These 3rd-century caves are considered the finest masterpiece of Buddhist art and architecture. These historical man-made caves comprise of beautiful paintings on the walls and ceilings that depict the life of the Buddha. Visiting these caves is like traveling back to the past. At Ajanta, the paintings on the walls, illustrate the events in the life of Gautama Buddha.
In the early 19th century, the long buried Ajanta Caves were discovered unknowingly by a British Army Officer. At this juncture, the beautiful sculpted caves that were lying deep within the Sahyadri Hills, above the Waghora River, came into the sight. The cave temples are sited in a horse-shoe shaped cliff, where Wagura is flowing at the bottom. Wagura River falls from a height of 200 feet, consequently making a series of waterfalls. The thud of these waterfalls can be easily noticed in the Caves. The wall paintings of the caves are made with the Tempera technique. This technique involves painting on a dry surface, after the wall is coated with 1 cm thick layer of a mixture made of clay, cow dung and rice husks. The painting is coated with a coat of lime on completion. In those times, the colors used to be natural. As per the facts revealed by Archaeological department, the caves were carved out in two different segments, with a gap of more or less four centuries. The caves made in the first segment, date back to 2nd century BC whereas the caves of the second segment are said to have been made by the Vakatakas and the Guptas. Each cave comprises carvings and paintings representing the incidents of Buddha's life, Bodhisattvas and the Jatakas.
By: Swati Kaushal