Aug 182011

Reaching Ellora:

After getting mesmerized by the beauty of paintings in Ajanta Caves a day before and blessed by Sai Baba at Shirdi in the next early morning, I returned to Aurangabad around 11 AM. I wanted to see the Ellora Caves now. I met some people during my trip to Ajanta who said that Ellora site is more beautiful than Ajanta. Ellora is just 30 kms away from Aurangabad and state operated buses are available frequently on this route. I boarded the bus along-with 10 foreigners. Foreigners generally prefer to visit this leg by bus due to short distance economical travel.

My Fellow Travellers after leaving the Bus at Ellora

On the way to Ellora is the Daulatabad Fort. I didn’t have the time to visit this mighty fort, but heard the story of this fort from a local fellow traveler. He told that this fort is an excellent example of internal defense system. If intruders managed to enter the fort anyhow, they got trapped in some tunnels and a bhulbhulaiya (the labyrinth) and guards would welcome them with hot oil and burning coals, grilling them alive.

A view of Daulatabad Fort taken from the bus


We reached Ellora in 40-50 minutes. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is believed to be built by Rashtrakuta Rulers and locally known as Verul Leni. While Ajanta is famous for wall paintings, Ellora is famous for rock-cut architecture. It has 34 rock-sculpted temples created between the 4th and 9th centuries. There are 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain caves containing rock-cut temples and monasteries. The Cave nos. 2, 5, 10 and 12 are of the Buddhist group, Cave nos. 14, 15, 16, 21 and 29 are of the Brahmanical group and Caves 32 to 34 are of the Jaina group. These caves are carved out a 2 km long cliff-face, running north-south. The Jain Temples are at the northern end, the Hindu caves and temples in the center and finally the Buddhist ones at the southern end.


While walking towards the northern end of the caves

Ellora Caves

Cave 16:

Out of all the 34 caves, the star attraction is Cave No.16, a single rock cut Kailashnath Temple. The Kailasha is a great monolithic rock cut temple isolated from the surrounding rock and excavated from top to bottom and scooped out all through from outside to inside. This is designed to recall Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva – looks like a freestanding, multi-storied temple complex. This temple is situated just in front of main entrance. The temple is a splendid achievement of Dravidian art. Kailasha is a temple complex, with all essential elements of a temple, including main shrine, Nandi shrine, gateway, surrounding cloisters and subsidiary shrines.

An outer view of Kailasha Temple

Elephant Rock Cut@Kailasha Temple

Manastambha a monolithic pillar@Kailasha

Wall of Kailasha Temple

Inside Kailash Temple

Ceiling of a Cave, Full of Bat

Rock cut@Kailasha

Cave 15:

The cave temple locally known as Dashavatara Temple because of the various incarnations of the Lord Vishnu depicted here, belongs to circa 8th century A.D.The whole temple is planned on a grand scale, executed on elevated platform and entered through a rock-cut gateway, which leads to a courtyard. The main structure is double storied. The ground floor has massive, square sectioned pillars with four cells and is plain and devoid of any sculpture. The upper floor is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Sculpture at a Wall

Wall of the upper floor of cave 15

Cave 14: The cave is locally known as Ravan ki Khai because of the sculpture of Ravana shaking the Kailasha Mountain.The wall of the hall contain a panel of seven-divine mothers. Cave 12: This is a Buddhist Monastry and is known as tin tal because of its three floors. It looks massive and majestic but the façade is very simple and does not betray the rich sculptures within.

@Ellora Caves

The caves no. 1, 2 and 5 are mainly Buddhist Monastry and depicts the life of Lord Budhha through sculptures within.The cave 1 may have been used as the residence of stone cutters earlier.

Row of seated Buddhas@Cave 12

Inside a Buddhist Cave

Another Buddhist Cave

After that I went to visit the northern end of the caves, a couple of kilometers far and mainly dedicated to Jain Religion. Cave 32 is a two-storied structure with some wonderful sculptures of Lord Mahavira. There is a large-size stone elephant standing on the right-side of the entrance. The upper floor which is an assembly hall, is called the Indra Sabha because of its exquisite and detailed carvings.

