Aurangabad Travel Blog› entry 2 of 5 › view all entries
Taking the overnight "half sleeper" bus from Mumbai to Aurangabad was perhaps not the greatest idea. Since the chair reclines quite a bit it means the person in front of also has the same ability. Basically, their head is in your lap and for the duration of the trip you're pinned to your seat. The roads are incredibly bumpy and the driver hits on the breaks every few seconds so you are constantly lurching back and forth. They also blasted a bollywood movie for the first 3 hours. Needless to say, I didn't sleep at all that night. Aurangabad is a dingy and dog-eared city, but not nearly as overwhelming as Mumbai. Our first day there we took a taxi and did a small tour of the place. We saw the "mini taj-mahal" which was already pretty impressive as well as the Aurangabad caves, a sort of precursor to Ellora and Ajanta. I guess since this city is less touristy then Mumbai the natives aren't too used to foreigners, every few minutes I was pulled aside by people asking to take our picture. A little akward but generally everyone was friendly. We also went to see the workhouses where they hand-make saris. The room had about 4 looms with women making incredibly intricate and beautiful cloth with gold and silk thread. They take about 8-12 months each to make and are used mainly for wedding ceremonies.
The next day we took a public bus (packed like a sardine can and smelling overwhelmingly of BO) to Ellora. Ellora is absolutely awe-inspiring, the main temple is the largest monolithic structure in the world and covered in ornate detail. I'll have to read up on Hindusim a bit more because all of the carvings depicted scenes from Hindu mythology. All I could do was stare blankly and admire the craftmanship which makes me feel like a dumb tourist...sort of a role reversal from my life in Boothbay Harbor I guess. Ajanta was equally impressive and the caves are also painted. Unfortunately they don't light it very well so we had to stalk the guides with the flashlights.
The next day we took a "full sleeper" bus to Kolhapur. It was definitely an improvement over the half sleeper but they fit two people into each 4 foot wide bed. Kurt and I were cramped into the small place for 11 hours with no AC. I hope not to repeat the experience. We arrived in Kolhapur at 7 am and had to wait 4 hours for the connection bus to Mapusa (pronounced Mapsa). Some awesome guy at a travel agency dragged us into his office and let us sit in the airconditioned room the entire time. He also showed us a bunch of Bollywood clips on his computer and kept us up to date with the lastest celebrity gossip. Very enjoyable.
The bus ride to Mapusa was unsurprisingly painful and three hours late for mysterious reasons. The hotels in Mapusa were really expensive so we grabbed a rickshaw and sped right down to Arambol that night (45 minutes in a rickshaw going 40mph down a bumpy road is something else...).
Today is our second day in Arambol, a hippy town with old men in thongs and beach shacks, and we don't want to move for the next month or so (no more busses thank god). Kurt and I are probably going to fish out some good yoga classes and work on getting a tan (unlikely achievement as that may prove to be). We also met up again with our Icelandic friends Kristinn and Hildur and we're going to try out all of the local restaurants. King prawns are the specialty here...I'm excited.