Monday, December 29, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The parking lot at Ellora is right in front of the largest single monolithic excavation in the world, the great Kailasa (Cave 16). The Great Kailasa is attributed to Krishna I (c. 757-83 A.D.), the successor and uncle of Dantidurga. A copper plate grant from Baroda of the period of Karka II (c. 812-13 A.D.) speaks about the greatness of this edifice. Ellora represents one of the largest rock-hewn monastic-temple complexes in the entire world, that too of three different religions - Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism. These caves are hewn out of the volcanic basaltic formation of Maharashtra, known as ‘Deccan Trap’, the term trap being of Scandinavian origin representing the step like formation of the volcanic deposits. The rock formation, on weathering has given rise to the appearance of terraces with flat summits. One can also have a glimpse of the channels (near Cave 32) through which the volcanic lava once flowed. These channels, due to overheating, have a characteristic brownish red colour. The basaltic rock is ideal for rock hewing, as it is soft during the initial excavation and hardens on exposure to environment. This induced the religious followers of various creeds to establish their settlements in them. The Ellora caves are datable from circa 6th - 7th century A.D. to 11th - 12th century A.D. There are nearly 100 caves of which 34 caves are popular and visited by many tourists. Caves 1 to 12 are Buddhist; Caves 13 to 29 are Brahmanical and Caves 30 to 34 are Jaina. Thus, we have the greatest religious conglomeration at a single place, signifying the religious tolerance and solidarity of different faiths. The caves are excavated in the scarp of a large plateau, running in a north-south direction for nearly 2 km, the scarp being in the form of a semi-circle, the Buddhist group at the right arc on the south, while the Jaina group at the left arc on the north and the Brahmanical group at the centre. A tourist can plan the visit of these caves according to the time available and depending upon the interest in ancient art. If a visitor has at his disposal three to four hours, then Cave nos. 10 (Visvakarma Cave), 16 (Kailasa), 21 (Ramesvara) and 32 & 34 (Jaina group of caves) should not be missed and one can have a glimpse of the representative art of Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism. If a visitor has an entire day at his disposal, then Cave nos. 2, 5, 10 & 12 of the Buddhist group; Cave nos. 14, 15, 16, 21 & 29 of the Brahmanical group and Caves 32 to 34 of the Jaina group should be visited. All this valuable information about the caves has been gleaned from the Archaeological Survey of India’s website We had barely a couple of hours, hence just reveled in the beauty of Cave 16 and visited Caves 10 & 12. The sunset from Ellora is also worth a view and we spent some time gazing at the beautiful sight. On return to the parking lot, we were surprised to see a bunch of langurs being fed peanuts by tourists. We were told by the peanut vendors that these monkeys are harmless and will wait patiently for the visitors to feed them. You buy a packet of peanuts worth Rs.5/- and empty them out on your palm and hold it out to the langur. The langur will then amble towards you, hold your hand and pick out the peanut with the other hand and eat! So friendly! Our only regret was we could not see more of Ellora and missed out on the other two major attractions of Aurangabad – the Daulatabad Fort and Paanchakki. Hopefully will do that some other time. Some important information about Ellora Caves Open from sunrise to sunset Closed on Tuesday Entrance Fee: Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) - Rs. 10 per head. Others: US $ 5 or Indian Rs. 250/- per head (children up to 15 years free)
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
One day Parvati was thirsty and there was no water nearby so Shiva pierced the earth with his trident and created a lake. This lake came to be known as Shivalay. The legend continues with Parvati preparing sindur. Sindur is a paste made from vermilion powder, which married women apply in the hair parting on their forehead, to indicate that they are married. As Parvati was rubbing the vermilion powder and water with her thumb, the vermilion turned into a lingam and a great light appeared in it. Parvati installed the lingam there and called it Grishneshwar, because it was created by “grishna” or friction of her thumb.
Another legend is from Shivapurana, which narrates a tale about a Brahmin named Sudharm and his wife Sudeha who lived in Devagiri. They lived happily but for the fact that they were childless. Sudeha blamed herself for this and to ensure that her husband’s lineage continued, she got her sister Ghushma married to Sudharm. She also instructed Ghushma to make 101 lingams, worship them at Grishneshwar and then immerse them in the
The temple looks as if it is built with redstone. As per the ‘Archaeological Survey of India’, quote, “The Ellora caves are hewn out of the volcanic basaltic formation of
There are carvings all over the temple and the pillars within.
To enter the sanctum sanctorum the males have to be topless. Photography in the sanctum is prohibited.
The langurs have a free run outside the temple. Was fun watching and clicking them.
The Grishneshwar temple was re-constructed by Maloji Raje Bhosale of Verul, (grandfather of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj) in the 16th century. His Samadhi is outside the temple.
During Shravan (Aug-Sep):
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Bibi-ka-maqbara, as it is called, is a beautiful mausoleum of Rabia-ul-Daurani alias Dilras Banu Begum, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707 A.D.). An inscription on the main entrance door states that it was designed and erected by Ata-ullah, an architect and Hanspat Rai, an engineer. Though Azam Shah wanted to construct the monument wholly in marble, it was not to be as his father Aurangzeb was not in favor of building a monument as lavish as the Taj and even blocked the transportation of marble that was being procured from the mines near Jaipur. Somehow, Azam Shah prevailed upon his father who eventually relented and ultimately the "Taj of Deccan" was constructed, though a poor imitation, hence also known as the poor man’s Taj!
It is built on a high square platform with four minarets at its corners, and is encased with marble up to the dado level. Above the dado level, it is constructed of basaltic trap up to the base of dome, which is built of marble. A fine plaster covers the basaltic trap, given a fine polished finish, and adorned with fine stucco decorations.
The mortal remains of Rabia-ul-Daurani are placed below the ground level surrounded by an octagonal marble screen with exquisite designs, which can be approached by descending a flight of steps. The mausoleum is crowned by a dome pierced with trellis works and accompanying panels decorated with floral designs.
One enters the mausoleum through the main entrance gate on its south, which has excellent foliage designs on brass plates that cover the wooden doors. A screened pathway that leads to the mausoleum from the entrance has a series of fountains at its centre, which adds to the serene ambiance. As you approach the monument, you notice that there is only one mosque on the main plinth of the Maqbara as against the two mosques on either side of the Taj, giving it symmetry. Apparently, this mosque was a later addition. Legend has it that in 1803, Nizam Sikander Jahan was so captivated by the Maqbara that when Aurangabad and the Marathwada area were annexed to his kingdom he had planned to shift the Maqbara to his capital, Hyderabad. He even ordered the dismantling of the monument, slab by slab, to facilitate the smooth transfer. But then, he had a premonition of some disaster, which would befall him, were he to harm the existing structure. Hence, he stopped the work and got the mosque built as penance. According to the "Tawarikh Namah" of Ghulam Mustafa, the cost of construction of the mausoleum was Rs.6,68,203-7 (Rupees Six Lakh, Sixty Eight Thousand, Two Hundred and Three & Seven Annas) in 1651-1661 A.D. It is now a protected monument under The Archaeological Survey of India and a must see when in Aurangabad and is situated just around five kms from the city. Aurangabad is around 375kms from Mumbai.