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Ajanta & Ellora

India's unique contribution to the world of art

Dug and carved by hand with only pick, hammer and chisel, these gigantic cave temples are really sculptures worked into whole mountainsides. Here, from the 2nd century B.C. onwards, were carved exquisite cathedrals and chapels, temples and monasteries in the rock-face. Sculpture of the highest quality became part of the architectural design.

At Ajanta, further embellishments were the paintings on the walls and ceilings of caves portraying the life and the miracles of the Buddha, the lives of kings and the common people, of beautiful women, their jewellery and hair-styles, all marked by great dignity and grace.

At Ellora, cave temples of three religions, Hindu, Buddhist and Jain, stand next to each other. The greatest, the Kailasa, is a gigantic temple carved into a whole mountainside.

Aurangabad, the nearest airport, has several caves and monuments of interest.



Panchakki, an ancient water-mill. There are cool underground rooms which served as a hostel for students in the hot summer. Also the shrine of a saint, Baba Shah Musafir.

Bibi-ka-Maqbara, the mausoleum of Rabia Daurani, wife of Aurangzeb, patterned on the Taj at Agra.

AT AJANTA (106 km.)

The Ajanta Caves, 30 in number, are magnificent rock-cut Buddhist cave temples dating from the 2nd c. B.C. to the 7th c. A.D. The wall paintings, pulsing with life, recount the life of the Buddha, his previous lives, as also the court life of king and commoner. Although there are sculptures, Ajanta is noted for its paintings.

AT ELLORA (29 km.)

The Ellora Caves are rock-cut cave temples of three religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Of the 34 caves, the most remarkable is the magnificent Kailasa Temple carved out of a mountain-side, out of a Temple carved out of a mountain-side, out of a single rock, an engineering marvel.


Daulatabad Fort (13 km. en route to Ellora from Aurangabad). Built by the Yadava kings as Deogiri, it was renamed Daulatabad by the Tughlaq king who moved his capital here. It was considered an impregnable fort.

Jaikwadi Project (60 km.), is 4 km. from the ancient city of Paithan. The area around the dam is being developed into a tourist complex with beautiful fountains playing at night. (Best season for bird watching here is October to March). At Paithan can be seen the weaving of the famous Paithani silk and gold saris.

Shirdi (136 km.), the shrine of a saint, Shri Sai Baba. A place of pilgrimage.

Nasik (221 km.), where Rama, hero of the epic, the Ramayana, spent several years of exile on the banks of the River Godavari. A place of pilgrimage, especially once in 12 years, at the Kumbh Mela fair.


Paithan Fair (March-April), Pilgrim gather on the bank of the river Godavari to pay homage to Sant Eknath. The fair lasts 10 fair.

Shivaji Jayanti (May), when colourful processions preceded by Iezim dancers, celebrate the birth anniversary of the great Emperor Shivaji.

Buddha Jayanti (May), celebrate with procession and floats of Aurangabad.

Pola (August), a festival when cattle are decorated and displayed, as a thanksgiving for their help to the farmer.

Ganpati Festival (Aug-Sept), Huge figures of Ganesh are installed and worshipped for 10 days.

Khuldabad Urs when, for five days, Muslims gather at the tomb of a saint at Khuldabad.


Bidri art objects (zinc and copper alloy) with silver inlay, Himroo shawls with designs taken from Ajanta paintings.

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