There are caves in the cliff of Ajanta that were extended and intricately carved as temples over many hundreds of years. The reliefs were much more amazing than what I had seen at Elephanta Island.
Both the caves of Ajanta and Ellora were full of carvings, which concentrated on showing Hindu figures but also many of the Buddha, which the Hindus regard as an incarnation of of one their gods.
These kids came from a village near one of the caves to see the tourists. I amused them by juggling with stones, then one of them notice metal in my mouth. I have a few missing teeth and used to wear partial dentures. As I pulled the "teeth" out of my mouth they were even more amazed, as if I were a cyborg removing my own head or something equally bizarre from a science fiction film.
Aurangabad and Ellora caves
From the caves I returned to Jalagon and caught a bus to Aurangabad. One thing of note I wrote down about this trip was seeing a Pepsi for the first time. Since the previous year, India had finally decided to open up its markets to international firms again. Pepsi and 7 Up were at the forefront of this invasion and I would soon see them even being sold out of bicycle carts in remote places. So despite what I assumed, some things could change there very rapidly indeed. I rented a bicycle the next day to look around the town after first going to train station to get ticket for the following day to Secundebad after a planned day trip to the Ellora caves and the fort at Daulatabad. One of the big attractions in Aurangabad, in addition to their own temple cave, was the "fake Taj Mahal" The architectural style was similar and the grounds were nice but it was run down and seemed to be painted cement with an occasional slab of marble thrown in for looks. Quite a difference to the luminous stone inlayed with intricate gems of the original in Agra.
Aurangabad itself was a village and the people more on the rural side of life if one judges from a typical scene there.
The fort at Daulatabad was not so impressive on it's own but the surrounding was spectacular with massive walls and moats for fortification and secret passages to waylay invaders. Seems I didn't get any memorable photos to show. The Ellora caves actually had many free standing temples which seemed to be carved right out of the hillsides in one piece and were more prominent than the caves themselves. I think there were around 29 cave/temple complexes and by the time I got through I was pretty much templed out!
I got the train to Secundebad and 3-wheeled motorcycle rickshaw taxi to nearby Hyderabad. Paid more than I expected for the taxi even after bargaining but then they were all claiming that fuel prices were skyrocketing as Saddam had released oil into the sea and would soon be setting fire to the oil wells in Kuwait. One of the city landmarks is the centrally located Charminar Mosque. It's large archways give the appearance that one could drive through it on the surrounding busy street. Vehicles had to drive around but their noise and exhaust drove straight through. One heck of a traffic circle monument anyway.
The Mecca Masjid Mosque was also an impressive and extensive site located near the Charminar.
From a distance one would assume this was a palace or temple but it is actually the Osmania hospital. I didn't go inside but have read that it is one of the biggest hospitals in India. The conditions are said to be rather shocking although they have extensive technology and services. But it is set up to provide care for the destitute, which is commendable but results in pervasive over-crowding.
There was also a slum on the riverbank near the hospital so it looks like they have plenty of potential clients. The main attraction in town is the Gondola fort. I had taken my tripod along although it was damaged and as I tried to use it to take a picture, a guard came and aggressively said tripods were not allowed. He made me go to the office and gave me a lot of shit. I apologized profusely although I still don't know what damage a tripod should cause. He continued on as if I were a criminal and should be fined and taken to the police. I finally just said "bullshit" and left but unfortunately without having seen much of the site.
I changed a traveler's check in a bank in Hyderabad. Ahead of me, an Indian couple presented a suitcase full of rupees, then left and returned 15 minutes later with another suitcase full of cash. No idea what that was about. After I had my experience at the fort I tried to just relax in some gardens but people were constantly pestering me so I felt I was ready to move on. Foreigners are constantly approached in India, not so much by beggars as one would expect but out of sheer curiosity. And the most popular subject is sex. If you are a western female, if you wouldn't like to "have some", if you are a western male, have you "had some already". It's all rather naive and annoying but the Indian society is curious and very sexually repressed. I had wanted to take a night train from Hyderabad to Hospet but one had to make reservations days in advance so I got an evening bus to Bijapur, which was a nightmare. There was a lot of aggression at the chaotic station, seemed some buses were cancelled because of fuel shortages and I even saw people surrounding a prostate body but I thought it wise not to get involved.
Bijapur has an old fort complex, old city and the following images of the Ibrahim Rauza Mausoleum, which is an extensive complex surrounded by gardens. There was a museum but it was closed. The city seemed very relaxed compared to Hyderabad, more people riding around in oxen drawn carts than cars. I rented a bike for the day to get around and felt relieved not to have to hassle with buses or rickshaw drivers. Did have one guy walk by and shout "Saddam Hussein" - guess he must have mistaken me for some guy named Hussein just like everyone in the Philippines mistook me for their friend Joe and the Indonesians for that "hey mister" character.
People in Bijapur seemed friendly and this grandmother was proud to show off her grandchild.
Sisters posing for the tourist.
Such colorful costumes
As I was leaving Bijapur I got some last good shots by the train station of these women and children headed to a train.
I saw this family traveling and thought "no wonder Indians tend to be short" since I often saw both men and women carrying heavy loads on their heads. Even on construction sites nobody seemed to have though of using wheel barrels.
Although I liked Bijapur, I had seen the sites in a day and went south the next day to Badami on a train that seemed to stop in every small town. There were more temple caves in Badami, which looked very basic from the outside, but I found the style of the carvings inside to outshine what I had seen at Ajanta and Ellora. The most spectacular thing was just the setting with huge cliffs all around. But I had already taken so many temple pictures that I could hardly tell them apart and I didn't have a good flash for interior shots.
Most of the dwellings in Badami were simple mud-walled constructions very similar to the adobe dwellings of southwestern USA and Mexico. Their dark earth tones fit to the surrounding hills and were much more attractive than the cinder block construction common in the bigger cities.
The people were also very friendly here, the kids often jumping in front of my camera to have their picture taken, which is such a contrast to the "Indians" of Central and South America who are very camera shy. In India, you take out your camera to make a photo of one person and suddenly you have a couple dozen wanting to be included. I have so many great portraits from Badami that it was hard to decide which to include.
Like these girls posing on this ox-cart.
One sees so many beautiful smiling kids in India!
These girls were filling jugs with water. The pride this girl had to present her little sister was touching. Marriages are still arranged in India yet the strong love between family members is often clear to see. This made me reflect a lot on the contrast to our western concept of love including its high incidence of divorce. When I returned to Germany after this trip to India, the woman I had hoped to marry broke up with me. I had suspected this was coming and spent a lot of time in India thinking about relationships.
Here was a woman working in the sugarcane fields, which were prevalent in this region of India. It looked like hot, backbreaking work, which was done by hand, and the harvest was piled ridiculously high on carts pulled by tractors or oxen.
From Badami I made a daytrip by bus (and needed 3 to get back!) to see Aihole. It was like an oasis in a rocky dry area with around 100 more temples.
Much of the carvings at these temples were very intricate. Clear to see that some forms of fighting skills with grappling and the use of clubs was practised.
Although Badami was great, the mosquitoes at my hotel were driving me crazy. With a couple of other tourists I took a horse-drawn carriage called a "tongo" to the train station to go to Hospet, which has the nearest stop to Hampi. The horse was in very bad shape and looked like he would die on us. As our time was getting short the driver started to pressure us that we should give him more money - as if the horse's condition was our fault. I felt sorry for the animal but felt he should give us a discount for the inconvenience if we would miss our train.