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The caves date back from 200 BC to AD 650. The caves were forgotten years until 1819 when it was discovered by a British hunting party. There are around 30 caves at Ajanta most of them cut across right in the centre of a horse shoe shaped hill. The oldest caves are towards the centre. 5 caves are Chaityas (Prayer Halls) & 25 are Viharas (Residence). Out of 30 caves only 1 to 26 caves can be visited. In Ajanta, Hinayan and Mahayan have their separate caves. There was no idol worship in Hinayan sect. Only emblems represented Buddha. In Mahayan, idol worship was prevalent. Caves 1, 2, 16 and 17 are famous for coloured wall paintings. Caves 9, 10, 19 and 16 are Chaitya Griha. 9 & 10 belong to Hinayana. The rest of the caves are Viharas. It is belived that Siddharth (Buddha) as Bodhisattva had passed through several rebirths before he attained the highest position called Buddha. All the stories related to his past are called Jatak Katha.

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