Our drive to Aurangabad was combined with a visit to the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. I had only read of these magnificent monastery/temple complexes in school, and when an opportunity came up to travel to Aurangabad, we were thrilled to be able to visit these UNESCO world heritage sites, which have become of the top places for tourism in India.
Ellora is the world’s largest rock cut temple/monastery sites in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site features over 100 caves, out of which about 34 are open to the public.
Built around 600-1000 AD, Ellora Caves were built around an ancient trade route. These caves served as temples for prayers, moasteries for monks and also places for pilgrims to stay. The intricately carved caves tell stories Buddhist, Jain and Hindu religious beliefs and traditions. If you are interested in a detailed visit, plan for more than a day.
One of the largest caves here is Cave 16, the Kailash Temple. Carved out of a single block of stone, this large multi storeyed temple complex is 106 feet tall and 280 feet X 160 feet at the base. The Kailash Temple is considered one of the world’s largest sculptures. Dedicated to Shiva, the Kailash Temple is double the size of The Parthenon at Greece.
Our visit to Ellora was almost a year ago and I have started forgetting details of the images, overwhelming that they are. But they are still here to get you a sneak peek into these wonders of our ancient culture.
A very detailed post on the caves is here at ElloraCaves.org.
How to reach Ellora Caves: There are a number of buses that ply to Ajanta and Ellora from various destinations. Aurangabad is the nearest airport. We drove from Mumbai spending one night in Pune.
Where to stay Ellora Caves: Numerous stay options are here. We really loved Ellora Homestay, but for some reason couldn’t stay there. The Meadows in Aurangabad is situated on the road to Ellora Caves, but we felt it was slightly expensive for what it offered.