Ajanta & Ellora Caves!!!
Quick planning and everyone joining without much effort,the trip to Ajanta Ellora from 15th to 16th Sep 2012 was a memorable one for all of us.Thanks to all my travel partners,Gautam,Inder,Vaibhav,Sai Kiran and Shravya for making it a trip to be remembered!!!
While waiting for Mr.Evil Overload,already missing 2 local trains me and Vaibhav thought we could never make it to the Main Train to Aurangabad and started thinking about Plan B.Gautam started feeding the Dog with some biscuits hoping that the act of kindness will get him some fortune in catching the main train and saving his money on taxi.As he said,JIT – Just in Time we finally get the local train from Hi-tech City to Sec-bad and could make it to the Main Train.Sai bought nice biryani which served as great dinner for all of us.Special thanks to Inder for having enough patience in booking Tatkal tickets for all of us.
Next day morning we reach Aurangabad Railway station.Must say the station was very well maintained and hence we couldn’t resist clicking some pictures.We quickly check-in at a nearby hotel which was reasonable enough.After getting freshened up,we all came down and started the day having too many Vada Pav’s on a road side stall.Then again we went into another Hotel for some proper Maharastrian breakfast.
When in Maharastra – never miss the variety of breakfast items – Sabudhana Vada,Vada Pav,Sabudhana Kichdi,etc.
We decided to visit couple of other places while waiting for Shravya who would only reach by noon.
Our first stop was at Panchakki :
Panchakki otherwise known as the water mill was builtby the slave king Malik Ambar during 1695.The mill used to grind grains for the pilgrims. It was so designed that it generated energy through water which was brought from a spring on a mountain.
These pipes are lined up at particular distances. To allow the water to flow through the pumps masonary pillars are erected. Water through the pipes flows with a force and it rises to a huge raised masonary pillar and from there it falls to make an attractive water fall.
The best part is the Mill is still operational.
Next we decided to stop over at Bibi Ka Maqbara – Taj of Deccan :
The Bibi-ka-Maqbara or Queen’s Tomb (1678), the most famous building in Aurangabad. After the death of his wife Rabia Durani in 1657, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (reigned 1658-1707) ordered his son Azam Shah to build a mausoleum for her. It was designed by the Persian Architect Ata Aula as an imitation on a reduced scale of the Taj Mahal at Agra. Lack of funds meant that it fell short of the original plan. The mausoleum is situated in the centre of a walled enclosure with a garden surrounded by a crenellated wall with bastions. It is a square building with a pointed arch to each front covered by a large dome with four corner minarets.
Unlike the Taj Mahal,this covered in lime plaster instead of Marble.
The inscription on the walls of the tomb reveals that it cost precisely Rs. 665,283 and 7 Annas to build this monument.
Time for some tiring trek to Daulatabad Fort!!!
Midway between Aurangabad and the Ellora Caves stands the impressive and historic fortress of Daulatabad, purported to be built over the remains of a Buddhist monastery.The fort, initially begun in 1187 AD by Bhilamraj Raja of the Hindu Yadava Dynasty, was at that time called Deogiri, “the hill of the gods.”Although this rock-hewn citadel was considered to be invulnerable it was eventually conquered and passed into the hands of the Sultans of Delhi around 1308 AD.In 1296, Ala-ud-din Kahlagi laid siege to the fort and defeated the Yadava prince.From then on it remained in Muslim control.Legend has it that thirty years later Muhammad Bin Tughlauq moved his capital and most of its inhabitants from Delhi to Deogiri and renamed it Daulatabad, the “City of Fortune.”Alas the undertaking was not to last and it is said that seventeen years later the Sultan relocated the majority of the population of Daulatabad his capital to Delhi at the cost of many lives.However, the Sultan allowed many of the Chishti Sufis to remain behind spreading Islamic culture and Sufi spiritual ideas throughout the Deccan.
Over the centuries the fortress was extended refortified many times by subsequent Muslim rulers until the outer walls stretched six kilometers around the original citadel.
