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Aurangabad Caves

Aurangabad is an important center of pilgrimage for Hindus. The ancient Buddhist Caves and sculptures are some of the most popular landmarks of the town. Everyone has heard of the famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but its distant cousin Aurangabad Caves are also worth a visit. These structures are the early example of Buddhist architecture. Consisting of twelve caves, these structures are primarily Buddhist and were sliced out of a hill.

Keynotes of Aurangabad Caves

Address: Grishneswar temple Road, Aurangabad, Maharashtra 431101

Opening time: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (closed on Mondays)

Entry fee: 300 INR

Famous for: Cave paintings and murals

Visit Duration: Half a day

Best time to visit: October to March is suitable for the trip  

How to reach: Located 10 km (6.2mi) away from the main city center, tourists can board private taxis or public transport to reach the Aurangabad caves.

The Overview of the Aurangabad Caves

Located north-west of Aurangabad city, these caverns were cut during the 6th to 8th centuries. Many consider these caves to be the predecessor of the Ajanta and Ellora Caves, but there is an ongoing debate regarding this assumption. The twelve caves, all Buddhist, were mostly Viharas or monasteries assembly halls. Divided into three groups - consisting of Cave 1 to 5, Cave 6 to 9, and Cave 10 and 12 – these caverns contain interesting murals and sculptures.

Built during the 4th century BC, one could find a mixture of different Buddhist traditions in this structure. The Hinayana style stupas, deities belonging to Vajrayana, and artworks referencing Mahayana sects of Buddhism could be found here. In these caves, one could find the reference to several Hindu gods and goddesses like Durga, and Ganesha could be seen on the walls of the cave. References to Tantric Buddhist traditions are also present.

From the top of the ridge, visitors can have a panoramic view of the Aurangabad city. This place is ideal for trekking and hiking. Due to its proximity to other important landmarks of the city, these ghettoes can be covered in a day trip to Aurangabad.      

Attractions of the Aurangabad Caves

These structures, cut out of soft basalt rock, are divided into three groups. The first group comprises of five caves contains sculptures of Buddha in a meditative state. Cave I is a vihara with an incomplete interior, with two windows and a door frame. The adjoining verandah is adorned with the cravings of gods and demigods. Inside the cave, one can find the gains t statue of Buddha sitting in a meditative pose.

Second Cave, Cave II, has a shrine in the middle of the hall and the room is supported by four pillars. Buddha, attended by Maitreya and Padmapani on each side, is depicted seated on the glorious lion throne and resting his hands on his knees (Dharmachakra Mudra). Apart from that, the walls of the can be are adorned with images of Buddha doing daily tasks.      

The Cave III has a vihara supported by four pillars and an open verandah. Just like other caves, it has a shrine in the center of the primary hall. The floral decorations over the door panel and the Naga guardians carved on the doorframes give this cavern an attractive look. The central figure, Buddha on the seated on a double lotus, is teaching his disciples and devotes.  

Aurangabad Caves, IV, and V contain unrefined and incomplete carvings work. However, the Cave V contains a statue of Buddha, sitting on padmasana with his hands in Dhyana Mudra.   
The second group of caves (from VI to X) resembles the Ajanta Caves, in structure and design – although on a smaller scale. These caves have Buddha on a throne, sitting in different poses or asanas. Among these caverns, Cave VII is the most interesting one. Consisting of a wide verandah and two small chapels, here one can find carvings of Hariti and Pancika (two deities of Buddhism), Tara (a meditation deity of Vajrayana Buddhism).           

The entire place is filled with different relics associated with Buddhism, which makes this place very interesting.

Things to Do at the Aurangabad Caves

1. Cave exploration

It is no brainer that cave exploration is a must here. The ancient Aurangabad Caves were primarily Buddhist monasteries, where monks lived and prayed. Stunning sculptures and carvings make this place a treasure trove of information for the history buffs.  

2. Trekking or hiking

Located on the Sihaychal ranges, the place attracts lovers of trekking and hiking. The steep and narrow paths, steep climb and uphill and downhill trail are preferred by several trekking enthusiasts. While visiting the Aurangabad Caves one must wear comfortable footwear for additional comfort.

3. Photography

For photography lovers, the place provides a panoramic view of the city and a beautiful green space. The place is ideal for nature photography.

Tips to Remember While Visiting the Caves

1.  The climb could be very steep, so wearing comfortable shoes is advisable
2.  Protection from the sun is important, so always wear a good sunblock and carry a hat
3.  Guides are available, hiring one could help you in uncovering the caves better
4.  Carry water, as you might feel dehydrated after a long steep climb

See More in Aurangabad:

Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad – The Deccan’s Taj Mahal

Uncovering the Mysterious of Kailasa Temple