Ajanta

Ajanta caves are located at about 107 kms. from the city of Aurangabad. The rock-cut caves of Ajanta nestle in the form of a gigantic horseshoe.

For almost 700 years, the caves of Ajanta seem to have been abandoned abruptly. They remained cloaked in obscurity for over a millennium, till John Smith, a British army officer, accidentally stumbled upon them while on a hunting expedition in 1819.

The 'View Point' from where John Smith first glimpsed the caves, provides a magnificent sight of the U-shaped gorge and its scenic surroundings. A spectacular waterfall cascading down the cliff feeds a natural pool called the Saptakunda.

Ajanta caves have been designated as a World Heritage Site.

The caves of Ajanta can be classified into two distinct phases: the earlier Hinayana phase (1), in which the Buddha was worshipped only in the form of certain symbols. And the later Mahayana phase (II), in which the Buddha was worshipped in the physical form.

Speciality:

They are among the finest examples of earliest Buddhist architecture, caves-paintings and sculptures. These caves comprise Chaitya Halls, or shrines, dedicated to Lord Buddha and Viharas, or monasteries, used by Buddhist monks for meditation and the study of Buddhist teachings.
Typically, the paintings that adorn the walls and ceilings of the caves depict incidents from the life of the Buddha and various Buddhist divinities. Paintings of the Jataka tales, illustrating various stories relating to the previous incarnations of the Buddha as Bodhisattva, are the more interesting.