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  • 20 October, 2019

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Archaeological Survey of India is carrying out precautionary treatments to protect Ajanta cave paintings.

Ajanta caves :

1.Ajanta caves are a series of 30 Buddhist caves located in Aurangabad district, Maharashtra.
2. This site is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It encompasses both Theravada (Hinayana) and Mahayana Buddhist traditions.
3. It is built on 6th century a.d..
4. It is located along Waghura river.
5. It was under the patronage of Satavahanas, Vakatakas, Chalukyas and Yadavas.
6. Only 5 are Chaityas , rest are Viharas out of 29 caves excavated.

Problem :

1. The bat and bird excreta damages the paintings.

2. The paintings are good breeding place for microbes and insects thereby damaging the paintings.

3. The main problem is the entry of rainwater and water from the Waghura river , that leads to dampness in the cave atmosphere causing an increase in Algae, fungi ,insects and microbes

4. The insects were silverfish, Beatles and common bugs.

5. All the factors are changing the original colour of the paintings from White to Yellow and Blue who is turning to Green.

Why Ajanta is affected and not Ellora ?

# In Ellora caves "a mixture of hemp ,clay and lime plaster was considered efficient for preserving paintings and carvings" is used.
# Whereas in Ajanta caves, studies have shown that basal layer of the murals was made of mud plaster and organic matter such as paddy husk ,grass ,vegetable fibres, does making it a good breeding place for microbes and insects


1. Using ultraviolet light traps as nocturnal insects get attracted to ultraviolet radiation.

2. Yellow light traps can also be used to trap diagonal species like moths.

3. By understanding the phototactic behaviour of insects, appropriate wavelength lights can be used.

4. Other precautionary measures taken by ASI are:

a. Spraying of insecticides and herbicides

b.Fixing the loose plaster on cave walls

c.Regular cleaning and use of preservative coating on the painting.


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