It’s been more than a month since I came back from my trip to Ellora caves, and I’m still at a loss for words to write about my impressions. Admiration and deep aesthetic pleasure came as no surprise, but there was something more to this place – the concentrated dose of beauty allowed me to recharge my emotional batteries in no time, and the effect was very refreshing and long-lasting.
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How to get to Ellora Caves?
The journey was very easy – a night train took me from Mumbai to Aurangabad in less than 8 hours. The distance from the Aurangabad train station to the bus stand is merely 2 km, so it takes just a few minutes to get there by a rickshaw. Then I simply asked which local bus would reach me to Ellora Caves and people kindly pointed it out. The ticket cost Rs 32 (around $ 0.5) and the whole bus journey takes no more than 40 minutes. As I came just after the monsoon, the suburbs of Aurangabad were very green and scenic, and I just rested my eyes on beautiful landscapes.
Ellora Caves opening hours
The complex is open from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. One thing to remember for those who are going to visit this place – on Tuesdays the caves are closed. So, by 9.00 there I was in front of the entrance, with the guys starting to approach me with their oh-so-predictable “come to see my shop” 🙂 I promised to see the shops afterwards (unless I’m in no condition to do so after all the sightseeing 🙂 ) and had a quick snack instead.
Ellora caves entry fee
The ticket price is Rs 30 for Indian visitors and Rs 500 for foreigners. I’m a PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card holder, so I’m supposed to pay “Indian” prices. However, it often happens that people have no idea what a PIO card stands for and why I refuse to pay “foreign” prices. The guy at the counter kept asking for some “other identity proof”, talking to his superiors by phone, showing my card to his colleagues and so on. Kind of unfair after all the troubles I went through to get this document. Anyway, finally they let me go, and as soon as I saw the intricate entrance to one of the caves, this unpleasant episode instantly evaporated from my memory.
Ellora Caves quick facts
~ The Ellora Caves are a complex of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain rock-cut temples created between the 5th and 10th centuries.
~ It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Sight and one of the most visited historic places in Maharashtra.
~ The Kailas temple, officially known as Cave 16, is the biggest monolithic rock-cut structure in the world, and its size is twice as large as the Parthenon in Athens.
~ 34 caves out of 100 are open to public – 12 Buddhist caves (1-12), 17 Hindu Caves (13-29) and 5 Jain Caves (30-34).
Suggested read: Visiting the stupendous Ajanta Caves
Ellora Caves in photos
I’ve started from the most spectacular cave 16, and the spendour of the Kailas temple was hard to describe. The unique structure wasn’t built, but carved from the basaltic rock. More than 200.000 tonnes of the hard rock were removed before they shaped the temple covered in sculptures.
Other Hindu caves were rather interesting too. By the way, they were excavated on different levels, so be ready for a lot of climbing 🙂
Here is goddess Ganga at the entrance of Ellora Cave 21.
And here are some other examples of great stonework from the Hindu caves:
Buddhist monuments, like in many other rock-cut complexes of Maharashtra, consist of viharas (praying halls), living quarters, kitchens and so on. Here are a few few glimpses at the Buddhist caves of Ellora:
Jain monuments are the farthest set of caves and most visitors reach there by bus. If you get tired and feel tempted to skip the Jain caves after visiting all the Hindu and Buddhist monuments, I wouldn’t recommend doing so – their pillars with stone carvings are simply breathtaking.
And not only pillars:
By the way, when I reached the Jain complex of Ellora caves, there was this little fellow, making a hell of a noise and behaving in the most unfriendly manner 🙂
Traveling in the end of the monsoon was the most rewarding – the occasional rains didn’t ruin the experience, and the lush greenery was a feast for the eyes.
Seasonal streams and waterfalls add a lot of charm to the place 🙂
All in all, visiting Ellora Caves was fantastic, and I was not ready for what I’ve seen. The beauty of this place knocked me down. No trip report or photo essay would do it justice, so the only way to experience the magnetic power of these ancient stones is to actually go there 🙂
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