Caves and Castles: Aurangabad

My plan for visiting Aurangabad was the Ajanta and Ellora caves, and I happened upon a few extras while there.

The Ajanta Caves were built around the 2nd century BC to the 6th century AD, and are a mix of monastic viharas and meditation halls. The 28 caves are set in a horseshoe shaped cliff with a peaceful meandering river below. I spent several hours here, admiring the work and the energy of monastics from a long time ago.

The caves from a distance
Pillar and fresco. It’s all a bit dark, unfortunately. No flash allowed.
Cave facade, and a girl that I’m pretty sure is giving me the stinkface!-)

Daulatabad Fort was part of a packaged bus deal. It was a great addition, as the place was peaceful and beautiful. It could have taken a day on its own. Built in the 12th century, it must have appeared as an impressive fortress that would last forever. Now, its walls are crumbling, and nature is taking it back, only adding to its beauty.


Next up were the Ellora caves. These were built later on, in 600 to 1000AD. There are 34 caves in all, including Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. Sadly, as the bus tour was a bit rushed, I only saw about half of them. I saw the Buddhist monasteries, and a few Hindu, including the impressive Kailash temple. But as advice to other travelers, Ellora is close to Aurangabad: hire a rickshaw and stay for as long as you want.

Waterfall at the Buddhist caves
Three-storied Buddhist monastery
Kailash Temple

We also stopped at the Bibi ka Maqbara, also known as the “Mini Taj Mahal”. It was built by the son of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, Azam Khan, as a mausoleum for his mother. Azam’s plan was to make it completely out of marble and have it look like the Taj in Agra. Aurangzeb put the kabosh on that though. Guess he wasn’t quite as enamoured with his wife as Shah Jahan was to his. The building does resemble the Taj Mahal, but on a much smaller scale.


My trip to and from Aurangabad was equally as interesting as the tourist attractions were. The train to and from Mumbai does not do tourist seats, so because I didn’t buy a ticket ahead of time, I ended up in a second class car. It was everything I imagined riding in the non-AC section of India’s trains would be, except it wasn’t so crowded that anyone had to ride on top of the train. There was one guy that went up on the luggage rack though.

The ride back was even more crowded. As the train pulled into the station, what seemed like five hundred people all tried to get into a single train doorway, pushing and shoving their way in. By the time I got to my seat, a family had camped on it, and I ended up across the aisle. Better than the floor, which is where about a dozen people sat. Every few minutes a vendor with various, food, chai, water, or trinkets would step through all the people in the aisles, yelling out what he was selling, to make his way through the car. It was crowded and hectic, yet everyone seemed to take it all in stride. Eventually, I could feel myself doing the same and just enjoying the ride.

Author: mettatsunami

In 2009 I was working full time in medicine, and living a life that was alienated from what I truly valued. While volunteering with a local hospice, I began to wonder: "What would I do differently if I had six months to live?". This began the impetus to change direction. While it has been a case of two steps forward, one step back in many ways, there has still been slow movement in the direction of a more authentic life. Since the pivotal decision to change direction, I have been a Buddhist nun, returned to lay life, changed Buddhist schools, returned to medicine part time, and then full time, quit again, traveled extensively, trained in yoga, spent time in several Buddhist monasteries, and am in the process of how to live according with Buddhist and yogic practice and values, and how to streamline this life into something worthwhile. In the Theravadan Buddhist practice, one of the daily reflections is "Has my practice born fruit with freedom or insight, so that at the end of my life, I need not feel ashamed when questioned by my spiritual companions?". That is my practice. My goal in this blog is to share the journey along the way.

9 thoughts on “Caves and Castles: Aurangabad”

  1. So much variety in your experiences. It’s great. We missed you at the Temple Forest Monastery ordination and Pa Bah events this past weekend. It wasn’t the same without you – but fun nevertheless.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Denise, I have been enjoying your travels. Thank you for these wonderful posts. Scott and I visited the Ajanta and Ellora caves, awe inspiring! Did not see the fort though, thanks for the tip. Pah Bah for PH was this last weekend; we missed you too! It was a lovely weekend, with LP Pasanno and LP Viradhammo in attendance. Ajahn Sudanto was glowing by Sunday evening tea while he toured his Mother around the Hermitage grounds, what joy! May you be well and safe from harm, sending Metta, Joan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tom. Although the poor thing may not be long for this world. Between the humidity, the Thar desert sands and meeting with hard objects, it’s not liking India much. We’ll see if it can hold out a little longer, but I have my eye on the LUMIX DMZ-zs60.

      Liked by 1 person

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