There are twenty nine rock-cut sculptured caves which is located in the Aurangabad District. These caves have been crafted in a time span of second century BC to about 480 BC. These caves derive their name from a nearby village named Ajanta located about 12 km away. It has been described as 'the finest surviving examples of Indian art, especially painting by the Archaeological Survey of India given its masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, with depictions of the Jataka tales and figures of the Buddha being a UNESCO world heritage site.
Overlooking a narrow stream called Waghora, the caves are built around 76 m above the ground. The Buddhist monks retreated in these secluded places, especially during the rainy seasons as the location provided a calm and serene environment. There are 30 caves, including an unfinished one.
The caves are numbered too for identification, among these five of them (cave no. 9, 10, 19, 26, and 29) are chaityagrihas, while the rest are viharas. According to date and style they can be divided into different groups. The earliest excavations are of the Hinayana phase of Buddhism, which are 5 caves in total, of which 9 & 10 which are Chaityagrihas and 8, 12, 13, & 15 are Viharas. The earliest among them being Cave no. 10 dating from the second century BC can be traced to the pre-Christian era.
A stupa is worshipped here and these caves exhibit the imitation of wooden construction to the extent that the rafters and beams are also sculpted, though they are non-functional. The additions are from the period of Vakatakas, who were the contemporaries of the Imperial Guptas. The minister of Vakataka king, Varahadeva, dedicated Cave no. 16 to the Buddhist Sangha while Cave no. 17 was the gift of a prince. The world famous paintings of Ajanta showcase colours and shades.