Not far from Aurangabad, at Ellora and Ajanta, are some of the finest examples of cave architecture in the world. Constructed mainly by Buddhist monks as early as 200 B.C., the caves form a pocket history of Buddhist art and thought. At Ellora the caves are masterpieces of sculpture whereas at Ajanta the caves are famous for their magnificent paintings.
Day 1 - Aurangabad
On arrival at Aurangabad you are met and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon you enjoy a guided tour of Aurangabad. You visit the Bibi ka Maqbara, built by Azam Shah, the son of Aurangzeb, in 1678, to rival the world famous Taj Mahal of Agra. Sadly, it has none of the finesse or the grace of proportion of the Taj Mahal. Just to the North is the magnificent hilltop fortress of Daulatabad. This huge complex was briefly the capital of India during the 14th century and contains many ruined palaces within its 5km walls.
Day 2 - Aurangabad
Full day excursion to the Ajanta Caves (2nd century B.C. till 650 A.D.) reflect the peak of ancient Indian art and architecture. The caves were cut in rocky cliffs above a horseshoe shaped valley to create prayer halls and place of residence for Buddhist monks. Craft workers cut out the rock and sculpted it whilst others made beautiful murals depicting places, royalty, culture and tales of everyday life of ancient India. As Buddhism gradually declined, the Ajanta caves were abandoned and eventually forgotten. It was as late as in the 19th century that a party of British officers discovered the Ajanta caves. Their isolation contributed to the fine state of preservation of the remarkable paintings.
Day 3 - Aurangabad
Morning excursion to Ellora. Artists worked at the cave site of Ellora, 30 km from Aurangabad, from the sixth century A.D. till about 1000 A.D., creating Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain caves next to each other. The masterpiece at Ellora is the astonishing Kailasa temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It is the world's largest monolithic sculpture, carved out of one single rock cliff by 7000 labourers over a 150 year period. The workers started at the top and gradually cut downward, an amazing feat of architecture with no room for improvisation or error. The temple is called the Kailasa temple, taking its name from Mount Kailash, a Tibetan peak in the Himalaya considered to be a divine axis between heaven and earth, where the Hindus believe Shiva lives. In the afternoon you transfer to Aurangabad airport to board the flight to Mumbai to connect with your onward travel. Alternatively, we can arrange for you to take the afternoon train to Mumbai (7 1/2 hrs). Feel free to add any special requirements to your enquiry form.