One of the primary reasons to visit Ajanta is to admire its renowned ‘frescoes’, actually temperas, which adorn many of the caves’ interiors. With few other examples from ancient times matching their artistic excellence and fine execution, these paintings are of unfathomable heritage value.

Despite their age, the paintings in most caves remain finely preserved and many attribute it to their relative isolation from humanity for centuries. However, it would be a tad optimistic to say that decay hasn’t set in.

It’s believed that the natural pigments for these paintings were mixed with animal glue and vegetable gum to bind them to the dry surface. Many caves have small, craterlike holes in their floors, which acted as palettes during paint jobs.

Two lookouts offer picture-perfect views of the whole horseshoe-shaped gorge. The first is a short walk beyond the river, crossed via a bridge below Cave 8. A further 40-minute uphill walk (not to be attempted during the monsoons) leads to the lookout from where the British party first spotted the caves.

Most buses ferrying tour groups don’t arrive until noon. To avoid the crowds, stay locally in Fardapur or make an early start from Aurangabad.