Buddhist Caves of Ajanta

sights / Other

Lonely Planet review

Being Ellora’s venerable twin in the World Heritage listings, the Buddhist caves of Ajanta , 105km northeast of Aurangabad and about 60km south of Jalgaon, are the Louvre of ancient India. Much older than Ellora, these secluded caves date from around the 2nd century BC to the 6th century AD and were among the earliest monastic institutions to come up in the country. As Buddhism gradually waned in the region, the site was abandoned. Upon being deserted, the caves were soon reclaimed by the greens and were forgotten until 1819, when a British hunting party led by officer John Smith stumbled upon them purely by chance. Despite their age, the paintings in these caves remain in a fine state of preservation today, and many attribute it to their relative isolation from humanity for centuries.