Cave 17


With carved dwarfs supporting the pillars, cave 17 has Ajanta’s best-preserved and most varied paintings. Famous images include a princess applying make-up, a seductive prince using the old trick of plying his lover with wine, and the Buddha returning home from his enlightenment to beg from his wife and astonished son.

A detailed panel tells of Prince Simhala’s expedition to Sri Lanka: with 500 companions he is shipwrecked on an island where ogresses appear as enchanting women, only to seize and devour their victims. Simhala escapes on a flying horse and returns to conquer the island.

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1. Cave 16

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Cave 16, a vihara, contains some of Ajanta’s finest paintings and is thought to have been the original entrance to the entire complex. The best known of…

2. Cave 19

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Cave 19, a magnificent chaitya, has a remarkably detailed facade; its dominant feature is an impressive horseshoe-shaped window. Two fine, standing Buddha…

3. Ajanta Caves

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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…

4. Cave 10

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Cave 10 is thought to be the oldest cave (200 BC) and was the first one to be spotted by the British hunting party. Similar in design to Cave 9, it is the…

5. Cave 9

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Cave 9 is one of the earliest chaityas at Ajanta. Although it dates from the early Buddhist period, the two figures flanking the entrance door were…

6. Cave 7

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Cave 7 has an atypical design, with porches before the verandah leading directly to the four cells and the elaborately sculptured shrine.

7. Cave 24


Had it been finished, cave 24 would be the largest vihara at Ajanta. Here you can see how the caves were constructed – long galleries were cut into the…

8. Cave 6

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Cave 6 is the only two-storey vihara at Ajanta, but parts of the lower storey have collapsed. Inside is a seated Buddha figure and an intricately carved…