November 11-13th 2010
Since Aurangabad was only 7 hours by train from Mumbai and it had the famous Ellora and Ajanta Caves, I decided to head there. I was expecting the place to be more touristy but it wasn’t. Let me clarify – I expected more foreigners but there were actually quite a number of Indian tourists instead.
(My tour group.)
I took a separate tour over 2 days for each of the caves. I was the only foreigner in the Ellora tour. As a result, I was the only one who didn’t speak Hindi. And the tour was given in Hindi because there were more non-English speakers than non-Hindi speakers. The tour guide was kind enough to give me the Cliff- notes version of a particular section before he went on giving an elaborate explanation to the Indians. I was disappointed of course but what could I do.
(What some caves looked like from the outside. These were the Buddhist monks’s quarters.)
(Inside one of the many Ellora Caves.)
(A closer look at some rock-cut carvings.)
(Part of the Kailasanath Temple.)
(Doesn’t the Baba ka Maqbara look a lot like the Taj Mahal?)
(Daulatabad Fort from a distance.)
What was cool about the Ellora tour was that it included several other local spots, including one of twelve jyotirlinga temples dedicated to the god Shiva in India, the Grishneshvara Temple. The Indians told me that Hindus make pilgrimages to visit these temples. It looked a lot like a mound coming from the ground. To see it, I had to remove my shirt. No shirts (for guys) and no leather allowed inside. The other temple we visited was the ‘Sleeping Hanuman’ temple which had their famous monkey god in a lying pose, one of only two in all of India so it was a special place for Hindus. At the end of the day, we got to see the ‘mini Taj Mahal’, the Bibi ka Maqbara. In fact, they timed it so we arrived around sunset, which made the scene a lot more impressive than it actually is. As for the Ellora caves themselves, impressive structures but didn’t exactly blow me away, although the Kailasanatha Temple, the main cave, did.
What are the Ellora Caves?
(Ajanta caves from the outside.)
(One of the more famous Ajanta murals.)
As for the Ajanta tour which I did the next day, there were a few other foreigners on it but still the majority were Indians. We had to travel 3 hours each way. It was a lot more crowded but the Buddhist cave murals were real cool and so well-preserved. Our guide was excellent too and since we had quite a number of non-Hindi speakers, I finally got my money’s worth for a guide. I didn’t take many pics of the murals because it wouldn’t justify them. There are plenty of professional pictures online so do look them up if you’re curious.
What are the Ajanta Caves?
(Cow wants a nightcap.)
(Gang of goats who tried to mug me.)
(Bengali sweets are awesome.)