Info from my trip to Aurangabad

#1 Mar 18th, 2016, 00:40
Join Date:
Feb 2010
Location:
N/A
Posts:
229
  • madri is offline
#1
I had gone to Pune for a day to meet someone, but I decided to take a short detour to visit nearby Ajanta/Ellora and also evaluate how my leg had healed over the last few months.

Originally I planned on making a triangle by going to Aurangabad for visiting Ellora, then Jalgaon for visiting Ajanta, and finally returning to Pune to catch a train out, but I mixed up my Ajanta/Ellora closure days and ended up making Aurangabad my base for Ajanta/Ellora and continued on to visit Lonar and finally caught a train out of Nagpur.

Overall it was a good trip with some amazing sights that can be reached independently at very low cost. My average across the 5 days not including my transport in or out ended up being just Rs 450. The entrance fees for all sights are very reasonably priced...so reasonable that it was an issue finding the exact change that most demanded.

Ajanta:
Took an overnight train from Pune and arrived in Aurangabad at 5am. Strolled past the touts to check out room prices, but most were expensive. Decided to take a long route towards the bus station and wait for the sun to come up, but along the way I found Maharashtra lodge that had cots for Rs 60 per 24 hours. This 24-bed dorm was surprisingly clean and well maintained. It was mostly filled with people waiting on connecting trains, and day laborers. If you end up here, just make sure to pay early for each day since it gets filled up very easily.

I was told by the locals that the first bus towards Ajanta doesn't start till 8:30 am, so I took a quick nap and then headed off towards the main bus station which is about 3 km from the train station. You can leg it, or take a share auto for Rs 10. The bus journey (Ticket Rs 120) was quite crowded until Sillod (about halfway), after which everybody had a seat of their own. Got off at the T-junction and caught the internal bus to the main entrance. There is an AC bus for Rs 20, and non-AC bus for Rs 15 (runs infrequently) that cover the 4km trip to the main entrance. Total entrance fee for the caves is Rs 20. I decided to walk to the lookout point before the sun got in the way of the pictures. It was nice, but seemed like it would look better during the wet season with some greenery in the background. The second lookout point is a 15-20 min walk uphill and gives a zoomed out view of the previous viewpoint and can be skipped if short on time.

I'm not going to write about the caves themselves, since there is plenty of detailed literature online. Unlike others who consider Ellora to be a must see and Ajanta (the older of the two) to be skippable, I found Ajanta to be just as amazing if not a bit more due to the paintings. These were all Buddhist caves, and had some of the most spectacular and well preserved paintings I had seen in my travels so far. It was also very interesting to see the differences between the old set of caves and new set of caves. A good example are the chaityas #9 (older) and #19 (newer). For the return trip, I tried to flag down buses opposite the T-junction but they wouldn't stop, so I walked to Faradpur town about 1km away and caught it from there.









Aurangabad:
The next day I decided to check out the local sights within Aurangabad. Started my day with a walk to Siddhart park/zoo which is near the bus stand and opens at 9am. Rs 10 gets you into the park, and another Rs 10 gets you into the zoo. The zoo wasn't bad for Indian standards and apart from Tigers, Elephants, Deer, Snakes and Birds, they also had the lone Bear, Porcupine, Wolf, and Hyena. It's a good way to spend a half hour. From here the plan was to go to Bibi Ka Maqbara, but along the way I took detours to check out the gates of the city. I didn't find them to be anything special except a few...maybe knowing more about the history would have helped, but for a clueless traveller it wasn't worth the extra walk. The other place that was enroute was Panchakki (Entrance Rs 5). Just getting there was a hassle with the insane traffic jam at the Mohamad gate right outside, but inside is a nice big banyan tree with a pool in front where it was quiet and peaceful and I got a chance to relax a bit.

Bibi Ka Maqbara (Entrance Rs 5) was a nice stop along the way to check out the Taj like structure. It was mostly empty, and had large grounds to wander around in. The Ambedkar history museum (Entrance Rs 5) had a lot of great artifacts and is worth a visit. The courtyard has a collection of statues of gods/goddesses and the museum itself is opposite a nice park where the students sit and study. Inside, the museum has two main galleries, one with amazing miniature paintings and the other with a collection of artifacts. The halls connecting the two galleries house several weapons, ornaments etc. The Suneri Mahal (Entrance Rs 3) is nearby and worth the short walk. There is one section of arched walls preserved from the old darbar (with what they claim to be original gold paint), and the rest of the place acts as a museuum. The paintings on wood stood out the most for me, but there are also several statues, ornaments etc from that time period. Neither museum allows you to take photographs inside.

