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Tourist Places To Visit In Ajanta
Rising up about 76 m over the Waghora River are the cliffs of the Sahyadri ranges of the Western Ghats. The cliffs carved most aesthetically into a horseshoe pattern as the basaltic layers of rocks of the Deccan Plateau, are home to the ancient Buddhist monasteries that have most intrinsically carved sculptures and delicate murals well known as the Ajanta Caves.
There are about 30 caves, some belonging to the Hinayana School of Buddhism and date back to the 2nd century, to most probably during the rule of the Satavahana Dynasty of Kings. The latter group of caves belongs to the 5th and 6th centuries when the region was under the rule of the Vakataka Kings, who ruled during the reign of the Gupta Dynasty. The Ajanta Caves are closed on Mondays but open the rest of the week and on national holidays. Along with a trip to the Ajanta Caves, tourists visit the cities of Aurangabad and Jalgaon that lie close by. We will give you a list of the most interesting places in and around Ajanta Caves.
The Ajanta Caves
The Ajanta complex of caves consists of 5 chaityagrihas or prayer halls while the others are viharas or monasteries. With techniques which was a combination of kohl and mineral pigments that stood out for their sweeping strokes and bright colors, most of which have faded with age, the walls are filled with paintings from the Jataka Tales and later with the stories of The Buddha, Vidhyadara and Ghandarvas.
Check out the sanctum in the viharas each of which has intricately carved pillars, residential cells and discourse halls with seated figures of The Buddha and the Bodhisattvas. Each one of the caves is believed to have had steps that led to the river that flowed below, but the steps that probably been eroded due to the ravages of time.
One of the most significant places of the Ellora Caves is the Kailasanatha Temple which is the 16th cave and is said to be one of the largest monolith cave temples of the world. The Kailasanatha temple was built by the Rashtrakuta King Krishna 1 by around the 8th century. The temple for Shiva believed to have been made in the likeness of the Virupaksha temple of Karnataka and said to represent Mount Kailash, took about 18 years to be completed.
The Kailasanatha temple was carved out of a massive excavated rock and stands within a horseshoe shaped formation of caves. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an incredible example of architecture and craftsmanship of ages gone by. Kailasanatha Temple is a must be seen section of the Ellora Caves, that are located about 98 km away from Ajanta Caves.
A twin tourist attraction of the Ajanta Caves, the Ellora Caves have an aesthetic and cultural history of their own. Flourishing during the reign of the Rashtrakutas and Chalukyas, the caves at Ellora are a mixture of 17 Hindu temples, 5 Jain shrines and 12 Buddhist monasteries that are filled with intricately carved sculptures and murals. The cave temples were sculpted out of the cliffs of the Charanadri Hills roundabout the 6th to 10th centuries. Apart from functioning as resthouses for pilgrims and monks and as prayer halls the Ellora and Ajanta Caves were strategically located on an ancient trade route of the Deccans.
Ellora Caves are about 98 km from Ajanta Caves and 28 km from the city of Aurangabad. The caves are located near Verul in the northwest of Aurangabad and are also known as Verul Leni. Ellora Caves are about 36 km from Aurangabad airport and if you are visiting the caves from the city you could find plenty of taxis on hire or state transport buses as well.
Omkareshwar Temple is one of the primary pilgrim destinations in Jalgaon. Situated about 3 km from the city, the ancient temple for Shiva is a must visit, if you are travelling to Jalgaon. The temple is a peaceful, serene one and is not very crowded on regular days, so you could pray in peace and spend a few minutes in meditation. Ample facilities including restrooms and drinking water are provided to the pilgrims, along with a well-manicured lush lawn, so the atmosphere’s real hallowed and tranquil.
Omkareshwar Temple celebrates festivals like Mahashivratri, Shravan Somwar and Gokulashtami with great pomp and if you are visiting the temple during these days, you might find a lot of people visiting to offer prayers. Omkareshwar Temple is about 50 km from Ajanta Caves.
