Aurangabad Things to Do

  • Amazing Bibi Ka Maqbara
    Amazing Bibi Ka Maqbara
    by y2ketan2007
  • Close up View of Bibi Ka Maqbara
    Close up View of Bibi Ka Maqbara
    by y2ketan2007
  • Intricate Patterns Inside the Tomb
    Intricate Patterns Inside the Tomb
    by y2ketan2007

Most Recent Things to Do in Aurangabad

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    Magnificient Bibi ka Maqbara

    by y2ketan2007 Written Oct 19, 2013
    Amazing Bibi Ka Maqbara
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    Built about 25 years after the Taj Mahal , it was supposed to rival it's predecessor.Prince Azam Shah built it in the memory of his mother and Emperor Aurangzeb's wife Begum Rabia.The lower reaches of the monument are built in marble while the upper reaches are built in plaster.it is a very impressive monument nonetheless and surely worth a visit.

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    The Baby Taj: Bibi Ka Maqbara

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    Bibi Ka Maqbara
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    It is hard not to compare the two, but if you visit Bibi Ka Maqbara expecting the Taj Mahal you will disappointed. Bibi Ka Maqbara was buit in 1678. It was built in memory of the the wife of Aurangzeb, Rabia-ud-Durrani by one of their sons, Prince Azam Shah. Aurangzeb was the last of the six great Mogul emperors, founder of Aurangabad, and son of the creator of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan.

    Bibi Ka Maqbara stands in the middle of a large garden. It was supposed to be all marble but money ran out, so only the bottom two feet are built with marble. The rest is stone with a facade of plaster. Unfortunately the plaster has not held up well. Its minarets are disproportionally large and the whole monument lacks symmetry. There is little of the fine work or details of the Taj Mahal.

    Despite its flaws it is still considered Aurangabad's most famous monument and is worth a visit. You can visit in less than an hour, unless you spend time in the garden.

    Open daily sunrise - 10:00 p.m.

    Admission: Indian National Rs 10, Foreign National Rs 200

    Visitor information was correct at time of writing.

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    Shri Ghrishneshwar Mandir

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    First view of Shri Ghrishneshwar Mandir
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    Shri Ghrishneshwar Mandir is located in the village of Verul (Ellora), about 30 km from Aurangabad and less than 1 km from Ellora Caves. This temple is an important place of Hindu pilgrimage and it dedicated to Lord Shiva.

    The temple is revered as a jyotirling (there are only 12 in all of India). It is the last of the 12 and without a visit to this one, the journey to the jyotirlings is incomplete. They are called jyotirlings because Lord Shiva is said to have revealed himself to his devotees in the form of Jyoti ( i.e. light) and this particular jyotilings is said to be self oriented.

    The temple itself was built in the 7th century and has beautiful sculptures on the walls. The architecture represents the local style and this is a very pretty temple. It is also considered an important Brahmanical religious center. Half of the temple is red sandstone and half is some kind of plaster. The large temple measures 240 X 185 feet.

    From the street there is a very small doorway (you need to bend down) that opens into the courtyard where you will get your first glimpse of the temple. The temple itself consists of a garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum), antarala (antechamber), and sabha mandapa (pillared hall).

    This was one of the few temples I have been where a non-Hindu is allowed into the inner sanctum. According to traditional custom, men have to remove their shirts/upper garments before entering. Inside was a Shiv-ling with a marble image of Goddess Parvati.

    Ghrishneshwar is the presiding deity of the locals. The main puja is conducted on Mondays and it is VERY crowded at that time. A large fair is held on Mahashivratri (Feb or March each year).

    When visiting the temple, please be respectful. Remove your shoes (the ground can be very hot!) and don't take photos in the inner sanctum. Women should dress conservatively and men must remove their shirt.

    This is an interesting temple to visit and is easily reached on your way to Ellora Caves. Please make a donation when you leave. Be advised that outside the entrance are many hawkers selling religious items/offerings, jewelry/trinkets, etc. and you may have to jostle a little to get inside but this temple must not be overlooked on a trip to Aurangabad.

