Ajanta caves – Heritage site in India

The world famous Ajanta Caves including the unfinished ones are thirty in number, of which five (9, 10, 19, 26 and 29) are chaitya-grihas and the rest are viharas (monasteries). After centuries of oblivion, these caves were discovered in AD 1819. They fall into two distinct phases with a break of nearly four centuries between them. All the caves of the earlier phase date between second century BC-AD. The caves of the second phase were excavated during the supremacy of the Vakatakas and Guptas.

A few paintings, which survive on the walls of Caves 9 and 10 date back to the second century BC-AD. The second group of the paintings started in about the fifth century AD and continued for the next two centuries as noticeable in later Caves. Caves 1, 2, 16 and 17 have remarkable paintings with themes intensely religious in tone and centre around Buddha, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Buddha and the jatakas. The paintings are executed on a ground of mud-plaster in the tempera technique.