Most of us have heard of Ajanta and Ellora Caves. These are famous for their rock temples. Ajanta caves are, near Ajanta village, about 102km. north of Aurangabad (Maharashtra State). Ellora caves are near Ellora village, about 29km. north-east of Aurangabad district (Maharashtra State).
The nearest railhead for those visiting Ajanta is the town of Jalgaon, though Aurangabad is almost as close. There are also some provisions for accommodation around these caves.
At Ajanta there are about 30 caves. All of them have Buddhist rock-cut cave temples and monasteries. The temples are hollowed out of granite cliffs on the inner side of a 22m (70 ft.) high ravine in the Wagurna River Valley. These caves were excavated between the Ist century B. C. and the 7th century A. D, They are of two types : 'chaityas'(sanctuaries) and 'viharas' (monasteries). In the larger caves the pillars reach upto the roof. Most of the interior walls are painted and depict the episodes of Buddha's life. The cave nos. 1, 2,16,17 and 19 possess some of the exquisite specimen of painting while in the cave 1, 4, 17, 19, 24 and 26 one may find, excellent sculptures.
At Ellora, the caves extend along with face of the hill for about two km and are divided into three distinct series - Buddhist, Brahmanical (Hindu) and Jain - and are arranged almost chronologically. Altogether there are almost 34 'chaityas' and 'viharas' datitig from the fourth - to nineth centuries. The most splendid is the Kailasanatha temple, 50 m (165 ft.) long and 29 m (96 ft.) high, cut from a single outcropping of rock. It is extensively carved with exceptionally vigorous sculptures of Hindu divinities and mythological figures. The temple dedicated to the, Hindu god Shiva was built in the 8th century A.D. during the reign of the Rastraputas. It has an open 'mandapan' in which colossal elephants and obelisks stand. It also has the sacred bull. Ajanta and Ellora attract many thousands of tourists every year.