An hours flight from Mumbai, Aurangabad
is the most convenient point for visiting the world
famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves. The city, which itself
was the last bastion of the famous Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb,
boasts of many architectural marvels of that era.In
Aurangabad one can visit the Dargah of Baba Shah Muzaffar
who was the spiritual guide of Emperor Aurangzeb. The
Dargah has a mosque, a Madrasa (school for religious
learning), a Kacheri (courtroom), Zenanas (Muslim ladies
apartments) and Sarai (motel). The tomb is a plain edifice
of red periphery surrounded by a screen of cusped arches.
There are numerous fountains and tanks supplied by a
Pan Chakki (water mill).
In the Southwest corner of the mosque is the tomb of
a saint in beautiful marble. Here one can also visit
the famous Bibi-ka-Maqbara which was intended to rival
the Taj Mahal. Although the structure and form may lack
the spiritual conviction and brilliance of the Taj,
much of the applied surface ornament is distinguished;
a testament to the continuing skill of the craftsmen
after the spirit of the art had passed its climax.
This World heritage site is celebrated for its successive
groups of Buddhist, Hindu & Jain rock-cut cave temples.
The monuments at Ellora (closed on Tuesday), located
at a distance of 30 kms, represent the last phase in
the evolution of rock cut architecture and are remarkable
for large-scale sculptural compositions and the range
of iconographic themes. There are 12 Buddhist cave temples
built between the 07th and 08th centuries, 17 Hindu
caves temples built between 06th and 09th century and
5 Jain cave temples built in the 09th century. Cave
16 is one of the most famous and has Lord Shiva sculpted
on the rocks – the largest monolith in the world,
said to have taken 7,000 labourers, working in continuous
shifts, 150 years to build. The other popular cave is
No.32, a shrine within contain the seated Lord Mahavir,
last of the 24 Tirthankars of Jainism. The Lotus design
details on the columns are the finest examples of this
craftsmanship of Ellora complex.
Excursion to Ajanta caves (closed on Monday), located
at a distance of 100 kms, is known for remarkably
well preserved sculptures and paintings. The cave
temples at Ajanta provide the most complete illustration
of early Buddhist traditions in India. The cave
temples are cut into the rocky sides of a dramatic
crescent shaped gorge, at the head of which is a
natural pool-fed by a waterfall. The caves at Ajanta
are fine examples of rock cut halls and monasteries.
They contain an impressive array of sculptures:
principal images, accessory figures, narrative episodes
and an elaborate repertory of decorative motifs.
Here one can find 29 caves built between the 1st
and 5th centuries.