This trip happened as one of my friend’s travel companion had ditched her twice for this trip and she had to cancel the trip / all bookings twice. One fine day when we were talking, I asked her to plan a trip to Ajanta Ellora caves and she promptly agreed. We finalized our itinerary and dates. We planned a 2 weeks trips trip to Maharastra and Ajanta Ellora Caves were an important part of it.
We took an afternoon flight for Aurangabad. It is the closest to Ajanta Ellora caves and lonar crater
Next day morning after breakfast we went to the bus station. The inquiry counter guy told us that for lonar we will get a bus from another bus depot because it is an inter-district travel. We reached the other bus station and after half an hour we got our bus. The bus dropped us at the bus stop for Lonar and we took an autorickshaw to reach the exact Lonar, which was 10 minutes from bus stand. The Lonar Crater Lake is approximately 160 km from Aurangabad. It was created by the impact of a meteor at 90,000 km per hour, 52,000 years ago – mind boggling isn’t it.
The weather was pleasant as it was the end of monsoon but it was drizzling in between. We went to temples built around the lake created due to impact. The local people were praying and some were bathing in running water in the temple compound. To reach the base of water body of the crater, we had to climb down a steep stairway. After spending some time there and clicking pictures we returned back to the bus stop and had a quick bite from a local shop.
On our second day, we planned to visit close by places and booked the taxi for the day. We started withDaultabad fort, which is 11kms from Aurangabad. Fort is considered to be most formidable hill fort in India. It is situated on a hill rising 190 meters abruptly from the plain. We had walked a lot to see the different places inside fort complex. Main places inside the fort are Chand Minar, the Chini Mahal and the Baradari. Inside the fort, I saw an interesting tunnel. It was built to misguide the enemies and to kill them in confusion. There was pitch dark inside the tunnel as it was made with strange turns. We had lost our way in it if we went alone. Moreover, there were bats in the tunnel. Don’t go alone inside.
This fort is associated with Muhammed-bin-Tughluq, who transferred the entire population of Delhi to Daulatabad : -O
Next, we went toGrishneshwar Jyotirlinga, which is one of the 12 Jyotirlings and considered one of the holiest places in India. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva and big lingam is situated in the main sanctum.
From here we went to Ellora Caves, which was our most important place to see for the day. There are Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain caves, these were crafted by hand using only a hammer and chisel- amazing!! The unparalleled centerpiece of Ellora is the Kailashnatha carved out of a single rock. There are 100 caves but out of these only 34 caves are open for public. These caves are UNESCO’s world heritage sites. We spent 4 hours exploring the caves.
We had freshened up and had our dinner before taking the midnight train to Pune for our next leg of the journey.
Aurangabad is good to shop Bidriware souvenirs and a Paithani saree though I didn’t buy anything 😉
How to reach –
Aurangabad is well connected by direct trains from all major metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune etc.
It is very well connected by road to all major cities in Maharastra.
There is an airport in Aurangabad, which is 15 km from the city and there are direct flights from all metro cities.
How to travel to Ajanta Ellora Caves –
Ajanta Ellora caves are easily accessible from Aurangabad and Jalgaon but it’s advisable to make Aurangabad your base as you will get better hotel options.
Ajanta caves are 90 km from Aurangabad and have good bus connectivity. Or Taxi’s one can hire a taxi for the full day.
Ellora caves are 30 km from Aurangabad and have good bus connectivity but if you are planning to visit more places like me than it is advisable to hire a taxi for a full day for faster travel.
Things to remember –
Wear comfortable shoes as you have to walk a lot up and down on old slippery stairs.
At Ajanta caves, tickets counter don’t forget to buy a light ticket because in cave 1,2, 16 & 17 you can’t see without the help of guide’s light. It cost only 5 Rs.
Flash is not allowed inside the caves, so be prepared to click without flash.
Carry enough water with you when you go inside the cave complex because it gets very hot during the day.
There are no major big restaurants but you can eat at MTDC’s restaurants. They provide simple hygienic food. Other than this there are food stalls outside near the road.