To visit my next two World Heritage Sites I took an evening train from Mumbai to the town of Aurangabad, where I fell into a handy cheap hotel next to the railway station sometime around midnight.
Both the Ellora and Ajanta cave are a day trip by bus away. Yes, both are cave sites. Apologies to those of you dulled out by reading about holes in the ground; much as I like visiting them I’m finding building the Lego models rather challenging, which is why you’ve had to wait a while for this post.
The Ellora caves are a group of thirty-four temples and monasteries carved out of a 2km length of basalt cliff, between 600 and 1000AD.
They extend along the cliff in approximately chronological order, with the Buddhist sites at one end, the Hindu ones in the middle and the later Jain temples a hike away at the other end.
Most of them are excavated pillared halls of varying sizes, some of them multi-storey. Many have wonderful carvings, both decorative and figurative.
At the centre of the group is the most impressive. A huge free-standing Hindu temple, with associated structures, entirely cut free from the surrounding rock.
The mass of material that had to be excavated is best appreciated by climbing up the cliff and looking down on it, whilst doing one’s best not to topple over the edge.
My model is a much more modest affair however. Rather than just do one cave (to avoid the temptation of buildng a very dull but easy one), I decided to attempt to replicate this view of a number of caves:
For something that took me so much pondering to build, it’s not that impressive.