Published: June 24th 2011April 16th 2011
Ellora Caves is a World Heritage site, that until I arrived in Ajanta, I had never heard of. On meeting Tatiana (a french girl), she told me of her plans to go there after Ajanta. She also told me that she had already paid for the taxi and I was welcome to come along if I wanted. It didn't take much arm twisting and after Ajanta I found myself arguing with a greedy taxi driver who wanted an extra 1000 Rupee (17 Euros) for taking me. As he had already charged the newly arrived Tatiana about 1500 Rupee more than the going rate, I took exception to his racial profiling based greed and eventually won the argument.
Having already ripped off Tatiana earlier he had obviously decided that all his Christmases had come at once and after a couple of weeks of dealing with this kind of racism, predatory behaviour I had had enough. The touts, scams and people who view you purely as a wallet if you are white, are in my opinion a blemish on travelling in India. There are as many reactions and different ways people deal with it as there are foreign tourists in India. Including
ignoring it, paying more and taking being ripped off as part and parcel of travelling there, people who somehow feel they should be paying more due to being white, people who constantly loose the plot with touts, people who rarely venture off their guided tours/package deals, people who have either seen worse elsewhere or expected worse and are therefore proud of their capacity to 'handle it better than your average Joe Bloggs', well meaning people that think they are somehow redressing the poverty issue in India by giving into the hustling, people who are seeking to redress their own feelings of guilt through giving and people who think/say the amount of money is not worth the hassle of resisting and as India is so cheap anyway it doesn't really matter. Then of course there are people who rotate between the different ways to deal with it. Whatever way you want to deal with it, you will at some point have to deal with it and accept it if you want to travel through India without going crazy. Again some parts of India are worse than others and there are pockets where you can escape it all together.
flip side there are positive benefits you get based purely on your skin colour, if you are white, while travelling in India. Including being treated by some as a status symbol, mini celebrity, exotic being, getting access to facilities and places that many Indians do not, having people go out of their way to help you, inform you and look after you. There is no doubt that as a white person, you do get certain advantages based on your skin colour, while travelling through India. On the flip side of the flip side though, some of these postive benefits can be seen to be negative ones, depending on your perspective, such as being treated as a status symbol, mini celebrity or exotic being. Also sadly sometimes when someone is trying to help you, it is not wanted and worse still it is often done with the intention of extracting money from your wallet at the end of it.
Back to Ellora Caves - After meeting Tatiana and being blown by the wind there, Ellora Caves was one of those surprises that comes from nowhere and takes your breath away. It is not often that I get awe inspired, so
when it happens I treasure it and I will always treasure this visit to Ellora Caves because it was awe inspiring. I had never heard of Kailasha Temple and the first time I came to know of it, was when I laid my eyes upon it. The temple is carved out of a gigantic rock and took hundreds of years to complete. It was amazing to stand above it, next to it and in it, contemplating the amount of work and skill that went in to its construction.
'Ellora Caves includes 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km. They are an uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from A.D. 600 to 1000, that bring the civilization of ancient India to life. Not only is the Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India.'
There are more photos below