Day 2 - 16th Dec. 2012 - II

The jeep to Aurangabad was for Rs. 30 and on my way, I glanced at the Daulatabad fort and cursed myself once again for not getting down and in there. The jeep-driver was clearly a thick vermilion on his forehead, a man wearing a cross was seated right next to me with his kid, and a lady with a purdah got in at what seemed like a Muslim locality, and I was engrossed in The Krishna Key.

I got down at Aurangabad bus stand, had lunch at a Maarwaadi restaurant for around an hour charging my cam & phone, then got an auto to Bibi-ka-Maqbara which I was told, was a place to notable importance. I had no idea. The auto dropped me there in less than 15 minutes.


Built by the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in memory of his first wife, this seems to mimic the Taj Mahal in its structure. But there, I was told by someone that this was in memory of his mother. I still am not clear on which is right. Since the wikipedia page on this has in it sentences supporting the 'Tejo Mahalaya Theory', your discretion is advsed.

The complex wasn't too crowded, and looked beautiful. I took some good time there roaming around all the quadrants. The sanctum was located at the basement, and its entrance locked. And for the first time, I got to see a 'jaali' of marble. Yes. Marble.

The sanctum. Could look at this from behind a barricadeThe Marble window aka 'Jaali'

The hall around the santum, a bit dusty

I shuttled back to the bus stand, and found that Ajanta Caves is of a good distance, and yet got into a bus which dropped me there at the complex in the next hours. It was around 3 PM, and I had to take a shuttle to get to the caves, which took another 20 mins. By 3:30, I was with a good crowd with a group of college students, which made me feel older than I was. The security lady dubiously checked my bag and let me in with a smile on listening on to my broken Hindi, "sirf kapdOn aur Ek pusthak hai. aur kuch nahin."

The first cave, one of the largest and most ornate within. The whole stretch of the caves. How I wished I had fragella.

There were caves, caves & caves, all of which looked like concrete constructions chiseled to charisma. And there were paintings of too many colors; though yellow & red seemed predominant to me, not much of them were visible as the after was getting evening. We weren't allowed for photographs with a flash either, and they were all well secured with multiple security clearances.

Overheard from a guide explaining a Buddhist monk there that these were used as color palettes. Obligatory #GoUNESCO proof with a large elephant

Next to caves, the most famous personality in the entire complex is Buddha. Or at least that's what it looked like to the ignorant me.

Thanks to the guide who clicked that pic for me, and also for keeping me informed of the fact that Ajanta Caves was the first in India to be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main difference between Ellora & Ajanta is that the latter is all painted colorful and the former isn't. Or wasn't. I couldn't resist getting reminded myself of the sculptor-painter character 'Aayanar' from the Tamil semi-fiction 'Sivagamiyin Sabadham' who spends his lifetime wanting to learn the secret behind the ever-non-fading colors of i.

Epiphany of Buddha
Buddha shown in contemplation, fearlessness, preaching, gifting the three jewels and moving the Wheel of Dharma.

The above description is from the guide-book I had bought at Ellora, but I couldn't quite figure out what this image meant. But there was a feeling that this had to be an important one, for I went closer with no one next to me right then, and started looking up at the ceiling long enough only to sprain myself. There were a lot more.

One could hire a palanquin for Rs. 600 and could be carried to each cave and brought back to the entrance - a good option for the elderly and the likes. However, men carrying fellow men just seemed, and still seems unacceptable to me. The slaves carried the royals, and now the we poor the wealthier. Capitalism seems to be the new Imperialism. Men, at such an old age carry others. While they earn it hard and might not feel bad for this, I couldn't accept having such a view. Whose life is it anyway?

There were many other Buddhas, his servants, scholars waiting for me with a smile, seated in the rest of all those brilliantly scraped caves.

The sleeping Buddha was much comforting. For with all the knowledge, one being able to sleep is an astonishment in itself. Throwing desire away and resting one's head on one's own hand looks too graceful, but this isn't a world for one such who's stuck in the vicious circle of not Life, but society. The thirst on my way out & a drinking-water-cooler there seemed to be just waiting for each other, and a cucumber unusually large, probably a local variety, was worth more than the 10 bucks.

