Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Aurangabad/Ajanta Caves

On Tuesday the 12th some of us head to the Ajanta Caves. Ideally this trip would have taken place on Monday the 11th when we had time for a longer day, but these caves were closed on Monday.  So 7 travelers and the guide begin a two hour bus ride at 730. We will have to be back by 3 to pick up the other four and fly out to Mumbai at 5.

The bus driver goes as fast as he can on this no center line busy road. Passing is any time he looks bigger than what is coming.  Bill is sitting in the front and gets the full benefit of the way we cut in and dodge oncoming traffic.  Once we are three abreast all going the same way with us in the middle. We are passing a truck and a car is passing us. Woe to any motorcycles coming the other way. We pass three over turned trucks and a trashed motorcycle.
At least three to a motorcycle

Busy road. Driver on the right and assistant for hand signals on the left

Baby is sleeping

Lots of farm trucks are on the road hauling cotton, just stuffed in and covered, not baled and sugar cane. We pass migrant farm worker families moving on as it is near the end of the harvest season here.  They all ride in large wooden carts with all their possessions pulled by bullocks.
Passing the migrant workers

The Ajanta Caves consist of 30 rock cut caves excavated in a horse-shoe panorama on the Waghora River. The river is mostly dry now because of drought.  The caves belong to two phases of Buddhism, the Hinayana Phase from the second century BC to the first century AD and the Mahayana Phase from the 5th century AD to the 6th century AD.  They consist of shrines and monasteries richly decorated with carving, statuary and paintings.

The caves had been over grown and covered with rubble and were rediscovered by a British man on a tiger hunt in the 1890's.  The locals always knew they were there, but considered them haunted.

It took us more like 2 1/2 hours to get to the caves and by the time we walk through some shops to the Ajanta Cave buses and the guide purchases tickets time is slipping away. There are lots of stairs up to the caves and I would be slow. So I and one other woman go up by sedan chair. Maharini for a day. Up the stairs I go.

It is socks or bare feet in each cave and they are hot and airless, but wonderful. No flash, so the pictures are a bit dark.  My favorite is the sleeping Buddha with Bill.

We race back even faster than we came, trying for 3, but it is closer to 330.  Lucky for us the Aurangabad airport has only 2 flights per day. One to Delhi and one to Mumbai.  We breeze through, as we are seasoned travelers now.

Everyone goes their separate ways at the Mumbai Airport. We take a room for a short night.  Some are staying at the airport to make a 3 AM flight. Our tour leaders will stay in India for another 2 weeks.

Wednesday February 13th we are up at 4 and at the international terminal sipping a latte by 530.  Our flight is off at 8 for a short 4 hour hop to Bangkok. We are now on our own!

It  is hot in Bangkok. We walk around in the Patpong night market around the corner after dinner. "Best deal here." The song "One Night in Bangkok" from the musical Chess, 1985, is running through my head.

1 comment:

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