We have been reading about the magnificent paintings of Ajanta & beautiful sculptures of Ellora since we were kids. I have seen some of the most beautiful photos of Ajanta and Ellora caves in my history book and since then it has been on my bucket list. These two UNESCO world heritage sites are a man-made wonder and a fun one-day trip from Aurangabad. 35 km from the Aurangabad city, Ellora is a well-connected tourist destination in Maharashtra and the place I always dreamt of visiting.
Our Visit To Ellora Caves
The name Ellora is derived from the name of the base village at that time – Ellapur. Ellora is a group of 100 caves placed in the Sahyadri mountain ranges along the horseshoe shape mountains. Out of the 100 caves, 34 caves are open for public. These caves represent the artwork of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. It can be categorized into 3 groups based on the religious artwork- 12 Buddhist caves (500-750 AD), 17 Hindu caves (600-870 AD) and 5 Jain caves (800-1000 AD). Out of the 34 caves, we found Cave 16 the most beautiful. Of the 4 hours we spent here, we spent most of our time in Cave 16, admiring the Kailasa temple and various sculptures.
We paid the fee of Rs. 30 per person and entered the premises. We went straight to Cave 16 and hired a guide. If you want to know about the caves, hire a guide. No matter how much you read on Google, the best way to know the history behind each sculpture is through a local guide.
At the entrance of the cave, we were greeted by Padmini & Shivamani Statue. The Kailasa temple is at the center of the cave. In the area surrounding the Kailasa temple, we came across sculptures of Hindu Gods like Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth & Prosperity), Shiva (the protector, the destroyer and regenerator of universe) and his wife Parvati, Ganpati (most worshiped deities in the Hindu pantheon and the son of Shiva and Parvati) and Krishna (God of compassion). These sculptures tell the stories of Shiva-Parvati marriage, Lord Ganesha’s childhood, Lord Krishna’s childhood, Ramayana, and Mahabharata.
After going through these sculptures one by one, we finally went to the Kailasanatha temple popularly known as Kailasa situated at the center of the cave. It is one of the largest megalith carved out of one single rock and one of the most beautiful Hindu temples we have visited so far. It is difficult to visualize artists in the 6th Century carving a masterpiece just by using a hammer and a chisel. The carvers started working from the top of the rock and excavated downwards. The construction of this temple started during the reign of King Dantidurga and spanned across the reigns of multiple kings. It is dark inside the temple. Make sure you carry a torch/ lamp/ mobile flashlight and study the paintings on the walls and ceiling of the temple.
How to Reach?
Aurangabad – You can reach Aurangabad by Air/ train/ road. Aurangabad is just 7 hours by car or train from Mumbai and 1 hour by flight. Once you reach Aurangabad, you can rent a car for your day trip to Ellora and in the evening you can visit the popular Bibi–Ka–Maqbara (A Taj Mahal Replica). You can also book your trip through MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) for sightseeing and stay.
- Entry Ticket (Per Person)– Rs. 30
- Street food (Per Person)– Rs. 100
- Guide – Rs. 400
- Cab – Rs. 3000 per day
Total cost for 2 people = Rs. 3,660 ($ 57)
You can reduce the cost by 70% if you take public transport. One way bus ticket per person is just Rs. 60 ($1). You can easily get a bus to Ellora caves from Aurangabad central bus stand.
Few Images From Our Trip To Ellora Caves