Ajanta.

The Ajanta caves is about two hours by car from Aurungabad. I was picked up at the hotel and had an excellent guide. He spoke good English and could answer all my questions, some, accoring to him, were unusual.

Ajanta have 29 caves made from about 200BCE til 600CE. They were monasteries, temples, but also for lodging on the trade routes. When the routes changed , Ajanta was abandoned and was forgotten untill a British officer found them while he was hunting tigers in 1819. They are 25 meters up on a steep cliff. Today there is a gangway across the cliff, but originally the only way to get to the caves was from the river and up.

I took a lot of pictures inside the caves and frankly I am not able now to pair picture and cave number, but I don’t think that matters.

What probably made the biggest impression on me, were the wall paintings and the very detailed rock carvings. All  carved from the rock, no building or buildingsblocks involved. Here is a selection of the wall paintings, the oldest 2200 years old, the youngest 1400.

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In the special atmosphere in the caves and with the age, the paintings really made an impression. They were clearly original, not restaured.. Later I read up on the techique and the ground work was really intricate with three layers on the rock wall.

The caves were carved up with hammer and chisel. Of course this was before the invention of steel, so the chisels lasted only 3-4 hours, so they must have had a lot of blacksmiths! With that in mind the details are really impressive.

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The size of some of the caves was also imprssive.

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