This journey visits the awe-inspiring paintings at the famous Buddhist caves at Ajanta, situated near Aurangabad. Beginning in the 2nd century BC and continuing for 900 years, twenty six caves were chipped out of a horseshoe shaped cliff. The early followers of the Buddha created an isolated haven, shrouded in the darkness of the caves where they could meditate in peace. The exquisite Buddhist paintings and sculptures created by using simple tools in the glow of lamps rank among the world's most important cultural treasures and has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Although the Jataka tales form the main theme of the paintings, also depicted are scenes from contemporary courtly life all demonstrating a startling degree of sophistication. In the Ajanta paintings we see the brilliant union between sacred and secular art.
Nearby is Maharashtra state's most phenomenal ancient monument, the Ellora caves which carried on the legacy of Ajanta from the 7th century AD and was subjected to Buddhist, Jain and Hindu influences. The sculptures at Ellora are massive in form and the entire spectrum of carvings pulsates with life and energy. The phenomenal rock cut Hindu temple of Kailash which is carved out of a hillside is the world's largest monolith is the site's principal attraction. Ellora too, is a World Heritage site declared by UNESCO.
Extensions that may be added before and after the Exquisite Caves:
In the Footsteps of the Buddha - Peepal Pilgrimage: 13th to 28th February 2013
The Taj Mahal at Agra - 28th February to 1st March 2013