Ajanta, a UNESCO world heritage site, is famous for its Buddhist rock-cut cave temples and monasteries with their extraordinary wall paintings. The temples are hollowed out of granite cliffs on the inner side of a 20-meter ravine in the Wagurna River valley, 105 km northeast of Aurangabad, at a site of great scenic beauty. About 30 caves were excavated between the 1st century BCE and the 7th century CE and are of two types, caityas ("sanctuaries") and viharas ("monasteries"). Although the sculpture, particularly the rich ornamentation of the caitya pillars, is noteworthy, it is the fresco-type paintings that are the chief interest of Ajanta. These paintings depict colorful Buddhist legends and divinities with an exuberance and vitality that is unsurpassed in Indian art.†[Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica] Cave 10 in Ajanta Caves contains the oldest Indian paintings of historical period, made around the 1st century BC.
The caves at Ajanta date from the 2nd century B.C.E. to 650 C.E and were cut into the mountainside in two distinct phases. Discovered by chance in 1819 by British soldiers on a hunt, the Ajanta Caves have become an icon of ancient Indian art, and have influenced subsequent artists and styles.
These paintings beautifully depict various events in the life of Lord Buddha. All the caves are divided into two categories namely the Chaityas or the shrines and the Viharas or the monasteries. Chaityas were used to worship Lord Buddha while the Viharas were used by the Buddhist monks for their meditation