Ellora Caves are an impressive complex of rock shrines, representing the three different faiths of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, that were excavated between the 5th to the 13th centuries CE. The complex is in Maharashtra State, about 24km from Aurangabad.
Two trains, the Tapovan Express and the Devgiri Express, depart daily from Mumbai to Aurangabad.
Jalgaon (59km from Ajanta) is the nearest station where you should alight while coming from Delhi or Mumbai.
The caves are open 09.00-17.30 but remain closed on Tuesday. both caves remain open on all national holidays. Entry IDR10 for Indians, IDR250 for foreigners with free entry for children below 15 years. Still photography is free, but video photography costs an extra IDR25.
The 34 caves at Ellora and the 29 caves at Ajanta remained in obscurity for over a millennium, until John Smith, a British Army Officer, accidentally stumbled upon them while on a hunting expedition in 1819. Ajanta and Ellora are protected monument sites under the Archaeological Survey of India and has been included in the World Heritage list of monuments.
Visitors who can not visit all the caves should visit at least cave 6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 21, 29, 30, 30A, 31, 32, 33, 34. Inscriptions were found at cave 15, 21, 31
The best cave to visit if really pressed for time is cave 16, although this is more of a temple that has been cut away from above, than an actual cave. The carving and work required for this cave is potentially greater than all the other caves in Ellora. It is easy to find this cave as it is directly in-front of the entrance. Most photos of Ellora caves feature this cave as the centerpiece. See more details on Ellora Caves .
Nearby there are other caves, called Ajanta Caves. The murals and frescoes adorning the walls of these structures depict the story of Buddhism, spanning the period from 200 BC to 650 AD. Many of the caves have panels depicting stories from the Jatakas, a treasure trove of stories about the several incarnations of the Buddha. This makes the Ajanta caves a fascinating spiritual tourist attraction for Buddhists and scholars and researchers of Buddhism.
Ajanta Cave number 1 houses some of the best-preserved wall paintings here, which include two impressive Bodhisattvas, Padmapani and Avalokiteshvara. Caves 2, 16, and 17 also contain amazing paintings, while caves 1, 4, 17, 19, 24, and 26 boast of some of the most divine sculptures. The flying apsara painting in Cave 17, and the image of the Buddha preaching, also in cave 17, are two unforgettable works of art in Ajanta. The Ajanta caves and the treasures they house are a landmark in the overall development of Buddhism in India and in general.
Archaeological Survey of India book: World Heritage Series Ellora IDR99
Hotel Kailash is an older hotel and has an attached Beer Bar. Hotel Manor, Hotel Ambience and several other Indian restaurants are along the road to Aurangabad from Ellora. Hygiene and spice level may be an issue for some.