Saturday, June 28, 2008

Finally made it! (Aurangabad, Ellora, Ajanta)

Well. I really wasn't sure if I was going to make it to Aurangabad. I wanted to go to visit the World Heritage sites of the Ellora and Ajanta Caves in the region. I originally made plans to go to Aurangabad with someone... and then he came down with jaundice. Then I made plans to go to Aurangabad with someone else... and then we were at the bus station, had purchased our tickets, when he had received a call saying that he had to be at his office early the next morning... so we didn't go. And then we made plans to go the following weekend, and then news comes that he has to attend a funeral! He really wanted to go to Aurangabad, and we made tentative plans around the schedule of the funeral, but instead I ended up going with his friend Anand and Anand's friend.

Anand and friend were in Mumbai, and I was still in Pune, so to make it easier on myself so I wouldn't have to travel to Aurangabad by myself and be lost there, I decided to take the trip back to Mumbai to meet them there.

They are working people, so it was going to be a weekend trip for them. I met them Friday evening, and we headed to the bus stand to catch the 10pm overnight bus to Aurangabad. Mumbai to Aurangabad by bus I believe was around a 10 hour ride. Surprisingly, I got a decent amount of rest! It wasn't a sleeper, but the seats reclined back pretty far. Initially it was hot since it was non-AC, but once we got going, the breeze from the windows helped.

So we got to Aurangabad early Saturday morning, and we hopped off the bus. I gave Ranjeet a call so he could give us guidance in the city, and he came and picked us up. He then took us to his guest house so we could drop off our stuff, which is where we stayed.

After that, he took us for a little drive around Aurangabad. He had a friend who sold electric motorcycles and suggested that I try driving one. Okay, I had never driven a motorcycle and I was like, sure let me try. WELL! I definitely could not handle it! Even going a short distance was a wee bit of a challenge for me. So, I most likely will not be attempting to drive a motorcycle for quite awhile. haha. Following that, Ranjeet took us to show us around his furniture plant. It kinda turned into a business meeting between Ranjeet and Anand... kinda funny. On the bright side, I learned the meaning of "acha," as Anand was constantly using the term! haha. (It means good, okay, well, etc.)

Anyway, after that Anand arranged a car (and chauffeur) to drive us out to the Ellora Caves, about 30 km from Aurangabad. There were 34 caves which were all carvings, and were split up, so you first walked around and saw one group of the caves, and then went around to the other side to see the rest.

Following the Ellora Caves, we went back to Aurangabad to visit the Bibi-ka Maqbara aka the Taj Mahal replica aka the poor man's Taj. Then we met up with Ranjeet again for dinner.
On Sunday, we drove out to the Ajanta Caves, about 100 km from Aurangabad. These caves had a different set up than the Ellora Caves, and there were lots of steps and ramps. (Yay! Me like!) So it was a slight work out getting to see the caves. These caves were not only carvings, but lots of paintings as well.
We headed back to Aurangabad and made our way to the market area. We also went in search of an internet cafe to see if I would be able to find a train ticket to Bangalore. (I was! Anand was actually surprised, he thought it'd be sold out.)

We then headed back to the guest house to grab our belongings, then headed for a quick bite, and then on to catch an overnight bus back to Mumbai. The ride wasn't so bad, as it was a sleeper bus!

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