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    Fascinating Daulatabad Fort

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    Entering Daultabad Fort
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    Daulatabad Fortress rises dramatically over 600 feet above the Deccan plain. It was originally called Deogiri ("hill of the Gods") and is said to have been founded in 1187 by the Hindu king (of the Yadav dynasty). The name was changed to Daultabad ("city of fortune/prosperity") when the sultan of Delhi overtook it in 1308. It has a long and bloody history - but I'll let your guide tell you all that.

    Daualtabad is considered one of India's most impressive forts and I definitely agree with that assessment. It is in excellent condition. It is one of my 3 favorites - along with Amber Fort in Jaipur and Agra Fort in Agra - and all 3 are very unique and different from each other. What was so amazing about Daultabad is that it was designed to be as impregnable from enemies as possible.

    The outer wall runs for six kilometers. There are several inner walls with heavy iron gates with huge thick spikes on the doors that made them impenetrable to stampeding elephants. Then there were many canons. The steep hillsides at the base dropping to the 40 ft. deep moat were so smooth that no hostile troops could scale the heights. (I loved the moat and drawbridge!) There were stairs and angles that were set up so that if anything was fired in a certain direction, it would not reach the target. All kinds of neat things like that.

    But the one that probably worked the best was the very last obstacle before reaching the top, known as the Andheri Passage. It was a long maze-like tunnel that was pitch black. Unfortunately it stunk of bat uh...stuff, and there were bats flying around. There was no way I was going through it and I was so disappointed that we would not make it to the top because that was the only way to go!! If you can get past the bat stink, I am sure the views are amazing!

    There were some other interesting things inside the fort – including an ancient Hindu temple with its roof supported by 150 pillars, a huge water tank, an almost 100 foot pillar of victory called Chand Minar, a mosque made with pillars taken from Hindu and Jain temples, and the Chini Mahal with blue porcelain tiles on the facade. Climb up the short flight of stairs to see Qila Shikhan - a 20 foot canon - from where you will have nice views all around.

    Although Daulatabad is on the way to Ellora Caves, I would not recommend trying to see both in the same day. I do recommend hiring a guide at the entrance (about Rs 400-500). You should allow at least half a day here. The climb to the top is not difficult (it's in sections so you can go bit by bit) but you may want to bring water with you since there is no place inside the gates to purchase any. You can purchase some before the ticket booth. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a hat, and sunglasses/glares. Try to avoid the mid-day heat if possible.

    Please see my travelogues for additional photos.

    Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

    Admission Fee: Indian Nationals Rs 5, Foreign Nationals Rs 100

    Visitor information was correct as of this writing.

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    Ajanta Caves (2)

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    Entrance to Ajanta Caves
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    Please note that this tip is a continuation of my Ajanta Caves (1) which includes overall information for Ajanta. Please see that tip for my **special tip!

    Ajanta Terms:

    Chaitya: A chaitya-griha (stupta hall) is a meeting or assembly place with architectural similarities to Roman design concepts of column and arch; prayer hall

    Viharas: Viharas are dwellings or refuge for monks; some evolved to educational institutions.

    Stupa: A stupa is a dome, or monument, to Buddha.

    Hinanyana Phase: (2nd Century BC - 2nd Centrury AD) Buddha was worshipped only through symbols (footprints, stupa, the Bodhi tree - under which he achieved Nirvana.

    Mahayana Phase: (3rd Century AD) Buddha was worshipped in his physical form.

    Bodhisattvas: Celestial beings who are on the threshold of becoming Buddhas. They have chosen to remain in the world to help others reach salvation.