The defense system consists of two moats (Dry and wet moat) and a glacis, three encircling fortification walls with wall walks, machicolations bastions at regular intervals, Zigzag and lofty gates with iron spinks, strategic position of gun-turrets and Andheri. The combination of hill and Land fort, is divided into small sectors encircled by fortification walls. The fortified Ambarkot is planned for common people. Mahakot area having four distant lines of enclosure walls served the residential area for higher class of the society. The Kalakot is the royal residential area with double line of fortifications. The balakot is the pinnacle portion where the pride of honor, the flag flutters. The fort consists of structures like stepped wells, Reservoirs, Minar, Hammam, Baradari, Various palaces, Andheri, Temples, Mosques, beside 10 unfinished rock cut caves. The water management system is unique with a network of terracotta pipe lines, drains etc.
Hathi Haud: measures 47.75 m in length, 46.75 m in width and 6.61 m in depth.
Bharat Mata temple: Measures 87.14 m EW and 72.80 m NS with two openings to the east and north.
Chand Minar: Built by Sultan Alau-ud-din-Bahmani (Sultan Ahmed Shah 2) in AD 1447, height 70 m and circumference 21 m at base.
Baradari: Built in A.D 1636 perhaps for Shah Jahan’s visit (A.D 1627-1658) consisting of 13 halls.
ANDHERI (DARK PASSAGE)
The only entrance to citadel is through a devious tunnel, which in times of siege was rendered impassable by an ingenious contrivance. This sub-terrain passage is indeed mysterious and in spite of several individual’s attempts, all its mysteries are not known. The long ascending tunnel rises rapidly and tortuously by a flight of steps, which are uneven in width and height, difficult for climb in the absence of light. The labyrinthine passage coupled with the darkness confuse the enemy army to kill themselves along a tunnel containing numerous chambers cut out of solid rock which were used in the olden times as guard rooms and store houses. The turns and twists lead to a window, now covered with grills; but was originally a trap set for enemy intruders, who, on entering tumble down the slope to meet a watery grave in the moat below. The tunnel was impassable when the great obstacles come in the form of darkness, Caltrops, harrier of smoke and a splash of hot oil of water from above. The steps in the courtyard are newly constructed in 1952 for the convenience of tourists.
Be careful as this place is filled with Bats all over.
Cannons at Daulatabad fort
A large number of cannons are found at Daulatabad Fort, some in their original places like bastions on fort walls and circular towers while others were collected from various locations and displayed in the courtyard near the entrance gate and near Aam Khas gate. The cannons range from large to heavy guns to medium howitzers and handguns. These cannons are made of either bronze or iron – both wrought and cast. The cannons displayed near the entrance gate of the fort, represent many varieties of guns. The iron cannon placed in a left side cell is 1.82 m long with bore of 7 cm diameter. A bronze cannon placed near the second entry gate is 3.15 m in length and has a 12 cm dia bore. This is one of the most ornate cannons depicted with leaf design on its muzzle, a rope design covering the rings and cascabel portion portrays a tiger holding a hunted deer in its mouth. Besides bronze cannons, there are smaller guns and mortars made of iron with varying length from .9 m to 2.90 m. A gun placed in a cell to the right side of the second gate is notable for decorations of a stylized animal head on its muzzle; it is 3.33 m long having 6.5 cm bore.
Other noteworthy cannons of Daulatabad fort include the Durga tope (Durga cannon), Kala Pahad cannon and the Mendha tope (Ram Cannon) which is the largest piece of artillery in Daulatabad fort placed near Chini Mahal. Apart from indigenously made cannons, two bronze cannons, Which were cast in Amsterdam is 1638 and 1642, are also found here.
If interested in Numismatics,this is the place for you to buy old coins.
By the time we finished with Daulatabad,Shravya joins the gang.We decided to stop for lunch,charge all our phones and camera’s before we could head towards Ellora.
After driving for 15kms more,we reach our first destination of the trip,
Since all of us were very tired and also to feed the hungry Auto Rickshaw Driver’s we decided to visit the caves by going in Auto’s.Frankly not required,the distance was so less that we could just walk down easily.
Ellora caves are located in the lap of the Chamadari hills.
A wonderful example of cave temple architecture, the world heritage Ellora caves own elaborate facades and intricately carved interiors. These carved structures on the inner walls of the caves reflect the three faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. These exotic caves were carved during 350 AD to 700 AD period.
The Chalukya – Rashtrakuta rulers (7th – 10th cnetury) were the main patrons of the cave temples of Ellora.
