It had been long since we had a family trip..it always being difficult to find a suitable time..since my younger sis is still in college. So, after we had her exam timetable all our leaves were planned and we were going on a family trip..:)
First plan was Goa. Everything was planned out, but just before the bookings were made a friend of Dad's called up and incidentally he was in Goa and informed us that it has started raining in Goa. This made us cancel plans for Goa, since we didnt want to stay in the resort but have fun outside..and on the beach. So Goa cancelled, everyones upbeat enthusiasm was out..everyone was ragged. Just then Dad suggested Aurangabad, and we were like..okay we have our leaves..we dont want to cancel them... lets go...and we certainly did enjoy our stay at the city of caves!
We started on 5th at around 6am. The roads were clear, but we passed quite a few villages on the way and villagers dont really give a damn to vehicles even if they are yelling their lungs out. Then again some roads under construction posed as speedbreakers. We reached our place at around 10am. Asked for our rooms and the brilliant receptionist had made some error noting down details and hence he had to pay for it by letting us stay in the Deluxe rooms for half the price..:D The rooms were clean comfortable and the service good. We kept our stuff in our rooms had breakfast and started out. Our first day at Aurangabad had begun. We firsts topped at Daulatabad. Its a huge fort built by Bhilama, the king of the Yadav Dynasty. It was named Daulatabad by Mohammed Bin Tughlaq. It has a couple of inbuilt traps to defeat the opponents, one being the very famous 'bhul bhulaiiya' a dark passage which misleads the enemy to an opening that falls into a moat below with crocodiles. The moat is so steep that even the reptiles cannot climb out. If the enemy crossed this andheri gufa he could then move to the kings quarters, which was highly unlikely. What architecture and planning..kudos! We were climbing and exploring this fort all in the 12pm heat! We were almost dead by the time we walked back to the vehicle. We could hardly feel our legs. We then moved to ellora and the liitle memories I had about ellora told me that the caves were mostly incomplete and I assured everyone that we could easily see those caves.
Thus we started for Ellora. Started with cave16 called the kailasha, and it was a huge one. Huge stone carvings. The one that impressed me was the one with the entire mahabharata.
This cave was double storeyed and when we tried climbing the steep steps we suddenly felt we cannot carry our own weight. All the caves are really far from each other. All of them had a couple of steep steps leading to it..and we kept moving on..telling each other..that its going to be worth it. But most of the caves are unfinished and not even well kept. Most of them had similar carvings and sculptures and after some time we decided to skip them and check out only the ones mentioned as 'worth a look'. We did move on from cave 16 to cave 1 though..looking at each of them :). After that was over we walked back and had some coolers. We were more than happy to know that caves 17 to 34 were a long distance away, but we could take our vehicle till there. Man it was a relief! We saw all the caves and it was around 4pm. We had skipped lunch but none of us were hungry. We were just plain thirsty. We had consumed all the water we had carried but were still thirsty. There was a mandir almost half a kilometer from ellora. We drove till there, but on seeing that there steps to reach there we quit the idea..:) We then went o Panchakki which is an ingenious watermill that uses water generated enrgy to grind the grains. The place is not at all well maintained and definitely not worth the entry ticket! We inquired and found out that Bibi ka Muqbara was a place to be visited in the evening, and since it was very close from Panchakki and it was close to 6L30pm we decided to go there. Again not maintained and not worth the entry ticket. There are no lights and I couldnt find any reason to be there specifically in the evening. It is suuposed to be exactly like the Taj Mahal but it lacks the lustre.
We left for our hotel at around 8pm. We were so sure we knew the way back since it was just a couple of lefts and rights and the rest of the way we had moved straight..:P We got lost..we were moving around in circles much like the bhul bhullaiya at Daulatabad only that there was no one throwing hot oil or sulphurous gas at us..:P We only knew a petrol pump that was close to the place we had to reach. We asked around only to discover that there are a couple of branches of that petrol pump..:) We took one direction...moved a liitle ahead and asked someone else. We finally did reach our place and the first thing we did was..note down the street name and the complete address..:D But the people were rather helpful in giving directions unlike punekars. But only regrets all MH-20s drive rash...even rasher than puneites! All MH-20s are rude and dont have manners and etiquettes are difficult to find..forget sophistication!
Anyway, after a tiring day we were back at the hotel. Freshened up but had no energy to even go to the resto and have dinner. We ordered stuff in the room itself and enjoyed an okish meal. We decided to postpone plans for Ajanta to Sunday since we were dead and our legs could not carry us..they were aching! We played a game of UNO and relived the old days. It had been ages since we played UNO together..:) We slept off by 1am.
