Home > Indore getaway, Travel > Biking to Ajanta and Ellora – 1

Biking to Ajanta and Ellora – 1

Now that I’m in Indore, my popular Indore getaway posts will get more additions. I’ve been harping too much on geography the time I’ve been in NZ. But India is where all the history is. Though all of us (read my bschool mates) complain about the huge location disadvantage that Indore has in terms of connectivity to all the happening cities (read good jobs), the fact is that Indore is the heart of incredible India (just like the cute MP Tourism ads promote MP)! If we get 5 days at a stretch, we would be able to go in every direction imaginable and visit places like Rajasthan, Himachal, Uttaranchal, Agra, Khajuraho, Gujarat, Goa, Hyderabad, Bihar, … But we had 3 days to spare just before the year ends. So this will be my first multi-day trip around Indore. Also, I’ve been dreaming of a long bike ride for a long time. In NZ, bikes are so expensive compared to cars and they need special licences. After a little research, we chuck destinations inside MP and plan for the World Heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora. Aurangabad – the base to visit these 2 places – is a little over 400km away. Two of us start on the 29th morning at 8.30am (planned time 7am) on two bikes. My companion Anupam is a veteran of long trips with Indore-Ahmedabad-Indore and Indore-Mumbai trips to his record.

29th is a plain bike ride day. We start on NH3, cross Mhow, the Narmada at Khalghat and reach the MP border. We are alarmed to find that our average speed is just over 40kmph. The NH3 is the worst highway I have found. To our surprise, soon after we cross the border, Maharashtra PWD takes over and NH3 becomes unimaginably good to ride. We hurry past the sugarcane factory at Sirpur and leave NH3 at Dhule (say Dhuliya). Our lunch in a dhaba takes a long time. Of course, we get our direction tips from mapsofindia.com and mapmyindia.com. Here we take NH211, which goes to Aurangabad and beyond. In spite of we hurrying, there is a bye-pass road at Chalisgaon, which is the most horrrible stretch of the highway. And to our horrors, they have a toll post on this stretch, how sad! Bikes don’t have to pay any toll and so we continue our journey unhindered. The road gets worse as we progress. It is evening when we approach Ellora village. We grab a cup of tea and are close to the Ellora cave sites when we see a few hotels advertising availability.

End December is the peak travel season everywhere! More so in India, as the weather is ideal this time. Anupam suggests we stay here itself and proceed tomorrow. It is also getting cold. We check one good hotel, Hotel Kailasa, which is expensive at Rs.1500 and one passable place where we don’t bargain much and settle at Rs.450 for two beds. That definitely is an atrocious price to pay for an ordinary room. I spot quite a few notices in Kannada. Just like Belur and Halebid attract a lot of Tamil tourists, I guess Ajanta and Ellora attract quite a few Kannada ones. Also, this being the half-yearly holidays of the school kids, there was one big gang in 2 buses from Gujarat. Even before we have seen anything, I start getting a cold and a headache. We pick my favourite pill DCold at the in-demand chemist in the Ellora village. We decide that we’ll have decent food at the Kailas restaurant which has a few white faces too. Hotel Kailas has to be the most convenient place to see the caves, which are a few metres away.

We start by 6am early in the morning. The Ellora caves open at 6.30am, which makes it an ideal place to start your day with. Also, they certainly are worth more time to spend than the Ajanta caves, say half a day or more if you don’t want to miss anything. We are the first to check with the gatekeepers, who ask us to come after a tea and 5 minutes as there is little fog yet. But as we have our tea, the school kids party walk in a file and beat us to the entry. The teachers order the kids around and this reminds me of our own school trips. Educational tours are so much fun! There are more kids coming early in the morning from Andhra. We are the first ticket-takers to the biggest temple in the caves, Kailasa temple. As the 34 caves are spread out, we are allowed to take our bikes inside till the very end, i.e., Cave 34.

Ellora caves are distinct for their secular aspect. They have sets of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain caves. The Kailasa temple is Cave 16 and stands right at the entrance to the World Heritage site. We start with caves to the other side of the temple, i.e., 17 and above. We have lots of Nandis just like this one Ellora Cave, Nandi . The kids are curious and keep peeking at our sleek digicams. We wait for the crowd to disperse. These kids stop soon at Cave 23 or 24 and are ordered back by their teachers. We continue further when we see a strip of water fall into a pond. Later, a guide book tells us it is the famed Ellora waterfall Ellora waterfall. Both of us walk by the dangerous cliff up thorough the cute stairs to Cave 29. Cave 29 is definitely worth the walk. It’s got the best pillars and the figurines we have seen so far. We see that we could have taken our bikes to this place, but the road is a little long and so we walk back along the picturesque rocks. Our next stop is the biggest attraction here, Kailasa temple.

As expected, all the structures are preserved very well in this temple, thus deserving the entry fee they charge only for this separately. Also, most of the tourists prefer to stop here and not visit most of the other caves as it involves a walk. Those who have their cars can take them to caves 29 and 34 also. The Kailasa temple needs at least an hour to explore properly. But we have 3 hours for the whole of the caves and so we just rush to the first floor and through the prakaram(walkway?) on the ground floor. We spot this beauty on rock, the story of the Mahabharatha Mahabharatha. That’s our last delight in the temple. We aim at seeing the lesser numbered caves too and the Jain caves which are beyond 29.

We check with the security guard and find out that Caves 10 and 12 are the ones not to be missed out. We start with Cave 10 and explore the big Buddha statue inside a stupa. We glimpse at the Hindu caves 9 and less and decide that we have no time for it. Next we see Cave 12, Teen Taal Teen Taal. It is quite spectacular. The top floor is serene and is good if you want to spend a quiet moment away from the crowds, who don’t seem to spend much time in the Buddhist caves.

Our last stop at Ellora is the Jain set of caves, 33 and 34. We take our bikes out here, which is a little far from 16. These caves are also delightfully carved, the stand-out example being this statue under the peacock , the description of which I overheard it from a guide and then realised the presence of the peacock feather. The gullible Anupam had bought an Ellora picture book, but at a bargain price of 20 though the printed price said 55. We could always refer to it if we needed any info or we should be able to get more info on the net. One more cave later, which is full of the Jain tirthankaras, we conclude our Ellora visit. What an amazing treat for the good year we had!

PS: Some more pictures on flickr.

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Categories: Indore getaway, Travel
  1. 6 January 2007 at 11:27 am

    Nice writeup da… enjoyed reading it…

  2. 6 January 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Govar,

    Thanks machi! You missed seeing it when you were here 🙂

  3. sk
    7 January 2007 at 7:40 am

    Hey Sparkie, Nice account :–)
    Been there when I was barely 10 yrs old, indha photos la irukakra places paatha madhirye illa :–(

    Pics are good. We always enjoy the places when we know the history of the place la? :–)

  4. 7 January 2007 at 10:40 am

    sk, 10 years la enna paarthiruppe? everything must have gone over your head! yes. when we know the history, it looks refreshing to see the place. if only we had some free guides in all these places, how nice it would be! i chose the best pics in my opinion to be put here.

  5. 27 July 2012 at 3:21 am

    Nice posting to know more about indore…….:)

  1. 18 January 2007 at 8:08 am

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