Tour of AurangabadDay - 1
Arrive Aurangabad, transfer to hotel. Later proceed to visit Ellora Caves (Closed on Tuesday).
Ellora has 34 ancient caves that were created sometime between the fifth and tenth centuries by Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist monks. Most amazing about these caves are the way they were built. Carved from the top to the bottom – the priests’ first steps were to burrow out the ceiling, then work their way down constructing hefty pillars along the way. The caves at Ellora are quite dissimilar to those of Ajanta as they are not only Bhuddhist but have followed the changes and extensions of religion over the years in India. From the last part of the 8th century as Budhism declined up to the rebirth of Hinduism that came after of the Gupta dynasty returned and the 9th and 11th century Jain resurgence.
The first dominant structure that we will see on this site is the Kailasa Temple, also referred to as Cave 16. The Kailasa, a model of Shiva’s mountain dwelling, is thought to be the biggest monument ever formed from a single huge stone on earth. Measuring some 33m deep by 81m long and 47m wide, this structure is a stunning piece of work. It is believed that over three million cubic metres of rock were removed to form it and it is carved all over in the most detailed way. The courtyard is fresh and ventilated, as the outer walls open to it and are enveloped by columned compartments on three sides and fixed into the depth of the cliff. Plumb in the middle, is a temple also intricately carved and standing on its own, whilst hedged in by lines of life-size elephants, who themselves over the centuries have been vandalized, with many of them losing their trunks. A plethora of sculptures representing events from the Ramayana, which is the traditional Hindu epic in the Maharashtra region and can still be read with ease, are also visible. Opposite the Kailasa Temple is a massive spread of rock pervaded with even more caves, that in some instances compete in stature and detail with Kailasa, brandishing even more legends and extending deep-seated into the mountain. The Jain temple caves of Ellora are distinctly extravagant and flamboyant, being totally covered in decorations of gods, flowers and animals . The Buddhist versions of Ellora are the ascetic, modest, tunnel curved burrows, with enormous depictions of Buddha that are visited by gold and burgundy clothed monks and lit by the occasional candle. The Hindu caves were carved long ago when the interpretations of the holy texts were less stern and gigantic statues openly display the activities between the erotic gods and goddesses in the obscure retreats of the temple. They are indeed the sassiest of all the caves.
O/N at Hotel.
Today visit Ajanta Caves (Closed on Monday).
Lost for centuries and rediscovered by accident by a British army officer on a tiger h unt in 1819 are the Ajanta caves (105km). This is where our morning excursion is headed. These caves remain somewhat unspoilt and the shrines which are also carved in detail and the compelling murals, still remain in good condition despite their age. Getting to these hidden contoured caves takes some doing and if you want to find the best ones it will take some stamina. Not to fear though because the resourceful locals would be happy to take you up on their palanquins or put differently, kitchen chairs tied to broom handles. One of the big and most popular catches to the Ajanta caves and their unique selling point are the astonishingly detailed wall paintings.
In contrasts to Ellora, Ajanta’s caves have been well-preserved and scholarly theories abound as to why the paint on Ajanta’s deepest caves are still mind bogglingly bright and attractive given its depth and darkness . Many of them cite the presence of candles and mirrors as the reason. Caves one and two exhibit sophisticated wall paintings with images of bare-breasted nobles , handsome princes and princesses with jasmine tiaras suffering because of unrequited love on loveseats and swings, while sensuous girls dressed in bare essentials like their jewels and girdles dance beside ponds. Very contrasting images are close by, this time there are of a monk with an orange robe and shaven head in deep meditation, a recluse in search of salvation or a group of aged followers trying hard to hear the teachings of their leader. Overpowering everything else are paintings of Bodhisattvas this is someone who can reach nirvana but puts it off out of empathy for suffering people. There are also paintings of other worldly beauty, grace and benevolence, half-closed eyes, swinging on the brink of illumination.
Every temple is erotic and emotive; at times even touching and comical, but the last, which is left as bare rock, houses a monumental sculpture of a Buddha at rest , caught eternally forever in the exact time of nirvana,
You must see Ajanta's best caves now! Authorities are worried about the damage being done to them as a result of the thousands of visitors’ breath on the murals and plan to close them off to everyone but scholars. Massive replicas of the best will be placed in the carpark before closing them.
O/N at Hotel.
In time transfer to the airport for onward connection.