Hey Guys! ♥
First of all, I am terribly sorry for the long delay in new posts. The last few weeks were really busy, work was piling up and we had two different trips in the last four weeks alone!
In early June, almost all of Batch 18 visited the Ajanta and Ellora caves near Aurangabad, Maharashtra. The Ellora caves include 34 Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples and monasteries, while the Ajanta caves consist of 30 Buddhist caves. What makes both the Ajanta and Ellora caves so special is that all the temples, prayer rooms and monasteries you see there were cut straight out of the surrounding rock! The Ajanta caves were constructed between the 2nd century BC to about 650 AD, while the Ellora caves where constructed between the 5th and 10th century AD. Nowadays, both the Ajanta and the Ellora caves are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Walking through these temples, knowing how old they are and much work it was to build them was truly impressive. For many of the local tourists, the main attraction was something different though: US! once again, us foreigners were at the center of attention. I usually don’t mind this very much, and generally say yes when people ask if they can take a picture with us, but at Ellora it was actually quite annoying. The second we got out of our cabs, there were dozens of Indians surrounding us and taking pictures without asking first, and even when we made it clear that we wanted to be left alone to enjoy the caves, they didn’t stop. In the caves this got out of hand so much that even our tour guide had to shush the locals away because it was impossible for him to give us the tour without being interrupted. For the most part I really love living in India, and I usually don’t mind the staring (which has become a normal part of every day life by now), but when you’re crowded by dozens of people who obviously don’t care if you’re uncomfortable and just see you as a funny photo-op to show to family and friends, it’s really too much. Additionally, I was feeling a bit sick and tired at some point just wanted to sit down, drink some water and relax, but within seconds I was again surrounded by people taking pictures of/with me or trying to sell me some junk. Thankfully, this really was an exception, and usually people are a lot nicer 🙂
Anyway, here are some pictures to give you an impression of the caves, unfortunately my camera is not the best so I had to find some public domain pictures as well 🙂
Our guide really knew a lot about the history of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain caves, but I have to admit, most of it I’ve already forgotten again. What I do remember though are the very elaborate Kama Sutra carvings in one of the caves and our guide’s detailed explanation of the importance of the Kama Sutra (quote: “The Sex is important!”). Only for spiritual reasons, of course! Unfortunately, Marina and I didn’t manage to get a copy of the Kama Sutra there, so our spiritual journeys will have to be postponed a bit.
After visiting the Ellora caves, we took a quick detour to visit the Bibi Ka Maqbara, also known as the Mini Taj Mahal 🙂 The Bibi Ka Maqbara is a mausoleum which closely resembles the bigger and more famous Taj Mahal, as you can see in the pictures below.
I do have to admit though, one of the best parts of this trip was definitely the hotel we stayed in 🙂 The lemontree in Aurangabad did not only offer comfortable rooms, delicious foods, and a large swimming pool, but also a Spa Marina, Steff and I couldn’t resist 🙂
Last weekend then, some of us decided to go on another weekend trip to Hampi, a small village in northern Karnataka. Hampi is known for its temple ruins, which are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Group of Monuments at Hampi. There is not much to say about this trip, since it was mostly just about relaxing on the hammocks in front of our shacks, taking the scooter to explore the surrounding areas and a Rickshaw tour to all the important temples on the last day. In a lot of ways, Hampi is a lot like Goa, as it also is considered some kind of Hippie hotspot, with many small cafes and restaurants, lots of European or Western tourists and generally just a very laid back and relaxed atmosphere. Rachel Jones of Hippie in Heels described Hampi as a “mix of Jurassic Park and The Flintstones”, and once you’ve seen the giant, prehistoric rock formations surrounding the tiny, rural village of Hampi, you will understand why.
The main attraction of Hampi is probably Lakshmi, the temple elephant of Lakshmi Temple and the only temple elephant in Hampi. Every morning at around 8.30, Lakshmi takes a bath in the river, and if you’re up early, you can watch her during her morning routine 🙂 Even better, if you decide to visit Lakshmi Temple afterward, you can even receive Lakshmi’s blessing (for a small donation of 10 rupees, which you will handover to herself as she grabs it with her trunk).
Unfortunately, I fear that for at least some of us Lakshmi’s blessing might have been more of a curse. Sunday evening, four us were planning to go back to Pune (and back to work), while the other four would continue traveling in pairs of two. When we arrived at the bus station in Hospet where the sleeper bus was supposed to bring us back home 40 minutes early, we decided to go ask the travel agency if they already knew of any delays or if the bus was on time, so that we might go and check out some place to have dinner. Well, thank God we asked, cause as it turned out our bus was cancelled and the only other bus to Pune that night had left just 15 minutes before our arrival o.O we got slighlty panick-y at the prospect of not being able to leave Hampi that night, contacted our internship coordinator, searched for the nearest flights, and even considered just renting a car and driving ourselves back home. After some time and with the help of the travel agency, we agreed that we would take a cab (which was coincidentally already
waiting standing in front of the travel agency when we arrived) for 3 1/2 hrs to Hubli and then get a semi-sleeper from there to Pune. In the end, that worked out surprisingly well, and since we’ll get a refund for our original sleeper bus ticket we’ve only “lost” about 150 rupees. As they say in Hampi, don’t worry, be Hampi 😉 Still, I never want to take a semi-sleeper again! Compared to the luxury of the sleeper busses, sitting more or less upright for 5 or 6 hours in a crowded bus is just terrible. The next morning in Pune, a few rickshaw drivers tried to scam us, knowing that we were in desperate need for a ride and Uber or Ola wouldn’t work that early in the morning, but sometime between 6 and 7 am I finally arrived at my apartment and was very glad that I had taken Monday off, unlike the others 😉
So, that’s pretty much it from me 🙂
See you soon! ✿✿✿