Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Buddha. . . Buddha!

From Mumbai, we flew to Aurangabad.The city got it's name from  Mughal royalty, Prince Aurangzeb. When Aurnagzeg became emperor he made the city his headquarters and it was an imperial city  from 1682 through 1707. Aurangabad has long since fallen into provincial neglect and it's population lives in hot, dusty, and miserable conditions.

Streets of Aurangabad

Aurangabad's glories are it's nearby Ajanta and Ellora Caves!

The Ajanta Caves, including every interior statue and pillar, are carved into the rock hillside.

One of Thirty-One Rock Cut Caves

The stone artistry dates back to the fifth and sixth centuries. This network of  Buddhist "cave-shrines" is host to countless sitting, standing, and reclining  Buddha statues.

Buddha in All His Glory

Buddha with a Six Pack

Teaching Buddha

Some caves have enormous stupas carved under  arching ceilings.

Stupa with Friends

Stupa with Buddha

All of the cave temples have intricately detailed pillars, painted ceilings and walls.

Intricate Pillars Carved from Top to Bottom

Ceiling Art in Cave No. 2

Ceiling Art from Cave we Forgot Number

Well Preserved Wall Art

Fabulous Black Buddha

As a fellow traveler in one of the caves said, " they simply take your breath away". Without a doubt, the rock carvings and paintings exemplify craftmanship and pure devotion.

On the way back to our hotel we were unexpectedly invited to attend a Hindu wedding. It is the wedding season in India during the months of May and June. We were overcome with the bright colors of a celebration unfolding along the roadside. Upon the inquiry from our driver " would you like to stop and take a closer look?", we answered his question with our question... "why not?".

Celebration Canapy and Gathering of Guests

Proud Papa in Pink

We were invited by the distinguished man in the pink turban. He requested that we join his daughter's wedding. By that time in the day, we had been touring for over 7 hours and temperatures were above 40 degrees centigrade (over 104 degrees F). We graciously declined. Upon reflection, Joan had lingering regret about missing such an event.

The next day we traveled a different road to the  Ellora Caves.

Water Run

The large-scale figure sculptures, and open-air "cave sanctuaries" of the Ellora Caves are the work of the devotees of Hinduism, Jainism and Budhism.

Cave Temple Carved out of the Hillside of Basalt

Detail, Detail, Detail

Shiva the Destroyer

Parvati, Shiva's Wife

The Ellora Caves were distinctively different in their style and energy. The largest complex had an entire Temple of worship carved from the rock. Two large elephants guard the entrance on either side. Sadly, we were caught off guard when the camera ran out of memory space, and next the battery failed. These places of devotion and worship had to be committed to memory. The experience of walking among these amazing places of worship will stay with us forever.


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