    Over two thousand years ago, Buddhist monks, priests, and thousands of unknown artists worked by torches and sun reflectors to create beautiful murals and carvings out of rock. These narrate the story of Buddha in his cycle of incarnation. After falling into disuse, the caves sat hidden for over 1000 years. They were rediscovered in 1819 by Captain John Smith of the British Army. What may stand out are the women in the paintings - the "Ajanta type" with their curves, elongated eyes, attractive mein, exotic make-up, and jewels. This was the result of having artist-monks and non-monk artists painting side by side - with equal zest celebrating the physical beauty of women and the spiritual beauty of Buddha.

    The highlights of Ajanta:

    Cave 1 is a Vihara and contains the most famous of Ajanta's paintings. The technique used by painters in ancient India is as follows. First, a rough plaster of clay, cow dung and rice husks were laid upon the selected rock surface and thoroughly pressed in (one and half centimetre thick). Upon this a fine coat of lime was spread to attain a smooth surface. Outlines were drawn with a brush and color was applied. The pigments were of the simplest materials including yellow earth, red ocher, and lamp black. Once a second coat was applied, the outlines were barely visible. Other brushes were used to fill in color until the picture, "bloomed". Finally, plastic relef was attained by shading with darker lines and toning down the highlights.

    The most famous of all frescoes at Ajanta, Padam Pani, is located in Cave 1. If you shine a flashlight on his pearl necklace, the necklace sparkles and looks almost real. It was very cool. There is a large Buddha statue in the back of the cave whose face seems to wear different facial expressions when seen from different angles. The ceiling of the cave is supported by 20 very intersting painted and carved pillars. There were also great paintings on the ceiling. Above the verendah are friezes of scenes from Buddha's life. You can spend alot of time wandering in this cave and Cave 1 was one of my favortites.

    Cave 2 is similar in plan to Cave 1 and is considered one of the best caves at Ajanta. The main shrine has a fantastic painted ceiling. Also inside are murals relating the birth of Buddha (very nice) and the famous painting of women on a swing.

    Cave 4 is the largest vihara at Ajanta. To the right of the door is the carving of a Buddha to whom devotees are praying for deliverance from the eight fears. The rear wall of the verendah contains the panel Litany of Avalokiteshvara. It was a common belief that Avalokiteshvara would bring immediate relief to a person struggling in difficult times.

    Cave 6 is the only double storeyed vihara at Ajanta. It is famous for both its paintings and sculptures. There are beautiful paintings of Budda on the first floor and the scenes relate to his life. The steps to the second floor are steep. If you rap on the pillars, they emit a musical sound.

    Cave 9 is the oldest chaityagriha dating back to the 1st century. There are two layers of paintings here. Some dating from the 1st century and some dating to the 5th-6th century. Many of the paintings depict everyday life.

    Cave 10, similar to Cave 9 is also a chaityargriha, though it is much larger. It is also thought to be the oldest cave at AJanta. The chatya has a nave, two aisles, and 39 pillars. The plain stupa is the largest at Ajanata. The Shadanta Jataka, a legend about Buddha is painted on the wall in a continuous panel. This was the cave John Smith first spotted and his name and "1819" are carved on one of the pillars.

    Cave 12 is the living space for monks complete with beds made of stone.

    Cave 16 has two elephants carved on each side of the entrance. It is thought that this could have been the original entrance to the caves. The highlight of this cave is the painting, "The Dying Princess". It is said that the princess is Sundari, the broken-hearted wife of Buddha's half-brother Nanda, who left his palace to become a monk. Her agony is felt. J. Griffiths has commented about the painting: .....the Florentines could have put better drawing and the Venetians better colour, but neither could have thrown greater expression into it".

    Cave 17 has the largest number of paintings in good condition, including several outstanding ones. There are many stories in these paintings and you can spend alot of time enjoying. The "Wheel of Life" depicts life in its different stages. (This wheel is still a symbol in Tibetan monasteries.) My favorite paintings here include "Buddha taking alm from his son", "Mother and Child before Buddha", and one of a woman applying her lipstick. Cave 17 was another of my favorites.

    Cave 19 is a chaityagriha and is crowded with Buddha scultures! It is regarded as one of the best examples of Buddhist art and has been called "the sculptor's treasure chest".

