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India's Caves - Ajunta Caves
India's Historical Caves
If I am blessed in visiting India someday I would love to visit the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. These caves are pieces of India' s History each site is approx. 62 miles apart. I am going to start with some of the history of the Ajanta caves. They are the smaller ones of the two groups but no less amazing then the caves of Ellora. The Ajanta caves are filled with detailed sculptures and paintings. The caves are located in the Indian state of Maharshtra, Jalgon just outside of the village of Ajintha.
The Ajanta caves are carved into the side of a cliff on the river of Waghona a small river. Many years ago people would get up to these cave by using stairs and ladders from down by the river. Now there is modern pathways making much easier access to the caves and safer. I could not see myself climbing up a 100ft ladder no matter how beautiful the caves at the top were. I know I would love to see these caves with all their beautiful sculptures and paintings but not climbing a ladder to get there that's for sure.
The buildings at the Ajanta caves were known to be Buddhist monasteries where students, teachers and priests would live. When they were being used they would have had around several hundred people staying there at a time. During the monsoon season it is thought that monks that had finished their training would come back and stay there during this time. It is hard to believe that this place used to house so many to end up becoming deserted and forgotten about for so many years.
Finding the caves of Ajanta was like unwrapping a piece of hidden history; it has such a mystical feel to it. I am so glad they were found again so that the public has a chance to lay eyes on them and enjoy their beauty which is on so many different levels. What a shame it would have been for them to be left forever buried under the jungle's leafs and vines. The sculptures and paintings were made to be viewed and enjoyed were they not? The people who built these buildings of worship could not for see that in the future these glorious buildings or works of art would become abandoned; but on a brighter note they got rediscovered this opened the doors for the world to have a chance to enjoy the Ajanta caves as they were meant to be.
Rediscovering Hidden Treasure
I can't imagine the shock of surprise on the face of John Smith the British Calvary officer who was the one who rediscovered the Ajanta caves in 1819. He was on a Tiger hunt when he found more than he was bargaining for. The Ajanta caves had been buried under the jungle leafs and vines for many years hidden away and forgotten about. It was like they had become out of sight out of mind. He must have been in disbelief that such wonderful works of art were basically abandoned in the middle of the jungle left to allow the jungle inhabitants to do as they wished with them.
Ajanta caves combined with a trip to Ellora caves makes a popular day trip for tourists visiting Historical sites of India. In 2010 there was 390,000 visitors to the caves; they have been visited by people from all over the world who want to admire these pieces of India's history. It is amazing to think that their architecture, glorious paintings and sculptures could have remained lost and swallowed up by the jungle if the British Officer "John Smith" hadn't of rediscovered it. The tiger he was hunting probably used the caves as his lair. I can picture him sprawled out over the cool stone floor of an Ajanta cave looking like the lord of his lair. I hope you will join me for my next stop which will be at the Ellora caves; until then bye for now.