January 24, 2015
Carved between the 2nd century BC and the 6th century AD into the cliff at a horseshoe-bend in the Waghore River, the Ajanta caves are a striking example of Buddhist art and architecture.
It’s a two-plus hour drive from Aurangabad to the caves along a rough road that alternates between a sort of urban sprawl and farm land. Rows of corrugated shacks that function as various shops and restaurants of sorts, concrete buildings – many of them looking like they were never quite finished – and people, lots and lots people – sitting, walking, buying, selling. Men dressed in western attire or Muslim white donning a taqiyah (white cap). Women are in bright saris, a few in black burkas.
The car drops us off at the parking lot where we must cross an area of shops to take the shuttle bus the last 4 kilometers to the entrance. The Ajanta caves, older than those of Ellora, are known for their colorful dry frescos. Although many of them in are in poor condition, you can still imagine what the temples must have looked like at the height of their splendor. Shoes are left at the entrance of each cave.
The last cave has the most impressive carvings, included a reclining Buddha.
Even on a hazy day the view from the opposing cliff gives you a good overview of the area.
No flash or tripods are allowed in the dark caves making photography difficult at best.