The Cobbler Friend

Just when stepping out, a strap lock in my bag's shoulder just popped out breaking, and thankfully there was a cobbler at the entrance. I asked him if he could fix it, and he gladly took the bag into his hands, searching whatever he  had available. He introduced himself, [I forgot his name now] and inquired to me on my whereabouts, starting a conversation. While I tried with him my broken Hindi, he was happy sticking to his broken English, and thus, both of were trying to converse in a language we weren't good at. On hearing that I was from Bangalore, he spoke of his friend Sanjay working at Nirmala Travels, Bangalore, and asked me to meet him when I get to. I nodded in affirmation hoping he'd fix the bag faster. He asked me a lot more questions, on why I was there, if I were alone, etc etc.

A metal spare he had tried didn't work, a plastic one was picked up, and I told him that it wouldn't work either. He was sure it would, and putting my engineering degree to shame, he fixed it in a couple of minutes, making additional stitches on weighing the bag. He charged me for it Rs. 15, and I was more than happy to pay.

While bidding a bye, he asked me to visit the place once again, but the next time with my family, and say a Hello to him when I do!

The Ph.D Friend

My next stop was to be Bhimbetka Caves, and I marked Bhopal to be the destination for then, for which I had to go to Jalgaon first. I walked out of the complex waiting for a bus, and 2 of them crossed us not stopping. A packet of Good Day biscuits became my evening meal, and an overcrowded share-auto picked me up for the nearest bus stop with a higher frequency, making me seated among the 4 next to the driver. We were nearing the bus stop just to see a bus leaving, and I was running towards it shouting & waving at it to stop, all in vain. Another man halted next to me having run for the same bus, and was taking some breath. Two sentences into the conversation, I asked him if he was a Tamilian, and I was surprised to get a Yes.

He was a Ph.D student in a university at Europe, and had flown to Mumbai for a conference, between which he had visited Ajanta for the whole day. He was from PudhukkOttai, and had done his Bachelor's & Master's in Comp. Sci at Tamilnadu and was about to complete his doctorate then. An overloaded bus just arrived, and we squeezed ourself in, in the fear that we might not get any after that. Cramped on the steps, we were still conversing about our interests, stories et al, and a few mins into it, we could walk into the bus.

The Good Smaritan Friend

There was this tall & fair guy standing next to me, and his face looked very, very familiar, as if I'd seen that everyday for quite sometime, back in Bangalore. I gathered my courage & tongue, and asked him if he / any of his family members were at Bangalore. He gave a No. I started that he looked familiar, etc, he was asking about my travelling, and was surprised to hear that I had come alone all the way up there just to roam around. I opened myself up to him so much that I was sharing with him my fear of being alone there lingually challenged, and that I was nervous to get to Jalgaon & the rest of the journey. He tried his best to comfort me that there was nothing to fear. He also said that he runs a company that manufactures plastic mattresses for all over India, and that he would often feel low for not being able to converse in English, while his cousin is a Software Engineer in Bangalore.

Aashish, he said he was, and by then, the three of us were talking about foreign currency, higher education, traveling, etc. I had told Aashish that I had to get to Bhopal, and he suggested that a train would be the best option, and told me that he'd take me there, as I wouldn't know. We reached Jalgaon, bid the Ph.D friend a bye, for he'd leave to Mumbai the next morning, and took an auto to the Railway Station. The inquiry assistant was hostile, and Aashish, ran across counters asking every person possible, and got me a ticket to Bhopal in a train at 2 PM. He even invited me home for dinner and suggested I rest at his place till then. I politely declined and compelled him for a dinner there. While I charged my phone & cam there, we exchanged numbers, and he even got a pic of mine and told me that he'd show it to his wife & proudly tell her that he helped someone that day. It was 10 PM, and I didn't want him to be late home. We parted ways, and I entered at the railway station hoping I could get some sleep till 2 AM. There was an announcement over the delay of some train, and I could hardly understand a word. Thanks to Twitter, and Indian Railways for the charging point.


Veera said…
I hope u collected lot of memories in this trip... good keep rock :-)

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