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Ajanta and Ellora Caves under Swadesh Darshan scheme

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: TOI

 Context: The Ministry of Tourism has included the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora Caves in its Swadesh Darshan Scheme II, aimed at developing sustainable tourism destinations in India


 Ajanta CavesEllora Caves
LocationAjanta is a series of rock-cut caves in the Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats) on Waghora river near Aurangabad in Maharashtra.It is located nearly 100 Kms away from Ajanta caves in the Sahyadri range of Maharashtra.
Number of CavesThere are a total of 29 caves (all Buddhist) of which 25 were used as Viharas or residential caves while 4 were used as Chaitya or prayer halls.It is a group of 34 caves – 17 Brahmanical, 12 Buddhist, and 5 Jain.
Time of DevelopmentThe caves were developed in the period between 200 B.C. to 650 A.D. The Ajanta caves were inscribed by the Buddhist monks, under the patronage of the Vakataka kings – Harishena being a prominent one. Reference of the Ajanta caves can be found in the travel accounts of Chinese Buddhist travellers Fa Hien and Hieun Tsang.These set of caves were developed during the period between the 5th and 11th centuries A.D. by various guilds from Vidarbha, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
Prominent featuresPainting: The figures in these caves were done using fresco painting. The outlines of the paintings were done in red colour. One of the striking features is the absence of blue colour in the paintings. The paintings are generally themed around Buddhism – the life of Buddha and Jataka stories.Remarkable Cave Temple: The most remarkable of the cave temples is Kailasa (Kailasanatha; cave 16), named for the mountain in the Kailasa Range of the Himalayas where the Hindu god Shiva resides.
UNESCO SiteThe caves were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.The Ellora complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.


The Swadesh Darshan Scheme, launched in 2015, is a centrally funded initiative to enhance tourism infrastructure across the country, with 15 themes for developing theme-based tourist circuits.