|stupa in cave 10 (pix credit wikipedia)|
Our trip was scheduled for the third week of March. We, in Calcutta, did not realize it was probably not the best of times to be in Ajanta and Ellora. It dawned on us later. It is apt to visit Ajanta and Ellora in the months of November, December, January and February till the first half of March.
We browsed the net. We talked to friends and acquaintances for inputs. The website of Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) provided us the necessary information. We learnt from this site Fardapur is about 5 kms. away from Ajanta. MTDC has a resort at Fardapur. This is the place to stay if we are to invest adequate time to see the Ajanta caves thoroughly.
|scene from cave 1 (pix credits wikipedia)|
One can visit Ajanta from Jalgaon. Ajanta is 60kms from Jalgaon. It is a two hour journey by road. The Ellora caves are in Aurangabad. We were not sure about where to start our journey from. Would it be Jalgaon or shall we move on to Aurangabad? Here again the MTDC website came to our rescue. The site advices tourists to visit Ajanta from Aurangabad.
The caves of Ajanta are about 105 kms from Aurangabad. Aurangabad has a good bus service run by the State Government of Maharashtra. It takes around two and a half hours to three hours to reach the caves. We booked the MTDC resort at Fardapur for two days.
We took the Tapovan Express from Mumbai CST to Aurangabad. The train starts from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal at 6.10 A.M. It is supposed to reach Aurangabad at around 1.15 P.M. That fateful day the train reached Aurangabad at 3.30 P.M.
We were in a reserved compartment. Inspite of the fact that the compartment was meant for passengers with reservations, common people and daily commuters thronged the compartment. We had a torrid time. The burning sun along with the barren, dry and rocky country took its toll on us. We were exhausted and fatigued. One of us suffered heat stroke while another was feeling giddy.
|the buddhist "carpenter's" cave at ellora(cave 10)|
pix credits wikipedia
We refreshed ourselves at the waiting room at Aurangabad railway station. After a late lunch at the cafeteria inside the rail station, we waited patiently for the daytime heat to subside.
At around quarter to 5 we went to the Aurangabad bus terminal. Our bus for Fardapur started at 5 o’clock. The conductor of our bus informed us that it stops just in front of the entrance to the MTDC resort at Fardapur and that it would take around two and a half hours to reach.
This was a pleasant journey. A cool wind had set in. The rocky terrain of the Western Ghats provided scenic landscapes. The weather was comfortable and soothing. In the western parts of India, the sun takes time to set. The setting sun provided adequate light for us to see and enjoy the nature.
When the bus dropped us at Fardapur, near the MTDC resort, it was 730 P.M. The sun had long gone to rest. Evening had set in. It was dark. This journey was not as taxing as the morning travel. We checked into our room, had tea and took turn to bathe. We had an early dinner at the resort’s cafeteria. It was a beautiful ambience.
We spent the next day at the Ajanta caves. Visitors had come from all over the world to visit the caves. Our eyes feasted on the Buddhist sculptures and wall engravings. The etchings and drawings were impeccable and the sculptures were immaculate. The toil was worth it.
The day after, we started for Aurangabad at 8 in the morning. We reached the MTDC resort near the Aurangabad railway station at around 11 o’clock. We had our lunch and moved on to visit Ellora.
|a jain cave in ellora. pix credit wikipedia.|
The caves of Ellora are situated 30 km from Aurangabad. We went to the Aurangabad bus terminus and took a bus to Ellora. It was a one hour journey. One crosses Daulatabad on the way.
Ellora is all about carvings, sculptures and wall paintings and engravings from the Jainism period. It is an exhibition of stupendous Indian art at its peak. The Kailas Temple is a magnificent piece of architecture of the period.
Indian history, architecture, sculpture and art reminded us of the rich legacy of our country. All the sweat, grime and our quest for ways and means to see the remnants of our country’s opulent past was paid off in cash and kind.
We went back to Aurangabad to prepare for our journey back to Mumbai. We had our reservations on the Jan Shatabdi Express which was scheduled to leave Aurangabad for Dadar at 6.00 A.M. the next day.