Ajanta caves

Ajanta, Ellora Caves and Lonar Crater

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This trip happened as one of my friend’s travel companion had ditched her twice for this trip and she had to cancel the trip / all bookings twice. One fine day when we were talking, I asked her to plan a trip to Ajanta Ellora caves and she promptly agreed. We finalized our itinerary and dates. We planned a 2 weeks trips trip to Maharastra and Ajanta Ellora Caves were an important part of it.

We took an afternoon flight for Aurangabad. It is the closest to Ajanta Ellora caves and lonar crater

Delhi airport

We had 3 full days so, we decided to visit Lonar Crater also. We had planned to hire a taxi for the whole trip to go to Ajanta, Ellora, Lonar crater and other places around Aurangabad. When we called the taxi guy he quoted us very high prices. We thought of dropping Lonar because of the budget issue but then we decided why not give it a try by bus.


Next day morning after breakfast we went to the bus station. The inquiry counter guy told us that for lonar we will get a bus from another bus depot because it is an inter-district travel. We reached the other bus station and after half an hour we got our bus.

The bus dropped us at the bus stop for Lonar and we took an autorickshaw to reach the exact Lonar, which was 10 minutes from bus stand. The Lonar Crater Lake is approximately 160 km from Aurangabad. It was created by the impact of a meteor at 90,000 km per hour, 52,000 years ago – mind boggling isn’t it.

The weather was pleasant as it was the end of monsoon but it was drizzling in between. We went to temples built around the lake created due to impact. The local people were praying and some were bathing in running water in the temple compound.

To reach the base of water body of the crater, we had to climb down a steep stairway. After spending some time there and clicking pictures we returned back to the bus stop and had a quick bite from a local shop.

We came to know at bus stand that we have to take a bus from another place because due to Ganesh Visarjan day traffic was diverted. We reached the other bus depot and after waiting for an hour, we finally got a bus, which dropped us at Aurangabad. We were very tired after long bus journey but our spirits were high because we traveled in a way, we never imagined before starting our trip.

On our second day, we planned to visit close by places and booked the taxi for the day. We started with
Daultabad fort, which is 11kms from Aurangabad. Fort is considered to be most formidable hill fort in India. It is situated on a hill rising 190 meters abruptly from the plain. We had walked a lot to see the different places inside fort complex.
Main places inside the fort are Chand Minar, the Chini Mahal and the Baradari. Inside the fort, I saw an interesting tunnel. It was built to misguide the enemies and to kill them in confusion. There was pitch dark inside the tunnel as it was made with strange turns. We had lost our way in it if we went alone. Moreover, there were bats in the tunnel. Don’t go alone inside.

This fort is associated with Muhammed-bin-Tughluq, who transferred the entire population of Delhi to Daulatabad : -O

Next, we went to
Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga, which is one of the 12 Jyotirlings and considered one of the holiest places in India. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva and big lingam is situated in the main sanctum.

From here we went to Ellora Caves, which was our most important place to see for the day. There are Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain caves, these were crafted by hand using only a hammer and chisel- amazing!! The unparalleled centerpiece of Ellora is the Kailashnatha carved out of a single rock. There are 100 caves but out of these only 34 caves are open for public. These caves are UNESCO’s world heritage sites. We spent 4 hours exploring the caves.


After exploring Ellora caves, we had late lunch and went to Aurangzeb’s Kabar. It is the final resting place of Mogul emperor, he is most despised mogul king.
The Bibi ka makbara was our next stop and which is also known as poor man’s Taj Mahal.
Bibi ka makbara Aurangabad
Our last stop was a place called “Pan Chakki”, my friend read on the internet that it’s an interesting place so she asked the driver to take us there. There was nothing there. According to me, Bibi ka Makbara is the only place to visit and other two places can be skipped.
Again it was a busy day and we were tired, so went to sleep after dinner.
It was our third and last day. We have dedicated it for Ajanta caves only. We planned to save on taxi and decided to take the bus. On day one we came to know that there is a direct bus to Ajanta caves. We got a bus instantly from the bus station and it dropped us next to parking lot of Ajanta caves. We walked through market & stalls towards caves.
The caves were made on by carving the rock of the cliff. These caves are situated on elevated rocks and in case if a person can’t walk then it is advisable to take an open palanquin to move around.
Caves 1, 2 and 16, 17 are best and largest corpus of surviving ancient Indian wall-painting.
The paintings in caves 1, 2 and 16, 17 are the finest surviving art from 2nd BC to 6th century AD. These caves were covered by jungle until accidentally discovered and brought world’s attention in 1819 by a British officer on a tiger hunting.
The detailed paintings, carvings on the walls, pillars, and entrances of the numerous monasteries are exquisite. We have to remove shoes while entering some caves, camera flashes and tripods are not allowed. It is difficult to click pictures in some of the caves. After walking around for few hours, we came down and had a late lunch in MTDC restaurant.
We came back to the road and within 15 minutes, we got our fast bus. By evening we reached back.

We had freshened up and had our dinner before taking the midnight train to Pune for our next leg of the journey.

Aurangabad is good to shop Bidriware souvenirs and a Paithani saree though I didn’t buy anything 😉

How to reach –

Aurangabad is well connected by direct trains from all major metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune etc.

It is very well connected by road to all major cities in Maharastra.

There is an airport in Aurangabad, which is 15 km from the city and there are direct flights from all metro cities.

How to travel to Ajanta Ellora Caves –

Ajanta Ellora caves are easily accessible from Aurangabad and Jalgaon but it’s advisable to make Aurangabad your base as you will get better hotel options.

Ajanta caves are 90 km from Aurangabad and have good bus connectivity. Or Taxi’s one can hire a taxi for the full day.

Ellora caves are 30 km from Aurangabad and have good bus connectivity but if you are planning to visit more places like me than it is advisable to hire a taxi for a full day for faster travel.

Things to remember –

Wear comfortable shoes as you have to walk a lot up and down on old slippery stairs.

At Ajanta caves, tickets counter don’t forget to buy a light ticket because in cave 1,2, 16 & 17 you can’t see without the help of guide’s light. It cost only 5 Rs.

Flash is not allowed inside the caves, so be prepared to click without flash.

Carry enough water with you when you go inside the cave complex because it gets very hot during the day.

There are no major big restaurants but you can eat at MTDC’s restaurants. They provide simple hygienic food. Other than this there are food stalls outside near the road.

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28 thoughts on “Ajanta, Ellora Caves and Lonar Crater”

  1. good for you taking the bus – a good practice for any visit or trip anywhere in the world, sometimes it does take a lot more traveling but it is worth it in the long run.

  2. I’ve never heard of this place but it looks really cool. I love the “poor man’s Taj Mahal” – it really does look like a mini version. It would be interesting to see both back to back.

  3. I remember visiting many moons ago as a teenager, especially one of the cave frescos which was used as the Miss Universe (or was it Miss world?) logo when it was hosted in India.

  4. I would have loved to explore these caves! The carvings are beautiful and I am honestly glad the Ellora Caves are protected and not all open to the public…I want them to be preserved!

    1. Some of the caves are not opened but most of these are opened for public. They are protecting and maintaining these caves. These are UNESCO’s world heritage site.

  5. This looks amazing! I had actually never heard of these spots in India but they are definitely on my list now 🙂 I haven’t visited India yet, but I would love to. Hopefully in the next few years!

  6. These caves are very high up on my list! I have even put together an incinerator for the future. Thank you for all the tips and tricks. The pictures look stunning too. I love the wall of little Gods!

  7. Pingback: 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Incredible India - My Simple Sojourn

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