Ellora Caves

27 10 2012

The travelling to Aurangabad was unspectacular. The bus ride to Aurangabad took about 5h and I could have stayed in the bus for another 9-10h because it continued to Mumbai as well… but I preferred the less shaky mode of travel so I got off the bus in the outskirts of Mumbai. The ticket master of the bus must have smelled a little commission so he wanted me to enter a rickshaw that would bring me to the train station. Only 20km from where the bus stopped and the rickshaw driver would generously do it for 250 rupees. I asked the tourists best friend and offered the driver 70 rupees and this time it was me who was generous, because I also knew that the rate per km was below 10 rupees. Google Maps clearly stated 7km and I asked him if he’s always that bad in estimating distances. He calmly accepted my price 🙂

Gujarat Thali in Aurangabad

Gujarat Thali in Aurangabad

I don’t have a clue wheter Ahmedabad is worth a visit or not. The Lonely Planet states that the city has many things to explore and do but that one would need some time to get warm with it. But it seems that, according to the Lonely Planet, the most boring and charmless places are described like spectecular oasis for tourists. I also read that it was famous for Gujarath thalis so I spent my short stay in a restaurant and, indeed, the Gujarath version of thali was very tasty. In the morning I arrived in Mumbai to wait for the next train to Aurangabad that would leave around noon. So I had plenty time to check if my parcel was still in Jaisalmer or it was really sent without paying the bribe to the post officer. After 3 people telling me, that it was not possible to track this kind of parcel another woman came, provided the parcel’s id to some Internet service and there it was: in Delhi!! 🙂 After another eventless train ride of 7 hours I finally arrived, after 30h of travelling and waiting, in Aurangabad at 9 in the evening. Again, the rickshaw drivers tried to rip me off, offering me to take me to my hotel (the ones with rooms less than 500 ruppes seems to be holes but at least my one had a really good veg. restaurant next door) for 100 rupees. When they finally realized that I know how far it is, one agreed to take me there for only 10 rupees 🙂

Ellora - Cave 10 entrance

Ellora – Cave 10 entrance

Aurangabad itself doesn’t seem to have much to offer for tourists except for hotels and buses going to the many sights in the proximity of the city. Besides the Ellora Caves, definitely the main attraction there are also forts, tombs, and other things to see. If one is keen to see them all, auto-rickshaws can be hired for a full day for around 700 rupees. I only wanted to see the caves because it is a huge area that will take some time to explore if one wants to take more than a glimpse at each cave. So I took a rickshaw (the brother of my rickshaw driver from the day before was already in front of the hotel hoping for a great deal) to the government bus stand and than a local bus, which was only 30 rupees for the 40-minutes ride, to the Ellora caves. Poor rickshaw driver… it was already the beginning of the season but he told me that almost no tourists were in town. Most of the other sights are passed en route so I got an impression whether it might be worth to take a rickshaw back to stop at these places.

Ellora - Cave 10 from the top

Ellora – Cave 10 from the top

The caves run along a long stretch with a little park infront. Even there, in this ancient setting, most Indians use rickshaws inside the park to get close to the caves to minimize the walking. The cave closest to the entrance is also the most impressive (cave 10). It seems that the monks responsible for this cave, turned a massive rock into a massive, impressive, and freestanding temple, with no more than hammer and chisel. There are 34 caves in total that can be assigned to different religions: Buddhist (around the impressive temple of cave 10), Hindu and Jain. Some of the caves date back to the 6th or 7th century. Among impressive stone scarving skills they must have had plenty of time back then 🙂

Even with the best intentions... one will always end up with a photo like this :-)

Even with the best intentions… one will always end up with a photo like this 🙂

One can clearly distinct between the different epochos and religions in which the caves were built. Some show only buddhist figures, often taller than man, while other show a variety of different gods/figures and even women with enormous breasts… 🙂 it was really impressive seeing the fine carvings on the one hand and basic but huge prayer halls carved into or out of the stone. I ended up spending the whole day in the park so I skipped the other sights I had seen on my bus ride to the caves, although the fort looked really interesting. After all I was glad that I took the long detour to see this monumental piece of Indian history!

Impressive statues carved out of stone

Impressive statues carved out of stone

The next morning I had to get up really early to take the train back to Mumbai at 6AM. I was curious about my connecting train from Mumbai to Goa because my status on the waitlist haven’t changed since the last morning: I was still the first on the list… but it was still 8 hours and only a single person had to cancel to get a confirmed ticket myself. Until now it has never been a problem, sometimes even being 30th on the waitlist… but this time I had no luck! I got off at Thane, a district close to Mumbai and waited for the train to arrive and my status to change but the latter didn’t happen until the train reached the station. Because of a lack of other options and the hope that another person might have missed the train somewhere I still boarded the train but the train conductor told me that there is not a single seatr available. I had to buy another ticket for sleeper class (open carriages with beds and no A/C, ) with a fine ontop because I had no valid/confirmed ticket. But still, there was no seat available even in sleeper class. The other option would have been to get off the train in the middle of nowhere. It would be really interesting, if the train conductor added a little to the fine for his own pocket… he definitely acted strange when calculating the price. Finally I was sent to the sleeper class carriages without any advices where to seat. I just grabbed the first free seat, although it was booked by someone boarding at a later station, and didn’t move. When the train conducter came along I always asked him if there is a free seat now but he just accused himself always with the words „one minute“ and didn’t showed up for a long time. I’sure there were a few free seats but I think, because I already had paid for the new ticket, he sold them to other passengers. !!!!!Bedenken haben!!!!! of how it would be to show up in the sleeper class alone with all of my luggage and no chance to move if I don’t want to leave it alone. Now, writing this post in the train from Goa to Kochi travelling in AC3 class again, I think that the people in the lower classes are even more friendly and well-mannerd as the Indians of the middle class that can afford AC seats and bend. Here, in AC3, most of them behave like they are alone, burping, farting and throwing their rubbish everywhere… it seems they even don’t know how to use a mobile phone or watched too many episodes of Star Trek confusing their Nokia phone with a tricorder… In the sleeper class I (fortunately) sat next to a friendly family, with 3 children, 3 men and one woman, which (unfortunately) hardly spoke a word English. Nobody complained that they had to share the bench with one more person. At night, when everybody (except me) was preparing their beds, one of the men offered me one quater of his bed which he already shared with the two small kids. Another father of a small kind couldn’t stand seeing the four of us cramped on one bed, nobody able to sleep, so he offered me his „spare“ bed… I’m not sure if it was really a spare bed or if he was sharing one bed with his wife and kid afterwards, but I glady accepted is friendly offer. I really wonder why in India the less fortunate are mostly the more friendly and helping and the so called „middle class“ often selfish, unfriendly, mannerless and if they are in the tourist business they want to rip you off…