Ajanta Caves was unknown for many years. However, an Army officer had discovered these Ajanta caves, while he was on hunting expedition. The name of that Army officer was John Smith.The Ajanta Caves are one of the oldest UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. The carvings and paintings at Ajanta date back to the beginning of the era of classical Indian art. Th Ajanta caves along with the ones ta Ellora are some of the most beautiful caves in India. These caves are some of the most mesmerizing ones in the country, especially with paintings that take us back in time all the way between the 2nd century BC and 6th century AD.
The caves are now protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. The caves of Ajanta are home to some of the most magnificent masterpieces of Indian art. Located in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, the Ajanta caves are one of the places history and culture enthusiasts will enjoy an excursion to.
- It is believed that several Buddhist monks spent a significant amount of time at the Ajanta caves during the monsoons as they were forbidden from travelling during that particular period of the year. This was the time when the monks put their creativity and time to use and painted the walls of the caves.
- Apart from the stunning paintings and sculptures, there were also huge Buddhist mounds like stupas built, massive pillars intricately detailed carvings on the ceilings and walls made big news, giving the Ajanta caves the status of a heritage site.
- During the first phase of construction, the sanctuaries known as the Chaitya-grihas were built in the canyons of the Waghora River. Caves 9, 10, 12 and 15 A were built in the first phase during the Satavahana dynasty.
- Artistic style from Srilanka and Tibet are the major influence. The paintings depict the incidents from the life of Gautam Buddha and the Jataka Tales. Though, Buddha throughout his life was against sculpting and painting and believed that life is a process through which one must overcome desire in order to attain salvation. The caves are famous around the world for Murals. The Ellora caves are 34 in number, which are carved on the sides of the basaltic hill.
- The paintings were bound using glue. It took almost 2,00,000 tons of rocks to build these caves.
- The main binding material used in the paintings was glue. Thus, the paintings at Ajanta are not frescoes as they are painted with the help of a binding agent.
- The main theme of paintings in the caves is the illustration of various Jataka stories and events from the life of Buddha.
- Ajanta caves date back to the pre-Christian era, with Cave 10 being the earliest, dating from the second century B.C Though the caves are over 2,000 years old, the Buddha statues had been added close 600 years later.