Aurangabad, Ajanta and Ellora

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November 12th 2011
Published: November 12th 2011
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Bibi-Qa MaqbaraBibi-Qa MaqbaraBibi-Qa Maqbara

The poor man's Taj Mahal

Aurangabad 4th to 8th November

Into our last week now, we chickened out of the very dubious looking bus to Aurangabad (5 hour trip) and were lucky enough to get A/C Chair seats on the train instead. As OAP's we got tickets for the 3.5 hour journey for about £4....that's right for the two of us. The train was 30 mins late arriving but hey.......
Aurangabad was everything we feared it would be....... OH NO!!! and the hotel, though very nice is way out and away from everything except there is a proper, western-type supermarket next door. Just as well as we nearly died trying to cross the road to another one!!
David says we have to pace ourselves so we did very little on Friday when we got there. On Saturday we visited a look-alike mini Taj Mahal called the Bibi Qa Maqbara and the Aurangabad cave temples. Both of which are maligned as being less than impressive by the books but actually we quite liked them. On the way back we managed to arrange a taxi for Sunday and Monday to the much heralded Ajanta and Ellora cave complexes both World Heritage sites.
The trip to Ajanta on Sunday took about 2/1/2 hours (110kms) through very pleasant rural countryside with lots of cotton and sugar cane being grown around these parts. The horseshoe shaped river valley around which the caves are set is very impressive, as are the cave temples themselves. There are 27 Buddhist caves, many of them quite large and beautifully carved and painted are well preserved and date from BC to 5th Century AD. This World Heritage Site was well worth the journey and while the road itself was a bit rough in a few places, we were neartly written off a couple of times by maniac bus drivers!!!!! Thank goodness for a very careful taxi driver.
On Monday we 'did' Ellora, Aurangzeb's Tomb(he who built the mini-Taj in memory of his wife) and the Fort at Daulatabad.
As promised the cave temples at Ellora were amazing especially no 16, the Kailasa Temple a Hindhu templeof gigantic proportions which was hewn from the rock, from the top down so no scaffolding was needed), covering a site twice the area of the Parthenon and half as high again!!! The site of Ellora wasn't as dramatic as Ajanta but having Jain, Hindhu and Buddhist temples it was impreesive

Buddhist caves
in a very different way. They say if you can only do one site then do Ellora and we would probably agree.
After climbing what seemed like a thousnad steps to get in and out of the caves we were very hot and tired when we moved on to Auranzeb's tomb which fortunately had NONE!! The tomb was very simple but the Mosque held a robe said to have been worn by the prophet Mohammed. It comes out once a year to be displayed to the hundreds of thousands who come to see it. Not today though!!
Last stop the Daulatabad Fort which was very impressive but with more than 700 steps to get to the top, at one point through a dangerous, dark, bat infested tunnel, we thought we might get as far as that and turn back. But you only pass this way once sooooooo! The tunnel wasn't that bad and was now lit at one point and hand rails added, so we ploughed onwards (and upwards). Have to say we were a great source of amusement to the natives and had to pose for photo's with endless families, lads and children. They couldn't believe that 2 such ancient giris werer actually going to the top but we did it. Yeah!!!!!!
An early start again tomorrow for the last leg back to Mumbai for 3 days to meet up with Jim and Hilary then back to Brum on Friday. .......

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