The world famous place to visit in the Aurangabad is the caves of Ajanta. These caves are the finest example of the Buddhist architectures. The Ajanta Caves are a series of 29 Buddhist cave temples in Ajanta, some of which date from the 2nd century BC. The Ajanta caves preserve some of the best masterpieces of Buddhist art in India. In early period of their construction they were used by Buddhist monks as prayer halls (chaitya grihas) and monasteries (viharas).These caves are surrounded with the natural beauty that’s was the reason the monks chose this sites for spiritual pursuits. The lush greenery all around the caves are the major factor which attracts a lot of the tourism from all over the world.
Some of the major caves of Ajanta series:
Cave 26:- This is the beautiful caves which shows the glorious past of Buddha. This is the Mahayana prayer hall also known as chaitya. The highlight of this cave is a large carved statue of the reclining Buddha, representing his moment of death. Below him, his followers mourn his passing; above, celestial beings rejoice. The cave also contains a stupa with an image of the Buddha in a pavilion. These all are the majestic features which makes this caves major attraction in Ajanta.
Cave 17:- This caves also belongs to the Mahayana form of Buddha religion. This Mahayana monastery covered with many well-preserved wall paintings. Maidens and celestial musicians are on the ceiling, and Buddha, celestial guardians, goddesses, lotus petals and scroll work adorn the doorway. The arrangement of the various idol are in a very systematic way which adds beauty to the cave.
Cave 16:- This cave also belongs to Mahayana form of Buddhist religion. This Mahayana monastery presenting a beautiful painting of the princess Sundari fainting after learning that her husband (the Buddha’s half-brother, Nanda) was going to become a monk. This is the traditional caves which also shows some family relating issues.
Cave 15, 13, and 12:- These caves are related to the Theravada form of Buddhist religion. These Monastery caves depicting the very good architecture of the Buddhist era. Peoples often visit these caves due to the beauty of the stories which the walls of these caves narrating.
Cave 10:- Theravada prayer hall, thought to be the oldest cave temple at Ajanta, dating to the 2nd century BC.
Cave 9:- One of the earliest prayer hall caves, notable for its arched windows that let softly diffused sunlight in the cave. This Theravada cave also features a large stupa.
Cave 8:- Theravada monastery cave.
Cave 4:- Incomplete, but the largest of the Ajanta monasteries.
Cave 2:- This caves are also relating to the Mahayana form of the Buddhist religion. This Mahayana monastery cave shows the kings of Naga and their entourage. Inside, a glorious mandala dominates the ceiling, held by demons and decorated with birds, flowers, fruits and abstract designs. The beauty of this cave cannot be expressed in the words.
Cave 1:- This is the most popular cave from all the cave which are present in the arena of Ajanta. This cave houses two parts. On the right, holding a thunderbolt, is Vajrapani, the most important bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism. On the left, holding a water lily, is the bodhisattva Padmapani. The sidewalls of Cave 1’s antechamber show two scenes from the Buddha’s life, his temptation by Mara just before his enlightenment and the miracle of Sravasti, where the Buddha multiplied himself into thousand images.
The group of Ajanta caves is prescribed by the UNESCO as a WORLD HERITAGE MONUMENT in 1983. These caves give India the importance in the field of the tourism. Apart from this the natural environment all-around of these caves create a peaceful atmosphere which provides rest and happiness to the tourists.