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Maharashtra - Ajanta & Ellora Tour

Maharashtra is a fascinating land and its people hard working and friendly. Mumbai the bustling capital of the state is also recognised as the financial capital of India. The eastern part of Maharashtra comprises of the Western Ghats a range of hills that hold ancient forts on high hill ridges built by the Maratha kings to protect their kingdoms. To the north within dense lush green hill ranges are hidden the amazingly well preserved Ajanta and Ellora Cave temples magnificently carved out of sheer rock they have since been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Maharashtra Cultural Tour
S. No. Tour Days
1.

The Ajanta Ellora Aurangabad Tour

7

Ellora CaveThe entire Ellora Cave Temple complex 15 Kms from Aurangabad city encompasses Buddhist Chaityas (Halls of Worship), Viharas (Monasteries) along with Hindu and Jain temples between the 5 th and 11 th centuries. The caves are individually numbered. The largest single monolithic edifice in the world is the splendid Kailasha Temple (Cave No: 16). Ellora has been attracting numerous pilgrims for centuries and was not suddenly discovered like the Ajanta cave temples. Cave 2 houses finely carved images of guards with figures of Buddha and other divinities close by at the entrance. Within are wall carvings of the five seated Buddhas, bordered by Bodhisattvas and heavenly beings. There are also finely carved images of Hariti - goddess of prosperity and that of Panchika - the god of wealth. Cave three has an uncompleted seated Buddha while motifs of plant life and flower pots are carved on the hall's columns. Cave 4 a two storied structure is almost in ruins though containing a figure of the Buddha along with some attendants. Cave 5 a roomy hall has similar motifs, stone benches and figures of Bodhisattvas decorated with delicately carved jewellery and headdresses. Cave 6 is a long hall the columns of which also contain complex carvings of plant life. At the rear of the cave is a small chamber adorned with carvings of Bodhisattvas and the goddesses Mahamayuri and Tara divinities of Buddhism. The large number of figures on the wall of this cave includes those of a seated Buddha and small figures of attendants and devotees. The doorway to this shrine also contains highly structured sculptures and to one side there is an image of Avalokiteswara with a lotus and a rosary in his hands and a deerskin on his left shoulder and to the right is a sculpture of Mahamayuri the goddess of learning. Caves 1 and 7 remain without any carvings or sculptures while Cave 8 has a circular passage around it with Buddha sculptures in its halls. Cave 9 has some interesting carvings and a theme of the goddess Tara rescuing devotees from a snake, a sword and an elephant. To the right are carvings of a shipwreck on fire. Cave 10 is dedicated to Vishwakarma the architect to the Gods. This cave has a basement carved with animal figures, a long fresco portraying a hunt and on the rear wall a seated Buddha. The upper gallery has a doorway bordered by window motifs, Bodhisattvas and flying divinities and in the front a large Buddha figure appears to be teaching. Excavated in the 8 th century AD Cave 11 is a three storied building with Buddhas in the teaching posture and other Buddha figures being attended by Bodhisattvas.

AjantaThe Ajanta Caves 110 Kms from Aurangabad city in a deep green fold of hills are another marvel of rock architecture and detailed paintings dating back to the 1 st and 2 nd century BC and some other temples to the 5 th and 6 th centuries AD. Later many more caves were adorned with richly coloured wall paintings and finely carved sculptures. This was the height of the Buddhist Period. The paintings depict Bodhisattvas, Padmapani and Avalokiteswara besides the conversion of Nanda a contemporary prince of Gautam Buddha. Four of these caves namely 1, 2, 16 and 17 have remarkably well preserved paintings. Cave 2's paintings on the ceilings and walls show events related to the birth of Buddha with his mother in the Lumbini palace garden besides paintings showing a queen tempting a few shipwrecked people with priceless treasures. Cave 7 depicts a sculpture of the Sravasti miracle when Buddha manifested himself a 1000 times. Cave 17 displays stories from the Jataka tales relating to the previous incarnations of Buddha while the doorway in the balcony shows a row of amorous couples below a row of seated Buddhas. Cave 19 has an elegant portico with intricate motifs, images of Buddha and carvings of a Stupa and guardians along with other figures of Buddha. Within this cave are intrinsically carved pillars and images of Buddha representing the start of the Mahayana era. Cave 26 has an enormous image of a reclining Buddha that is 23 feet in length depicting the Buddhas enlightenment. All these caves are amazingly well preserved paintings and sculptures showcasing the artistic heights to which fine workmanship rose in that day and age.

 


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