Today we had our second to last day of temple seeing in India (but who’s counting?..). We hired the same driver who picked us up from the airport because he seemed like a decent guy. He drove us two hours to Ajanta, yet another UNESCO site. The Ajanta caves are about 30 rock cut Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave monuments which dates from the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE.
The caves include paintings and sculptures. They don’t let you use a tripod and its very dark in there so taking a photo inside was very tricky. Here is the best attempt.
The area was previously heavily forested and after the site was abandoned, the jungle took control again and buried the temples under heavy vegetation until accidently rediscovered in 1819 by a British officer on a hunting party. They are Buddhist monastic buildings apparently representing a number of distinct monasteries or colleges.
There are a total of 28 caves, monasteries, shrines and even granaries, the caves were used for different purposes through the centuries. We went into almost all 28 of them, some were closed off and some unfinished.
As templed out as we are it was pretty impressive especially the fact that each cave was carved out of the existing rock with hammer and chisel with no additional materials used.
The usual annoyance of temples was still there and we had to take off our shoes each time we went into a cave, except there was one cave that didn’t have a Buddha so then we were allowed to wear our shoes and we pretended to be the missing Buddha.
This one is the most important cave in Ajanta. Before visiting this amazing complex we watched a History Channel video from the show Ancient Aliens; as you know History Channel went to shit a few years ago and instead of showing history shows they only have stupid conspiracy theories shows and pawn shop shows (shame on you History Channel, shame on you!!!). Anyways, they explain that Ajanta was built with the help of aliens and this is the sculpture of one of them controlling the rocket/spacecraft; apparently, you can see the cockpit controls, but with a closer look you will see this is actually the guy’s cape.
The caves were first spotted from a viewpoint in the center of the cave system. Of course Eitan’s FOMO led to us walking up several steps in the super-hot weather and almost overheating, but at least Eitan will never wonder what the view is like.
We asked the driver to drop us off at the number one trip advisor restaurant here instead of the hotel. It was quite good and we even ordered some dishes that didn’t quite look like every other meal we have had. A pet peeve of Sarah’s at restaurants here is that they like to mop the floor right next to your table as you are eating. I don’t understand why they can’t wait until later but at least they are keeping the place clean! The waiter at this place was very nice and randomly gave us a mug with the picture of the Ellora temples. We order some Masala Papad as a starter, it is a tostada with onion, tomato and some crispy things on top:
For desert we got some Jilebi dessert, don’t ask me what it is, because I have no idea, but it was good:
Disclaimer: In this blogpost I will be combining also the Ellora temples visit from the next day as to not bore you with 2 very similar attractions.
Ellora is an archaeological site 29 km (18 mi) north-west of the city of Aurangabad built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty (Brahmanical & Buddhist group of caves) and Yadav (Jain group of caves). Well known for its monumental caves, Ellora is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 “caves” are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. Hindu, Buddhist and Jain rock-cut temples and viharas and mathas were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The 17 Hindu, 12 Buddhist and 5 Jain caves, built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.
Apparently all woman in this civilization used to have fake boobs as seen in all the statues and carvings:
Cave 16, also known as the Kailasa temple, is considered one of the most remarkable cave temples in India because of its size, architecture and sculptural treatment. It is dedicated to Shiva, and also contains smaller, detached shrines dedicated to Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.
The structure looks like a freestanding, multi-storeyed temple complex, but it was carved out of one single rock, and covers an area double the size of Parthenon in Athens. Impressive? You bet your ass it is, we ranked this temple in the top 3 attractions we have seen in India.
Again, the eight wonder of the world was the biggest attraction on site, but only this kid was brave enough to interact with Sarah, you can see all the others just watching from a distance. Very funny.
People started to line up for pictures with Sarah after the kid interaction. The crazy thing is that they don’t let you go until they finished the photo-shoot, if you try to leave they bring you back for the next family member photo.
So that’s it! We finished sightseeing in India with this incredible place. Today we go to the airport for Goa but I will write about it another post!
Bonus Pic Of The Day: Restaurants charge you an extra tax if they have A/C. Sometimes, you will get the option to go to the A/C room for a few more rupees or stay in the fan section if you are eating on a budget.