March 10, 2016

Ajanta, Jalgaon

Ever since I first studied about Ajanta and Ellora in 6th std., I wanted to go visit these magnificent caves. Luckily my roommate Rashmi and her friends planned a trip to Aurangabad to visit these and I decided to join them. We left from Mumbai on 6th Feb and returned on 9th, in two days. In spite of the little time we had, we covered a lot of places to see across two cities – Aurangabad and Jalgaon, thanks to Rashmi’s planning. Rashmi and I were joined by her friend Kavita and Kavita’s sister Nirupama.

We left for Jalgaon at night by train and reached there the next morning. Ajanta caves are situated near Jalgaon, hence we set off for the caves early morning. It is easy to reach Ajanta by the bus from Jalgaon – it takes about 1.15 hours.

We hired Mr. Sarang Deshmukh as our tour guide who has done a PHD and specialises in this field and hence we got to learn a lot from him. We saw a few paintings on the ceiling which had Egyptian women standing with Indian men – this reflects how art overlaps across boundaries. We were explained, that the Silk Route passed through Ajanta and Ellora caves. It is indeed interesting how art also gets exchanged along with goods and money. In those days, people loved the famous Roman Silk, which was exchanged in gold.

With Mr. Sarang Deshmukh, the tour guide

I strongly advise getting a tour guide if you happen to visit these caves, as every painting and every sculpture has a story behind it. I had read that the famous painting ‘Bodhisattva’ is in one of the caves over there, but I couldn’t find it anywhere as the caves were dark. Then we got the tour guide and he showed us the painting with his torch which was right behind us! Need I say anything more about getting a guide?
Every sculpture and picture has a story behind it- and they are really interesting; they not only give you an insight to the history but also help you understand how times change and how different things impact art. I won’t write about those stories, as I would want everyone to go and visit these caves. Few things which just struck me were -  one painting with a girl in a short skirt, another one with two Indian men wearing English socks and the best one – a small baby which stares at you wherever you go, something like ‘hollow face illusion’.

Half made sculpture

The sleeping Buddha

A ‘Sleeping Buddha’ statue is really striking - with the people on earth crying as His soul has departed and the people in heaven rejoicing as He has joined them, is truly conspicuous. The vegetable dye paintings are really wonderful and make you feel proud of your history. We had lunch and left for Aurangabad by bus. Aurangabad is home to Ellora caves and one of the twelve Jyotirlingh’s of Lord Shiva. 

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