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The Road to Aurangabad Cave Dwelling

INDIA | Saturday, 31 March 2012 | Views [666]

In Mumbai, I'd bumped into a couple of Scottish girls. As if to show their credentials, they explained some of their money savings tips. An interesting idea is to get an overnight train to the next destination. Effectively saving one night's cost in a hotel. I'm about to put this idea into practice with a 7 hour, 2100 train to Aurangabad. My goodness, it's hot here in Aurangabad. It's 20c at night and the weather forecast is 40c for the next 3 days.

After arriving in the early hours of the morning and then sleeping the day away, there was still enough time for a visit to the Aurangabad University History Museum and Shivaji Museum. The latter being dedicated to the founder of the Maratha Empire. It's amazing to think that this dude started out with an army of 2000, fought the Mughal Empire to carve out an empire covering much of modern day India. All this within one lifetime. 

The next day, I'm sharing a taxi to see the Ajanta Caves with a Japanese dude called Take, who everyone seems to think is my older brother. The dude looked nothing like me.

Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves are a set of 27 Buddhist temples carved into rock, in a horseshoe shaped valley. A few of the caves were nothing, but the majority were quite large and beautifully carved. Some of the caves even have Buddhist paintings in a remarkable state of preservation.

After viewing all the caves, both Take and I decided we'd try a hike up to the Ajanta View Point, a vantage point with panaramic view to see the whole of horseshoe shaped gorge and the caves. 

After a 30 minute climb, it occurred to me that only idiots walk in blazing 40c sun. The sight of 2 oriental guys provided a great source of amusment to the locals because I had my picture taken with complete strangers more than anywhere else. My policy had been no when I first landed in India, but now I'm inclined to say yes if they're nice enough. They're the curious and the children and really curious:

After 5 hours in the blazing heat, I was more than happy with what I'd seen in Ajanta and retired to the hotel to get ready for the grand tour of Aurangabad tomorrow.

Day 2 - The Ellora Tour

Not just a visit to Ellora, but also Aurangabad attractions thrown in. Thankfully, there wasn't enough passengers to take the very dodgy looking government run bus. So I ended up sharing a car with with Naveed, Tetsuo and his daugther Maki. It was a good thing the father/daugther relationship had been settled right from the beginning. Otherwise it would have been a bit of an awkward ride. The enterprising taxi driver offered to turn on the AC if we agreed to pay 50 rupees per head (Do bears crap in the woods?).

With a girl in the midst of the tour, I was no longer so popular with the children as Maki was treated like a J-Pop star and getting all the photo requests. Have to admit, I was a little jealous after 7 weeks of attention :-)

Daulatabad Fort

The first stop. A fort built on top of a steep cliff and surrounded by a moat in the European style. It takes a good 45 minutes to climb to the top and route requires walking through a couple of dark, bat filled caves:

The steps/climb is stupidly steep, but great views from the top. Here I am, on top of the world. Well, the fort anyway..

Ellora Caves

More caves, but this time a collection of temples carved into rocks from different religions, Buddhist, Jain and Hindu. The best of these being Kailisa Temple (cave number 16). I think cave is an understatement. The entire structure was a exquisite piece carved out of a single monolith. Amazing.

Grishneshwar temple

This place forms one of the five Jyotirlinga sites in Maharashtra where Lord Shiva is worshipped. I've no idea what this mean and I've no idea why we were taken here. It seems to be a temple where male worshipper are not permitted to enter clothed from the waist up. I went in anyway, never missing an opportunity to take my shirt off.

Bibi Qa Maqbara

Much maligned as the poor man's Taj Mhal. An actual replica, just smaller. Having seen the real thing, it feels like 100 rupees down the drain just to see a copy.

Aurangzeb's Tomb

The tomb of the last great Mughal emporer, Aurangazeb. He also the dude who built the mini-Taj in memory of his mother.

Panchakki

Clutching at straws as an attraction! It's a building housing a water wheel that used to grind grain for pilgrims. 

On the journey back to our hotels, I listen to Maki saying she wanted to know when was the Mango festival. I could only offer a look of sympathy after the driver explained that it's the Mango season, not festival.

Tags: aurangabad, cave, ellora, hot, india, unesco

 

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