Day 1: Architectural Marvels of India – Ajanta and Ellora Caves

The best part about living in India is that you can enjoy life in all its facets. You can be dishevelled and harried by the continuing chaos and the omnipresent pollution while at the same time you can be mesmerised and awestruck by the beauties and marvels created by man and nature. This unique paradox that defines India has been the single most crucial factor which has led travellers and trespassers cross its shores time and again.

My earliest memories of travelling in India is distinctly marked by serpentine queues adorning the entry point of every fort, palace, waterfall, mountain peaks or even wildlife sanctuaries being promoted by Indian Tourism. Being an Indian, however, it had failed to strike me as being out of the ordinary. I was used to being in a crowd. It was only later when I started travelling the world that I could make out the difference. However, neither then nor now did I miss the paradox which struck me every time I entered the portals of these marvelous structures and which in its own way characterizes India. My experience of the Ajanta Ellora Caves was no different.

Nestled in the formidable Sahyadri Mountains bordering the western Indian state of Maharashtra, the viharas (monasteries) and the chaityas (chapels) of the twin caves of Ajanta and Ellora showcases faith perfectly etched out on stone. They are not to be regarded as a mere travel hot spot to be checked on your list of must –see things in India. It is no doubt more than that. The milling crowds buzzing around you and the architectural splendours depicted through the caves could be the two end points of your reference that should help you trace the evolution of Indian culture.

Comprising a collection of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples, the caves display the communal harmony that was inherent in the Indian way of life prior to British colonialism. Exhibiting exquisite mastery in stone work the Ajanta and the Ellora caves have their own specialties. While the Ajanta Caves are a wonderful depiction of wall-paintings, the Ellora caves exhibit excellent example of rock-cut architecture. The most impressive among these being the Kailashanatha or the Kailasha, the sprawling multi-Storeyed temple carved out of a single rock.

When you cross the thresholds of the Ajanta and Ellora caves you enter a time warp. You lose yourself in the multitude of caves and temples, viharas and chaityas and get entranced by the brilliant visuals and sculptures depicting an Indian panorama of lifestyle and culture at one of the country’s most glorious phases of development. Visit Ajanta and Ellora and be sure to rediscover India anew.

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