Amazingly carved out of the face of Charanandri hill are the Ajanta and Ellora caves, located at a distance of 100km and 30 km respectively from Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
Declared World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO Ajanta and Ellora caves were discovered by John Smith , a British Officer in 1819.
The caves at Ajanta are all Buddhist, while the caves at Ellora are a mixture of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. These caves show the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.
The Ajanta caves tell the story of Buddhism continuing from 200 BC to 650 AD. The 29 caves were built as isolated recede for Buddhist monks for their teaching and performing rituals in Chaityas and Viharas, the ancient seats of learning and nerve centers of the Buddhist cultural movement. Monks had carved out the impressive figures adorning the walls of these structures simply by using simple tools like hammer and chisel. Depictions like 'the birth of Buddha', 'the thousand Buddhas', 'seventeen Jatakas', 'The elephant scattering lotus', 'the black princess' and 'the row of dancers' have mesmerized visitors all across the globe.
The Ellora caves were created by etching the sides of a basaltic hill belonging to the era 350 AD to 700 AD. There are 34 caves in Ellora. 5 caves are dedicated to Jainism towards North, 17 to Hinduism in the Center and 12 caves are dedicated to Buddhism towards the South. Images of Hindu and Buddhist faith are under one roof in Ellora caves which show the religious harmony of that Era. One such cave is the Vishwakarma cave which is dedicated to Lord Vishwakarma, the Hindu god of craftsmanship, wherein a two-storied structure of seated Buddha positioned on top of a stupa , can also be seen.