Holy crap! I walk into the first cave at Ajanta and there it is, the stunning bodhisattva Padmapani from my art history books. They keep it in low LED light to help preserve the color. The man below is using a spotlight and shop vac to clean cave 2. My guide asked him to shine the light onto the paintings so I could see better. I don’t really like the term bucket list, but this was definitely at the top of my 100 things to do before dying.
Many of the ceiling panels look like they are painted in black and white, but with a flashlight one can see Lapis Lazuli blue on the edges of all the flowers and highlighting other areas.
The chaitya halls of caves 9 and 10 are thought to be the oldest, dating back to the 2nd century BC. Stupas, not Buddhas, were the focal point until the death of the Buddha.
The colors in the paintings outside of cave 17 are still so vibrant. The pinks and oranges are surprisingly fresh looking. Conservators have put up white fabric curtains to protect the colors, but for almost 200 years they were only protected by the portico roof and a few posts, (they did spend over a thousand years covered by jungle though).