India is a unique country. It is a land full of diversity, culture, and world views that leave foreigners spellbound. In India, one can see gleaming temples, the majestic Himalayas, weddings on residential streets, and oddities like randomly seeing elephants crossing the street using pedestrian crossings or herds of water buffalo wandering down the streets in a city of a million.

India also has a deep history with Buddhism (which originated in India) being one of the world's oldest major religions. One of the most eye-catching attractions in India is the Ajanta Caves. These UNESCO-listed Buddhist cave monuments are world-famous, and something everyone should visit. India is a country everyone should visit - although there are some things first-timers should watch out for.

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Who Created The Ajanta Caves?

The Ajanta Caves date from the 2nd century BC to around 480 AD and are made up of around 30 Buddhist caves. They were built in two phases (one in the 2nd century BC and another between around 460-480 AD). They are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra and are

  • Built: Between The 2nd Century BC and 480 AD
  • Location: In The Indian State of Maharashtra

The Ajanta Caves are ancient monasteries and worship-halls hailing from different Buddhist traditions. The Ajanta Caves were created by followers of Buddhism. The first phase was created by the Hinayana/Theravadin followers of Buddhism - in this Buddhist tradition, the caves are simple and austere as Buddha was worshiped in an aniconic/symbolic form.

  • Builders: Hinayana/Theravadin Buddhists And Mahayana Buddhists

In the second phase, the Ajanta Caves were built by the Mahayana followers of Buddhism. In contrast, Buddha was worshiped as an icon/idol form. In this later stage, the earlier caves were reused and more were excavated. These later caves display much more architectural and sculptural fervor with many exquisite and embellished mural paintings and decorations.

Not all the caves were completed, some (caves 5, 24, 29) were left unfinished and from these researchers learn about the methodology and techniques used in excavating the stunning caves.

Related: A Travel Guide To India: Tourists Should Plan Their Trip Around These 11 Things

Why Are The Ajanta Caves Famous?

The paintings and sculptures of Ajanta, considered masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, have had a considerable artistic influence... Ajanta Caves exemplifies one of the greatest achievements in ancient Buddhist rock-cut architecture.UNESCO

The Ajanta Caves are considered some of the best surviving examples of ancient Indian art. They are remarkable for their expressive paintings exuding emotions through their form, gesture, and pose.

  • Designated: World Heritage Since 1983
  • Famous For: Vivid Colors And Embellished Mural Wall-Paintings
  • Largest: The Caves Have The Largest Collection of Surviving Ancient Indian Wall Paintings

Visiting The Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves were rediscovered to the wider world in 1819 by British officer Captain John Smith while on a tiger hunt. Today the Ajanta Caves are one of the major tourist attractions of India. In total there are around 100 caves of which 34 are open to the public.

  • Number of Caves: 100 Caves Total - 34 Caves Open To the Public

One can choose to visit by oneself or with an organized tour of the Ajanta Caves and have the option of hiring a local guide there. India can be an intense and overwhelming country for tourists to visit. For many, that is part of the charm and attraction of India, but for others, it's frustrating and stressful. For those who would like a hassle-free experience in India, it is better to book organized tours.

Related: This Is How India Can Be A Great Destination For Solo Travelers

Guided Tour Of Ajanta Caves Example

One example of a guided tour is Ajanta Ellora Caves Combo- 2 Day Guided Tour offered by TravelGreed Tourism. On this tour, guests also visit the Mini Taj Mahal and the Huge Fort. The tour includes a private air-conditioned car, an expert guide, all admission tickets, and more.

With this tour, visitors can gain a much deeper understanding of the Ajanta Caves, their history, and many little-known facts about the historic sites.

  • Price: From $157.00
  • Duration: 2 Days
  • Attractions: Ajanta Caves, Mini Taj Mahal, Huge Fort
  • Type: Private Tour
  • Excluded: Lunch, Dinner, Accommodation
  • Guide: Licensed Guide

India is a massive country with a history and collection of ancient monuments that are often lost on the outside world. If one would like to learn about Buddhism in the United States, there are a number of Buddhist Monasteries in the USA which accept visitors.