Ajanta is located almost 100 kilometer from the city of Aurangabad, in the state of Maharashtra in western part of India. Though this spot is secluded, some wonderful caves have been excavated on the rocks standing perpendicular on the bank of river Waghora.
Although the caves of Ajanta were being in process of excavation for over six centuries, most stylish and lavish caves with human figures were dug out in the period range of 465 A.D. to 500 A.D. This period belonged to Mahayana sect of Buddhism. Most of such caves were built under the patronage of Vakataka king Harishena who was called ‘moon among princes’. There are 29 caves dug out in this rock mass in shape of horse-shoe.
Ajanta caves are home to some of most astonishing frescoes in the world. Beautifully chiseled walls of caves are adorned with a chain of ravishing paintings, all dazzlingly colorful.
The subject matter of most of the paintings at Ajanta is the life and teachings of Buddha. This covers various lives and incarnations of Buddha as told in Jataka stories. Matching a similarity with the Flemish Renaissance Paintings in which the stories are richly depicted in the settings of the artists’ world and whole mood is of life and activity. Calligraphic lines drawn at the bottom or the any other corner do a nice follow up to the painting.
Paintings can be classified in to portraits, narrative illustrations and decorative ornamentation of great variety. The rocks here in Ajanta are cut in the shapes of Chaitya, Stupa and Vihara- all are important religious places of Buddhists.
The story of discovery of Ajanta can be traced far back as fourth decade of 19th century by a subaltern Englishmen. Since then many scholars and enthusiasts have done a great deal of job in bringing forth the hidden mystery of Ajanta the natural painting gallery in India. Some of them are Sir James Alexander (1834), James Fergusson (1843), Major Robert Gill (1857), Mr. Griffiths (1896), Lady Harringham (1911) and Sir John Marshall (1928).
Ethnic Paintings makes a sincere effort to take you through the journey of Ajanta Paintings in particular and Indian paintings in general.