Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ellora and Daulautabad, Maharashtra, India

That night we went to Aurangabad, which is close to another set of ancient cave temples. We headed out in the morning to the Ellora Caves. Here there are three sections: more Buddhist Temples, a few Jainist and the very impressive Hindu caves. The centerpiece of which is the Kailasa temple. We managed to mostly avoid the big tour groups, though at one point Bree and I were swarmed by school kids wanting handshakes. 

We reached our cave temple saturation point and headed to Daulatabad, a sprawling fort that peaks with a citadel atop a massive rock outcropping. 

The fort was so coveted that after it was seized in the 1300s by Tughlak, the sultan of Delhi, he marched all the residents of Delhi to their new home in Daulatabad. However after a short time, water shortages changed the mind of the sultan, to which he order all the residents to return to Delhi. 

As we made our way towards the citadel, we passed several crumbling walls, a murky moat, and were faced with a narrow dark tunnel leading up. The design of the tunnel was said to have been so disorienting to any intruders that some would have taken their own lives after getting lost in the tunnels. In the tunnels were channels carved for smokescreens and hot oil to be poured. Now it's just a dark tunnel filled with bats and the nearly overwhelming stench of bat urine. Still almost enough to made you go crazy. Once through the tunnel, there wasn't much more to see but the view back down onto the rest of the fort was worth the trek up. 

We then got dinner in town. More veg Thalis. A thali is a set meal where you get a small amount of several dishes. They are usually pretty cheap and always very filling. From there we walked over to the train station. Next stop: Mumbai.

- Matt