In an interesting and innovative move the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has proposed to build replicas of the caves numbered 1, 2, 16 and 17 at the visitor Centre that shall soon come up near this world Heritage site.
Why is this being done?
Ajanta Caves, especially the above caves, are very fragile. At this moment visitors cannot spend extended time inside the caves as higher levels of carbon dioxide affects the paintings.
As the replicas will be true to the originals, visitors shall be able to spend as much time as they please.
It is expected that by April 2013 these replicas shall be ready.
As these caves have elaborate paintings and intricate carvings, they have been chosen to be reproduced.
Even the parking area is to be shifted as the fumes from the vehicles parked at the current parking lot have the potential to harm the paintings.
Both Ajanta Caves and Ellora caves shall have the replicas though the replica at Ellora caves will be smaller compared to Ajanta caves.
Ajanta and Ellora caves depict Buddhist stories.
Our heritage must be protected and any step taken in this direction must be loaded and appreciated.
Ajanta caves are carved out of a giant single rock in a horseshoe design, overlooking the river. Estimate is that the construction work started in 200 BC and continued till 6 AD.
The paintings and sculptures show the stories from the life of Buddha, The Enlightened One. Even the past lives of Buddha are depicted. Tourist worshippers visit here with great reverence.
Even today, the engineers are baffled as to how could this gigantic structure be carved out of one single rock in those times when even today with all the technology available, it shall be considered nigh impossible.
The artwork of half human and half animal beings have ignited the curiosity of those who seek evidence of aliens influence and participation in the human endeavours. The fact that two caves of Ajanta get illuminated completely - one on the winter solstice and the other on summer solstice is regarded as an amazing achievement considering the absence of high-tech gadgets in that era. This is cited as a supporting evidence of the possibility that there used to be an interaction between the aliens and the Buddhist monks.
The manner in which the caves are laid out in a horseshoe pattern, with cave openings pointing in various directions is suggestive of a larger celestial purpose, which is yet to be deciphered.
The UFO enthusiasts assert that human beings depict what they see. They are of the view that the painting's that show half human animals actually are proof that such creatures existed. Are there any similar caves in the rest of the world, is the question that fuels the search endeavour of these enthusiasts.
By all accounts Buddha was a phenomenal being and the tales associated with him and his prowess had amazing, defying imagination and general common sense experience.
One way is to dismiss these stories as product of fertile imagination of devout followers, but the other possible way is to accept that there might be a grain of truth in the stories, and that as a human race, we have probably devolved and have lost the ability to see beyond the obvious and acknowledge the superhuman in us.
For the present, enjoy the wonder that these caves are.