    Cave 26 is a chaityagriha that is almost as crowded with scultpures as Cave 19 but it is larger. I think this was my favorite cave. There is a huge reclining Buddha figure representing Parinirvana (dying and on the verge of attaining nirvana). On the side of the stupa is a statue of Buddha and on the head of the statue is the smallest Buddha carving - only 1 1/2 inches tall.

    All of the paintings or series of paintings have stories which is why if you do not have a very detailed guide book, I recommend hiring a guide. He will also point out all the little details in each cave.

    Please see my travelogues for additional photos.

    Entrance fee: Indians Rs. 10, Foreigners RS 250, No Charge for children up to age 15

    Hours 9 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Closed Mondays)

    No flash photography, no footwear inside the caves, and no drinking or eating inside the caves.

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    Ajanta Caves (1)

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    Cave 6 - only double storied monastery
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    The Ajanta Caves are a UNESCO Designated World Heritage Site. Aurangabad, although not the nearest link to the caves, makes a good base for the sights around if coming from Mumbai. Located in the Indian State of Maharashtra Aurangabad is about a 12 hour bus journey from Mumbai or a 7 hour train trip (that runs infrequently) - a kind of out of the way place - not really on the way to/from any place that most travellers go. You can also take a 45 minute flight. If coming on the Delhi-Mumbai train (main central railway) you can get off in Jalgoan, which is about a 60 km drive to Ajanta and then continue on to Aurangabad after seeing Ajanta. In any case, I cannot recommend visiting enough!!

    The caves are fascinating and spectacular and while you are in the area, you should also visit the Ellora Caves, another UNESCO Designated World Heritage Site, Daulatabad Fortress, and Ghrishneshwar Temple (a Jyotirlingas).

    The Ajanta Caves are located just over 100 km from Aurangabad and it takes about 2 hours to reach. The ride is very pleasant. Not too far out of Aurangabad, it became very rural. There were cotton fields, sugar cane fields, corn fields and colorfully dressed people working in them. We passed through small villages, and passed bullock carts, and goat herders with dozens and dozens of goats.

    Finally you arrive. As part of the conservation of the caves cars are not allowed to drive up to the caves. From the parking lot you make your way through dozens of stalls and aggressive hawkers, to board a CNG bus for the 2 km ride to the caves. (The charge for the bus is Rs 10 for A/C (per person, one-way) and Rs 6 for Non-A/C (per person, one-way). After buying your tickets you will make a long climb up the stairs to the cave. If you are not able to do this, they have a "chair" held up by 4 men to carry you up. Don't be embarrassed, plenty of foreign and Indian tourists do it! You will surely have alot of laughs and some good memories.

    The 30 Buddhist caves form a horse-shoe shape and rise to a height of 76 metres (250 ft) over a ravine. The oldest caves date back to the 2nd century. Some of the caves are unfinished, 16 contain mural paintings, 5 are chaitya halls (Buddhist cathedrals) and the others are vihars (monasteries - complete with stone pillows carved onto the monks' stone beds!). The caves are numbered in consecutive order starting at the far western extremity and the numbers have no relation to their chronological sequence.

    I am putting information for specific caves in another tip since this one is already very long!

    The best time to go is between October and March, although the caves are open year round. Even at the best time, it can get very hot walking between the caves. Be sure to have sunglasses/glares, a hat, and a bottle of water. (Water is available BEFORE you board the CNG bus to the caves.) I would also suggest bringing something to eat since there is nothing available once you are up top at the caves. Bring a flashlight to see better inside the darker caves and wear comfortable shoes! Please note that there is a lot of uneven ground so you need to be careful walking around.

    I recommend hiring a guide at the ticket booth (approx RS 4-500). If you do not get a guide, there are attendants at each cave. Some speak english and although there is no charge for their services (they will point out the cave's highlights if you ask), they will expect a tip (approx Rs 10-20).

