The Ajanta and Ellora Caves, both UNESCO World Heritage sites, are among the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world. At Ajanta, there are 29 Buddhist cave temples dating from 2nd century BC. Meanwhile, the 34 Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist caves at Ellora date from the 6th century AD.
Most visitors opt to take an Ajanta and Ellora caves tour from Aurangabad, and it’s possible to explore both sites on a full-day tour. Those in Mumbai can also opt for a multi-day tour that includes transfers to and from Aurangabad Airport, an overnight stay in Aurangabad, and a visit to nearby attractions such as Aurangabad Caves, Daulatabad Fort, and the Taj Mahal–inspired Bibi Ka Maqbara shrine.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The best views of the Ellora Caves are from the hills above the Kailasa Temple—wear comfortable shoes or hiking boots if you plan to climb the hillside.
- Both sites have visitor centers that are equipped with restaurants, shops, restrooms, and parking.
- Bring a flashlight to the Ajanta caves—many are dark and poorly lit.
How to Get There
The caves are located in northern Maharashtra, around 250 miles (400 kilometers) northeast of Mumbai. The closest railway stations are Aurangabad for the Ellora caves (around 45 minutes from the station) and Jalgaon for the Ajanta caves (around 1.5 hours from the station); you’ll need to take a taxi to reach the caves. You can rent a car and drive between the two sites, which are about two hours away from each other, but most visitors opt for a guided tour.
When to Get There
The caves are open to visitors year round, but the best time to visit is from November to March, when the weather is cooler and dryer. The caves can get busy, especially on weekends and national holidays, so plan a weekday visit and arrive in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the biggest crowds. If you’re hoping to visit both in one trip, be aware that the Ellora caves are closed on Tuesdays, while the Ajanta caves are closed on Mondays.
Exploring the Ajanta and Ellora Caves
At Ajanta, rock-cut caves are set around a horseshoe-shaped valley in the Sahayadri hills—an astonishing feat considering that they were created by hand with only a hammer and chisel. The Buddhist caves are adorned with ancient Indian art, including paintings and sculptures that chronicle the life of the Buddha. At Ellora, you’ll find the massive Kailasa Temple, a magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and flanked by life-size elephant statues.