To get to Ajanta and Ellora caves; most people stay in Aurangabad. There is not a lot in Aurangabad that you couldn’t find in other places so Ellora and Ajanta caves are what you got to see.
My friends went to Ajanta caves but I wasn’t up for the 5 hour (return) bus trip so at the very last moment I chose to go alone to Ellora (2 hours return). I got off the moving bus in the most dramatic and panicked way possible and set off to Ellora.
Ellora is a small town with a series of iconic rock and cave architecture sculpted from rock surfaces by Hindu (AD 600-900), Buddhist (AD 600-800) and Jain (AD 800-1000) monks. To be honest, I couldn’t see much of a difference between the temples, other than in the statues of Gods. However, the statues are remarkably detailed and beautiful. They are sketched into the walls, free standing or act as pillars.
Whilst walking around, I made friends with a security guard who showed me the way to navigate the site, there wasn’t a lot of signage and there’s a lot of places I wouldn’t have seen without him. He hung out with me the whole day showing me around the different temples and explaining a little about each religion and the Gods as well as showing me random photos and videos on his phone.
The main and biggest temple, Kailasa Temple (Cave 16) wash of course my favourite. Taking 150 years and 7000 people to build, it is actually one of the world’s largest monolithic sculptures. The whole area is built into the a hundred metre high cliff face and is one of the few two storey sites there. As you walk through the rock gate, you enter the circlular hollowed open area with Kailasa Temple which is centred within the walls. It is guarded by two large elephant sculptures. Surrounding the temple in the larger area of the cave are walkways and alleys built into the cliff. Some are accessible by ladder. Inside the temple, carvings, sculptures and paintings. predominantly of Gods, wives or animals liven the ceiling and walls.
Overall this series of temples are unique and beautiful. The time and skill of those who created this site with the technology they had is incredible. However, unfortunately, there’s so much to see that trying to do the whole site in one day, especially on a day as hot as it was (37 degrees Celsius) became pretty tiring. The site extends over 5km each way though mountains, cliffs, rocks and bush scrub. I spent a lot of time walking in direct sunlight so bring a hat, lots of water, sunscreen and a keen sense of adventure and curiosity.