The Ajanta Caves (Ajiṇṭhā leni; Marathi[->0]: अजिंठा लेणी) in Aurangabad[->1] district of Maharashtra[->2], India[->3] are 30 rock-cut[->4] cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE[->5] to the 600 CE. The caves include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of Buddhist religious art (which depict the Jataka[->6] tales) as well as frescos[->7] which are reminiscent of the Sigiriya[->8] paintings in Sri Lanka[->9]. The caves were built in two phases starting around 2nd century BCE[->10], with the second group of caves built around 600 CE[->11].
Since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO[->12] World Heritage Site[->13]. The caves are located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, near Jalgaon, just outside the village of Ajinṭhā(
WikiMiniAtlas20°31′56″N 75°44′44″E / 20.53222°N 75.74556°E / 20.53222; 75.74556[->14]). Caves are only about 59 kilometers from Jalgaon[->15] Railway station (on Delhi - Mumbai, Rail line of the Central railways, India); and 104 kilometers from Aurangabad (from Ellora Caves[->16] 100 Kilometers).
 First period
According to Spink (2006), the first phase was the construction of sanctuaries (known as chaytia-grihas[->17]) built during the period 100 BCE to 100 CE, probably under the patronage of the Satavahana dynasty[->18] (230 BCE - c. 220 CE) in the canyons of the Waghora River. The caves 9, 10, 12 and 15A were constructed during this period. Murals preserved from this time belong to the oldest monuments of painted art in India.
 Second period
Scholars disagree about the date of the Ajanta Caves' second period. For a time it was thought that the work was done over a long period from the fourth to the 7th century AD, but recently long-time researcher Walter M. Spink declared that most of the work took place over short time period, from 460 to 480 CE, during the reign of Emperor Harishena[->19] of the Vakataka[->20] dynasty. Some 20 cave temples were simultaneously created, for the...