November 12th, 2008 – by: wilson0211
First view of the Ajanta Caves, 30 in all carved from the rock face
My 6.30am alarm call was slapped into silence as I did not recognise the sound, woke up at 7.40am giving me 20 minutes to shower and get ready - oops! Made it to reception dead on 8am but there was no sign of anyone waiting there - had I dreaed the whole thing?! I asked at reception but they had no idea what I was talking about when I asked if they had seen three American women that morning! They were late. I was introduced to the driver, Ihman (?) , the mother, Annette and Eva, the friend and we set off on the 2 hour drive to the caves. A fun filled trip, they are all mad haha!. we got to the caves (car park) where we had to park up and get a bus up the mountain. Before catching the bus we had to run the gauntlet of shop owners trying to get you to return to their shop on the way back and buy souveniers - usual story.
My small camera cannot really do justice to this beautiful view
We decided to hire an English speaking guide with orange hair to show us around the caves which were very impressive, some dating back as far as 2BC. The workmanship was outstanding considering what they must have used for tools at that time. There are about 28 caves either carved, painted or unfinished depicting Buddah and stories about him. The caves lay untouched until the late 1800's when a British soldier - John Smith (hmm) was hunting tigers and came across them from the top of a gorge. All the caves are monolythic - carved from one piece of rock apparently and are all in pretty good condition - no shoes allowed inside and no flash photography (although I'm sure this is so you have to buy the photographs from the shop owners ...
For a small price (40 Rupees i think)you could be carried up the steps ... was tempted!
fickle old me eh?!) I don't know how long the tour lasted but it was very interesting, I'm glad I came! After the guide left us, we wanderedaround for a while taking pictures on the outside, som breathtaking views. We ended up having our photos taken with whole Indian families who seemed fascinated by the fact that we were white! Good fun. Made our way back to the bus, through the gauntlet again, very pushy and insistent this time, trying to make out that beacuase I had looked at them that in some way I had promised to buy stuff from them - bollocks! Decided that we would have lunch at the caves in the restaurant - very pleasant. I went outside for a smoke with Ihman and was introduced to a Beedi (?), tobacco wrapped in a leaf and tied with string- very cheap and not a bad smoke!
Headed back to the hotel and I was invited out to dinner with everyone, which I of course gratefully accepted.
Showered and changed and off we went to a posh looking hotel, the food was nice but somehow expected it to be better, good company though. After dinner we dropped Annette and Eva back at the hotel and the three of us went to the local cinema - my first Bollywood Movie haha! Bloody hilarious! Not a clue what was going on or being said but it was funny to watch and also watch the audience wetting themselves. We sat at the back in huge leather armhairs with recliners that put you almost horizontal, why weren't these around when I was younger?! Anyway, was so comfortable that I dropped off for a bit - oops!. Halfway through the fil was an intermission where everybody got up to get drinks and popcorn, but we had a waiter! Took our order and was back in a few minutes with our order, how cool is that?!
Got back to the hotel at 12.
oops, it went off in my hand, honest!
45am absolutely knackered and have decided to look at hiring a car and driver or catching the bus to Indore
direct. Don't fancy Manmad tomorrow night. Will ask at reception in the morning. All in all a great day, very fortunate to meet such kind and generous people. Whilst sharing a beedi with Ihman earlier he told me that his parents were arranging his marriage for him but he didn't want to do it, told me he'd met someone although it probably wouldn't go anywhere as they were from different religions( I ws thinking maybe Madelene, seemed to be something there or maybe my overactive imagination...). Must be very hard for him, top man in my eyes, very down to earth and friendly. I wish him all the luck in the world.
We went our separate ways, them south to Goa for a few days before flying home and me north, hopefully to meet plenty more people like the ones I had met today. All written out for today but have at least caught up. Time for book and bed, goodnight.