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Ajanta and Alora Caves

An hours flight from Mumbai, Aurangabad is the most convenient point for visiting the world famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves. The city, which itself was the last bastion of the famous Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb, boasts of many architectural marvels of that era.In Aurangabad one can visit the Dargah of Baba Shah Muzaffar who was the spiritual guide of Emperor Aurangzeb. The Dargah has a mosque, a Madrasa (school for religious learning), a Kacheri (courtroom), Zenanas (Muslim ladies apartments) and Sarai (motel). The tomb is a plain edifice of red periphery surrounded by a screen of cusped arches. There are numerous fountains and tanks supplied by a Pan Chakki (water mill).
In the Southwest corner of the mosque is the tomb of a saint in beautiful marble. Here one can also visit the famous Bibi-ka-Maqbara which was intended to rival the Taj Mahal. Although the structure and form may lack the spiritual conviction and brilliance of the Taj, much of the applied surface ornament is distinguished; a testament to the continuing skill of the craftsmen after the spirit of the art had passed its climax.

Ellora Caves
This World heritage site is celebrated for its successive groups of Buddhist, Hindu & Jain rock-cut cave temples. The monuments at Ellora (closed on Tuesday), located at a distance of 30 kms, represent the last phase in the evolution of rock cut architecture and are remarkable for large-scale sculptural compositions and the range of iconographic themes. There are 12 Buddhist cave temples built between the 07th and 08th centuries, 17 Hindu caves temples built between 06th and 09th century and 5 Jain cave temples built in the 09th century. Cave 16 is one of the most famous and has Lord Shiva sculpted on the rocks – the largest monolith in the world, said to have taken 7,000 labourers, working in continuous shifts, 150 years to build. The other popular cave is No.32, a shrine within contain the seated Lord Mahavir, last of the 24 Tirthankars of Jainism. The Lotus design details on the columns are the finest examples of this craftsmanship of Ellora complex.

Ajanta Caves
Excursion to Ajanta caves (closed on Monday), located at a distance of 100 kms, is known for remarkably well preserved sculptures and paintings. The cave temples at Ajanta provide the most complete illustration of early Buddhist traditions in India. The cave temples are cut into the rocky sides of a dramatic crescent shaped gorge, at the head of which is a natural pool-fed by a waterfall. The caves at Ajanta are fine examples of rock cut halls and monasteries. They contain an impressive array of sculptures: principal images, accessory figures, narrative episodes and an elaborate repertory of decorative motifs. Here one can find 29 caves built between the 1st and 5th centuries.