Wednesday, 20 August 2008

19 August 2008: The Ajanta Caves

The impressive Ajanta caves lie around 60km south from Jalgaon. There are 30 caves along the steep canyon side. The caves date from 200 BC to 650 AD and are famous for their intricate paintings and stone carvings. The caves were discovered by a British party in 1819.

The semi-darkness inside the caves was a dark contrast to the bright sunshine and searing heat outside. We were blind each time we entered a cave, stumbling along in our bare feet on the cool stone floor. The paintings were certainly impressive and the colours beautiful, but some were in poor condition, so it was impossible to figure out what the painting was about. We were most impressed by the age of the place and the sheer effort that it must have taken to carve out of the rock.

We climbed up to the viewing point on top of the canyon for a stunning vista of the caves. The experience was spoiled by a couple of touts trying to get us to walk further along the cliff tops. Feeling cautious about their motives, we made a hasty retreat. Apart from this it was a great day out.

On the bus back to Jalgaon we met a lovely Korean guy called Shin who'd spent a month travelling around India already. He very kindly pointed out the vomit explosion at the back of the bus which we were about to sit in. (So that was why there were seats free in the bus!) In the evening we had our first beer since arriving in India.

Staying at the spotlessly clean Hotel Plaza, the owner gives complimentary cups of masala tea and is extremely friendly and helpful. A welcome relief from the Welcome Inn and Hotel City Palace. I hope our other hotels will be as great as Hotel Plaza...

Read about our last day in Mumbai.