Lord Mahavira at a Jain Cave

Matanga, The god of wealth from cave 32

Huge Elephant Statue at Cave 32

More Pics from Ellora Caves:

A Cave Temple at the northern end of Ellora

A rock-cut sculpture

A rock-cut sculpture

A rock-cut sculpture

A Cave Entrance

Outer Decoration of a Jain Cave

It take full day to visit all the caves on the foot and the Sun rays and heat makes you tired while walking.but as soon as you enter from one cave to another, you forget everything in these non-living beauties of the rocks. The rocks at Ellora really rock!These amazing caves do not need any word to hypnotize a person. These are beyond the limits of words and a human imagination, but when you are at Ellora, you have to re-think about the power of being human. These caves give you a clear thought that a human creature can do anything at any point of time in history and become an inspiration of its future generations.

Bhadra Hanuman Temple, Khuldabad

While returning i had passed through The Bhadra Hanuman Temple at Khuldabad, few kms away from Ellora. The shared jeep stopped there for 5 minutes. Later I came to know that Grishneswar Temple which i missed during my Ellora trip is one of 12 Jyotirlingas and only one km away from Ellora Caves, but I also missed Daulatabad Fort and Biwi ka Maqbara at Aurangabad due to the shortage of time, so looking forward for another visit to this historical town in Maharashtra.

  10 Responses to “A Solo Backpacker’s Day at Ellora Caves”

  1. Sir,
    What is the minimum time required to complete seeing all the caves?

  2. Dear Solo Backpacker,
    It is the best guiding article about Elora (and also Ajanta) that I found so far in internet. Thanks a lot for sharing these in a very easy language.

    I am David from Bangladesh. I am planning to visit both of these caves this Feb. I will be staying at a Hotel in Aurangabad with my family (of 8). Could you please let me know
    1. whether there are one day tour package for Ajanta and Elora (two separate days)?
    2. Or, should we take a van from Aurangabad?
    3. How much does a Tourist Guide cost for the day/half day?
    4. I will have two kids in my group, should we take any other preparation?

    I may not ask you these many questions but it seems that you are an expert on this. Thanks a lot bro/sis.

    • Hi,

      1. whether there are one day tour package for Ajanta and Elora (two separate days)?

      It should be available with many tour operators in Aurangbad, but I have no idea. You can visit both the places independently, because they have good transportation and guide facility. So, a tour package is actually not required. I visited independently.

      2. Or, should we take a van from Aurangabad?

      Since, you are with two kids, it’s better to hire a cab from Aurangabad (Ajanta, 96 kms). A cab between Aurangabad-Ajanta-Aurangabad may cost you approx INR 2000. Ellora is very close to Aurangabad (32 kms, not more than one hour), so you can go there by public bus/hired cab. It’s your choice.

      3. How much does a Tourist Guide cost for the day/half day?

      Tourist Guides may charge approx INR 700 per visit.

      4. I will have two kids in my group, should we take any other preparation?

      No special preparation required. Just carry drinking water while roaming around the caves.

      Have a great trip. 🙂

  3. hi, are there any places to stay near ajanta??

    • Hi, You can stay in Maharashtra Tourism Department’s properties (MTDC Ajanta and Ajanta Tourist Resort) at Fardapur near Ajanta. It is just adjacent to the main highway, but if you plan to spend only a day there, it’s better to return to Aurangabad in the evening.

  4. What were your starting points for both the cave trips and where did you stay?

    • Aurangabad is the best place to use as the base for both the places. There are plenty of accommodation available in Aurangabad. Ajanta is about 90 kms from Aurangabad. Better to go Ajanta one day and Ellora another day. You can also explore other destinations like Daulatabad, Shirdi and Aurangabad itself during your trip.

  5. Hi there if you had to chose between going here to to Ajanta caves what would be your choice?

    • Both have its own charms and entirely different. Ellora basically has rock-cut carvings and architecture , while Ajanta is famous for its wall paintings. If you don’t have time and want to visit only one place, then go to Ellora, since it is very near to Aurangabad City (30 kms), while Ajanta is about 100 kms away from the city.

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