    You will need at least 2 hours at the caves but allow an extra hour travelling between the parking lot and the caves. You can easily spend more time studying the paintings. There is also a viewpoint from across the caves that is a good long walk (we didn't make the climb).

    Please see my travelogues for additional photos.

    Entrance fee: Indians Rs. 10, Foreigners RS 250, No Charge for children up to age 15

    Hours 9 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Closed Mondays)

    No flash photography, no footwear inside the caves, and no drinking or eating inside the caves.

    Please note that visitor information was correct as of this writing.

    ** Special Tip: Outside of each cave is a board with the cave number and a description of the cave. BEFORE you go into each cave, snap a photo of the board to easily identify the caves later on. (Wish I took that advice!! I kind of did it haphazardly - sometimes taking in the photo before entering the cave, sometimes after leaving, sometimes not at all! It was very difficult to identify the caves, sculptures, and frescoes once I got home!!)

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    Feed the Monkeys at Ellora Caves

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    Monkeys at Ellora
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    I was hoping to see monkeys at the caves and I was not disappointed. In between the main gate and the parking lot were a couple of dozen monkeys hanging around. What a funny bunch they were - climbing on the cars, sitting by the buses as if waiting to board!

    They were used to being fed by humans and were not aggressive towards them, only occasionally to each other when trying to get food. Sandy bought a bunch of bananas and started feeding them. One monkey enthusiastically jumped off the ground to take the banana out of Sandy’s hand. He bought another bunch of bananas and then another feeding as many monkeys as he could. They really were very cute!

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    Ellora Caves - Buddhist

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    Ellora Buddhist Cave 10
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    There are 12 Buddhist Caves at Ellora - numbers 1-12. The caves comprise of Chaityas (shrines) and Viharas (monasteries). Cave number 1 is possibly the earliest excavation; the Buddhist caves date back to 500-700 A.D.

    In comparison to the slightly elaborate Jain Caves and the very elaborate Hindu Caves, the Buddhist Caves are almost serene. But it is that very simplicity that I found beautiful. Of course it was easy to imagine the lives of the Buddhists who prayed and meditated (and ate and slept) on the very hard rock floors!

    Cave 1 is a plain vihara with eight cells. The cells were bare rock and were used for solitary meditation. They indeed looked as uncomfortable as a prison cell but for some inexplainable reason, I really liked this Cave.

    Cave 2 is a monastery - 50 feet high - having a central hall with pillars and a gallery of Buddhas.

    Cave 5 was another of my favorite Buddhist Caves. It is also the largest - 117 feet long by 56 feet wide. Twenty four pillars hold up the roof. It looks like it may have been used as a classroom for young monks. At the far end of the Cave is a Buddha image in a chapel.

    What is interesting in Cave 6 is that in the antechamber there is a statue of the Hindu goddess of learning, Saraswati. Apparently the boundaries between Hinduism and Buddhism are fuzzy and Hindus recognize and worship some Buddhist god/goddesses as their own and vice-versa.

    Cave 10, also known as Visvakarma, was my favorite Buddhist Cave. It is a chaitya-hall and the only Buddhist chapel at Ellora. The monastery is on the ground floor and the chamber has 28 columns, dividing it up into a nave and aisles. At the back is a huge figure of (Teaching) Buddha carved under a votive stupa. There is a high ceiling with stone rafters. A monk would go up against a column and chant; the chant would echo through the whole monastery. I imagine it was a beautiful sound. (Our guide quitely chanted near a pillar and we were able to hear him throughout the chaitya.)

    Cave 12 is a three storied cave and is also known as Teen-thaal. It has an open court and has porches supported by pillars in each storey. The outside is very plain looking but the hall on each floor has decorated galleries with Buddhas carved on the walls. The nicest statue is the Buddha (in deep meditation) in the shrine.

    Please see my travelogues for additional photos.

    Please see my "Things To Do: Fantastic Caves at Ellora" tip for specific visitor information and "special tip".

