Our luxury Ajanta Ellora tour is a fascinating extension to any of our tailor-made Rajasthan tours. These spectacular caves date back many hundreds of years, with the Ajanta caves displaying the earliest and most beautiful examples of Buddhist painting in India. The murals show scenes from Buddha’s life and the Jataka Tales. Executed between the 2nd century BC and 5th century AD, the caves at Ellora are amongst the most splendid examples of rock-cut architecture in India.
To connect the dots, before exploring the caves, we suggest a three-night stay in Mumbai. Not only is this bustling city full of rich culture and history, but it’s also an ideal linking point from anywhere else in the country, to seamlessly add-on your visit to the caves in a broader tour of Rajasthan and north India.
Later today you’ll be reunited with your guide to explore the Gateway of India and Elephanta Island. Mumbai’s most famous landmark, the Gateway of India was the first sight to greet travellers to Indian shores during the heyday of the British Raj. Ironically, it also became the exit point for British troops after India gained independence in 1947. From here, you’ll take the launch to the caves on Elephanta Island, which date from around the 7th century. During the previous few centuries, the Gupta Empire had been at its height. Literature and the arts had flourished. It is thought this derived the initial impetus for the creation of the caves. The cave has a large sculptured veranda, and the inner part contains a huge 18-foot statue of Lord Shiva. The Portuguese named the island Elephanta because of a large stone elephant near the shore. It has since collapsed and been removed.
Ajanta’s caves fall into two groups. The early group belongs to the more austere Hinayana phase of Buddhism (2nd century BC), during which the Buddha was not represented in human form but only by symbols such as the Wheel of Law or a Bodhi tree. The second group dates from the Mahayana period (5th century AD), carved out during the rule of the Vakataka dynasty when the artistic expression was more exuberant. The caves were inhabited by monks, artists, and artisans, who used them as varshvatikas or monsoon shrines. Magnificent, detailed compositions, the murals include depictions of court scenes, princes, and musicians, and offer fascinating glimpses of daily life in the 5th century. The colours, derived from plants and minerals, are in rich shades of ochre, lime, black, green and lapis lazuli.
After lunch, return to Aurangabad to explore its highlights, including the city’s most famous monument – the Bibi ka Maqbara.
Later today you’ll be chauffeured back to the airport to board the daily flight to Delhi. Depending on your schedule and wider itinerary, you may like to stay in Delhi to explore the capital, or instead connect directly to your international flight.
The luxury Ajanta Ellora tour we’ve described here is merely a starting point to share a flavour of the possibilities. Every aspect is flexible, from the hotels to the destinations to the length to the sightseeing. A popular way to include our Ajanta Ellora tour in a more comprehensive itinerary would be to combine it with this luxury Rajasthan tour, flying from Udaipur directly into Mumbai. Those with tighter schedules may consider a shorter stay in Mumbai, or connecting directly to their international departure from Aurangabad. On the other hand, you might like to stay a bit longer and head down to the beaches of Goa. All our tours are private, and tailor-made to complement your taste and interests. In essence, the itinerary described above is just a starting point, and together we can refine it into your ideal Indian experience.
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Indian Excursions, aka the experts in luxury tours of Rajasthan. Anything and everything you’d like to see and experience in Rajasthan, we can make it happen while delivering an impeccable level of service. All our tours are private and tailor-made to our guest’s individual requirements.
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