If you read my recent post about Ellora Caves you’ll realise that this is basically a sequel, and sequels are never as good (with the odd exception). My day trip to Ajanta Caves started out much the same as my day trip to Ellora Caves, only the bus never arrived and the car I took broke down halfway through the journey. Still though, I saw some caves that are over 2000 years old and it turned out to be a fun trip. Planning on visiting Ajanta Caves on a day trip from Aurangabad? Read about my experience and learn from my mistakes!
Getting to Ajanta Caves
The government run tour to Ellora Caves ran smoothly, so the next day I went to the same place in the hope of catching to bus to Ajanta Caves, which are much further away. I waited and waited and was eventually told the bus wouldn’t be running today. So annoying! Luckily there was a local couple waiting with me, so we decided to rent a car / driver.
Around halfway into the trip the car started making some weird noises. We pulled up at a small sugar-cane juice joint by the side of the road and the driver got talking to someone on the phone. About an hour later another car arrived and we were soon on our way. It was a horrible wait (uncomfortable plastic chairs and 40 degrees + heat) and there were moments I regretted doing this Ajanta Caves day trip.
After quick stop for lunch (and a massive bottle of fresh lime soda) we arrived at the Ajanta Caves complex. The extreme heat kept most tourists away so at least that was one upside. The caves are spread out along a hill and it’s an easy hike to get there (you first have to take a bus from the car park / shopping area).
The Ajanta Caves were built in stages. There’s a bit of debate about how old the oldest caves are but it seems like they could have been constructed as far back as 300 BC! The amazing thing about these caves is the level of artistic detail which has been preserved over such a long time. It’s one of the oldest man-made places I’ve seen in India and the frescoes are incredible for how old they are.
Some of the caves have elaborately carved facades and one in particular (cave 26) has some of the best carvings I’ve seen in India. Exploring the Ajanta Caves was heaps of fun and it was nice getting to know the local couple I was travelling with. They even bought me a lime soda at the end of the trip — they had good taste as it was the best fresh lime soda I drank in India (and I consumed a lot of fresh lime soda).
A Day Trip to Ajanta Caves: The Details
- Ajanta Caves tours: The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) runs tours to Ajanta Caves every day except for Monday (when the whole complex is closed). Hopefully the bus actually shows up if you choose this option! I think we ended up paying around 1800 INR for the car / driver which didn’t seem too bad. The tour will set you back 595 INR, so it makes sense to get your own way there if you have a few people.
- Entry Tickets: It costs 600 INR for foreigners to visit Ajanta Caves (40 INR or locals). Most popular tourist sites in India charge foreigners way more than locals which is a bit annoying.
- Aurangabad: Aurangabad is the city most people base themselves in for trips to Ellora / Ajanta Caves. It’s an OK city — there are some old gates to see and a tomb which looks like a low-rent Taj Mahal. I’d advise staying close to the train station — there are a few decent places to eat and drink and the MTDC Holiday Resort, where you catch the bus to Ellora / Ajanta, is nearby.
Are you planning a day trip to Ajanta Caves? Let me know in the comments below!
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