Plans for Saturday were shopping..something I love..:D We started at around 11am and roamed around (this time making a note about where we turned etc etc..just so that we dont get lost..:) We could not really find much but a big bazaar and decided to stop by. Bought a couple of things and moved on. We decided to go the famous silk and himroo centres where we actually shopped till we dropped..(remember our legs were broken..:) We then went to the Pariyon ka talaab..which is nowhere close to being a place for fairies..! Dirty, no access and covered in moss..is the lake which is supposed to cleanse you of sins if you bathe in it! We started back and had lunch on the way at around 5pm. Had sugarcane juice where a bull did the 'pressing the canes'. Moved on and this time we didnt get lost. Reached our rooms at 8pm and moved out for dinner. The food was okish but was too spicy for moderate spice...! Reached our rooms at 11pm and were told that rooms according to our specifications had been arranged and that we were to shift. Well we didnt really mind shifting as most of our things were always well packed. We shifted and were almost settled...till we found that our room door could not be opened from outside once its locked! This really got us irritated and we made a hell lot of noise as the receptionist in this shift was not at all amiable. He showed us much more attitude than we could take. We took his case and felt satisfied. Didnt i tell you MH-20s are crazy and rude! Anyway the matter was settled next day and our anger too..:)
Sunday we left early at 8am for Ajanta. It had rained the previous day and we were a liitle worried if we could visit ajanta if it rained heavily. But thankfully it rained only light enough to make the weather pleasant. It is quite a distance away. We stopped for breakfast at a place on the way. It was the best meal I had had in aurangabad. Sophisticated, yummy..and service good too. We then moved on and reached Ajanta by 10:45am. Ajanta I must say is well maintained. The approach roads are also well kept. Ajanta unlike Ellora doesnt have much climbing, but this time we were all prepared with Glucon-D for energy..:D
Caves here at more paintings than carvings. Most of the caves were complete. The paintings were well conserved with dim light. Also there was enough security and guides to explain stuff. There were arrangements for restrooms and drinking water too. Cave 10 here is considered as the first cave as it was firsts spotted by a Nizam, from view point, who initiated the excavation. This cave was two storeyed, the first floor being filled with water and the second with mud. Hence the paintings and colors on the second floor are visible. The pillars were carved such that on hitting them with your fist they produced sounds of musical instruments. Impressive!
Walls of some caves had lava material which is an attractive observation for geological students. There were students in plenty taking notes and measurements and observations. The 19th cave had very pretty paintings one of which gave the ceiling a shamiana effect even though it was painted on a plain surface. Since the paintings were made in water colors I cannot fathom how a painting of a necklace can shine like diamonds when light falls on it. All the fashion fundae we use now were well imagined even in 17A.D. All the caves here had a huge sculpture of Buddha in meditation, seated on a lion throne and with heavenly angels hovering round him.
We started walking back at around 3pm. It was cloudy and it drizzled a little making it quite easy and less strenuous for us. We reached aurangabad by 6:30pm and since we had time we decided to catch a movie in the only multiplex we spotted. It was fame. We saw 'Mi Shivaji raje Bhosle boltoy'. We decided to catch a meal before the movie. Again we were disappointed with the food, but the only consoling factor was that the chapatis were soft and hot..:) A good movie with impressive acting and dialogue delivery. We reached our rooms that day by 11pm. Freshened up had a cool glass of frooti and played cards again..:) Slept off by 12am.
The 8th of June we left early by 8am. We checked out of the hotel..pushed in our luggage and started back. On the way we were to go to Paithan which has the famous Dnyaneshwar Vatika made on the lines of the Vrindavan gardens in Mysore. There is a way to reach Paithan from within Aurangabad but we thought it would be better to take the one from the highway. The approach road from the highway was completely spoilt. The bad strecth was only a little 3kms! It was unbearable and we were sure our car cannot take it. We decided to take a u-turn and use the road from with =in Aurangabad. On the way we made inquiries only yo learn that the garden is worth a look in the evening after 7pm with all the lighings. Since Dad wouldnt drive in the night we decided of staying over for a day in paithan. Wow...last minute plans..:) We reached Paithan and on the way decided to visit the Jayakwadi dam. It was huge..build on the river Godavari. The dam is 11kms long. You stand there and you cannot see land for as far as your eyes go. It felt nice...and scary at the same time! The Dnyaneshwar vatika was very close from the dam, so we decided to take a look. Luckily it was open and we thought lets have a look. The light show is only for 15 minutes in the evenings and certainly it didnt feel like..we should wait for it. The garden is not at all well maintained. Forget the plants that are dry...it is a stinking area. The water is green and filled with plastic bags and empty cans and what not. It is definitely huge but not worth it. If only they could use the income from the entry tickets to keep the garden clean! It was a huge disappointment and we were happy we didnt stay back for this waste of a garden..to be called the replica of the Vrindavan Gardens! We started back for Pune by 2pm. We were not hungry but weary..and just wanted to get home. We stopped on the way for a little khana around 5pm. Ordered some noodles..but it was a disater! When can we have good food Ohh Great Lord!!
We drove on and after entering wagholi..felt we're back..to MH-12..:D
Reached home by 8pm...and was fresh as ever...An amazing vacation...each and every moment of which was memorable! We should plan more such outings..:)