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Published: September 9th 2013
Arriving to our hotel in Aurangabad, Donna and I were surprised. Actually, we were surprised by a number of things. Firstly, the hotel room was as nice as the website pictures….surprise number 1. We were also surprised by the faux tiger print window seating that we had which would have been a great perk had the views not been of the shabby hotel next door and various other roofs of our neighbours. But the biggest surprise of the lot was the gecko that scurried out of my day bag over my shoulder and onto our bed. I confess that letting out a small and girly scream was my first reaction to this, but put this down to surprise rather than actual terror…..
If you have ever tried to catch a gecko, you will know that this is no easy task. They are quick, have unbelievable reactions and don’t really want to be caught. Our little friend however was slightly different. I think due to the long trip this little creature endured in my dark bag may have slowed him down a little however and this led to it only taking 40 minutes and a couple more yelps from us both
in order to lure him into our trap of a jug covered with another jug. As I released him to the wild outside, I have to admit to being a little sweaty and more than a tad relieved that Donna would be the only one sharing my bed this evening.
So, Aurangabad. We were here as it is a great jumping off point for the famous Ellora and Ajanta caves that are 30km and 100km respectively from this city in Maharashtra. The day atfter we arrived, we had decided to go see the caves of Ellora and so ordered a taxi from the hotel to take us there and wait in order to bring us back once we were done.
The journey to Ellora from Aurangabad is quite a scenic one once you get out from the city, and as we have noticed a fair bit throughout our time in India, the landscape here is often stunning. Once there, we bypassed all the guides and touts and began exploring the first of the 34 caves that were in Ellora. Rather than bore you with a heap of facts and figures, all I will say is that
of these 34 caves, 12 of them are Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 are Jain, all of which were built from around 600AD to 1000AD. Amazingly, these caves were hand chiselled by thousands of labourers from top to bottom, carving the intricacies of the caves pillars and sculptures as they went. It really was quite remarkable. At times both Donna and I were literally blown away by some of the works detail, and how it could have survived this length of time.
Mid-way through our tour of Ellora, we decided to sit down for a rest before tacking the second half of the site. Having sat down on a bench not far from the entrance, we soon had company when a middle aged man sat to our left, lighting up a cigarette. On the other side, not much after, a lady of similar age to the gentleman sat to our right. Shortly after sitting down, the guy asked us if it was OK to talk to us, and did we mind being disturbed. He seemed like a nice guy and not after anything from us, so we happily chatted to this fella about India and their history. We also
discussed where he was from and where we were travelling to as well as listening to him talk fondly of his two daughters. He really was a delight to chat to and after recommending a few books to us, he stubbed out his cigarette and was off again to explore the caves. Then there was the woman to our right…. Not long after she sat down, legs a kimbo, she let out a truly horrendous squeaker of a fart, which prompted Donna and I to look at each other to confirm that this was indeed what we thought it was. With confirmation of a head nod from us both, we started to giggle like school kids on a field trip hoping the ‘lady’ didn’t twig what we were laughing at. It seemed this was fruitless however as not long after the guff came not one but two huge post food burps that sent Donna and I over the edge in fits of laughter. Sneaking a look at the woman after having produced this trio of gas leaks I assumed there could be nothing but horror and embarrassment on her face, maybe even shame. O my shock however, neither of these
seemed to show on her face, as she nonchalantly carried on picking at her teeth as if nothing had happened. Sometimes, it’s hard to describe India and how in one instance you love the place but a second later you are cursing it. I think it these two people sum India up perfectly!
Our second stint looking round the caves of Ellora providing more gob-smacking wow moments from us, and no more so than the ‘piers de la resistance’ being cave number 16. This was the largest of the structures here at Ellora and is described in the Lonely planet and as ‘in-between a rock and a temple’ which I think sums it up quite well. In keeping with the other caves, this was made very much the same way from carving out 200,000 tonnes of rock, carefully leaving behind the sections that would be used for carving and sculpting. I’m not sure if my anaelogy crossed LP’s helps you picture what this is like, but all I can say is that it really is quite some feat, and the result is simply breath-taking.
For anyone who is in India and is debating whether this is
worth going out the way for, then I can only strongly recommend that you make time for this wonderful site. It really is something else.
Upon leaving Ellora for the day, Donna and I found out whats its like to be famous. Firstly a family with a small child wanted their picture taken with us as we made our way to the exit. Nothing new here, being in random pictures is pretty standard here and something you kind of get used to. This however got a little bit silly, and after the first one was posed for, there was another, and then another until it really did start to seem like we were getting ‘papped’. I even found myself saying ‘Sorry guys, no more please’ like I was some sort of Rock N Roll god and instantly tfelt like a complete dick for saying these words, however they were actually required!! We headed to the saftey of the bar for a cool beer to seal the day off and get away from the photo hunters and toasted a good days sighseeing. Upon leaving the bar a good half an hour later, the same guy I had just ‘turned down’
for a photo was in the same spot waiting for us and pleaded for just one photo. I put my arm around him, smiled and said ‘OK, just one though’ now fully committed to the life style of a famous icon.
New found fame aside, we both really enjoyed Ellora and were truly amazed at some of the sites it had to offer. If Ajanta, our second set of caves, was anything like what we had seen here, we were in for a treat…..
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