So. Many. Caves!!!! We were here around the 13th-16th April. It was incredible however I do feel as though I've seen enough caves to last me for a good few years!!!
Our first night was spent in a silk shop. The fabric was really beautiful and the girls brought some stunning pieces- great gifts but none for me and the shop guy didn't seem too impressed haha typical Charlotte saving her money!!! :D
After arriving by bus we found somewhere to stay. After rejecting the Lonely planets suggestion our rickshaw driver took us to his mate's place which aside from it being on a building site was actually very nice. In a few years/months time when it''s finished it will be fantastic! The room we stayed in had a huge bed, tv (home alone was on!! :D) and yeah really nice although it did smell slightly of paint!! But totally worth it for the price!!
We were all so happy to back in Marharastra, the people, the food and the atmosphere reminded us so much of our Indian home. There are two main sets of caves to visit in Aurangabad. Ajenta and Elora. They are both stunning however one is slightly further away than the other. This being the case we decided to do one set each day and take a taxi to the furtherest one. It sounded like a great plan until the taxi drivers wouldn't take us because we were only 3 and wouldn't 'fill' the 4x4 (legally and comfortablty yes, but that means little when you could squish in 20 or so Indians!!) so our only other choice was to take a rickshaw. After arranging a price we set off. We drove and we drove and we drove. Then we stoppped for petrol and drove some more. Then we stopped for sugarcane juice and then we drove some more! The caves we about 100km away so it took us 3 hours to get there!!! Our lovely driver wanted to leave at 4pm so we'd get back into town before night fall-the roads in India as I'm sure you have heard are not exactly safe!! Anyway this meant that we only had about an hour to look around. We went on India time so that gave nearly 2 hours and in fairness we did miss the bus back down the hill to the car park!
The caves were beautiful! The Ajenta caves were built hundreds of years ago and monks lived in them and meditated. The were lined up along the cliff edge and went back far into the hillside. The majority were Buddhist caves with some Hindu ones thrown in for luck. The carvings were amazing, lots of buddhas in different poses and some of the temples took hundreds of years to even make!
After a 6 hour round trip, 2 petrol stops, 2 sugarcane juice stops, the second of which was on a little sugarcane farm on the side of the road where our lovely driver brought us all juice and we sat talking with the locals and enjoyed the sunset together. Feeling bad that we had agreed on such a small amount for all his driving we tipped him well and arranged for him to drive us around the next day as well. Dinner was awesome and it was fair to say we slept well that night! Longest rickshaw drive ever!!! :D
The journey back also ticked off another of our India Bingo clauses...Most people in a truck ever!! I've never seen so many-they were falling out the sides like jack in the boxes or something. In one truck there had to be at least 40 people, probably more! Just crazy!!! :D
Next day...Got up, breakfast-with mango juice as ever!! Met our driver, he was so excited he actually arrived half an hour early!!! Off to the Elora caves. Our first stop was a fort whoose name escapes me right now but began with 'D'! It was really cool and had the biggest bath i've ever seen in it! No water though. Next we went to the caves. I liked them more than the ones yesterday, I geuss partly because we had more time to explore them but they had ones which weren't finshed and ones with so much intricate detail, really beautiful artwork. There were also lots of Jain temples, as a religion that I find incredibly interesting as I had not heard of it before India I really enjoyed looking around those temples. After a few hours we had seen heaps and the novelty was begining to wear off. So back in the carpark we found our trusty driver chilling with other drivers and monkeys!! There were heaps of them and they certainly weren't shy. One of the babies was running around wild until it's mother told it off. It's crazy how much like people they are and i'm not gonna lie, it kinda creeps me out!! Elly and Liv fed them whilst me and the driver took photos!! The drive back nearly ended early than anticipated! We went down a very steep hill and one of the tyre's clipped a corner and we nearly completly tipped luckily we stopped in time to all get out and push the rickshaw back straight. Back in we hoped and we rolled down the rest of the hill without the need of an engine!!! :)
next stop was The Poor Man's Taj and it's known as. The proper name I can't remember, but it's basically a smaller copy of the Taj Mahal and instead of using marble they use limestone, so it actually looks much brighter than the real thing. It was so much fun to look around and the inside was heaps more interesting than the real one. You could see down to a big red velvet blanket and underneath was where the coffin lay. Loads of people threw coins onto it, for goodluck I supose. We felt like celebrities as we walked around, so many pictures with peoples children, parents and grandparents. We met a huge class of muslim girls who were absolutly lovely. They all looked beautiful in their black dress, yet they insisted that our clothes were heaps better. After the sun set we decided to give the Aurangabad caves a miss, they were a smaller and less famous set than the others so we weren't too bothered. After a quick photo stop on the way back at a water mill we went back to the city for dinner and were quite sad to say goodbye to our lovely driver.
On collecting our bags from the hotel the receptionist tried to instist that for leaving our bags in the room we had to pay another nights fee. No chance!! They hadn't told us in advance so after phone calls to the manager and us putting our foot down they told us to just go. We must have done more shopping than we'd realised over the last few weeks because as the rickshaw drove down the road there was a loud bang and then we started to tilt sideways!! The tyre had blown and we all had to get out!!! We were going nowhere quickly!! A replacement was found and our journey continued, very funny!! After several games of cards we boarded our final bus back to Pune. The journey was short, only 5 or 6 hours so we drove through the night and arrived back at Pune train station the next morning.