1.The 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12)
Cave 1 is a plain vihara with eight small monastic cells are very little sculpture. It may have served as a granary for the larger halls.
Cave 2 is much more impressive. A large central chamber supported by 12 great square pillars is lined with sculptures of seated Buddhas. The doorway into the sanctuary is flanked by a muscular Padmapani, holding a lotus, and a bejewelled Maitreya, the Future Buddha. Both are accompanied by their consorts. Inside the shrine is a stately seated Buddha on a lion throne.
Caves 3 and 4 have a similar design as Cave 2, but are in poor condition.
Cave 5 is named the Maharwada Cave because it was used by local Mahar tribespeople as a shelter during the monsoon. It centers on a grand assembly hall stretching 36 meters long, which was probably used as a refectory. The two rows of carved benches support this theory. The shrine Buddha is seated on a stool with his right hand touching the ground in the Earth Witness gesture.
Cave 6 was carved in the 600s and is home to two of the finest sculptures at Ellora. On the left is the goddess Tara, with an intense but kind expression. Opposite her on the right is Mahamayuri, the Buddhist goddess of learning, shown with her attribute, the peacock. A diligent student sits at his desk below. Significantly, Mahamayuri has a very similar Hindu counterpart, Saraswati.
The magnificent Cave 10 dates from the early 700s and is known as the Carpenter’s Cave (Sutar Jhopadi) because of its imitation in stone of wooden beams on the ceiling. At the far end, a seated Buddha is enthroned in front of a large stone stupa.
Cave 11 is known as the Dho Tal or “Two Floors” cave, although a basement level discovered in 1876 brings the total floors to three. The top floor is a long assembly hall lined with columns. It has both a Buddha shrine and images of Durga and Ganesh, indicating the cave was converted into a Hindu temple after it was abandoned by the Buddhists.
Cave 12, known as Tin Tal (“Three Floors”), also has an impressive upper hall. The walls of the shrine room are lined with five large bodhisattvas and is flanked by seven Buddhas, representing each of his previous incarnations.
2.The 17 Hindu (caves 13–29)
Created during a time of prosperity and revival of Hindusim, the Hindu caves represent an entirely different style of creative vision and skill than the Buddhist caves. The Hindu temples were carved from top to bottom and required several generations of planning and coordination to take shape.
There are 17 Hindu caves in all (numbered 13 to 29), which were carved between 600 and 870 AD. They occupy the center of the cave complex, grouped around either side of the famous Kailasa Temple.
In contrast to the serene and solemn Buddhas of the earlier caves, the walls of the Hindu caves are covered in lively bas-reliefs depicting events from the Hindu scriptures. All of the caves are dedicated to the god Shiva, but there are also some images of Vishnu and his various incarnations.
Cave 14 dates from the early 600s and was converted from a Buddhist vihara. Its long walls are adorned with magnificently carved friezes and the entrance to the sanctuary is guarded by the river goddess Ganga and Yamuna. Inside, an alcove shelters seven large-breasted fertility goddesses (the Sapta Matrikas) holding chubby babies on their laps. Appearing to their right is the female aspect of Ganesh and the cadaverous goddesses of death, Kala and Kali.
Cave 15 is also a former Buddhist cave adopted by the Hindus. The ground floor is mostly uninteresting, but the top floor has some of the best sculpture at Ellora. Along the right wall are a sequence of panels showing five of Vishnu’s ten incarnations or avatars, which give the cave its name, Das Avatara.
A panel to the right of the antechamber depicts the superiority of Shaivism in the region at the time – Shiva emerges from a linga while his rivals Brahma and Vishnu stand in humility and supplication. The cave’s most elegant sculpture is in the left wall of the chamber: it shows Shiva as Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer.
The most notable Hindu cave (Cave 16) is not a cave at all, but a magnificent temple carved from the solid rock, patterned closely on the freestanding temples of the time. It represents Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, and is called the Kailashnath, Kailash, or Kailasa Temple. It originally had a thick coat of white plaster to make it look like a snowy mountain.
The Kailash Temple is a stupendous piece of architecture, with interesting spatial effects and varied sculpture. It is believed to have been started by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I (756-773). The construction was a feat of human genius – it entailed removal of 250,000 tons of rock, took 100 years to complete and covers an area double the size of Parthenon in Athens.
