Aurangabad , Ajanta and Ellora
This is nearest city ,where the tourist stay for the visits to Ellora ( Verul in loacn marathi language ) and Ajantha Caves.
Aurangabad it self is a historic city with all the facilities . Aurangabad is approx 250 km from Pune. Nov to Feb is the right time to visit.
I visited Aurangabad in Nov 2007
We checked in in Hotel Shree Maya . I had taken the reference from the VT web site.
This is really a good budget hotel . we checked in the Executive room . The room was clean . The staff cleans the room to your satisfaction and bed sheets can be replaced on request. The bath rooms are clean. The restaurant and the breakfast are Ok.
We found a dining hall named Swad Dining Hall. It is 7-8 minutes drive from the station . It has big neon sign on it. It Serves authentic Thali ( indian meal consisting of 8-10 dishes in small quantity ). You can eat as much as you want with out additional cost. The price is approx Rs 75 per Thali . It is a very clean hotel with good quality food , which kept our stomach away from indigestion. We can go to Ellora by our own car .Have a decent breakfast in Aurangabad before starting. it is situated approx 35 km from Aurangabad . The Daulatabad fort is on the way. Better not spend energy and time in climbing.
There are toilets at Ellora as well Ajantha which are well managed.
Remember to take video pass at Ellora and Bibi ka Maqbara . It costs Rs 25.
Ellora has beautiful statues and sculptures. We can take photos and video as well. There are 34 dispersed caves . Hiring a local Auto Rickshaw ( Approx 100 Rs) is a good option to save energy and visit the best caves.
On way back one can visit Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb's tomb in the walled historic village Khuldabad. It is a very simple tomb and a very humbling experience.
For Ajantha ,We booked seats in ITDC bus but it was full , so we were given Toyota Qualis. We had a friends from USA and Europe with us who were from the same hotel and enjoyed the two hour journey . The road is excellent.
Still photography (with out flash) is allowed in Ajantha caves. Better have Digi Cams capable of working in low light ( ISO 1000+) . The ITDC tour guide was with us. Do not leave the tour guide as he holds all the passes to enter the caves.
Ellora Caves - Cave 8
Cave 8 is the only cave in Ellora where it is possible to walk around the circumference. This is one of the Buddhist caves. The walls are carved with Buddhists images. Inside there are also fine sculptures of the Buddha.
The Ellora Cave Complex
The Ellora Cave complex ( 40 kms from Aurangabad). consist of 34 caves, carved out of a mountain, millenia ago. They are truly magnificent.......Buddhist, Jain & Hindu, and still being used for worship. We spent 10 days exploring them, and there were only a handful of foreign tourists. The Indian tourists, however, made up for this,thousands arriving by the bus load.,particuarly school groups.
It is unbelievable that these magnificent structures were man made, so long ago. For me, standing inside one of these cathedral-sized caves, I wondered ,how many pilgrims over the centuries had climbed the steps and worshipped here.
I will not even try and explain the differences between all the caves, but they were, distinctly different. The carvings & traces of ancient paintings inside signified to what religion each cave was created for.
They inspired a feeling of reverence & awe.
As one arrives at the entrance gates to the complex, there is a vast garden , with paths leading up to the actual Main Entrance Gate. The most important Cave/Temple is the Kailasa Temple (Mt Kailasa is the home of Shiva in the Himalayas). This gigantic temple is twice as large as the Parthanon. Surrounding this awesome structure are many smaller, darker caves., all having magnificent religious carvings & artifacts inside. A small torch is useful to have.
We had a lovely old man as a self- appointed guide, who carried with him a largish mirror. This puzzled me, until we reach the first dark cave. He skillfully re-directed the rays of the sun into the cave, which came alive with colors , and we could see the treasure hidden within.
I was glad that we had spent 10 days here. There is so much to see inside these caves. But it can get tiring. There are many steps to climb, and much walking to do. When we were there, it was very hot, so we saw what we could in the early morning, went back to Hotel Kailas for lunch & a rest, and the strolled back in late afternoon, to catch the sunsets over the caves.
The gardens outside the caves are filled with trees, birds & many monkeys......beware, they snatch whatever is not tied down! It was relaxing, sitting on the lawns, watching the sun set. And the monkeys found it relaxing watching us.
I really believe that this world heritage listed sight should be seen by anyone who is even vaguely interested in architecture, religion & history. They left a huge impression upon myself & my husband. It deserves another visit from us, and will get one.
> Ingrid (Trekki) made a comment on the immense size of the Kailasa Temple. Its size can be appreciated by comparing the people & structure in 4th photo
Bharat Mata Temple
Originally there were Jani and Hindu temples at this site, but in 1318 the Delhi’s Sultan Qutubuddin Mubarak Khilji converted the present temple to a mosque, the Jami Masjid. After the independence in 1948 a statue of Bharat Mata was installed and it once more became a Hindu temple. In front of the temple there is a big open courtyard and in the temple you can see many rows of beautifully carved pillars. There are 106 pillars.
Aurangabad Buddhist Caves
There are 10 caves (6th Century) carved out of a hillside , just outside of Aurangabad. Cave no7 contains some beautifully carved erotic sculptures. The caves & surrounds are peaceful, not very many tourists, but worth a visit. They were created after the Ellora Cave Complex.