest rock cut cave temples having Hindu, Buddhist and Jain monuments built during 600-1000 CE. Cave 16, in particular, features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Kailasha temple excavation also features sculptures depicting the gods, goddesses and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism as well as relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics.
There are over 100 caves, of which 34 are open to the public. These temples were built by the Rashtrakuta Kings. Although the caves served as monasteries, temples and a rest stop for pilgrims, the site’s location on an ancient South Asian trade route also made it an important commercial centre in the Deccan region.
Visiting hours: 0900 to 1730 hours. Holidays on Tuesdays.
BIBI KA MAQBARA
Known as the Dakkhani Taj (Taj of the Deccan), because of its striking resemblance to the Taj Mahal, it was commissioned in 1660 by Emperor Aurangzeb in memory of his wife Dilras Banu Begum. The marble for this mausoleum was brought from mines near Jaipur.
Visiting hours: 8 AM to 8 PM. Open all days of the week.
The place was called Deogir which was renamed as “Daulatabad” (The City of Fortunes) by Mohd Bin Tughlaq who wanted to shift the capital from Delhi to this place. However the Sultan realized the futility and reversed the decision.
Built in 1187 by King Bhillama V, the first Yadava King, the fort is a super structure of strength. It can be accessed by a narrow bridge where only 2 persons, abreast, can pass through. There is long flight of steep steps, and ends with a top that has a grating where a hearth could be kept burning, to stop enemies to enter the fort. The fort does not have parallel gates, that helps in not allowing the enemies to charge in with a gush, spikes on doors that could be sprayed with acid that would hamper elephants from coming through, false doors that would trick, and a smooth surface on the fort that would not allow enemy to climb, since they would not get a grip. During the ascent one would have to pass through a pitch black tunnel down which the fort defenders threw burning coals, arrows or boiling water.
Visiting hours: 9 AM to 6 PM. Open all days of the week.
- Accommodation with breakfast.
- Guided tours with transportation.
- All applicable government taxes, toll fees, parking charges, etc.
- Entry tickets to monuments, parks.
- Any item not mentioned in the inclusions.
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