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Author: Debala Mitra
Publisher: Archaelogical Survey of India
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8187780193
This is part of the series of guidebooks being published by the Archaeological Survey of India to showcase World Cultural Heritage Sites in India. The book focuses on the Buddhist rock-cut caves of Ajanta located amid the Sahyadri's dense foliage.
The caves are situated at a distance of 605 km from the village of Fardapur in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. Fardapur lies 55 km from Jalgaon, which is also the nearest railhead. The nearest airport is in also the nearest railhead. The nearest airport is in Aurangabad city, 103 km away.
There are thirty caves at Ajanta, including the unfinished ones, of which five are chaitya-grihas and the rest, sangharamas or viharas (monasteries). The earliest excavations at Ajanta date from the second century BC. Excavation was revived on a much more ambitious scale after a quiescence of about four centuries. The most vigorous period of architectural and artistic activity seems to have coincided with the second half of the fifth century AD and the first half of the sixth century AD.
The Ajanta caves are celebrated for their world famous paintings that exhibit the skill and imagination of consummate artists. The sculptures, mostly dating from the fifth and sixth centuries AD, are remarkable for their classic qualities and exude graceful elegance, restraint and serenity.
Rock-cut caves near Ajanta, possessing perfect specimens of Indian mural painting perfect specimens of Indian mural paintings were discovered in 1819 by a band of British officers while hunting a tiger.
These caves excavated in a semi-circular scarp overlooking a narrow gorge, includes five chaitya-grihas and some twenty-five viharas or monasteries. They were excavated between the second century BC and seventh century AD and served as sanctuaries for Buddhist monks during the monsoons.
The caves of Ajanta are famous for their architectural qualities, graceful elegance and serenity of sculptures, and above all, the world famous painting that adorn their interiors.
The painting are intensely religious in tone and theme and depict the lives and times of Buddha and Bodhisattvas. They also act as a sort of illuminated history of those time - court scenes, street scenes, cameos of domestic life as well as animal and bird sanctuaries. These murals have stood the test of the highest standard of mural paintings.
I am hopeful that readers - both tourists and academicians -would find the new format of the guidebook informative and useful.
Description of Caves
Cave 28 & 29