From Suneri mahal I continued on towards Aurangabad caves. There is a juice shop on campus along the way which is the last option for liquids and I recommend grabbing a drink before continuing on. The Aurugabad caves (Entrance Rs 5) as expected was devoid of visitors and not as awesome as Ajanta/Ellora, but still had some interesting rock carvings and views of the city further below. Can be skipped if visiting Ellora and short on time. After the caves the only other place I had on my list was the Shivaji museum (Entrance Rs 5), but it was a long walk from the caves. The 6km walk felt longer with the heat, but I knew the museum was closed the next day and this was my only shot. The museum was broken into 6 main sections with several items from that era. They have a very extensive coin collection, and an interesting display of intricately designed betel nut cutters.

The best part of ending the day's 25km walk was passing by Krishna Misal to get some authentic Misal Pav (Rs 45) which was just delicious...spicy but delicious! It is located behind jumbo king (found on google maps) where the plain vada pav (Rs 30) tasted nice, but trying to make it like a burger with the extra finishings made it taste worse.





Ellora:
Ellora had conflicting opening times online so I went there late in the morning to be safe, but it actually opens at 6am. I arrived at 9am, and even then there weren't too many tourists which was good. Unlike Ajanta which is smaller and makes it seem like there are hundres of people around you, Ellora is spread out a lot more and I was able to explore it alone except for the major attractions. I started at the main cave #16 which was breathtaking, but the early morning floor sweepers were throwing up so much dust that I decided to leave and come back later. I took the side path to the top and got some nice overhead views and then made my way towards the other Hindu caves #17-29. After reaching #27 you will find the path ahead blocked, but simply take the dirt path down to continue on the main road towards #29. From there I made my way to the Jain group #30-35 which was filled with people being ferried in from the entrance. Unfortunately there was the full range of people from those who love to scream, to the parents who let their little boys pee right on the temple walls, but even with all that the temples did not disappoint. I caught the bus back to the entrance, re-visited #16 and then made by way towards the last of the Hindu temples before moving on to cover the Buddhist ones. Again, there is ton of detailed literature online.

I grossly underestimated how much time I would need at Ellora and I think a fair rule of thumb is to double the time spent at Ajanta. I walked towards Grineshwar temple, then walked back to Ellora to catch a bus towards Aurangabad. Along the way I got off at Daulatabad fort (Entrance Rs 10). It looked great from the outside, but wasn't that awesome on the inside. Made my way to the top through the bat filled path and rested while watching the fearless squirrels beg visitors for food. After a while I made my way back and hitched a ride back to Aurungabad. Of course, I had to make the walk to Krishna Misal to get my daily dose of misal pav before returning to the lodge for some rest.









Lonar:
I met a couple of girls from Hyderabad the previous night who had taken a train directly to Jalna to visit Lonar and were now in Aurangabad to visit Ellora the next day. They had nothing good to say about the place and recommended that I don't spend too much time there. I ended up having the total opposite experience than they did and am glad I got to visit this place. For me it ended up being a nice combination of Science, Nature, and Culture. I walked to the CIDCO bus stand in Aurangabad and caught the bus heading towards Lonar (Ticket Rs 170). It took longer than the 3.5 hours most predicted and finally arrived at noon. There were several lodges on the main street, but I didn't feel like going door to door to find the cheapest bed and decided to just head over to the MTDC resort where I knew they had a dorm. I was the only visitor there, and got a bed for Rs 250 which is high for a dorm, but normal for a state run place. I took off to wander around town and had fun with a wedding party that I got to follow for a bit. The town itself has so many beautiful old painted houses to visit, and a nice mix of hindu and muslim folks to interact with. Children were running all over the place inspite of the heat. I made my way to the Datyasund temple and was surprised by the intricate carvings. After spending some time there, I moved towards the Gaumukh temple which was less impressive, but the tank with a source of water helped me cool off a bit. Continued on towards the Hanuman temple which wasn't anything special except for getting to chat with the local kids and grannies who are usually the two groups of people who are never afraid to chat up a stranger.

