AJANTA is world’s greatest historical monument recognised by UNESCO located just 40kms from Jalgaon city of Maharashtra, India. There are 30 caves in Ajanta of which 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 are chaitya-grihas and the rest are monasteries. These caves were discovered in AD 1819 and were built up in the earlier 2nd century BC-AD. Most of the paintings in Ajanta are right from 2nd century BC-AD and some of them about the fifth century AD and continued for the next two centuries. All paintings shows heavy religious influence and centre around Buddha, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas. The paintings are executed on a ground of mud-plaster in the tempera technique.
Conjures before one’s vision, a dream of beauty- of caves, hidden in the midst of a lonely glen with a streamlet flowing down below, caves that were scooped out into the heart of the rock so that the pious Buddhist monk, out on mission to spread the tenets of Buddhism could dwell and pray, caves that the followers of Lord Buddha, embellished with architectural details with a skilful command of the hammer over the chisel, with sculpture of highest craftsmanship and above all, with the paintings of infinite charm.
At Ajanta, the paintings on the walls, illustrate the events in the life of prince Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism and in the more popular Jatakas stories pertaining to Buddha’s previous incarnation. According to the older conceptions, the Buddha wrought many deeds of kindness and mercy in a long series of transmigration as a Bodhisattva, before achieving his final birth as the sage of sakyas.
Incidentally they contain the scenes of semi-mythological history, the royal court and popular life of the ancient times, as told in romances and plays. Some pictures recall the Greek and Roman compositions and proportions, few late resemble to Chinese manners to some extent. But majority belongs to a phase, which is purely Indian, as they are found nowhere else. These monuments were constructed during two different periods of time separated by a long interval of four centuries. The older ones were the product of last to centuries before Christ and belong to Hinayana period of Buddhism in later part of 2nd century AD when Buddhism was divided into two sections, after the conduct of the fourth general council under another great king, Kanishka.
Location: Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Faiths: Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism
Festival: Ellora Festival of Classical Dance and Music in 3rd week of March
Attraction: Cave shrines cut out of rocks
Time: Anytime of the year