• Jayesh Paranjape

Saptakunda Waterfall ahead of Ajanta Caves

People are often amazed by the sheer size and magnitude of the Ajanta Caves, but what a lot of people miss to see is the beautiful surroundings the cave cluster is set in. The Ajanta caves are cut into the side of a cliff that is on one side of a U-shaped gorge on the Waghora River, which originates in these very hills. On the other side is a waterfall that drops into the saptakunda or the seven pools. There is no formal name to this waterfall, but many people refer to it as the Waghora Waterfall. During the monsoons and a few months after, this waterfall is in full splendor as it gushes strongly and drops into the river from almost 150 feet.

Usually, tourists take the routine path from the base of the caves to reach the top. But if you are among those who are willing to go that extra mile for a perfect photograph, a good view or probably just to satisfy the off-beat traveler in you, then you need to head to the ‘Ajanta view-point’. Around 13 km before the Ajanta Caves parking, at Balapur village on Aurangabad-Ajanta road, look for a rusty signboard which says ‘View Point’. Take a left here and follow the road for 8 km. After passing through some fields and a village, the road ends at the view-point which was strategically built by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) some years back. From here you get a complete panoramic view of the Ajanta Caves along with the surrounding mountain ranges. People say that this was the exact location when John Smith, who while on a tiger hunt, first sighted and rediscovered the caves long hidden behind dense vegetation in 1819.

It gets better! Instead of heading back to the caves from the regular route, you can climb down the mountain. The descent is quite enjoyable as the well paved stairs pass through some extremely thick forest. When the stairs end you come to a second view point. You still get the panoramic view of the caves, but this is the spot from where you get a full view of the waterfall and all the seven ponds. During the rains, one actually gets to see all the seven steps of the waterfall. You can also make a detour and actually walk around the waterfall and see how the waterfall actually originates and flows into the Waghora River.

So the next time you are at Ajanta Caves, make sure that you take this less travelled path and explore the surroundings along with the caves!

How to Reach

By Air: Aurangabad (100 km) is the closest airport with good connectivity with Delhi, Mumbai & Pune.

By Rail: Jalgaon (58 km) on the Central Railway is a convenient railhead. Alternatively for better connectivity, Aurangabad (100 km)

By Road: Comfortable and AC buses ply between Mumbai –Aurangabad and Pune-Aurangabad.

Final Approach to Ajanta Caves and Waghora Waterfall: Regular buses run from Aurangabad to Ajanta Caves. But if one is looking at going to the viewpoints, then one must hire a cab/taxi from Aurangabad/Jalgaon for the caves.

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