Walked towards the west side of the crater to get some pictures and thought about going around the circumference, but it was hot and so I decided to head back to the east side and go down to the lake. The easier path that leads down is right opposite the MTDC resort. It was an easy walk down and as soon as I got to the lake I was surprised by the amount wildlife that was around. There were so many birds and ducks feeding in the waters, and the forest area was also full of birds. I decided to walk towards the Kamalja temple and the walk was very pleasant with a nice path that is excellent for walking/jogging. It only takes about 20 minutes to get here from the top assuming a brisk walk. As I got closer to the temple, the number of Langur monkey troops increased. I soon learnt this is because of the temple visitors feeding them during their visit. The tower near the temple houses a lot of pretty parrots and I sat down for a while to watch the worshippers come and go, and the monkeys take whatever they could. When the evening mosquitoes started to appear and get nasty, I made my way back up to catch some sunset pictures before calling it a day.

Woke up early the next day and made my way back down and spent the first 20 minutes chasing peacocks trying to snag a picture. Being used to the ones that are allowed to roam around in zoos, I was surprised at how shy and fast these wild ones were. I then went towards the Ram temple which was nice, and continued to follow the nice herd path that goes around the lake. At the first fork, the left path leads to a newly built mosque. A little longer on the path is another fork where an abandoned temple sits which was quite pretty with some intricate carvings. I followed the path behind the temple through the wild custard apple trees and made my way to the northern shore of the lake directly opposite Kamalja temple. I could see another abandoned temple at the western shore so continued to follow the path towards it. It wasn't as abandoned as I thought as there was a man sleeping right outside the temple. From there I continued on towards Kamalja temple and then back to the top. It took 2.5 hours for the round trip from the MTDC resort at a nice leisurely pace. During checkout I met a guy who claimed to be a guide for the area and seemed to know what he was talking about in terms of the wildlife and the rocks etc. If I had met and spoken to him a day earlier, I would have probably taken him up on his offer to help me better identify all the different species of birds and types of rocks that exist down there in return for Rs 200. The guide is the MTDC manager's brother.







Nagpur:
Compared to the Lonar bus station, Mehkar and Malegaon bus stations are bigger and have more frequent bus connections. I heard there was a direct bus from Lonar to Akola at 1:30pm and decided to just take that, but it never showed up and so I caught a bus to Malegaon (Ticket Rs 82), followed by a bus to Akola (Ticket Rs 70) and the whole journey took me 6 hours. From Akola I caught a night train (Ticker Rs 95) towards Nagpur. Got there early in the morning and decided to wander out for a bit since I had till noon for my train out. I went to zero point which was nearby, then couldn't figure out where to go from there and after wandering around aimlessly with locals telling me there is nothing to see in Nagpur, I happened across the zoo/park (Entrance Rs 20) on my map and made my way there. It was filled with morning joggers/yoga folks/laughter folks, but is a decent way to spend a half hour. From there I saw a big lake on the map and caught a bus towards Ambazari (Ticket Rs 8) and made my way to the garden (Entrannce Rs 5). It was very peaceful and I ended up taking a nap until I was woken up by a curious girl asking about my taped up feet. Made my way back to the train station and waited for my delayed train to arrive so I could get back home. Didn't really explore all of Nagpur, but didn't get the feeling I was missing much?
#2 Mar 18th, 2016, 09:22
Join Date:
Oct 2012
Location:
Dombivali
Posts:
402
  • shrikant borle is offline
#2
Nice trip report & photos...!!!
#3 Mar 18th, 2016, 17:10
Join Date:
Jun 2009
Location:
Mount Meru
Posts:
967
  • vic86m is offline
#3
Lovely read!
#4 Mar 19th, 2016, 12:40
Join Date:
Jan 2012
Location:
Mumbai - Pune - ?
Posts:
1,142
  • kapilankar is offline
#4
Fastastic read! .. and whats with the taped up feet?

Good to see that you like lonar - i was there last year in September (link in signature), found it to be verrry creepy and had to make a hasty retreat. I hope I will be curious enough again sometime in the future to go there and see for all it s worth ...
#5 Mar 19th, 2016, 16:11
Join Date:
Feb 2010
Location:
N/A
Posts:
229
  • madri is offline
#5
Quote:
Originally Posted by kapilankar View Post Good to see that you like lonar - i was there last year in September (link in signature), found it to be verrry creepy and had to make a hasty retreat. I hope I will be curious enough again sometime in the future to go there and see for all it s worth ...
Sorry to hear you didn't have a great time there, but sounds like your friend had it worse! It's crazy how these small insects can be so deadly to us. When I go into forest/jungle areas I always wear full sleeve shirts and long pants just as added protection...apart from small insects, it helped with all the prickly bushes around the path.

