Sunday, June 6, 2010

Trip to Maharashtra

After marriage we never went to Shirdi and we thought of visiting at least now. Since from Hyderabad number of bus services are running both by govt and travels we opted for Kesinenis travels. Unfortunately there were no seats and we have to wait for atleast one month as it is summer vacation. But luckily one of my sis's friend who planned for a trip to Shirdi and Ellora caves by APTDC has 2 tickets left . So happily we nodded our heads to go along with them.

Thursday evening at 4:30 we went to tank bund office to board our bus. Number of luxury buses were arriving and passengers are boarding. When our bus came we not even cared that as it is a very normal bus. When the coordinator told that this is the bus we have to board, we looked at each other into our faces. Very old bus with one Maharshtra driver and Andhra driver.At 6'0 clock bus reached kuktapally and my sis friends family boarded. They too were shocked by seeing the bus. When all people boarded the driver told abt the package details.

Next morning we were taken to Shanishinganapur,where popular shani devas temple is located.Shingnapur is also famous for the fact that no house in the village has doors, only door frames. Despite this, no theft is reported in the village. Recently in a TV ad we can see about this place. Without taking bath we have to visit Shani deva and guys should wear a dhoti without upper garment inorder to perform puja. Ladies are not allowed to go near the shrine.

After Shanishinganapur we reached Shirdi by noon 12:30. We were given guest house for freshening up as it is part of package  and were told to get ready by 4'0 clock early in the morning . After a long continuous journey we had a fresh bath and went to temple. After that we went to see the Annadanam centre where the worlds largest solar steam system is used to cook food for 20000 people at a time. As every one are tired ,we went to bed early after taking a good dinner. Food is not part of package we have to buy our own food.

The next day driver was knocking all the rooms reminding us to get ready early. Again we started our journey by 4'0 clock in the morning and reached Grishneshwar , one of the dwadasa Jyothirlinga temples of lord Shiva.

Grishneshwar temple

After that we had breakfast in some dhabha and started towards Ajanta one of the UNESCO World heritage site in our country.These were created during the Satvahana Dynasty in 2nd - 1st century BCE. These temples have been abandoned and gradually forgotten in due course of time. During the next 1300 years the jungle grew back and the caves were hidden, unvisited and undisturbed. In 18th century a British officer for the Madras Presidency, John Smith, while hunting tiger, accidentally discovered the entrance to one of the cave temples (Cave No. 9) deep within the tangled undergrowth.Captain Smith wrote his name in pencil on one of the walls. Still faintly visible, it records his name and the date, April 1819. Shortly after this discovery Ajanta Caves became well known and renowned due to their exotic setting, impressive architecture, artworks and mysterious, long forgotten history.

Bird eye view of Ajanta caves

Paintings are all over the cave except for the floor. At various places the art work has become eroded due to decay and human interference. Therefore, many areas of the painted walls, ceilings, and pillars are fragmentary. The painted narratives of the Jataka tales are depicted only on the walls, which demanded the special attention of the devotee. We could not visit all caves (nearly 32 caves) as we have to go back inorder to cover the other places in package. But we visited all important caves. There are number of shops selling some decorative pieces but we did not even touched as our driver warned that if we touch we must buy otherwise the local people will make a big halo balo there and makes us to buy for odd rates.

Ajanta paintings
Painting of Padmapani in Ajanta caves

After taking lunch we started towards Ellora caves which is also a world heritage site built by Rashtrakutas. Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock cut architecture. The 34 caves – actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills – being Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rock cut temples and monastries, were built between the 5th century and 10th century. Even though our journey is a bit hectic we felt proud of our Indian architecture and recalled all our history lessons in school days.

Indian Rock cut Architecture
A painted panel showing the dancing Shiva (Nataraja) from the Kailash Temple at Ellora (Cave 16). One can still see a lot of the paint that once covered the entire temple.

Wall carvings in Ellora

Last but not the least is Mini TajMahal also called as Bibi Ka Maqbara, which transaltes as "Tomb of the Lady" .Prince Azam Khan,son of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, built the Bibi Ka Maqbara in 1679 to honor his mother Rabia Durani. He modeled it on the original Taj Mahal.
Like the Taj Mahal the replica has a central dome, surrounded by four smaller domes and four minarets. Four taller minarets complement this central structure.The pathway leading up to the mausoleum has fountains, pools
and tall trees on both side of the walkway.

Mini Taj

I bought lord Buddha's idol as a remembrance of this trip . Then we started to Hyderabad with full satisfaction. Because of losses by running AC bus for this trip APTDC is running normal for this package only otherwise the trip would have been the best.