Ajanta and Ellora caves are located in the northeast of Mumbai near Aurangabad. These caves are mainly created by the Buddhist monks and artisans that are adorned with elaborate sculptures and paintings represent teachings of both Hinayana and Mahayana schools of Buddhism. Most of the themes represent the life and teachings of Buddha and his Avatara carved between the between the 2nd century BC and the 8th century AD. However, there are 29 caves which were built to perform rituals in the Chaityas and Viharas and 34 caves at Ellora carved into the side of a basaltic hill. All these structures combinedly represent the three faiths of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism with fine mixture of mud, sand, fibre and gluey material. To understand the paintings and other concepts associated with Ajanta and Ellora, it is very essential to understand some of the conceptual terms related to Ajanta and Ellora.
From earliest times, people tended to regard certain places as sacred. These included all those sites with special trees or unique rocks, or sites of awe inspiring natural beauty. These sites were sometimes described as Chaityas where a large numbers of devotees used to take shelter because the small shrines were attached to them. Buddhist literature mentions several Chaityas. It also describes places associated with the Buddha's life - where he was born (Lumbini), where he attained enlightenment (Bodh Gaya), where he gave his first sermon (Sarnath) and where he attained nibbana (Kusinagara). Gradually, each of these places came to be regarded as sacred. We know that about 200 years after the time of the Buddha, Ashoka the Great erected a pillar at Lumbini to mark the fact that he had visited the place.
There were other places too that were regarded as sacred. This was because relics of the Buddha such as his bodily remains or objects used by him were buried there. These were originated as a simple semi-circular mound of earth known as Stupas. The tradition of erecting Stupas may have been pre-Buddhist, but they came to be associated with Buddhism. Since they contained relics regarded as sacred, the entire Stupa came to be venerated as an emblem of both the Buddha and Buddhism. According to a Buddhist text known as the Ashokavadana, Ashoka distributed portions of the Buddha's relics to every important town and ordered the construction of Stupas over them. By the second century BCE a number of Stupas, including those at Bharhut, Sanchi and Sarnath had been built.
Ajanta Cave is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of India located near the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra famous in the world for its "Buddhist religious art" and "universal pictorial art". There are total 29 caves at Ajanta which are officially numbered by the Archaeological Survey of India starting from 1 to 29 which are broadly divided into two phases on the basis of their construction and excavation. The caves are further divided into several viharas which were monastic halls of residence and chaitya-grihas which were Stupa monument halls. The first phase is called the Hinayana Phase and the numbers allotted to the caves of this phase are 9, 10, 12, 13, and 15A (which was rediscovered in 1956 and officially number is not allotted) and other phase is called as the Mahayana Phase and the numbers allotted to the caves of this Phase are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29. Ajanta Caves attracted the tourists from all over the world for its murals, the finest surviving examples of Indian art and particularly its painting.
Ellora Caves, the World Heritage Sites of India, are locally known as "Verul" which are the amalgamation of three cultures Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism and were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The numbers allotted to the Ellora Caves are made on the basis of three different cultures mentioned above like Caves No 1 to 12 are categorized under "Buddhist Caves"; Caves No 13 to 29 are categorized under "Hindu Caves" and the Caves No 30 to 34 are categorized under "Jain Caves". So, the total number of Ellora Caves is 34 which are located to the sides of a basaltic hill which perfectly demonstrate the religious harmony and unity in diversity since the ancient time of Indian history. The Ellora Caves attracted the tourists from all over the world for its one of the largest rock-hewn monastic-temple complexes, the largest single monolithic excavation in the entire world. It is also famous in the world for its marvelous architecture and paintings depicted in the form images of deities, mithunas (erotic male and female figures) and other figures.