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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Ajanta & Ellora

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I never did finish blogging about India! My last stop (after Hampi and Hyderabad to see Golconda) was Aurangabad, the best base for visiting the marvelous caves at Ajanta and Ellora. I’d misunderstood my sister when she told me about these Buddhist monuments; I thought she’d visited them herself, but she hadn’t been able to venture that far south when she was doing a law school program in Delhi (and elsewhere) in 2009; so I went down the walkways between the caves happily thinking I was walking in her footsteps. We’ve said we can’t really do India together, since I did the southern half and she did the northern half. Each of us has already seen what the other one would like to. (Good thing there are plenty of other places in the world…like, say, Uganda!)

Anyway, this is going to be more of a photo dump than a proper entry. Ajanta and Ellora are each a series of rock-cut temples, both within easy reach of Aurangabad. The “caves” at Ajanta were built between the second and fifth century CE, Ellora’s between the fifth and tenth centuries. As I toured each of these sites I kept thinking about what life must have been like for the Buddhist monks who painted the walls and carved the arches and columns and sculptures of all sizes—to toil in what must have been dangerous conditions for an end result they wouldn’t live to see. It would have been a life very much like those who built the great cathedrals of Europe, I imagine. Fascinating and awe-inspiring and exquisite.

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Our guide told us the artist-monks made those hollows in the floor to mix and contain their pigments.

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I was blessed to find a new friend from Switzerland on the bus ride to Ajanta. Julien and I got lunch at the site, and it was delicious. (I just skipped that yogurty-looking stuff on the right.)

The next day we hired a rickshaw to take us to Ellora—which, true to reputation, was even more awe-inspiring than Ajanta:

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(I love this shot—a simple but powerful gesture of awe and humility and gratitude.)

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(Ha! Not likely!)

1 Comment to Ajanta & Ellora

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    September 25, 2013 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    I really want to go here!

    Some day you need to get to Datong and Luoyang in China–also amazing!

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.