Ajanta, Ellora,Aurangabad and Lonar A photographic report of a memorable tour of the past By Suneel Sule
Ellora CavesCarved during Chalukya and Rashtrakoota dynasties between 1500 to 1000 years ago
Kailash TempleAn engineering marvel, cut from a single rock, working from top down . I do not know those people, nor were they good looking. They are included for scale.
Although the world knows him onlyas a villain, Ravana was a greatdevotee of Lord Shiva. When he ranout of flowers to offer, he used 9 ofhis heads as offerings to theshivalinga.A rare feat possible for only thosewho have heads to spare.
Being God does not guaranteeeternal peace, godhood too has itsups and downs.Here Ravana, in an attempt to showoff his strength, picked up the Lord’sabode, the Kailash mountain on hishead. As he gave it a nasty shaking,Parvati was terrified, but Lord Shivasimply crushed Ravanas’s mightyhand with his toe and then all waswell.Effective curbing of terrorism datesback to much older times than wewould imagine.
Very often Sahaivas and Vaishnavas are sworn enemies; but the Chalukya and Rashtrakoota rulers respected Lord Vishnu as well. Here we see the entire Ramayana carved out of stone.Life was indeed difficult before cut-and-paste technology was invented.
Religeous tolerance of therulers was not limited to theVaishnavas alone; it extendedto Buddhist and Jain subjectstoo. Out of the 34 caves ofellora 17 are Hindu, 12Buddhist and 5 Jain. This is oneJain cave.
Each religion showedarchitectural peculiarities. Whilethe Hindus lay emphasis onhuman figures depictingmythological heritage; the Jainsdecorated the pillars withelaborate ornamentation.
As it turns out, pillars were the pillars of strength of Jain architecture.
7000 workers worked for 150years and dug out 300,000 tonsof rock to complete this majestictemple.
…but it did not take comparable efforts to destroy and disfigure Allauddin Khiljee sent his general Malik Kafur to the Deccan on a single point agenda. Destruction.
Devagiri, the hill of GodsIn 12th century A.D. Yadava king Bhillama built a fort on this geological marvel
Allauddin Khiljee conquered the fortthrough sheer brute power andcruelty. King Ramdeva surrenderedand became a vassal of Khiljee. Thefort was renamed as DaulatabadFort. It was recaptured by both sidesa few times.This monument Chand Minar wasbuilt to commemorate one suchconquest in the 15th century.
Bibi ka Maqbara, poor man’s [or woman’s?] Taj Mahal,built in the memory of Aurangzeb’s 4th wife, by her son.
If you are ever tempted to compare Bibi ka Maqbara with the Taj, look at any picture of the Taj and the temptation will evaporate.
Ajanta160 k.m. north of Aurangabad are the 2200 years old Buddhist caves of Ajanta.
For close to 1500 years after their completion these caves remained abandoned. They were hidden from view with growth of vegetation. This is what saved them from the evil eye of the iconoclasts.In the year 1819, while on a hunting mission, Maj. John Smith spotted this arch. Thethen ruler, Nizam of Hyderabad ordered excavation and restoration. Today these cavesare declared world heritage and are being given the care they deserve.
Michelangelo be not proud.The prestige of Ajanta caves lies not only in their sculptures but also in intricate paintings depicting tales of previous incarnations of the Buddha.
In one of his incarnations, the Buddha was a six tusked white elephantUntil recently the caves were unlit to protect the paintings. Now optical fibres carry gentle light into the caves.
A fusion of Heenayana and Mahayana styles showing a stoopa with idol of the Buddha
Mahanirvana: The Buddha departs It was an occasion of simultaneous mourning and celebration.While the mortals on earth mourned, the heavenly beings celebrated the arrival of the great soul
• = Chatting with an old friend on the way back.
Long long long long ago40000 years back a meteor struck the Maharashtra plateau at Lonar. It formed a crater 2 k.m. in diameter and hundreds of meters deep. It is the only hypervelocity meteoritic crater in basaltic rock and third largest in the world.
One of the ancient temples of Lonar.Built in Hemadpanti style, it is made up of interlocking stones, no mortar or cement.
This temple was hidden under a mound of mud to avoid destruction by the invaders.
Waiting for a ringside view of the next meteor hit. It takes a tiger’s courage for such brave acts.
Sabse rangeen subaha teri sabse rangeen teri shaam, tuzpe dil qurbaan
The MTDC resort which offered us shelter for the night and a view of the crater