Many more Hindu caves stretch down the hillside north of Kailash, but only three are must-sees: 21, 25 and 29.
Cave 21, the Ramesvara, dates from the late 500s and is thought to be the oldest Hindu cave at Ellora. It houses some fine sculpture, including a pair of rvier goddesses, two door guardians and some loving couples (mithunas) around the walls of the balcony.
Cave 25 features a sculpture of the sun god Surya driving his chariot towards the dawn.
North of this, the trail soon drops steeply down to a gorge, under a seasonal waterfall, and back up to Cave 29, the Dhumar Lena. Dating from the late 500s, it has an unusual cross-shaped plan. Pairs of lions guard its three staircases. Inside, the walls are covered in large friezes. To the left of the entrance, Shiva slays the Andhaka demon, then defeats the many-armed Ravana’s attempt to shake him and Parvati off the top of Mount Kailash. Don’t miss the dwarf baring his bottom to taunt the demon! On the south side, Shiva teases Parvati by holding her arm back as she prepares to throw dice in a game.
5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves
The Jain caves, dating from the late 800s and 900s, are 2 km north down an asphalt road (rickshaws are available). They reflect the distinctiveness of Jain philosophy and tradition, including a strict sense of asceticism combined with elaborate decoration. They are not large compared to others, but contain exceptionally detailed artworks. Many of the Jain caves had rich paintings in the ceilings, fragments of which are still visible.
The most notable of the group is Cave 32, the Indra Sabha (Indra’s Assembly Hall), a miniature of the Kailash Temple. The bottom level is plain but the upper floor has elaborate carvings, including a fine lotus flower on the ceiling. Two tirthankaras guard the entrance to the central shrine. On the right is the naked Gomatesvara, who is meditating deeply in the forest – so much so that vines have grown up his legs and animals, snakes and scorpions crawl around his feet.
Ellora cave temples were completed after five centuries and were carved by the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain monks. These historical monasteries, temples, and chapels reflect the outstanding imagination and detail work of art . These caves are spread from the North to South and look absolutely stunning in the late afternoon when the golden sunrays fall on them.
The earliest excavation carried out at the site of Ellora Caves revealed the Cave number twenty nine, known as Dhumar Lena. Then, there is the magnificent Kailasa Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, situated inside cave 16. The temple holds the distinction of being the single largest monolithic structure in the whole world and makes one of the major attractions of the Ellora Caves.
Do not miss taking a picture at the Waterfall,its just amazing!!!
We chose to relax for a while at the Kailasa Temple,chatting away while the guys could manage to take a picture of the Girls who can never stop gossiping even on a hectic travel trip – Me & Shravya!!!
On the way back Gautam was amused by the tools used to burn a Corn and tried his hand on it.The day dint end there.We came back and all of them chose to chat for all night long while I couldn’t control my sleeping by 11 pm habit!!!
Next day we start early,this time we took a local bus and since it was a 1.5 hour journey ( 100 kms ) we all were tired enough to sleep through out the journey.By the time we reached Ajanta,everyone was so hungry that a quick stop over for food at the local stalls took us nothing less than an hour and endless number of Vada Pavs and Paratha’s.
The Ajanta Caves are a series of 29 Buddhist cave temples in Ajanta, India, some of which date from the 2nd century BC. Encompassing both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions, the Ajanta caves preserve some of the best masterpieces of Buddhist art in India. Many visitors explore the Ajanta Caves in conjunction with the nearby Ellora Caves.
The Ajanta Caves were carved in the 2nd century BC out of a horseshoe-shaped cliff along the Waghora River. They were used by Buddhist monks as prayer halls (chaitya grihas) and monasteries (viharas) for about nine centuries, then abruptly abandoned. They fell into oblivion until they were rediscovered in 1819.
The caves are numbered from east to west, 1 through 29. Today, a terraced path connects the cave, but in ancient times each was independently accessed from the riverfront.
A viewing platform across the river affords an excellent view of the entire Ajanta site. The natural beauty of the area makes it clear why the monks chose the site for their spiritual pursuits.
Preserved inside the caves are many masterpieces of Buddhist art. Some reflect the earlier Theravada tradition of depicting the Buddha only in symbolic form such as a throne or footprints. Others, the Mahayana caves, feature colorful murals and statues depicting the life (and former lives) of the Buddha and various Bodhisattvas. The caves also depict scenes from everyday life and many include inscriptions indicating a prince or noble who gifted the cave to the monks.