    Entrance fee: Indians Rs. 10, Foreigners RS 250, No charge for children up to age 15

    Open from sunrise to sunset (Closed Tuesdays)

    No Flash Photography

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    Ellora Caves - Hindu

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    Inside Ellora Cave 16 - Kailasa
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    There are 17 Hindu Caves at Ellora - numbers 13-29. They were excavated at the beginning of the 7th century. The Hindu caves are the centerpieces of Ellora and are so detailed and intricate that they must have required generations of planning and coordination, not to mention the 100+ years it took to actually create them.

    Two of the more interesting Caves were Cave 14 also known as Ravana ki Kahi and Cave 15 also known as Dashavatara. Cave 14 contains sculptures of Hindu gods/goddesses (deities) such as Durga and Vishnu. Cave 15 was double-storied (I really liked this one) and had superb sculptures.

    However the highlight of the Hindu Caves, and of Ellora, in fact, is Cave 16 known as Kailasanath (Kailasa) Temple. This temple is actually a complex - it is huge! - 266 feet by 154 feet. It was carved (top to bottom out of one single rock that is double the size of the Parthenon in Athens). It is the largest monolithic structure in the world and was sculpted with the mere use of hammer and chisel. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and there are countless carvings of him. There is an open courtyard with a towering pillar and numerous sculptured (life size) elephants, which are world famous. The two stairways leading to the Mandapa of the main temple are carved with narrative episodes from the two great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Those were really interesting!! I also liked the Nandi Pavillion - housing a large sculpture of Nandi, the bull which Lord Siva rides. One of my other favorite sculptures was Ganesh - I had to look hard to find him but knew he would be in the complex. (See photo.)

    Allow plenty of time for the Hindu temples, especially Kailasa. I'm not sure that I would recommend seeing Kailasa last - you may be too tired by then - and there is so much you should not miss!! If you see Kailasa first, by the time you finish the Hindu and Buddhist Caves, you may not make it over to the Jain Caves (especially if you're walking). We saw Kailasa right after seeing Jain Caves 32 & 33, and it worked out really well. (We continued on to the other Hindu Caves and the Buddhist Caves.) If for Kailasa alone, I would highly recommend having a guide. You will find out much more than you would from a guidebook.

    Please see my travelogues for additional photos.

    Please see my "Things To Do: Fantastic Caves at Ellora" tip for specific visitor information and "special tip".

    Entrance fee: Indians Rs. 10, Foreigners RS 250, No charge for children up to age 15

    Open from sunrise to sunset (Closed Tuesdays)

    No Flash Photography

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    Ellora Caves - Jain

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    Indra sitting under the Banyan tree Ellora Cave 33
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    There are five Jain Caves (temples) at Ellora. They are separated from the Hindu and Buddhist Caves - about 1 km. away. If you have a car available, that is the best way to reach the Jain Caves.

    Jainism was founded in the 6th century BC and is based on a doctrine of non-violence to all living beings. Jains are strict vegetarians. They believe in 24 tirthankaras - enlightened beings - or crossing-makers who guide others across the river of transmigration (the journey of the soul from one life to the next). The first tirthankara was Adinath and the last was Mahavira, who is regarded as the religion's founder. The caves are dedicated to Mahavira and tirthankaras.

    The Caves are numbers 30-34. Only the 2 most important Jain Caves, 32 and 33 are open for visiting. It is said that the Jain Caves are not as nice/elaborate as the Hindu/Buddhist Caves, but I really found them to be so nice. I loved the scultpures (stone carvings). We had a very good guide and I was really fascinated to learn about the teachings of Jainism. (My interest was so piqued that I intend to learn more.)

    The excavation of the Jain Caves began in the 9th century after the excavation of the Buddhist and Hindu Caves and lasted until the 11th or 12th century. The caves still attract pilgrims today.

