A Trip to Ajanta & Ellora

Aurangabad is one place we had wanted to visit for a long time and we are glad  it finally materialized over the last weekend.  I would say without any hesitation that this place is a must for all tourists interested in archeology and history.

We left  Mumbai on Saturday afternoon around 2.30pm and reached Aurangabad by 9pm.  We checked into a hotel booked through internet based on good reviews. The reviews were great but the room was disappointing considering the steep tariff of Rs2900.

On the first day we visited Ajanta Caves, which is about 110 kms  drive from the city. Luckily for us, we got a taxi driver who was very talkative, jovial and most importantly cooperative. These are the surprises that one enjoys in a tour like this. While we unexpectedly landed in a hotel which wasn’t exactly hospitable, we got lucky with our taxi driver! The guy kept cracking jokes, gave useful tips and suggestions and even helped us move into a better hotel on the following day.

Ajanta caves are filled with paintings and carvings. Budha, in different poses, was the recurring theme in most of the carvings. I was disappointed to see that most of them were in a dilapidated state. I suspect poor maintenance is a major part of the reason for the lamentable condition. However, one could easily visualize the grandeur of the original paintings before the rot set in. Like most historical places Ajanta also has a beautiful love story explaining how the place was discovered. Apparently, a British hunter in 18th century by name John Smith shot a Tiger in the valley from the top of the Hills. The tiger was killed and as he walked down the valley to pick up his victim, he discovered the caves buried underneath. Of course, there was a ladylove from the local village which made his stay worthwhile.

We preferred to trek down the valley and climbed back up. Have a look at the caves as seen from an elevation:

ellora%2520022

On the second day we left around 9 am to reach Ellora by 10am. There are 32 caves in Ellora  and some of them are absolutely gorgeous. Personally I found Ellora Caves to be far more beautiful than Ajanta. Ellora Caves are carved out of natural stones. Cave #16, named Kailash, stands out as a masterpiece.  Entire cave and the carvings were made from one huge piece of stone!. One could see beautiful statues of Siva, Vishnu, Dasavatara, several Gods & Goddesses, depiction of our epics and so on. It is an amazing collection. There were also great carvings of  elephants and lions. I particularly liked a carving which depicted a lion attacking an elephant. The lion was literally caught on the wrong foot by another elephant standing right back and frustrating its aggressive attack on the elephant in front. Look at the photograph of this stunning carving below:

A lion caught on the wrong foot

Now let me give you a big surprise. Have you ever heard of  Taj Mahal in Aurangabad ? Unbelievable, right? But look at the picture below, showing the exact replica of Taj Mahal. It is called Mini Taj Mahal.

Photo091 Photo089

Apparently, Aurangzeb’s son built this in memory of his mother. It may look impressive in the picture, but believe me it is a poor imitation of the original Taj in terms of beauty, quality as well as maintenance.

Here are a few more photographs which try to capture the grandeur of the caves, the carvings and the surroundings:

Buddha in preaching poseellora%2520030ellora%2520038Cave 16 (Kailasa) in Ellora was entirely carved out of one single rockellora%2520049A gap between enormous rocks exploited to give light to the caveornamental pillar (cave 32)

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Published in: on December 20, 2012 at 10:48 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I’ve always wanted to visit this place…
    Didn’t get time when I was in Mumbai..

    Well, its definitely in my next trip to Maharastra…


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