It is most practical to explore the Ajanta Caves in reverse numerical order, so they are presented in this way below. This keeps you somewhat out of the masses of people moving from cave to cave in the other direction, and brings you out at the exit at the end. The numbers of the must-see caves are in bold.
Cave 26 – A Mahayana prayer hall (chaitya). The highlight is a large carved statue of the reclining Buddha, representing his moment of death. Below him, his followers mourn his passing; above, celestial beings rejoice. The cave also contains a stupa with an image of the Buddha in a pavilion.
Cave 17 – A Mahayana monastery covered with many well-preserved wall paintings. Maidens and celestial musicians are on the ceiling, and Buddhas, celestial guardians, goddesses, lotus petals and scroll work adorn the doorway.
One mural in Cave 17 shows Prince Simhala’s encounter with the man-eating ogresses of Sri Lanka, where he’d been shipwrecked. Another shows the king of gods flying amidst clouds with his entourage of celestial nymphs (apsaras) and musicians. The panel above the doorway depicting the seven Manushi Buddhas (Buddhas in human form) together with the Maitreya or future Buddha, seated under their respective Bodhi trees.
Cave 16 – A Mahayana monastery featuring a beautiful painting of the princess Sundari fainting after learning that her husband (the Buddha’s half-brother, Nanda) was going to become a monk.
Cave 15, 13, 12 – Theravada monastery caves.
Cave 10 – Theravada prayer hall, thought to be the oldest cave temple at Ajanta, dating to the 2nd century BC.
Cave 9 – One of the earliest prayer hall caves, notable for its arched windows that let softly diffused sunlight in the cave. This Theravada cave also features a large stupa.
Cave 8 – Theravada monastery cave.
Cave 4 – Incomplete, but the largest of the Ajanta monasteries.
Cave 2 – The façade of this Mahayana monastery cave shows the kings of Naga and their entourage. Inside, a glorious mandala dominates the ceiling, held by demons and decorated with birds, flowers, fruits and abstract designs. The ceiling gives the effect of a cloth canopy, right down to the sag in the middle.
Cave 1 – The most popular of the monastery caves at Ajanta. Every inch of the cave was originally painted, though much has worn away over the centuries. The doorway to the antechamber is flanked by murals of two great bodhisattvas. On the right, holding a thunderbolt, is Avalokitesvara (or Vajrapani), the most important bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism. On the left, holding a water lily, is the bodhisattva Padmapani.
The sidewalls of Cave 1’s antechamber show two scenes from the Buddha’s life: his temptation by Mara just before his enlightenment and the miracle of Sravasti, where the Buddha multiplied himself into thousand images.
Above the left porch of Cave 1 are friezes of the Three Signs (a sick man, an old man, and a corpse) that the Buddha saw on his fateful journey outside the palace that led him to become a monk. In the sanctum is a colossal sculpture of the Buddha in the preaching pose. Murals on the walls of the main hall depict numerous Jataka Tales, stories of the previous lives of Gautama Buddha.
Be careful of the local vendors who sell the Souvenirs for a enormously high price.
We chose to return to Aurangabad by Maruti Mini – the toughest ride of the entire trip!!!
We stopped over for a tea break and caught nice view of the sunset.
On reaching Aurangabad we went in search of Coffee day for 2 reasons – One being to celebrate Shravya’s Birthday a day in advance as she was leaving back to Mumbai and the other being sure of better rest rooms.Surprisingly the Coffee day we found dint have any Rest rooms.
But yes we did celebrate Shravya’s Bday on a good note as the end of the trip.
The Hyderabad team started back by Bus ,must say the Manmandir travels has their own well maintained private Bus stand with all facilities.https://www.gounesco.com/heritage/proof/33825595114-ajanta-ellora-caves/https://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/gounesco.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/18021000/tumblr_mc2t2t8G7t1rpbqwe.jpghttps://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/gounesco.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/18021000/tumblr_mc2t2t8G7t1rpbqwe-150x150.jpgUncategorizedajanta,asia,Bharathi,caves,Ellora,gounesco,heritage,india,maharashtra,travel,world heritage travel