Day 2 - 16th Dec. 2012 - I

For the first time in a long time, I was responsible enough to wake up by 04:30 even right at the second alarm. It wasn't a room with an attached bathroom, and hence the price 250. The mosquitoes had been having a good dinner all night, while I would've easily lost a litre of blood when I was off.

I was told the previous night that there would be hot water available anytime after 4, and that I could come downstairs and ask the attendant. So did I. I was told that it would take another half an hour, and I sneaked out hoping to get a coffee, and bwoy, I did! A couple was running a mobile tea-stall, and the lady gave me the coffee with a good smile. Something more than just business, and I love such. While I was savoring the extra strong Nescafe, a police patrol jeep stopped right next to me, screeching. Nothing to fear, but was still kinda scared. And the logo on the jeep's door read:

|| सद्रक्षणाय खलनिग्रहणाय ||
Sadrakshnāya Khālanīghrahanāya
Sanskrit for "To protect good and to punish evil"

That was much reassuring. I realized I had been looking at the logo and trying to decipher the font, and before being questioned for anything, I left back to the lodge. The attendant was still asleep, cozy, with full cover in his blanket, and I had to wake him up again. A few minutes later, he got me a bucket of hot water, but only to be used in a toilet, with a teeny-tiiiny extra space to stand. Universe has its own way of getting things done. At least I could get some water hot, I thought.

Checking out of the lodge, I walked out into the cold morning at 05:00. The bath just taken was making the chill wind feel on me chiller. My mom had already warned me that India up North this time would be cold, and asked me to buy some winter-wear. Too bad I didn't listen to her. Plus, I wanted to prove myself that I could stand the cold. And I did try. With only the towel that I has just used to wipe myself, wrapped around me. True Tamilian style; that's the signature way of drying clothes after having a dip in a river, by letting them flap in the opposing wind. But that wasn't helping much here, proving me wrong.

I had asked enough people the previous evening, on the route to Ajanta & Ellora Caves, and I promptly got an auto to the central bus stand, and reached there around 06:00. I grabbed a Times of India; too bad there was no Hindu. The bus started by some 06:15, and I felt as if the sunrise was melting my fears away.

* NO, i don't have an SLR :/ *

I crossed Daulatabad on my way little did I know about the place that I didn't even know that it was once the capital of a sizable 'then' India, under Muhammad bin Tughluq. The wiki-page was all I could read while in the bus, and although I was tempted to get down and check the spiked doors made as a defense against an elephant-attack, I resisted, for I wasn't sure how long it would take to reach Ellora. Meanwhile, my first lesson in Marathi.
Not so long. I was there at Ellora by 07:30, and it was already open. As usual, the ticket was priced at 10, and fighting with the rest for making them follow a queue - still feels as like there are 10 around me. I stepped into the well maintained complex by 07:40, and was out only by 11. What happened meanwhile was just pure awesomeness. The jaws that went wide agape first at Cave # 16, were back normal only with # 10!

# 16 - Kailasanatha Cave

I was welcomed by an inscription which said that this took more than 2 centuries to be completed!


Apparently, this had taken The first things I could notice were a pillar, an elephant, and the tower of the sanctum sanctorum.


Quickly, the ritual to complete of the challenge there.
And a little into the temple, happens this.

Ignoring the grammar nazi in me, I went further. There was just one light source illuminating the huge hall, and nothing much of the intricate sculptured could be noticed, except for a few sizable ones.


Just when came out of there after circumambulting Shiva, I heard a few women conversing in joy, in Tamil, and they were getting a group photograph with a few doing turns to click. I pitched in and told them that I was a Tamil too, offered to get them one. Just to be given 5 cameras in succession. There were around 10 of them seemingly 40+, all from Madurai, Pudukkottai, etc., and they had come there all by themselves. I had underestimated our women.
First signs of alienation. Worse happened later though.


