Ellora caves, Aurangabad

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Ajanta Caves

Top choice in Maharashtra

Ajanta’s caves line a steep face of a horseshoe-shaped gorge bordering the Waghore River. Five of the caves are chaityas (assembly or prayer halls) while others are viharas (monasteries with attached residential cells). Caves 8, 9, 10, 12, 13 and part of 15 are early Buddhist caves, while the others date from around the 5th century AD (Mahayana period). In the austere early Buddhist school, the Buddha was never represented directly but always alluded to by a symbol such as the footprint or wheel of law.

During busy periods, viewers are allotted 15 minutes within the caves, which have to be entered without shoes (flip-flops will make your life a lot easier). Caves 3, 8, 22, 28, 29 and 30 remain either closed or inaccessible. Keep in mind, there is a fairly steep uphill walk from the ticket counter to the beginning of the caves – porters (₹400) and chair dolis (₹1500; porters who carry people on chairs) are available.