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Published: September 11th 2013
After such a long but amazing day in Ellora, we decided to take a day off from the cave sights and so instead had a lay in, chilled out and decided on going to see Bibi-qa-Maqbara 20 minutes down the road from where we were staying in Aurangabad. Bibi-qa-Maqbara is actually more commonly known as ‘The Mini Taj Mahal’, or the ‘Poor Mans Taj’ The reason for these nicknames is fairly simple in that this mausoleum built just after the original is a smaller less grand version of the Taj Mahal but bears a striking resemblance to it never the less.
Having yet to go to Uttar Pradesh to see the actual Taj Mahal, we thought this would be a great way to spend an hour or so looking around this smaller scaled copy to eventually be able to see how it compared to the original. Once in the gates, we were amazed at how much this did look like the Taj Mahal. Of course we were basing this on pictures we have seen of the Taj, however there is no doubt this was intended to look exactly like it. As you start to get closer you can
clearly see some wear and tear in the building and it’s obvious that not too much love and attention is paid to this slowly dilapidating site. The water fountains and water pool that reflects the Taj so perfectly is a sad non-functioning pit with a few puddles, and the symmetrical trees that draw your eye towards the Taj here are a couple of badly trimmed scrubs that are on the verge of dying. The plaster is also starting to peel and fall off of some of the pillars that surround the main domed building therefore giving it a tired and weathered look.
Despite all this though, and considering it is well over 400 years old, it’s actually a fantastic site to come and visit. Of course there will be comparisons with the original, and of course this much smaller and less revered version will always, always be second best, but in spite of this it is still a fantastic sight, and considering this is a mausoleum for just one woman, it’s pretty impressive to say the least.
The following day, we were ready to see some more caves, and so headed out 100km towards Ajanta. We
read that these caves were older than the ones we had seen in Ellora, and if they had to pick one Ellora would win hands down. Undeterred by this, and despite the torrential downpour along the appallingly maintained main highway to Ajanta we were ready to make our own minds up to which we preferred.
Arriving in Ajanta, we climbed the steps up to the top of the hill and were greeted with quite a sight once at the summit. The caves of Ajanta are carved into a U shaped gorge with a river running underneath, and it really is quite spectacular. Even with the rain pouring down, we couldn’t help but stand and admire the view of this incredible place.
With only 30 caves here (some of which are closed), there was less than Ellora, but there was still plenty of exploring to be done. We decided to head for cave number 30 at the end of the trail, bypassing the other caves so we could enter each of them on the way back.
Again, without bogging you down with facts and figures, or trying to somehow describe the intricate details of the caves, all I
can say is wow! Some of these caves were just truly beyond belief in the way they had survived over the centuries leaving behind some real masterpieces in both carvings of Buddha’s, Bodhisattva’s and amorous couples as well as some incredible paintings. The paintings are particularly interesting in some of the caves, due to both their detail and the fact that they are still around today. For the second time in three days, Donna and I were again, truly blown away by these caves.
Being that it was a Saturday, we were a little worried that this place would be bombarded with hundreds of other tourists taking away the calm and serenity in each of the caves. Fortunately though, we always seemed just one step ahead of the hordes of people and just as we were leaving an empty cave (bar the two of us), a bunch of 30 tourists would clamber over each other to get in, shout for a while whilst occasionally glancing a look at masterpieces before moving onto the next cave. At one point a guy stopped us to tell us he was Indian several times (we had kind of gathered this already)
and then ranting about something in Hindi. As we walked off, a guard told us that he was a ‘bad man’, ‘a drinking man’….. seems India has their share of drunk twats too.
So, after another great day of some spectacular sights, were again bound for Aurangabad. The 100km journey would take us around 2 and a half hours due to the pothole dodging, car/truck weaving ride in the rain, and every time we get in a car here, we are shocked at some of the things you see on these roads. Thankfully this journey would only provide a few heart pumping moments for us, but we did notice a burnt-out petrol tanker that wasn’t there on the way in that morning, and was glad we wasn’t around for that disaster. Our driver put it quite poetically in his broken English when after passing this truck he turned back to us, laughed and said ‘finished’. Yes, I guess that’s one way of putting it….
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