There were plenty of elephants lined up which meant that the temple rest on them. I walked around the temple with a raw excitement running in me, and I found plenty of gods, goddesses, demons & demi-gods staring at me from all over. Starting to circumambulate, I discovered just a few meters ahead, a neat staircase that took me to the first floor which had a few shrines in itself, adorned by ornate pillars with extremely intricate designs that jewel-makers can flick with ease. I don't like jewels anyway.


And there was another storey too. So much brilliance in this monolith. I just read from this wikipedia page that 4,00,000 tons of rock was scooped out to get this whole complex done! This was the first thing I got into, and I was already tired by the magnificence. Off to the others!

I got into & passed by the caves # 17A, 17B, 19B, etc. and in cave #21, there were striped pillars, and the image of the Shiva there was much similar to the ones I had seen at Badami. So were the ones in #22 too, but there were Saptha Matrikas along; I couldn't get a good picture there with my point-n-shooter, but here's a good one, thanks to Wikimedia.

#23 & 24 - A & B were relatively smaller & each housed Shiva. 25 was so huge, but locked. So were 26 &27 too. Then was this 29, a huge, huge structure. There was a HUGE Shiva, so huge that I was kinda terrified for a second.

FYI, I'm a bit taller than 6', and when standing in front of him, my head was somewhere in his knee level. Yeah, that big. And to compensate that, there was a calm Shiva despite when being lifted along with his abode by the mighty Ravana!

Then was the next big thing: #32

The Indra Sabha

Cave #32 is referred to as The Indra Sabha or The hall of Indra the head of Gods. It's beautiful, endearing & majestic! But hey, it isn't something attributed to Indra, but to Matanga, a Jain saint. The caves at Ellora are mainly Budhdhist, Hindu & Jain, and this a Jain one.


The moment I entered, there was an elephant to my right, a pillar to my right, and a shrine right in front of me.


I stare in awe and go past the shrine to enter the hall to see beautiful sculptures all over, and there were steps leading me upstairs, and that hall was another sight to behold, in itself!


And there were Indra & Indrani, as popularly known, but in real, Matanga & Ambika. It even had 2 balconies extending on either sides, and one of them is connected to the next pair of caves #33 & 34. Well designed. I walked out of these, got myself a guide on Ajanta & Ellora for 50 and checked for some coffee at the cafeteria just to find it @ 25 a cup. I left the place in silence, and the same guy at the cafeteria went past me in his 2-wheeler, and stopped a few feet ahead, volunteering a ride. I was glad to offer myself to be carried for sometime, and was dropped at #16 from where I reached #15 on a climb over a few steps.

The Dhashavathara Cave

Seriously. No kidding. The ground floor is full of pillars but no sculptures & the first floor compensates with some really huge ones of Shiva & Vishnu. The one I loved the most was Rama fighting on a chariot. Considering that Rama fought on a chariot only when against Ravana, *to my knowledge* this is truly a special one.

 

And there were 12 that was getting renovated, 11 with super-large shrines & 15 with a  seated Buddha, beautiful.


And finally,


Near Cave #1, there were a few men working on fixing a pillar with black stone, and upon inquiry with my broken Hindu, I learnt in Marathi that it takes one man, one day, to make one cube as above. Then was my heaviest sigh there. No wonder this whole magnificence took centuries to get done.

I had spent roughly 3 hours there, and I had tried to do my best to notice everything I could. Only when exiting the complex, I reassured myself that the journey had begun well, and that fear of facing the world can be overcome with effort. I got a jeep to Aurangabad, for the rest that were awaiting me.

Comments

@Ah_imsai said…
*tries commenting through gaping jaws* *gives up*... must visit.. brilliant pictures! I wasn't able to judge scale in a few.. but astounded.. must visit. and I must ask.. you had the heart to leave the place?? :O
neha rastogi said…
Wow :):) You finally did this one.. Too happy for you and lil jealous too :D
stop feeling jealous! i haven't traveled ever since this! and thanx! :)

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