Photograph of the ravine towards the cave-temples of Ajanta, in Maharashtra, taken by Deen Dayal in the 1890s. In 1819 a group of tiger-hunting British soldiers discovered the Ajanta caves in the jungles of a ravine. The thirty magnificent cave temples are situated in a horse-shoe valley of the Waghora river in West India and consist of prayer halls (chaityas) and monasteries (viharas) built for the Buddhist community who lived there. The caves were in use for about eight centuries and can be divided into two groups according to the early Hinayana and later Mahayana phases of Buddhist art. The first group was excavated between the 2nd - 1st century BC and the second is dated to around 5th century AD in the Vakataka period. The viharas are arranged in clusters near the chaityas. Many caves have preserved some of the beautiful wall paintings that used to decorate them. These are unsurpassed in the history of Indian art. The caves also contain a large number of very fine sculptures.