The Buddhist caves of Ajanta were discovered by British officers in 1819. The Ajanta Caves were first mentioned in the writings of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang who visited India between AD 629 and 645. The caves at Ajanta are older than those at Ellora. The thirty caves at Ajanta are set in a steep crescent-shaped hillside. The caves offer mesmerizing sculptures and paintings depicting Buddha's life as well as his previous lives. Five of these caves are Chaityas (Places of worship) while the other 25 are Viharas (monasteries). The Ajanta Caves can be chronologically divided into two phases, the early Buddhist caves of 2nd century BC to first century AD and the Mahayana caves dating to 5th century AD.
Ajanta is located on an ancient trade route known as ‘Dakshinapatha’. The Dakshinapatha (southern road) trade route was one of two great highways that connected different parts of the sub-continent since the Iron Age. Monasteries continued to operate here at least till the 8th century AD after which the site was forgotten till its rediscovery in 1819. The 30 caves, including the unfinished ones, were inhabited by Buddhist monks and religious devotees for more than 800 years. The caves are an outstanding testimony to the evolution of Indian art, representing the flourishing Buddhist architecture and religious influence of the prominent religion under the rule of the Guptas (the Gupta Empire’s zenith is between 320 AD and 550 AD also called the Golden Age of India with its peace and advancements in science and philosophy). The caves have both female and male representations. These are the only caves where you will find depictions from both, the Hinayana and Mahayana sects of Buddhism. After your guided tour of the caves you will be transferred back to your hotel in .