When I first went down in the afternoon I was a bit weary as well since I was the only one there in that entire area. Every little dry leaf fluttering in the wind would catch my attention, but it didn't take too long to get used to the surroundings. I saw mongoose running around and while that doesn't necessarily mean snakes, I was careful with every step I was taking.

The western section of the path around the lake does have 2-3 sections where the herd path seems to disappear (one near Kamalja temple), but you can get back on it if you go around the overgrowth. Worst case you could always head to the lake and just walk in the open, but as you noted the smell (and the heat) will not be as pleasant.

Next time go in the summer. You'll have to deal with the heat for sure, but you can pretty much guarantee accommodation, and finding the ducks and birds on the water won't be an issue It was also surprising how you found the area to have a lack of Marathi while I ran into more people who spoke only Marathi than Hindi/both. I also didn't run into any hostile groups of three, but it was probably too hot for them to be out messing with folks or I was just lucky.

Quote:
whats with the taped up feet?
I had torn some ankle ligaments towards the end of last year, and this was my first trip nearly 4 months later. Unfortunately I didn't do great as I managed to twist the ankle a few times and it had ballooned up and so I bandaged it up tightly to help reduce the swelling and I also tape my toes up to prevent blisters.
#6 Mar 19th, 2016, 16:46
Join Date:
Jan 2012
Location:
Mumbai - Pune - ?
Posts:
1,142
  • kapilankar is offline
#6
take care of your feet man ... they are the ones who are gonna take you places ..

i can imagine the heat ... i guess the heat would increase the stench? ... dunno

btw - we heard that there's something called "Lonar-X" that's going to be held there this year. some performing artists and then visitors to be given study kits with reagents to conduct some simple 'experiments' ... might be fun
#7 Apr 13th, 2016, 14:36
Join Date:
Aug 2005
Location:
India
Posts:
1,231
  • anar is offline
#7
a truly excellent account of your travels, madri. excellent tip about taping toes to avoid blisters.

i am going to spend a week around ajanta, ellora and aurangabad in early may. news reports of the water scarcity in the region and the doubtless incredible heat are daunting but i have booked flights and hotels so there's no getting out of it. i wonder if anyone here has first-hand info about the water shortage. it sounds selfish but i hope there will be enough for a shower or two a day!

it seems you were allowed to take photos of the paintings inside the caves. i have read this is forbidden. please let me know, i might decide against taking the heavy camera with me.
#8 Apr 13th, 2016, 22:25
Join Date:
Feb 2010
Location:
N/A
Posts:
229
  • madri is offline
#8
You are allowed to take pictures inside the caves, as long as you don't use your flash. So basically you are restricted to low light photography. That being said, they have some lights setup on some of the more popular pieces and even my point and shoot was able to take decent pictures so you should be able to do better with your heavy camera.

Can't speak to the water shortage, but it will be hot that's for sure It'll be ok though since Ajanta is fairly small and you will be inside the caves for the most part. Ellora you will have more exposure to the elements but just take a hat and some sunscreen and you should be fine.

Taping feet is a common strategy among long distance runners. I've known people to use duct tape when they had nothing else, to recently someone who uses Engo patches that he swears by. Generally I get by with a combination of the 3M Micropore tape, the Leukoplast zinc oxide tape, and the Kinesio tape. Tons of literature online on this topic. Couple of links below to get your started. First is more comprehensive about some of the ways blisters form and ways to prevent and comparisons. Second lists some of the tapes and differences and some taping strategies:
http://www.blisterprevention.com.au/...ter-prevention
http://fellrnr.com/wiki/Taping
#9 Apr 14th, 2016, 00:44
Join Date:
Aug 2005
Location:
India
Posts:
1,231
  • anar is offline
#9
thank you, madri, for all the info. really useful to know.

Similar Threads

Title, Username, & Date Last Post Replies Views Forum
Trip to Shirdi-Nasik-Aurangabad Aug 8th, 2014 12:57 8 1893 Maharashtra
help required regarding trip to aurangabad/shirdi Dec 10th, 2012 20:39 0 1483 Maharashtra
Aurangabad in Oct: Need some info Jun 28th, 2012 19:41 8 1322 Maharashtra
Aurangabad trip Jan 2nd, 2012 19:13 41 13428 Maharashtra
Shiradi - Nashik and Aurangabad trip Sep 2nd, 2011 14:49 4 2246 Maharashtra


Posting Rules

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Forum Rules»
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.3.2
© IndiaMike.com 2018
Page Load Success