Patna Devi Mandir
Located inside the reserved woodlands of the Gautala Autram ghat Abhyaranya (Forests) and surrounded by the peaks of the Sahyadri mountain ranges, is an ancient temple for Chandika who is also known as Patna Devi for the small hamlet of Patna that is located close by. Near the temple is a statue for Bhaskaracharya 11, who is attributed with the discovery of zero, that was installed by the state forest department. Though Bhaskaracharya 11 was not born in Patnadevi, it is said that he had spent long years in research and mediation in these regions and is also said to have compiled the Siddanta Shiromani in Patnadevi.
The forested landscape turns most lush and picturesque during the monsoons and most tourists prefer a sightseeing and pilgrimage trip to Gautala Autram ghat forests and Patna Devi temple during the rainy months. Patna Devi temple is about a 100 km from Ajanta Caves.
Sitting on the banks of the Bori River, the Parola Fort is one of the finest examples of the architecture and military defenses of the 16th century. The fort was built in 1727 by the father of Jansi Rani Laxmi Bai and is believed to be the birth place of the warrior queen. The bastions are still intact and you could check out the seven entrance gateways and the Balaji temple where the annual festival attracts a lot of pilgrims from the neighboring towns and villages.
If you are planning a trip to Jalgaon from Ajanta Caves, you could visit the Parola Fort that’s about 46 km from Jalgaon. You could hire a cab or hop on to a bus from Jalgaon to Parola Fort. Parola is an ancient city and a municipal council that was instituted by the British Government before India’s independence.
Aurangabad Caves located on the northern side of the city are a group of Buddhist caves that date back to around the 3rd century. The group of 12 caves is filled with sculptures that depict Mahayana and Tantric Buddhism along with aesthetically sculpted figures of The Buddha, Ganesh and Durga along with a host of other Hindu and Buddhist deities.
The caves are located at the peak of a small hill and are divided roughly into three groups. Aurangabad Caves are one of the most oft visited tourist place of Aurangabad and are a must visit if you are touring the city. The Caves are about 2 km away from Bibi Ka Maqbara and gives a hill top view of the tomb from the peak.
Bibi Ka Maqbara
Bibi Ka Maqbara is one of the most ancient historical places of Aurangabad that was built upon the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb on the death of his wife Dilras Banu Begum and there were alterations made at a later date by Aurangazeb’s son Azam Shah according to the Mughal Emperor’s instructions. The tomb was built on the model of the Taj Mahal and was hence known as the Dakkani Taj (Mini Taj of the Deccans). Check out the marble domes and minarets and the delicately carved floral etchings on the marble screens of the tomb as well as the well-manicured lawns that encircle the mausoleum.
Bibi Ka Maqbara is about 10 km away from Aurangabad airport and 4 km from the city. You could hire a cab to drive you to the tourist spot or hop onto a state transport bus.
Grishneshwar Jyothirlinga Temple is one among the 12 Jyothirlinga temples of Shiva and is considered one of the most significant pilgrim centers of Maharashtra. The temple was rebuilt by Maloji Bhosala and later by Ahalyabai Holkar after the original temple was destroyed by the Mughals roundabout the 13th and 14th centuries. There are references to the temple in the Padma purana and Shiv purana. The Grishneshwar temple is known for its architecture that has exquisite panels on the walls depicting the scriptures of Hinduism. Important festivals like the Mahashivratri when the idol of Grishneshwar is carried in a procession to the Shivalay Sarovar sees a lot of pilgrims throng the temple.
The temple is a short distance from the Ellora Caves and Daulatabad, another primary tourist hub of Aurangabad. You could as well reach the temple on a short walk from the Ellora Caves.
If you would like a long drive, do visit the Tirupati of Maharashtra or the Deulgaon Raja Shri Balaji Temple in Buldhana. The temple was built in 1665 by Raje Jagdeorao Jadhav under the guidance of Lord Tirupati Venkateshwara who had appeared in Raje Jagdeorao Jadhav’s dreams. Throngs of people gather at the temple during the Balaji Maharaj Yatra in October for the Latha Mandapotsav when 42 mandaps are erected in front of the temple with 21 teak wood wooden columns just a day before Dussehra. On the tenth day the columns are allowed to fall after the Dahihandi and kirtan. The festival is popularly known as Lalit and the deity is worshipped as the God of Pratitirupati.