The Ajanta Ellora Festival is a celebration of music, dance and poetry within the walls of the magnificent caves of Maharashtra. The festival is organized every year between the months of November and March in the city of Aurangabad.

The Tourism Development Corporation of the government of Maharashtra invites well known artists from all over the country to take part in the unique event that started only a few years ago in 2002.

Legend behind the Ajanta Ellora Festival

The venue where the Ajanta Ellora Festival of Maharashtra is held is the legendary Soneri Mahal of Aurangabad. This is a 17thcentury fort (known as ‘Mahal’ in the local language) which was built by a chieftain of the Orchha rulers of Maharashtra. This mahal has been listed by the government authorities of India as one of the architectural wonders of Aurangabad.

During the initial years of the festival, a visitor could also enjoy the sights of the historical structure of the Kailash Temple of Ellora. This is because of the fact that the Ajanta Ellora Festival was started inside the premises of the Kailash Temple. Legend has it that they had to be carved by 7000 laborers who worked hard for more than 15 decades to build the monolithic structure of Kailash Temple.

The shift of the venue of this Indian festival has also led to a paradigm shift in the type of performances held as part of the festival. Whereas only ancient forms of art were celebrated during the introduction stage, today modern art is also applauded by thousands of visitors who attend the festival to watch the performances.

Who can deny the importance of the legendary caves of Ajanta and Ellora which portray the beauty of Indian architecture and heritage. These caves are more than 1400 years old. There are Hindu, Buddhist and Jain praying places constructed within the boundary of the caves.

Customs, Traditions and Cultural Importance of the Ajanta Ellora Festival

The Ajanta Ellora Festival held every winter in Aurangabad seeks to highlight the rich cultural heritage of India. The festival is held for a period of five days, during which it draws an audience count of 8000 to 10,000 every evening. Besides dance, music and poetry, the festival also celebrates the art & craft and handicrafts of India in the Kalagram. The Kalagram is the ‘craft haat’ of the Ajanta Ellora Festival, where the local artisans showcase their talent while earning money and fame. A handicrafts fair Jatan is held each year to showcase ancient relics and artefacts.

The traditional culinary delicacies of Aurangabad are also exhibited at the Ajanta Ellora Festival.

Well Known Performers at the Ajanta Ellora Festival

Famous personalities have graced the stage of this national festival every year. Some of them are:

  • Gulam Ali – This ghazal singer of Pakistani origin has recorded several hits with the Indian music industry. He belongs to the Patiala Gharana and performs to the thumri and raga styles of classical music.
  • Ustad Amjad Ali Khan – This sarod maestro has popularized performing arts all over the world. He has received awards from international bodies like UNICEF and UNESCO.
  • Hema Malini – This popular Indian actress is also an established classical dancer who enthralls with her steps and beauty.

Some other international performers include Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pandit Jasraj and Rasheed Khan.

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