Description : Situated in the state of Maharashtra, at a distance of 107 km north of Aurangabad, Ajanta Caves date from the 1st and 2nd century. The Buddhist caves at Ajanta is home to some of ancient India’s most magnificent paintings. Considered as masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, the paintings and sculptures of Ajanta Caves relate to the life and times of Lord Buddha. You can see 29 caves here which were inhabited around 200 B.C and abandoned in 650 A.D.
The caves including the unfinished ones are thirty in number, of which five (9, 10, 19, 26 and 29) are chaitya-grihas and the rest are sangharamas or viharas (monasteries). After centuries of oblivion, these caves were discovered in AD 1819. They fall into two distinct phases with a break of nearly four centuries between them. All the caves of the earlier phase date between 2nd century BC-AD.
The caves of the second phase were excavated during the supremacy of the Vakatakas and Guptas. According to inscriptions, Varahadev, the minister of the Vakataka king, Harishena (c.475-500 AD), dedicated Cave 16 to the Buddhist sangha while Cave 17 was the gift of the prince a feudatory. An inscription records that Buddha image in Cave 4 was the gift of some Abhayanandi who hailed from Mathura.
A few paintings which survive on the walls of Caves 9 and 10 go back to the 2nd century BC-AD. The second group of the paintings started in about the fifth century AD. The second group of the paintings started in about the fifth century AD and continued for the next two centuries as noticeable in later caves. The themes are intensely religious in tone and centre round Buddha, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas. The paintings are executed on a ground of mud-plaster in the tempera technique.