Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra
Ajanta is a series of rock-cut caves in the Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats) on Waghora river near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. There are a total of 29 caves (all Buddhist) of which 25 were used as Viharas or residential caves while 4 were used as Chaitya or prayer halls. The caves were developed in the period between 200 B.C. to 650 A.D.
The Ajanta caves were inscribed by the Buddhist monks, under the patronage of the Vakataka kings – Harishena being a prominent one. Reference of the Ajanta caves can be found in the travel accounts of Chinese Buddhist travellers Fa Hien (during the reign of Chandragupta II; 380- 415 CE) and Hieun Tsang (during the reign of emperor Harshavardhana; 606 – 647 CE).
The paintings in caves are generally themed around Buddhism – the life of Buddha and Jataka stories.
The caves were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.