Expat Trip To Ajanta & Ellora Caves in Aurangabad
Trip Start Mar 29, 2007
74Trip End Sep 30, 2009
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So...where to start? Let's start first with the city we went to...Aurangabad. Actually Aurangabad itself is pretty boring...however it's the closest big city to two very amazing sites in India: The Ajanta and Ellora Caves. Please allow me to plagiarize wikipedia to describe these two cave sites:
The Ajanta Caves depict the stories of Buddhism spanning from the period from 200 B.C
End of Wikipedia entry. Actually not...if you are really into history and caves and want to read more Wiki entries about Ajanta...click here. To read more about the Ellora caves...click here.
Enough history...more blogging. So our TEA planners had organized a private train car for the 30+ members going on the 10 hour train ride to Aurangabad. It sounds horrible...but it actually wasn't. The train car was a AC class 2 sleeper car which meant there was plenty of room for everyone to lie down, read books, chat...and drink. So...I had brought with me a small cooler with a couple beers in it and I thought I was going to be the "bad boy" of the trip....trying to sneak beer onto an India Railways car (which "technically" is not allowed)
Up the next morning for breakfast...it was yummy. I forgot to mention that one of my coworkers is along on the trip with his family so I hung out with them quite a bit. The long bus ride was fine...and once we finally reached the caves, everyone was more than sick of traveling and ready for caving. Needless to say words and a Wikipedia entry don't do this UNESCO World Heritage site justice...you really need to see it to appreciate it. Hopefully my photos will help you get some appreciation for how amazing these 2000+ year old caves are....and how incredibly difficult it must have been to carve these caves into this solid rock using only hammer and chisel's. What they essentially did was come to a solid rock face and start carving the ceiling first...so they'd cut a 3-5 foot high slot in the mountain and the top of that was the ceiling
The next day it was another early start...first stop is Daulatabad fort...a 14th century fort near the city. This was a surprisingly interesting visit just because our guide did a great job in telling the stories about how the fort was designed to be impenetrable...and in fact it never was taken by an enemy advance. From the super huge gates with massive spikes to prevent elephant charges, to the tight corners used to prevent the enemy gaining much speed to the labyrinth of passage ways and tunnels (complete with bats and places so dark you can't see your hand in front of your face). You can read more about Daulatabad by clicking here. A very cool place. The highlight of the day was of course the Ellora Caveshere for more info. The highlight cave at Ellora isn't really a proper cave...but rather it's a huge opening in the side of a rock outcrop carved entirely by hand. When I say rock outcrop...I really mean just one BIG rock. Over 200,000 tons of rock had to be chiseled away and hauled off during the 100 years it to complete this one cave. As they carved it from the top down....they had to now exactly what center structures they wanted to leave from the 1st day of carving so they wouldn't chisel out those sections. It was very cool. After Ellora, we spent about 15 minutes at another site (a replica of the Taj Mahal) that was really quite sad.
Back at the hotel for pool time, showers and dinner before our overnight train back to Hyderabad. This time our train left around midnight so everyone pretty much got on and passed out for the bumpy 10 hour ride back home.
It was a great trip...enjoy the pics!