The caves, Ajmer & Pushkar

Trip Start Aug 07, 2008
Trip End Aug 11, 2010

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Flag of India  , Maharashtra,
Monday, March 15, 2010

I finally woke up with no fever or headache so could embark on the nearby caves I came for. For the day I chose Ellora caves, less than an hour bus drive from Aurangabad. They are a bit in a shadow of older Ajanta caves, but bigger and interesting indeed. Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves carved into rock can easily occupy you for half a day. The following day I stayed in Aurangabad. I visited mini Taj. Although resembling Taj Mahal in Agra, its size and material were of much lower level. I sort of didn’t get to like the city, whose downtown doesn’t seem to be present at all so was pleased to leave the next morning.
I headed to Ajanta, the very must far around. The caves are compact here, but formed into a horseshoe thus visually appealing even from outside. The oldest of them were built 200BC. Particularly wall paintings were photogenic. Slightly more than 2 hours were required to run through these Buddhist caves.
My way to Rajasthan would probably be quicker by bus, but the recent sickness only strengthened my aversion forwards them. In Jalgaon I hopped on a night train to Surat. In the morning I was able to see incredible slums just nearby the centre. Sheet metal dwellings on the verge of falling apart and surrounded by filth wouldn’t be considered worth serving as a doghouse back home. In the afternoon I left this ugly town and by train transferred overnight to Ajmer. Being back in Rajasthan was evident straight away – plenty of cows wandering around, recyclable clay tea cups used also for lassi and of course a problem finding non spicy food. For few hours I was walking around the town, paying a visit to a Jain temple interestingly depicting their perception of the universe, visiting ruins of among locals popular mosque, admired one of the most significant Muslim pilgrimage mosque and stopped by a palace, which was a poor exhibition comparing to the rest of the town’s attractions.
In the evening I arrived in nearby Pushkar. This little town surrounded by arid hills and open to the desert guarded by camels, Pushkar is an isolated pilgrimage site. Encircling a lake, which is actually dried out, ghats with water pools are used by locals for body cleaning after morning puja. Slightly resembling Varanasi, the spirituality is present in the air. There are many shines around the town, many hidden in back street areas. Exception is a Brahma temple, only one of very few in the world. The entrance restrictions are tough and it might require a trick to work around no camera, no mobile and no bag rules unless you want to feed greedy locker owners. There are also two hills overlooking the city, both housing a temple on the top, a good sunset option. Pushkar has one main street seeded with souvenir, book and garment shops as well as tea stalls where tourists meet after a sightseeing day. This Hindu sanctuary with some Jain elements is a must for Ajmer passers-by.

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