The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra state of India are about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE. The caves include paintings and rock cut sculptures described as among the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art, particularly expressive paintings that present emotion through gesture, pose and form. According to UNESCO, these are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art that influenced Indian art that followed. The caves were built in two phases, the first group starting around the 2nd century BC, while the second group of caves built around 400–650 CE according to older accounts, or all in a brief period of 460 to 480 according to Walter M. Spink. The site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India, and since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With the Ellora Caves, Ajanta is the major tourist attraction of the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. They are about 60 kilometres from Pachora Junction railway station, 104 kilometres from the city of Aurangabad, and 350 kilometres east-northeast from Mumbai. They are 100 kilometres from the Ellora Caves, which contain Hindu, Jain as well as Buddhist caves, the last dating from a period similar to Ajanta. The Ajanta style is also found in the Ellora Caves and other sites such as the Elephanta Caves and the cave temples of Karnataka.
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