Ellora caves are a group of ancient rock-cut caves located in the Aurangabad district of the west Indian state of Maharashtra. It is known to be one of the largest rock-cut cave temples in the world.
It particularly features carvings and art related to Hindu religion and a few Buddhist and Jain monuments.
The Ellora caves date back to the 600–1000 CE period. These are intricately carved from mountain rocks, and are known to have served as lodgings to travelling Buddhist and Jain monks besides being a site for the trade route.
The inscriptions on the walls of these Caves and other artworks within this date back to the 6th century – one of the inscriptions is the Rashtrakuta Dantidurga on the Cave number 15, which was inscribed during 753 to 757 A.D., and is the most popular of all.
There are over 100 caves in the Ellora group of caves; all of which are excavated from the basalt cliffs in Charanandri Hills in the region. But only 34 of these are open to the public.
The caves consist of 17 Hindu caves (13 – 29), 12 Buddhist caves (1 – 12) and 5 Jain caves (30 – 34) caves, each group representing the deities and mythologies related to each of these religions in the 1st millennium.
Cave no.16 features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world - the Kailash temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Lord Shiva; which also has sculptures depicting some other Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
Ellora caves are located on the Aurangabad-Chalisgaon Road at a distance of 30 km (about 18.6 miles) northwest of Aurangabad city. Public transport (like buses or cabs) is easily available to reach Ellora caves; and being a popular tourist site, it is not too difficult to find.
The nearest airport to Ellora caves is the Aurangabad Airport – a domestic airport which is about 37 km away. Public transport is easily available outside the airport. The closest international airports are at Mumbai (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport) and Delhi (Indira Gandhi International Airport).
Aurangabad railway station and Jalgaon railway station are the closest train terminals. Aurangabad railway station is situated about 28.6 km (17.77 miles) from the caves while Jalgaon junction is situated 59 km (36,66 miles) away; and both are well connected to various cities in India.
The entry ticket to Ellora Caves costs INR 40 for Indian national visitors and tourists from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries; and INR 600 for other foreign nationals. However, the entry is free for kids under the age of 15. An audio-visual guide is also available for purchase for the tourists at the tourist information centre which also has eateries, shops and auditoriums.
A series of 34 opulent rock-cut temples situated in the state of Maharashtra, the Ellora Caves are spread out in their glory for over a distance of 2km. Designated as the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ellora Caves are cut-out basaltic rocks that comprise 12 Buddhist Caves, 17 Hindu temples, and 5 Jain temples with a dramatic facade and intricately carved interiors.