Begun in the 2nd century BC, Ajanta lay hidden by bush on the bend of a river for centuries before being rediscovered by Europeans. Luckily the elaborately decorated interior was preserved and gives a unique insight into early Buddhist art. As Buddhism declined, so did Ajanta, and the focus moved to Ellora where the huge rock-cut temples attest to the rise of resurgence of Hinduism and the popularity of Jainism.
Nasik is one of the holiest cities in India , and one of the few where you can achieve Moksha, or liberation from the cycle of birth and death, by bathing in the holy ghats – Also used for more general bathing and for washing clothes. I found it one of the friendliest cities in India – a nice break from the hassle of more touristy areas.
The ‘Baby Taj’ or Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, the base for visiting Ellora and Ajanta
The Hindu Kalasanatha, one of 34 temple carved out of or into the sheer rock face of the Deccan Plateau. Unlike a normal building, they had to start carving at the top and work their way to the bottom. As it took around a hundred years to build, it would see over 3 generations of stonemasons.
The huge rock face that surrounds the temple
The view from the top
The Buddhist rock monastery at Ellora
A Buddha image inside the monastery
A delicately carved figure inside a temple at Ellora
Inside one of the 31 Buddhist caves carved into the rock face of a river gorge at Ajanta. This one would be used as a prayer hall.
A reclining Buddha
A devotee of Shiva in Nasik calls to announce the weekly bathing of the local venerated idol.
Musicians play in the procession to the bathing ghat
After the procession the Shiva idol is bathed – In honey, sugarcane juice, milk, curds, sugar, and all sorts of other stuff, then finally in the holy waters of the ghat. Then people drink the goo thats collected – None for me please, I’m full!
People drying washing by the ghat. Holy or not, its community space in India.
The ubiqutous cows
A young man sells offerings outside one of the many Shiva temples
Dhobi Women wash clothes by the ghat