Since my childhood I had a fascination towards the magical powers of the Zen monks or Priests to whom I use to see on Television. As a kid, my understanding was limited only to the level that these powerful monks live very far on the uphill mountains covered with green carpets, surrounded by beautiful streams and one needs to cross many jungles and difficult paths to reach up to them. I always use to wonder about their cool magical gadgets and the virtue of power, patience and their principles about life. And my memories rejuvenated when I visited the caves from Ellora located in the state of Maharashtra, near Aurangabad.
To me, this place appeared like a huge rock city carved out of the hill that was reciting the glory of primeval age! For a moment, I decided to forget about the concrete jungle and dive into the time 600 AD. An offline world nestled into the nature, filled with enough of oxygen to recharge your every body cell, the hymn of birds to soothe your senses, the bright sun rays welcoming you on the planet, the vibrant colored butterflies playing around the woods and the flowers…The paradise on the earth… Even the thought was so refreshing.
I was very curious to see these high skilled carvings and made my way towards the ticket counter. Though Ellora has many caves, only 34 caves have remained in good condition, which exemplify three religions prevalent at the time- Buddhism (cave from 1 to 12), Hinduism (cave from 13 to 29) and Jainism (cave from 30 to 34).
As I approached near the caves, I could sense the secrecy of the Ellora. Each cave is mystifying with respect to other cave and represents the superb architectural elements from 600 AD to 9th century era. More I explored these caves more I was allured by the beauty of this place and it was evident why this place stands amongst the World heritage site – one of the invaluable treasures that can only be experienced. All the monks who lived here have definitely left behind their impeccable impression in each of these caves. And to get the insights, I have listed out the 7 best caves to see in Ellora.
Cave#10: Also known as The Vishwakarma Cave. It has huge stupa and a giant figure of Buddha around 15 foot in a preaching pose! The serene expressions on His face and the large Bodhi tree fill up the cave with positivity.
Cave#11 &12: These caves are large and have three storey structures and represent the peak of the earlier style at Ellora. Along with huge Buddha figures you will notice large meditation halls and the spiritual feeling you get is simple awesome.
Cave#16: Also known as the Kailas, this cave is the central attraction of the Ellora and the largest of all. It’s a miniature of Mountain Kailas, the home of Lord Shiva. People come to see this cave with lot of gratitude. The interesting fact about the construction of this cave is that is has been carved from the single piece of rock which includes multi storeyed complex too!! The other feature of this cave is that some parts carry erotic figures similar to that of Khajuraho.
Cave 21: Also known as the Ramesvara. It is one of the oldest caves and includes beautiful figures of river goddesses, guardians in couple and lord Shiva lingam. Every figure is so proportionate which makes you to admire the skills of the artists.
Cave#29: Two lions flanked on either side of the entrance welcome you wide open. It has many scenes from the life of Shiva Parvati including their marriage ceremony. The chiseler has captured the subtle difference between blushing of the newly wed couple, the joy on the faces of kids while troubling Ravana, the happy Gods n Goddesses. This cave turned out to be my favorite cave.
Cave#32: Also known as Indra Sabha (assembly hall of God Indra, the king of Gods). It has some decorative pillars and famous for its lotus medallion and represents the 23rd and 24th Tirthankaras (Parasnath and Mahavira respectively) of the Jain religion.
These caves have truly stood the test of time and epitomize the great Indian architecture attributed to the immense dedication, hard work, devotion and sincerity of the workers, which have been spilled out of each carving! The place is peaceful and you start to connect with your mind and sou; probably understanding the existence of our own.
Tourist practicalities and tips:
- Ticket fees: INR -10/- Indians, INR-250/- Foreigners
- Visit time: sunrise to sunset, closed on Monday
- You can drive your vehicle to each of these groups rather than parking it at the ticket counter
- Carry torch and water bottle with you
- Wear comfortable footwear’s
- Cave#16 is the largest one so cover it first
- Food stalls and washrooms are available
- Nearest Airport/Railway station _ Aurangabad (32 km)
- Nearest cities _ Pune (258 km), Mumbai (340Km)
- Prefer to stay in Aurangabad or Hotel Kailas at Ellora (but I found it bit over prized)
- Nearby Attractions: Ajanta/ Ghrishneshwar temple / Paithan / Daulatabad Fort
Have you ever been to Ellora? Please share your thoughts or comments below! I would love to hear from you…