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Mumbai

Ajanta & Ellora Caves have the distinction of being counted amongst the World Heritage Sites in India. Located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, these caves are rock-cut cave monuments that represent the Indian rock-cut architecture. Ajanta Caves are about 99 kms, while Ellora caves are sited at a distance of 30 kms from Aurangabad city of India.

Ajanta Caves
In 1819, some British Army officers came across Ajanta Caves when they were on a tiger hunt. Once the monsoon retreats of Buddhist monks, these caves are constructed in an extremely detailed manner. There are thirty caves in total, out of which five are prayer halls (Chaitya) and others are monasteries (Vihara). Here, one can see a distinctive amalgamation of architecture, sculpture and paintings. Built between 2nd and- 4th century, Ajanta Caves depict two phases of architecture, where one is Hinayana phase and the other is Mahayana phase.

Portrayal of Contemporary Society
The interiors of the caves depict the contemporary society of those times. The carvings and the murals represent people, ranging from kings to slaves, women, men and children. These figures are entwined with flowers, plants, fruits, birds and beasts. Figures of 'Yakshas', 'Kinneras' (half human and half bird), 'Gandharvas' (divine musicians) and 'Apsaras' (divine dancers), are showcased here in a picturesque manner.

The Caves - Monasteries & Prayer Halls
Dedicated completely to Buddhism, Ajanta Caves are divided into 'Chaitya Grihas' (prayer halls) and 'Viharas' (monasteries). Out of all the caves, only five are prayer halls (9, 10, 19, 26 and 29) and rest of them are monasteries. From artistic point of view, the Caves worth mentioning are 1, 2, 16 and 17 which truly boast of marvelous pieces of art. These caves are adorned with beautiful paintings depicting the life and incarnations of Buddha.

Wall Paintings
The carvings and the paintings in the caves reveal the creative vision of the artist. The themes of the paintings portray the religious intensity of the sculptors and painters, who depict events from the life of Buddha and the Jataka Tales. In the tempera technique, the paintings are done on a base of mud-plaster. Ajanta caves also throw light on the enlightening history of the times, which includes court scenes, street scenes and cameos of domestic life as well.

Ellora Caves
Built by the Rashtrakuta Dynasty, Ellora Caves present the quintessence of Indian rock-cut architecture. These are 35 cave structures, including Buddhist monasteries, Hindu and Jain Temples, which were excavated out of the Charanandri Hills. Built between the 5th and 10th century, there are twelve Buddhist caves (caves 1-12), seventeen Hindu (caves 13-29) and five Jain caves (caves 30-34) in Ellora. All these caves face the west direction. The exquisite architecture of these caves is worth taking a glimpse.

Alibaug

Set in the lap of nature, Alibag is a coastal town of India, famous for its clean waters, sandy beaches and fresh air. It makes a great escapade for the Mumbaikars, owing to its close proximity to Mumbai, which is around 35 kms away. Alibaug is an amazingly beautiful place, where nature appears at its best. If truth be told, no words can do justice to the mystic charm of Alibagh. Dotted with serene beaches, this exotic town is one of few places that boast of stunning coastline fringed with coconut trees.In geographical terms, Alibag falls at the southern tip of Mumbai, on the narrow strip of Arabian Sea. Here, you can glimpse farm houses of Mumbai's well-heeled people, beside the charming village houses. Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre, who was a naval chief of Shivaji's kingdom, founded this stunning place in the 17th century. Earlier, one could reach here only through boat from Revas, Dharamtar and Mankule, since it was not connected by road. With advent of roadways, travel and tourism have boost up in Alibagh.

Elephanta Caves

Earlier called Gharapuri is today's Elephanta Island, which is known for embracing the remarkable Elephanta Caves. To be found about 10 kms off the eastern coast of Mumbai, Elephanta Caves has been given the position of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The exquisite architecture of these caves makes them a popular attraction for the tourists coming to Mumbai. The caves are believed to have been carved during the 9th to 13th century, in the ruling period of Silhara kings. The Portuguese vandalized majority of their sculptures in the 17th century. Take a flight of over 100 steps and reach the hill, where you will get the heavenly glimpse of the entire island and nearby caves.






























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