It’s around 11 pm when we(myself and my other two besties) landed in Pune, The flight was supposed to be landing at around 1 am because of the route change we landed early, Carrying our backpacks we headed towards the taxi stand to check on cab to Shirdi, the person in the taxi stand told it would cost around 3800 INR which was not under our estimated budget.
We found a place to sit and started searching for buses on our always on help smart phones, as expected most of the buses were already full, we found one bus which was leaving at around 12 am and just had few seats left finally we decided to take this bus, just then few locals came running approaching us saying “you guys are looking for a cab to Shirdi rite, we have one right away if you are interested”, we three were so surprised and thought may be they heard us from the taxi stand. We checked the cost, they told it would cost around INR 2000.
We decided to take the cab. Before starting our late night journey to Shirdi we checked for the driver’s ID card, we took some photos of the driver and his vehicle and sent them to our WhatsApp group just as a safety measure as we were just three girls and its midnight.
We were tired and we started to fall a sleep, and this driver he had just came back from Shirdi and he was tired too, he started to feel sleepy and he suggested that will halt for some time like an hour or so and then drive, as we could clearly see he was not in a state for driving so we told ok, we parked our car in front of a small hotel and we locked the car and doze off, the 1hr halt had been extended to 3 hrs, we woke the driver from his deep sleep and started our journey to Shirdi, we reached Shirdi around 6 am, we were done with Darshan by 10 am and we started towards Ellora caves.
Hot air ride from Shirdi to Aurangabad
Few of my Pune friends had told me that there is a direct bus to Ellora from Shirdi, but to our surprise there is’nt one, we have to go to Aurgabad and then take a bus to Ellora, Shirdi to Aurangabad is 109kms so we anticipated that it will be around 3hrs journey but it ended up to be 4hrs, the route to Aurangabad is not so bad, but since the weather is so hot the whole journey was filled with hot air and dust, the air is soo hot it can just burn your face.
After a tiring 4hrs bus journey we finally reached Aurangabad at around 2 pm, We enquired about bus to Ellora and we got to know there is one ready to leave, the whole signboards and bus routes were in Marathi so we had to check with locals they do understand Hindi so that came in to our rescue.
The Ellora bus was almost full, there were few seats left at the back, neither the driver or conductor was on the bus so we checked with one of the passengers just for confirmation and we got in, the bus started and we were constantly checking on google maps if it’s taking the correct route.
We were almost halfway to Ellora when conductor came to us to issue ticket, for our surprise this was an express bus and doesn’t stop at Ellora caves though it goes in the same route, and she was ready to kick us out of the bus, then we finally convinced her saying we are new here and we were not aware that this is an express bus, and she agreed and dropped us in Ellora caves, we thanked her for not dropping us off halfway.
The ticket from Aurangabad to Ellora is INR 30 and it takes around 30 mins to reach.
We stayed at Ellora heritage resort, click here to read the complete review. The resort is close to the Ellora caves at a walkable distance and Bicycles too available at the resort.
We checked in to our hotel freshened up and started to explore the most awaited Ellora caves.
The UNESCO World heritage site houses the 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, caves were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff. These sanctuaries were constructed from A.D. 600 to 1000. Cave 16, in particular, features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Shiva.
Ellora and Ajanta caves showcase the excellence of Indian architecture and engineering, just imagine how these monuments are built just by using the tools available during those days.
Ellora sanctuaries are devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India.
There are over 100 caves at the site, all excavated from the basalt cliffs in the Charanandri Hills, 34 of which are open to public. These consist of 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves
All of the Ellora monuments were built during Hindu dynasties such as the Rashtrakuta dynasty, which constructed part of the Hindu & Buddhist caves, and the Yadava dynasty, which constructed a number of the Jain caves. Funding for the construction of the monuments was provided by royals, traders and the wealthy of the region.
There are official guides available who will cost you around INR 1500, there are also few locals who act as guides who will charge you around INR 500, but they will just give you brief details about each cave.
We took an entry ticket (INR 30) and started exploring the caves, as you enter you will see Cave 16, and you may apt to make this as you’re starting point, However, it is advisable to walk down south, begin with cave 1, and proceed in the right sequence.
It will take you around 2hrs just to cover Hindu and Buddhist caves, make sure to carry enough water, you will not find water anywhere near the caves, there is one available near the parking.
Jain excavations (30 to 34) are more than a kilometer away at the northern spur of the ridge. There is bus service from parking which takes you to Jain caves and drops you back. It will take around 1 hr to visit the Jain caves and return. It was already 4 by the time we started and the caves close by 6 PM so we decided to skip the Jain caves.
Cave 10, the Visvakarma Cave, is a major Buddhist prayer hall. It is also known as the “Carpenter’s Cave” because the rock has been given a finish that has the appearance of wooden beams. At the heart of this cave is a 15-foot statue of Buddha seated in a preaching pose.
Cave 11 and 12 are by far the most important in this group. They are large, three-story structures alike in the design an represent the peak of the earlier style of Ellora.
Cave 12 is the bigger of the two and more impressive know as Teen Thal, it is faced by an open court and one enters the monastery through a rock-hewn gateway.
The Hindu/Brahmanical Excavations
The Brahmanical series, excavated between the 17th and 19th centuries are glimpses of a world apart from the chaitya-halls and viharas. The imagination and poetry of the new concepts are reflected in these set of caves.
Cave 16- Kailasha
Cave 16 celebrated as Kailasha, Shiva’s mountain abode is by far best of all Ellora excavations and its one of India’s most famous monuments, here is rock-cut architecture at the apex of technical skill of 18th and early 19th centuries. Regarded as the greatest monolithic structure in the world, Kailash combines immensity with grace, energy and superb genius. Its conception and planning are matched by the jewel-like executions. Hundreds of architects and sculptures created this grandeur out of living rock in an inspired period of the country’s art history.
It is said that 10 generations worked for it and took more than 200 years for its completion.
The Kailasha and the superb sculpture of Elephanta caves in Mumbai which registers the consummation of the same style are the offerings of Rashtrakutas.
We cant image how time passes by and it was already 6 pm and securities started sending people out of caves, we came out all thirsty but the only water filter that was available was filled with all the people who had come to visit the caves, we came out and had a watermelon and started to walk towards our resort, as we were walking we realized there is a famous Ghrishneswar temple in a walkable distance.
There are twelve jyotirlingas in India and one of them is Ghrishneshwar, we visited the temple, no much crowd and in 30 mins we were done with our darshan.
Overall, it was very enjoyable day exploring these masterpieces, it’s overwhelming if we think of the amount of hard work and patience that have been gone in these excavations. It’s listed under world heritage site for a reason, get your backpack ready and plan a trip to this must visit place.
Now your turn, have you visited Ellora Caves?