Tag Archives: Ajanta

Backpacking India: Ellora and Ajanta Caves

India - Ellora Caves
The Ellora and Ajanta Caves are two fabulous sites in Maharashtra, India, both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Other than some dark passages and bats, there’s very little cave-like about them. They comprise a collection of monasteries and temples carved into cliff walls by artists hundreds of years ago. The oldest caves at Ajanta were carved by Buddhists in the 2nd century BC. There are also caves excavated by Hindus and Jains at Ellora.

India - Ajanta caves

It is really impressive what they were able to create with their carvings. Whole buildings and ornate temples loaded with sculptures, created from a single rock. There is no room for error.

India - Ellora Caves

India - Ellora Caves

India - Ellora Caves

The caves at Ajanta have some of the original paintings on the walls. Some are hard to see but they are in surprisingly good shape for their age.

India - Ajanta caves

India - Ajanta caves

India - Ajanta caves

India - Ellora Caves

India - Ellora Caves

India - Ellora Caves

There are more picture on Flickr.

Backpacking India: Fun with local transport

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We had fun taking local buses and shared jeeps between Aurangabad, Ellora Caves, Ajanta, and Bhusawal.

Our first bus experience was awesome and we were naive enough to expect them all to be smooth. We got to the bus depot, ignored the private taxi drivers, asked which bus was going to Ellora, and had the conductor of our bus escort us on just as the bus was leaving. It was a smooth, uncrowded, direct ride to the caves for only 68 rupees.

On the way back, someone grabbed us before we got to the bus stop and offered us a ride in a shared jeep that was leaving soon for the same price. Unsure when the bus would come, we jumped in. We saw 3 buses pass us on the way back while our driver stopped repeatedly to haggle with passengers and try to fill up his jeep.

The next day we had to get to Ajanta. We ignored offers of shared jeeps (fool me once) and tried to catch a bus. This time it was much busier and it took a lot of asking around and waiting while jeep drivers harassed us before we found the right one.

On Tuesday morning we had to get from our hotel to the Ajanta Caves t-junction, a few km away. The hotel manager called a rickshaw and said it would be there in 2 minutes. After waiting for 10 we decided to wave down any vehicle that would drive us. A jeep stopped and we jumped in the back without even asking the price. When we got out, the young Muslim men in the front wouldn’t take any money and just gestured to the sky in prayer and smiled. Praise be to Allah.

After the caves we needed one last bus to get us to Bhusaval where our train to Agra would depart from. We waited near the t-junction for a bus, even though the rickshaw drivers told us we needed to go to town to catch a bus. We knew there was a stop there because our bus on the way in tried to deposit us there. Plus there was a family waiting with us. After 3 buses drove by without stopping, despite our waving, I relented and overpaid for a shared ride to the bus stand 2 km away. A few minutes later a bus came by, luckily going to Bhusaval. We got on and saw the family from before already on the bus.

On. Other crowded bus rides, an auntie decided Emily was too skinny to have a seat all to herself and squeezed in next to her. This is India after all.

The bus rides were bumpy, crowded, and hot, but relatively quick and super cheap. As long as you can get a seat, they’re a fun experience. At major stops boys would walk the aisles and poke into the windows offering snacks and drinks for sale.