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India: Ajanta Ellora, Alibaug, Bhandardhara with Ajanta and Ellora, Diveagar, Ganpatipule, Kodaikanal with Madurai & Rameshwaram, Koyna Nagar, Panchmarhi, Raigadh
by Arundhati Kulkarni, India
We had 3 days to share between our family of 7. We hired a Tavera Taxi for Rs 6600 (1US$ = Rs 47 approx.)our tour to Aurangabad region. We left Pune at 5AM and after breakfast at Ahmednagar falling midway we reached Aurangabad at 11AM. We opted to stay at Hotel Regal Plaza, near the railway station. Hotel wasn't luxurious but was spacious. I think it was a deal for Rs 500 per room per night.
Our first stop was Ellora Caves about 30 kms from Aurangabad. Cave nos. 16 and 29 were very impressive. We spent most of our time in Cave no. 16 which is also known as Kailas. This cave has a temple in the middle but there are no statues within. Walking towards Cave no. 29 we crossed a waterfall and a small pond. The view was refreshing. Statues in Cave no. 29 are mostly in full form with very little damage as seen with statues in other caves.
After lunch we visited Ghrushneshwar temple, but unfortunately had to return without getting the opportunity to take the blessings. We didn't have the time to negotiate the long line of devotees.
In the evening we drove to Paithan and visited the Sant Dyaneshwar (famous saint of Maharashtra) Udyan (garden). The garden has taken inspiration from the Vrundawan Gardens of Mysore, Karnataka. Thereafter we visited the Nathsagar dam and Sant Eknath Maharaj Temple.
The next morning we visited Ajanta Caves, situated about 70 kms from Aurangabad. We reached the base at 8:45 AM to catch the eco friendly buses that take you to the foothills of the Caves. It's a good idea to visit early in the morning as the rising sun can be very tiring on you. As also the crowd is less.
The paintings and sculptures in the caves are marvellous. While returning from the caves, we walked over the bridge on the other side and strolled in the forest. It was quite refreshing. That evening we visited Bibi Ka Makbara and Panchakki, two other famous landmarks of Aurangabad.
On the third and our final day of our trip, we visited Daulatabad. The fort has a Bharat Mata Mandir (temple). Jail and a Bhulbhulaiya (maze). These were atop a hill. However, we didn't feel the steep climb - thanks to our engrossment.
Our last leg was a stop in Yeola town known for weaving famous Paithani Saree - a must in a Maharashtrian wedding wardrobe.
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