The Long awaited vacation (Daulatabad & Ellora)

Daulatabad Fort: Magnificent! It was the first time I was seeing such a well preserved fort. After seeing the ruined state of the other forts (Shivaji�s) I was pleasantly surprised to see such a well maintained fort in the same state. Did make me think about how the ASI could pay as much attention to Daulatabad fort made by a muslim king and not care much about Shivaji the local maratha warrior. Now political parties, why don�t u raise a cry or two about the disrespect shown to culture? Or does this not fit into your political agenda?

The fort had a moat around it. We walked the bridge and crossed over a dark room to stand in front of a doorway beyond which was only darkness. We joined a chaotic bunch of school kids. The guide explained that the route was a secret one. One of its exits lead straight to a hole whose exit lied in the moat below. I call it the walk of death. The cave / room inside which we walked had a lovely roof, filled with thousands of bats. I have never been as scared in my life. But also enjoyed each moment of it. At the exit we thanked the guide and handed him a 20. An old old lady was sitting nearby. Hand me some money she demanded. She mumbled something more. But I couldn�t decipher her accent. Smilingly we handed her Rs. 10. Then surprisingly both me and Saj reached down and touched her feet. We just needed to respect little culture and heritage she carried in her. Gladdened she patted out heads and back. We walked away feeling very glad.

Ellora: He sees all come and go; and yet smiles with a knowledge that says impermanence. The only image that sticks with me about Ellora, is of the Bhuddha. Rows and rows of caves with thousands of carvings. Ajanta�s paintings play with you and Ellora�s carvings make you bow on your knees. Not only caves of carvings, but three storied buildings of rock filled with carvings. Can you even begin to imagine the magnanimity of these structures? The kailash temple, the grand monolith, words betray me. The dozens of caves are divided into residential, meditation halls and worship temples. They are adorned with big to small carvings of a variety of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain gods. It is blasphemous to describe such beauty through mere words. These carvings have their stories to tell and as you wander through them, you cannot help but go back and try to live in the mind of one of those many monks who created them.

How did he climb up there and carve? What did he do for food? How many hours could he constantly chip away at the rocks? As I walked among the caves in Ellora, I saw people shout loudly at each other inside the cave. I saw people wear footwear carelessly inside the caves. Most of them were temples once upon a time. How many of us would dare to wear footware inside a temple even today. But here no one seemed to care. We tried and removed our footwear every time we went close to the inner shrine. Maybe that was why god decided to bless us too. As crowded as it was, we found ourselves being left alone in some really beautiful caves for few minutes. We sat and chanted and prayed. Saj sang a song for Shiva in one of the caves. I felt god and probably after long he felt his presence there too.

After that we were to visit the Grinshneshwar ( Shiva jyothirling) temple. Lost between the crowds in the temple, I strangely missed god. Also went to the Bibi Ka Maqbara ( little Taj Mahal) which houses Aurangzeb�s wife�s tomb. Now that was a disappointment. I remember how pretty it looked in the pictures taken 15 yrs ago when my brother had come here on a school trip. Now it was decaying visibly. Yellowing and crumbling under the apparent lack of maintenance. It was a shame to see a monument which could undoubtedly have been beautiful, being degraded to such a state. What are they doing with the entrance fee they were collecting? Such blatant apathy and ignorance of culture shames me and also ire�s me. We walked away disappointed.

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