Day 5. Aurangabad

Overnight – Taj Vivanta

The Ajanta & Ellora monuments and caves (both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites) make the city of Aurangabad India’s most amazing archeological destination. The roughly two millennium old sites are among mankind’s most amazing achievements and our guests’ often wonder why they are not more widely offered on travel itineraries. After breakfast you will head to Ajanta with a packed snack from your hotel.

Ajanta History: Buddhist monks and local craftsmen began excavating, sculpting, and painting at Ajanta in the 2nd century B.C to about 500 CE. The most significant features of these caves are the stunning murals and frescoes adorning their walls and ceilings. The incredible variety of paintings and sculptures were created in hard rock by using primitive yet ingenious lighting, tools and materials. These 28 caves are a testimony to the devotion of the Buddhists, as well as the talents of their skilled craftsmen.

Ajanta Paintings: The paintings at Ajanta primarily depict the Jataka tales, which are stories about the previous lives of the Buddha, both in human and animal form. The Ajanta paintings are known for their sophistication and skillful execution, exhibiting a detailed understanding of color, form, and perspective. The colors used are mainly mineral pigments, and the figures are characterized by their graceful and elegant forms, expressive faces, and fluid, dynamic postures. The backgrounds of the paintings often depict detailed architectural elements, palaces, or forest landscapes. They showcase an impressive sense of depth and realism, creating a rich tapestry of life during those times.

Ajanta Sculptures. Most of the sculptures at Ajanta are carved into the rock walls of the caves. There are numerous statues of Buddha in different postures, and the most common may be the depiction of him in a meditative state. Others depict Bodhisattvas—beings that seek enlightenment. There are also several depictions of Yakshas (nature spirits) and Apsaras (celestial nymphs). Some statues tell stories from the Jataka Tales depicting Buddha’s past life experiences, others feature carvings that narrate specific events like Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, preaching, and death. Apart from these, there are also several statues and reliefs of other deities and figures from Indian and Buddhist mythology.

Vertical Excavation. Of particular interest is the concept of Vertical Excavation, which was done by craftsmen hanging upside down as they chiseled away at the hard rock. Although the caves themselves are very impressive in their design and massive volume of sculpturing and excavation, it is the art inside the caves that will take your breath away. The incredible artistry and colors of the paintings and sculptures is unique – such art has not been found elsewhere on our planet.

The Ajanta & Ellora monuments and caves (both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites) make the city of Aurangabad India’s most amazing archeological destination. The roughly two millennium old sites are among mankind’s most amazing achievements and our guests’ often wonder why they are not more widely offered on travel itineraries. After breakfast you will head to Ajanta with a packed snack from your hotel.

Ajanta History: Buddhist monks and local craftsmen began excavating, sculpting, and painting at Ajanta in the 2nd century B.C to about 500 CE. The most significant features of these caves are the stunning murals and frescoes adorning their walls and ceilings. The incredible variety of paintings and sculptures were created in hard rock by using primitive yet ingenious lighting, tools and materials. These 28 caves are a testimony to the devotion of the Buddhists, as well as the talents of their skilled craftsmen.

Ajanta Paintings: The paintings at Ajanta primarily depict the Jataka tales, which are stories about the previous lives of the Buddha, both in human and animal form. The Ajanta paintings are known for their sophistication and skillful execution, exhibiting a detailed understanding of color, form, and perspective. The colors used are mainly mineral pigments, and the figures are characterized by their graceful and elegant forms, expressive faces, and fluid, dynamic postures. The backgrounds of the paintings often depict detailed architectural elements, palaces, or forest landscapes. They showcase an impressive sense of depth and realism, creating a rich tapestry of life during those times.

Ajanta Sculptures. Most of the sculptures at Ajanta are carved into the rock walls of the caves. There are numerous statues of Buddha in different postures, and the most common may be the depiction of him in a meditative state. Others depict Bodhisattvas—beings that seek enlightenment. There are also several depictions of Yakshas (nature spirits) and Apsaras (celestial nymphs). Some statues tell stories from the Jataka Tales depicting Buddha’s past life experiences, others feature carvings that narrate specific events like Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, preaching, and death. Apart from these, there are also several statues and reliefs of other deities and figures from Indian and Buddhist mythology.

Vertical Excavation. Of particular interest is the concept of Vertical Excavation, which was done by craftsmen hanging upside down as they chiseled away at the hard rock. Although the caves themselves are very impressive in their design and massive volume of sculpturing and excavation, it is the art inside the caves that will take your breath away. The incredible artistry and colors of the paintings and sculptures is unique – such art has not been found elsewhere on our planet.

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