Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ajanta- Ellora

Who does not want to visit Ajanta and Ellora caves?
A small problem in planning a visit to these caves is that, they are not really close to each other, they are about 4 hours apart. So, in order to visit Ajanta, we reached Jalgaon, and traveled for about an hour to reach Ajanta caves. You are welcomed by a huge set of shops that sell amazing items- glasswork, pottery etc., You will be then led to the caves by a guide. It is highly advisable to hire a guide, else you will not be able to figure out much! Be careful to carry enough electrolytes and water with you, especially in summer. It can be terrible!

Ajanta has about 30 caves, and you can see a view of almost all caves in this picture. Its an amazing view. You wont have time to visit all of them in detail in a single day. The guide will take you through at least 10 of them.

The key highlight of these caves, is the painting on the ceilings, but they were destroyed by people who attacked them long ago.. And there's a really HUGE Buddha statue in the last cave. Save your energy, till the end! The journey through the caves involves some amount of climbing up and down, and you can really feel like you will not make it to the last cave, which is really the amazing one!

One sad part of these caves, is that it is not really as well maintained as it should be. The entry fee is very minimal, something like Rs.50 or so, (don't really remember). And some caves can be really suffocating. These kind of caves are really the treasures of our country, which are unfortunately not well taken care of.

We then took off to Aurangabad which is nearly 4 hours from Jalgaon. The bus transport system is really pathetic there. You can hire an auto from Aurangabad to Ellora- which is about 30km away.
Ellora is a different type of cave than Ajanta. You need to use transport to travel from one cave to another. We were really able to see just one cave- cave number 16- apparently the biggest one, and the most amazing one.

It took us few hours to just complete this one cave. Again, mindblowing art-work and sculptures. Very intricate work can be seen in these caves.
You can also see bats flying around you, which is unfortunate. It was disgusting to see poorly lit caves.. we had to use the flash in our phones to find our way inside some parts of the cave. The air was so stale, and there is hardly any ventilation inside some caves. Again, an indication of some poor maintenance. The entry fee was Rs.10. I would strongly recommend to the tourism ministry to consider increasing the fee, and providing some better maintenance and facilities for visitors.
If you are at Ellora, you may want to visit Ghrishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple, which is just a 10 minute walk from the Ellora entrance. They wont let you carry your phones inside the temple! You will need to deposit them outside.. Dont bother buying flowers.. I have a doubt that they recycle it :)

Overall, Ajanta- Ellora is a must watch if you appreciate sculptures and understand art. You can easily cover the whole trip in 4 days, if you are travelling from Mumbai.

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