Aurangabad Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Aurangabad Caves are the cluster of twelve ancient rock-cut Buddhist shrines located on a hill running roughly east to west in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. An epitome of complex rock-cut architecture, the Aurangabad caves dated back to the 6th and 7th century and located just 2 km away from another famous landmark Bibi Ka Maqbara. The caves consist of several groups namely group 1 includes five caves namely 1 to 5, group 2 includes 6 to 9 these were built during 400 to 650 CE and group 3 contains 10 to 12 respectively. In attempt to save its cave-work, classical arts and sculptures the Archaeological Survey of India has inducted it in the Heritage list.  The historical caves have become one of the major tourist destinations in Maharashtra and visited by enormous travelers every day.

 The rock-cut intricate Aurangabad caves are the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly cave painting deciphering Buddhist’s supremacy on religious art. Most notably feature about Aurangabad caves are separated into three groups according to its location.  Available inscriptions suggested that cave 1 and 2 are dated back to 2nd and 3rd century, and cave 1 and 3 of Aurangabad and the last cave of Ajanta co-existed as structural design of both caves have the striking similarities. In addition, some prominent art historians believed that cave three was built little earlier than other two caves (cave 1 and 2) and astonishingly embellished with neat and organized classical artifacts, sculptures, others woodwork, flowers and geometrical designs etc. The elegant cave temples of Aurangabad were built during 6th to 8th century and reflect Buddhists’ perfection and consummation on building shrines and temples. The shrine, overlooking the sprawling campus of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, is situated nine kilometers from Aurangabad. Since its excavation, the art historians have deliberately disregarded the caves and often compared it with Ajanta and Ellora. Though a little later in the 20th century, a few scholars started looking these cave temples are a missing link between Ajanta and Ellora and have described them as sensitive remarking of life situated in time and space span. Due to its momentous historical significance the cave temples of Aurangabad have been taken care by Archaeological survey of India.

The caves were built during Kalachuri Dynasty and predominantly used for Buddhist Vihara i.e. a place to be lived and worshipped by Buddhist monk. The interior of each Vihara is delicately ornamented with sculptures of deity, huge pillars, intricate rock-cut Stupas, litany of Avalokitesvara and beautiful woodwork. In addition, the incarnation of Avalokitesvara painted more elaborately and bears resemblance to that Ajanta and Ellora caves. Savior of eight great perils i.e. Fire, Demon, Elephant, Lion, Shipwreck Snake and Money were conspicuously traced on the wall.

The location is well connected and can be accessed through by Roads, Rails and Airway. Aurangabad airport is nearest airport, just 10km away from the place. From the airport the visitors can pick available public transport like Buses, Taxis etc. Tourists can also board in Tapovan Express and the Devgiri Express from Mumbai city to reach Aurangabad caves. Tourists visiting the place can browse nearby Shopping Mall and buy famous Paithani Silk sarees and Mashru Shawls etc. In addition, there are a few places near the caves including Bibi Ka Maqbara, Panchakki, Ajant and Ellora Caves and Aurangabad Museum etc. worth to visit.