Maharashtra’s most visited ancient monument, the Ellora caves, 29km northwest of Aurangabad, may not enjoy as grand a setting as their older cousins at Ajanta, but their amazing wealth of sculpture more than compensates – this is an unmissable stop if you’re heading to or from Mumbai, 400km southwest. In all, 34 Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves – some excavated simultaneously, in competition – line the foot of the 2km-long Chamadiri escarpment as it tumbles down to meet the open plains. The site’s principal attraction, the colossal Kailash temple, rears from a huge, sheer-edged cavity cut from the hillside – a vast lump of solid basalt fashioned into a spectacular complex of colonnaded halls, galleries and shrines.

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