In ancient times, monks headed to the Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India for their monsoon retreats while merchants and pilgrims made stopovers to rest there. The caves were abandoned in 5th century AD and were not discovered until some 1,400 years later. Civilisations came and went and eventually, the caves were forgotten. Thick undergrowth flourished and camouflaged the caves.
In 1819, a colonial British officer named Captain John Smith, on a tiger-hunting party, stumbled upon the caves. With mankind’s rediscovery of the splendour of Ajanta, news spread and attempts were made to put Ajanta in the limelight again as well as unveil its treasures – fine mural paintings – to the world.