    Cave 32, the largest of the Jain Caves is known as the Indra Sabha or Assembly Hall of Indra and is considered the finest of the Jain Caves. The entrance leads into a small court at the center of which is a monolithic shrine on a high pedestal. I particularly liked the monolithic elephant near the entrance. The downstairs is pretty plain but the upstairs is ornate and richly decorated. There are images of tirthankaras, Parasnath and Gomateshvara. Inside the shrine is a staute of Mahvira. I also liked the huge lotus carved into the ceiling.

    Cave 33 is known as the Jagannath Sabha. It is similar to Cave 32 and the sculptures here are very well preserved. This cave - like Cave 32 - is double-storied and has five separate shrines. There were also some nice paintings on the walls.

    Please see my "Things To Do: Fantastic Caves at Ellora" tip for specific visitor information and my "special tip".

    Please see my travelogues for additional photos.

    Entrance fee: Indians Rs. 10, Foreigners RS 250, No charge for children up to age 15

    Open from sunrise to sunset (Closed Tuesdays)

    No Flash Photography

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    Fantastic Caves at Ellora

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 17, 2013

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    Entrance to Ellora Caves

    The Ellora Caves are a UNESCO Designated World Heritage Site. Located in the Indian State of Maharashtra the caves are about a 10-12 hour bus journey from Mumbai or a 7 hour train trip (that runs infrequently) - a kind of out of the way place - not really on the way to/from any place that most travellers go. You can also take a 45 minute flight into Aurangabad which is about 30 km from Ellora. In any case, I cannot recommend visiting enough!! The caves are fascinating and spectacular and while you are in the area, you should also visit the Ajanta Caves, also a UNESCO Designated World Heritage Site, Daulatabad Fortress, and Ghrishneshwar Temple (one of only 12 Jyotirlingas in India).

    Unlike Ajanta Caves, the Ellora Caves were never "rediscovered". They have continuously attracted pligrims since early times to the present. The 34 Ellora Caves extend in a linear arrangement and were all carved from top to bottom. So the ceiling was built first, then the walls, and then the base. They were excavated between the 6th and 10th centuries. The caves are classified as Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain caves - following the development of religious thought in India - and were excavated in that order. The Jain caves are located separately from the Hindu and Buddhist temples and I recommend starting at the Jain caves, then visiting the Hindu caves next, and finally the Buddhist caves.

    See my separate tips by Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain caves for specific information about those caves.

    The best time to go is between October and March, although the caves are open year round. The Caves all face west and it's best to visit in the afternoon. Even at the best time, it can get very hot walking between the caves. Be sure to have sunglasses/glares, a hat, and a bottle of water. (Water is available at the canteen near the entrance - near cave 16.) It's also a good idea to bring a flashlight to see better inside the darker caves. Oh, and wear comfortable shoes!

    I would recommend getting a guide at the entrance.

    ** Special Tip: Outside of each cave is a board with the cave number and a description of the cave. BEFORE you go into each cave, snap a photo of the board to easily identify the caves later on. (Wish I took that advice!! I am usually very logical but I kind of did it haphazardly - sometimes taking the photo before entering the cave, sometimes after leaving, sometimes not at all! It was very difficult to identify the caves, sculptures, and frescoes once I got home!!)

    Please see my travelogues for additional photos.

    Entrance fee: Indians Rs. 10, Foreigners RS 250, No charge for children up to age 15

    Open from sunrise to sunset (Closed Tuesdays)

    No flash photography.

    Please note that visitor information was correct as of this writing.

    The annual Ellora Dance Festival is held on a full moon night in December. Top classical Indian dancers and musicians from around the country perform against the backdrop of the caves.

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    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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    For the religious-minded - Shirdi Sai Baba Mandir

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Feb 25, 2012

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    It’s a 2 and half hours’ drive (130 kms approx.) to Shirdi from Aurangabad. The road condition is good with not too much of traffic. Shirdi itself is well laid out with the focal point being Shirdi Sai Baba’s temple. Devotees throng in thousands day in and day out for the two main ‘aartis’ – one at 12.30 pm and the other at 5.30 pm. Two more are held: one in the early morning to rouse the deity and the last one at night before the deity retires for the night.

