Bibi-ka-Maqbara, Daulatabad Fort and Ellora Caves

Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Aurangabad itself wasn't the most hospitable of places, but as David would say, 'We're not here for a haircut.' So we just got on with it.

Our first port of call was the fabulous Bibi-ka-Maqbara or the 'Poor Man's Taj'. In photos, at a glance, you could be fooled into thinking it was the real thing but on closer inspection you'd discover the oversized minarets dwarfing the tiny tomb. It does lack the fine semi-precious stone inlay of the Taj but it's still very impressive. Only the first two layers are marble, the rest is brick and rendered plaster, so a lot cheaper to build, hence it's nickname (the poor man's Taj). Also a lot quieter. There are hardly any tourists, Indians or foreigners and the price is a cool $2 US. Well within our budget!! It too was built as a mausoleum but to Aurangzeb's wife in 1679. There is also a small mosque there squashed in right next to the main tomb. We spent quite a while wandering around taking pics. We also spoke to this really nice young guy who worked there and showed photos of the restoration work being funded by a Japanese bank.

The next historical monument to visit was a bus ride away. Daulatabad Fort was built on a hill top around the late 14th century originally known as Devagiri, the Hill of the Gods.

The guy who had it built sounds a bit of a wiener. According to the LP he had the people of Delhi march 1100km there to populate it but most of them perished on the way over. Then the idiot made them go back 17 years later! More like a good way to wipe a load out!

There were loads of Indian tourists there and school children who surrounded us on numerous occasions. There is an old mosque built from the remains of a Hindu temple and an old minaret you can't climb. On the walk to the the top you pass through a couple of very dark, dingy stairways crowded with bats. You can smell them a mile away! When we got to the first one an old guy came over wanting to light the way with an oil can and stick but we declined. He wasn't happy. Then some Indians asked us if they could use our torch, but we said no, as we were using it!! They could have followed if they'd had any brains but they decided to go it alone first. It was a pretty long climb to the very top but the views were amazing! The walls of the fort went for miles! On the way down we also found 100 rupees!! That really made the day! I never find anything interesting!

The area we stayed in was a bit dull, but close to the bus station so we went for a huge walk to see if there was anything more interesting around Aurangabad, and to our surprise there was a whole different new world not too far away. Shops and eateries galore. It was pumping!

I was looking forward to Ellora Caves, a bunch of hand carved Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves dating back to 600AD. There are 34 caves in total that monks had carved out their monasteries, chapels and temples. The first one we visited was the biggest and most elaborate. It's a Hindu temple called Kailasa - Temple of the Gods. It cost us $US5 or 250 rupees and cost the Indian nationals 10 rupees (about 0.20 US cents). It was quite funny to see a well dressed Indian man having a go at having to pay the 40 rupees for his whole family got get in. He then got the shock of his life when the security guard made him pay an extra 25 rupees for using his video camera!!! He was not a happy camper! The temple was fantastic and very big. It's hard to believe it was actually carved from the top down! We then went down to cave number 1 and worked our way along through the various Buddhist caves and monasteries. The monasteries were amazing. Huge three storey places. The ground floor of one wasn't even discovered until way after the top floors had been excavated! Very hard to think that they were all hand carved! We worked through to the Hindu caves where the carvings depicting gods and stories were obviously different. But time was getting on and we wanted to see the Jain temples so we missed a few of the smaller Hindu ones and moved on. One of the most interesting caves was the unfinished temple which gave a brilliant look into how they were actually carved. By this time we were pretty caved out so decided to see one more Hindu cave then leave. They're fabulous. All different in some way and unbelievably old. Great day.

Another traveller we met said Ajanta caves were great too with paintings and carvings but she was completely caved out after two days. I felt too full of Ellora to go the next day to Ajanta and we needed to make a move if we were going to try and see a friend of David's in Pune. So I guess Ajanta will have to wait till next time.
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