The amazing Ajanta Caves date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 CE and contain murals acknowledged as the finest picture gallery to survive from any ancient civilisation, and some of the greatest art produced by humankind in any century.
In the summer of 1819, a British hunting party discovered Cave 10, the first of these 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments. This long hall has 39 octagonal pillars with figures of orange- and yellow-robed monks with green halos stood on blue lotus flowers. Paintings of elaborate crowd scenes covered the panels on the walls.
The Ajanta Caves contain the oldest Buddhist paintings in existence, dating from only 300 years after the death of the Buddha. These masterpieces of Buddhist religious art show the past lives and rebirths of Buddha, Buddhist traditions, costumes of the period, pictorial tales from Aryasura's Jatakamala, and rock-cut sculptures of Buddhist deities.
The colours of the artwork are still vivid today. From 1999, the paintings were painstakingly restored using cutting-edge Japanese conservation technology, infrared light and micro-emulsion to remove most of the layers of shellac, hard soot and grime.
The caves were a monsoon retreat for monks and a resting place for merchants and pilgrims in ancient India and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
You can visit the Ajanta Caves on our Mumbai, Ancient Caves and Goa Holiday or as part of your own bespoke Indian holiday. Contact our travel experts on 01792 315499 or email email@example.com