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Thursday, January 29, 2009


Aurangabad is a "small" city with less than 1 million inhabitants located in the State of Maharashtra. We came here to use the city as a starting point to visit the amazing caves of Ellora and Ajanta.

First the train trip. We were only able to get second class sleeper tickets, which means that, any person can enter the wagon hoping that someone has missed the train and that there will be space for them. This means that for a while Tiago does not have a place to sleep, since there's more people claiming his bed. My situation is different...My tier is located in the corridor, and is too small for me...I need to keep my legs bended during the whole trip.

We arrive in Aurangabad at 4 am. The station floor is crowded with people sleeping. We look for our driver, get in the car and move on to our hotel. Georges, a French guy we met on the train is joining us to the caves of Ajanta. We tell our driver to come back at 6.30.

The trip to Ajanta takes a bit over 2 hours. We arrive there around 9, just before they open. The entrance fee is 250 Rp, plus some small charges for taxes, bus to the caves and other things we don't really understand. We meet Merrill during breakfast. He is a retired American who is travelling around, trying to find a nice place to enjoy his retirement. He used to work as a reporter and he will be with us for the next couple of days. When we get to Ajanta, we hire a guide (big mistake, our american friend knows more about the subject than the guide) and start wandering around listening to the guides explanations. The guide only proved helpful in pointing out some details that otherwise would have been unnoticed.

The caves are simply amazing. They were carved in the hills of a horseshoe shaped valley. They were all covered with paintings but unfortunately time and human nature have destroyed many of those paintings. When the guided tour is over, we sit down with Merrill and spend at least an hour listening to the story of Buddhism. It is just amazing being in such a place listening to him. Merrill has converted to Buddhism some years ago. After hearing his explanation we move on and explore what's left. Better then describing the caves is to show them (pictures will come soon).

We have lunch at the local restaurant and say goodbye to Georges. He will proceed North. Merrill decides to join us on the way back and tomorrow.

After a great night sleep we get ready to explore the caves of Ellora. On the way to Ellora we stop to take some pictures of the impressive Daulatabad fort. If we were amazed we Ajanta, the vision of the Kailasa Temple, just by the main entrance is just breathtaking! Imagining that it is possible to carve such a structure in a rock with so much detail and perfection in imaginable! We wander around trying to understand the stories depicted the the hundreds of statues for almost two hours. In Ellora there are caves built by three different religions: Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Since many we built at the same time, this demonstrates the spirit of religious tolerance that existed at the time and that in our days is being destroyed by some people. All the caves are special (don't believe the Lonely Planet Guide).

After lunch we moved on to the Bibi-Qa-Maqbara, also called "Poor Mans Taj". If it wasn't for the original Taj Mahal this would be a place of tourist pilgrimage. Instead it's kind of a forgotten place, which could be extremely charming if the gardens were gardened.

At the end of the day we say goodbye to Merrill. It was a pleasure to have him with us. We spoke a lot about literature and some about world politics. He is an extremely interesting person. Wish you luck in your quest for paradyse and maybe we'll meet again in the future.

We don't have transportation to Goa, so we decide to take a bus to Pune and then try to fix something from there to Goa. At 8.30pm we start our first bus trip experience in India.


Filha do Vento said...

Não sei como é o vosso planeamento ou se estão a pensar ir ao Cambodja, mas se não estiverem, dou uma sugestão: HAMPI, mais ou menos a 200km de Goa para o interior.
Chamado o "Angkor" indiano :-)

Boa viagem!
Estou deliciada com os textos!

Cátia Oliveira said...

Posso ir ter com vocês????....pleaseeee.....!!! Acho que vou começar a jogar no euromilhões....just in case....ehehehhe!!!

CHV said...

"quest for paradise" - aren't we all looking for it?...

Viagens Lacoste said...

Fiz há pouco tempo uma viagem de 5 semanas à Ásia e adorei obviamente. O meu sonho é fazer uma volta ao mundo que dure cerca de um ano. Não sei se farei mas o sonho mantém-se.
Muita força para a viagem que corra tudo bem.
Tenho relatos da minha viagem no meu blog.
Grande abraço

Prasad said...

I am glad that you enjoyed Mumbai and Aurangabad. My cousin told me that you were three and I started wondering who the heck third one was. I kept insisting that you are only 2, but the driver was reporting him three. Now, I know who was third.

Too bad that Tiago had issues getting his berth on the train. Now the berth system has been changed and guess what, the great India railway has not applied new system to all the trains so you don't know if the number is same as mentioned on the ticket.
Anyways, I told you, right here in Sweden, that you gotta keep a different yard stick ;)

Good writing on the blog. Its not easy to write so lucidly when you are traveling and usually short of time.
Have a great trip ahead.