    You pay Rs. 300/- for a single ticket to gain entry to the sanctum sanctorum and the stand in a queue. When the main door is opened, you are ushered into a large hall where the Baba’s golden statue in a sitting position is placed. The ladies’ queue is on the right hand side and the gent’s on the left. Five or six priests perform the ‘aarti’ which last for almost 30 minutes. As usual, there is quite a lot of pushing and shoving, even amongst those who are in the VIP enclosure. The space in the middle of the hall separating the ladies’ and gent’s enclosures is kept empty.

    Once the ‘aarti’ is over, you are allowed to approach the Baba’s statue, touch the foot impression kept on the left side of the statue and exit. If a lady wishes to touch the foot impression, she has to go over to the left enclosure.

    There are plenty of hotels and restaurants in and around the temple. The one run by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) was neat and clean. The food was wholesome as well as adequate. Some rooms are available on the first floor for overnight stay.

    No mobiles, cameras or videos are allowed inside. Plenty of touts hang around near the shops which sell ‘prasad’ items. Don’t fall into their trap for a quick ‘darshan’. The temple authorities are very strict and do not allow such shortcuts.

    There is a valuable post by Eklavya at:

    http://www.indiamike.com/india/maharashtra-f37/shirdi-to-ajanta-ellora-via-jalgaon-or-aurangabad-t60012/

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    • Family Travel

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    Only By Treachery - Daulatabad Fort

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Feb 23, 2012

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    Daulatdabad Fort is about 16 kms from Aurangabad on the road to Ellora. This large fortress, built by the Yadavas, is surrounded by three concentric granite walls of 196 ft height. When Mahamud bin Tuglak captured this fort in 1327, he renamed it Daulatdabad or ‘City of Fortune’. He relocated the capital from Delhi to Daulatdabad and 17 years later, ordered that the capital be shifted back to Delhi. Many of his subjects perished on the way.

    The 110 ft charminar, built in 1435, stands in the middle of the fort with the Jama Masjid opposite it. The mosque has 106 pillars which were taken from Hindu and Jain temples located at the spot earlier.

    The view from the top of the fort is superb. Make sure you visit the lookout pass right on top where you can perch on top of an old cannon.

    Good historical information and plenty of photos posted by Unny are available here:

    http://daulatabad.blogspot.in/

    A very engaging NDTV video is here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucKc1yz0lUw

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    • Photography
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    • Historical Travel

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    Aurangabad Caves

    by anilpradhanshillong Updated Feb 23, 2012

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    Located barely 2 kms from the Bibi-ka-Maqbara, the Aurangabad caves are not a patch on the famous Ajanta and Ellora caves. However, a few - especially cave 7 - is worth a look. They are from the first century onwards. Mounted on the spur of the Sahyadri Range, this elevated position offers a beautiful view of Aurangabad city.

    Caves 1 to 5 – Western Caves
    Cave 2 is a sixth century cave with a columned verandah. One panel depicts Buddha in a seated position.
    Cave 3 depicts scenes from Buddha’s life.
    Cave 4 dating from 1st century A.D., shows a most spartan Hinayana phase.

    Caves 6 to 10 – Eastern Caves
    They contain Bodhisathvas and sculptures of women. Cave 7 is the most interesting.

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    • Photography
    • Religious Travel
    • Archeology

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    Final Resting Place - Emperor Aurangzeb

    by anilpradhanshillong Written Feb 23, 2012

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    Khuldabad, where Emperor Aurangzeb lies buried, is roughly 30 kms from Aurangabad and only 3 km short of the Ellora Caves. Besides the tomb of the Mughal Emperor, this town is also the final resting place for two venerated Muslim holy men, Zain-ud-din and Burhan-ud-din. It is believed that Aurangzeb chose his burial spot as well as how it was to be constructed, with special emphasis on its spartan appearance, the type of life he chose to lead. The grave itself is on a raised platform with marble screens on three sides.

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel

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