Another early start and we entered the Grishneshwar Jyothirling temple located near Ellora caves. A striking difference between temples North and South of Karnataka - up north, you can enter the sanctum sactorum and offer prayers! Very spiritual, indeed. This site is one of the 12 sites in India containing a Shivling that once emitted light. Photography is not permitted and you can deposit your belongings in a small locker outside the temple.
After a fulfilling darshan, we headed for Ellora caves. Again, these set of caves were built for devotees and travellers belonging to the 3 major religions that took birth in India - Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. After purchasing tickets, the pathway leads you to cave 16 - a monolithic temple to adore the One without desires - Shiva or Kailashnath! This structure is complete with a backdrop of the Kailash mountains carved out of rock!
To the right of this temple are located other Hindu caves and all the Buddhist caves. To the left, you will find the remaining Hindu caves and 4 caves dedicated to Jainism. A shuttle bus is available to take you to the Jain caves. Again, we covered the most important caves only and skipped the Buddhist caves all together as we had already seen plenty in Ajanta. Most notable are the Buddhist teen tal, Ravan ki khai, Dasaavathaar caves and the Jain Indra Sabha.
We drove back to Daulatabad to visit the Daulatabad fort that was once the strong hold of Mohammad bin Tughlaq, who for some reason constantly shifted the capital between Delhi and Daulatabad, before entirely giving up on Daulatabad for lack of water.
It is a easy climb to the top of the fort. Maintenance work was in progress. If not for this, I might have assumed that another historical site was left to rot with no care from the Government.
The chand minar is a sight to behold against a clear blue sky. Another noteworthy feature of the cave is the andheri or dark passage. A brilliant strategy to fend off the approaching enemy! Do read the description in the picture!
It was a short visit to this fort followed by a visit to the Himroo weaving centre. The Himroo and Paithani textiles are native to Aurangabad and we got to witness weavers patiently crafting sarees using a handloom. A visit to the showroom left our pockets considerably lighter! Qualitatively, I now have a couple of sarees to remind me of a fulfilling trip.
For accommodation, we relied on booking.com and Make my trip.
Dont miss gorging on pav bhaji and vada pav in Shirdi and starting your day with some simple, yet soul-satisfying sabudhana kichidi or poha in Aurangabad.