Ellora Caves

We caught a local bus to another set of caves 50kms outside of Aurangabad. These caves were carved out after Ajanta and were a mix of Hindu (AD600-900), Buddhist (AD600-800) and Jainism (AD800-1000).
The first cave was the Kailasa Temple Cave. The interesting thing about this temple is that it was carved from the top down. The sheer magnitude of this is mind boggling. I had to keep reminding myself as I walked around that it was carved from one piece of stone. Even if it wasn’t it was impressive enough but add that into the mix and it just seems unbelievable. It’s the biggest monolithic sculpture in the world and took 7000 labourers 150 years to complete removing 200,000 tonnes of rock with hammer and chisel. 
The temple itself had beautiful columns and it once would have been painted with beautiful frescos like that of Ajenta but unfortunately they were destroyed. Just outside the temple was a little shrine to Nandi, Shiva’s bull. The temple was double story with an internal staircase linking the two floors. I struggle to comprehend the amount of work and architectural brilliance needed to go into building a double story structure carved from the top of solid rock. Around the edge of the temple a gallery had been carved out with depictions of Shiva and his wife Parvati on one side and Lord Vishnu’s many avatars on the other. You will notice in some of the photos that Hindu ladies have the most amazingly big and round and gravity defying breasts you will ever see. We have decided that that is why they have to cover themselves as their bodies are so luscious the men would never get any work done. Hahahaha.
Back outside we were walking to the next cave when we were stopped by the security guard and led up around the side of the temple for a great birds eye view of the temple. This was his way of earning a little extra cash off tourists for the view, which we would have missed on our own so we didn’t mind slipping him a few rupees. 
The caves were numbered 1-34 and we had entered 16 first so we headed north to see up to 34. A lot of the caves were unfinished and after Ajanta yesterday there were quite a few we didn’t explore. We were heading up to the Jain series of caves as we had only visited one other Jain temple during our time in India and the carvings were meant to be the most intricately detailed of the caves.
We thought we had seen enough rock caves and their carvings to not be wowed again but we were wrong. The detail was astonishing and again remembering that it was all carved from one piece of rock! The lotuses on the ceiling and the faces of the saints looked so lifelike. The gallery was double story and had a connecting staircase to an adjacent cave. 
The surrounding countryside was again very dry and dusty and walking out in the open was taking it out of us. I can imagine after the monsoon in tourist season it would be beautiful green and luscious with waterfalls cascading down the rock but we were enjoying the minimal number of tourists so can’t complain too much about the countryside. Lucky for us there was a bus ferrying people back to the middle main section of the caves which we gladly utilized.
We then headed south to finish off the caves. Most of these were Buddhist caves and in our opinion not as good as Ajanta so we viewed these pretty quickly. There were two that were 3 story structures that looked almost like Soviet era apartment blocks. Inside was massive with the cavern stretching over 20 metres into the rock face.
By this stage I was done and surprisingly so was Tim. So we headed out and went out to find some food. The caves official restaurant had one other western couple in it and about 4 tables in total so instead we headed to were the Indian tourists were eating just outside the gates and had a great meal.
While waiting for our bus a communal taxi pulled up which was a land cruiser style truck and offered us the bench seats in the back. We jumped in and headed home to Aurangabad. Unfortunately we only made it about 10 kms up the road where we lost 4 of the passengers. It was at this point we realized we were not going any further until we filled the car. So we drove around and found another 6 people, two of which sat in the back with us. They were school teachers from Auragabad who all work in the village. We then proceeded to have a very interesting conversation. Their eyes nearly fell out of their heads when we told them the wage they would earn if they taught in Australia. We then also tried to explain to them that the cost of living in Australia is expensive but I don’t think they could get passed the wage or the fact that you only worked 5 days a week and got 10 weeks off. 
We thought we were full but stopped to pick up another two which sat in the back with us. Needless to say it was a squishy last 20kms home! S

The bus stop at Aurangabad. You can see me in the background on the left waiting for our bus.

The Kailasa Temple viewed from the entrance.

Take note of the ridiculous breasts on this goddess.

With the ladies in the shot you get an idea of how enormous this Temple really is.

Side view of the outside temple wall.

I found it a little eery walking around the gallery underneath all that rock. This was built well over 1000 years ago. How did they know when to stop digging out the galleries before the rock from above collapsed?

The inside of the temple.

The annex where Shiva’s bull Nandi resided.

View from above. I think this shows just how massiv the site really is and how impressive the undertaking was.

The roof of the temple. 

Further along the gully we passed this amazing cave entrance. It seemed almost like a first floor balcony.

I couldn’t resist and by the looks of the different colours on the statue neither could hundreds before me.

I marvelled at this statue and not due its shape. It was the way the sculptor has managed to show a sheer skirt on the lady. How do you do that when your carving in stone!

Me sitting down trying to figure out why anyone would consider such an undertaking. I could understand one temple but why so many? 

The path leading to the northern Jain Temples.

The doorway leading into the Jain Temples.

Inside thenJaon Temples. The lotus flower defending from the roof for some reason was one of my favourites. It just looked so lifelike.

The detailed intricacies of the pillars were beautiful.

The soviet style apartment block cave. It was actually a monastery.  

Inside the monestery. There were cells along the outside from the monks to sleep and the raised long stone block would have been used for meals and praying.

Inside another cave was this Buddhist Temple.

Another amazing Buddhist cave entrance.

Our trip back home. In the end there were 15 of us in the truck. 4 in the front, 4 in the backseat and 7 of us in the boot.

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