Aurangabad India; Exploring the Ellora and Ajanta caves
As I am on a business trip in Bangalore, I have to admit, I am a little too bored with the malls. Being a traveller, I longed for the historic places, old temples, basically an adventure. Well, since I am already in India, a country rich in history and culture, I might as well explore the country one weekend at a time.
I started off with Aurangabad located in the Maharashtra state. The province share the same state with Mumbai and Pune. Both “cities” have their own distinction but I opted to explore Aurangabad instead to see the 15th century caves. Cities never really excite me much.
This post is originally published in Kristine’s blog here.
How to get there
From Bangalore, I took the plane from Kempegowda Airport to Pune Airport via Indigo Low-Cost airline. As I went to Aurangabad on such late notice (I booked my flight a week before my desired weekend), I was faced with a very expensive airfare for an hour flight. (INR 11,620 = PHP 8,409).
I didn’t regret it though. I was already in India and it’s one weekend that I cannot afford to skip for a vacation. I could have ridden the train, but because I had to come back for next week’s work (I am on a business trip, not a vacation!) means I cannot afford to have a long journey to and from.
Upon arriving in Pune Airport, go straight to the Prepaid booth located outside the terminal (just cross the airport drop off). The “Prepaid booth” within the arrival area is an expensive tourist taxi booth. Calling their booth “Prepaid” is just a way catch the attention of the newbies in Pune Airport. The “Prepaid booth” will price you at INR 1,000 from Pune airport to Shivaji Nagar Bus Stand which is quite expensive considering that it’s just 20 minutes away.
The real prepaid booth outside the airport only costs INR 250.00 to Shivaji Nagar Bus Stand.
I have prebooked my Volvo bus ticket from Shivaji Nagar, Pune to Aurangabad Bus Station via MSRTC website. Note that majority of transportation website in India do not accept non Indian debit / credit cards. I had to ask for help from my indian colleague to book my tickets while I pay her in cash.
One way costs INR 616 = PHP 445.80 for 6 hours of travel.
I highly recommend the AC-Shivaji bus type as they won’t have any other stops except for AHMEDNAGAR. All other buses have few stopovers that the travel will take you many hours.
Schedule your bus timings accordingly as the travel time varied in my case.
Shivaji Nagar Bus Stand to Aurangabad = 6 hours due to heavy traffic in Pune (peak hour)
Aurangabad to Shivaji Nagar Bus Stand = 4 hours (non peak hour)
Accommodations in Aurangabad
Upon arrival in Aurangabad, stay in a decent hostel. Avoid staying at Hotel Indraprasth where I did. The rooms are filthy, the hotel guys will try their best to sell you their private car for a ridiculous price and the thermos sitting on my bedside table had human vomit inside and I had to stop myself from puking for some weeks.
When I got to Ellora caves, I got myself a tour guide named Anish which costs INR 700 for 5 hours of historical background of each caves. The good thing about getting Anish is that he will take you first to the less crowded caves so that you can have the individual caves by yourself while the usual tourist traffic will start with the most famous Kailasa Cave. Believe me, this has saved me time and gave me beautiful self photos.
The following day was reserved for Ajanta Caves which is farther from Aurungabad (2 hours).
Along the way, there are plenty of cheap Masala Chai stalls that I can’t help but get seconds as it was so good!
A lot of locals would love to have their pictures taken with you because of your skin color. I tried to accommodate a few but when they are already forming a line waiting for their turns to have their pictures taken (with you), I try to say no in a polite way.
Tip: Be careful as they will try to sell foreigners “Ajanta” or “Ellora” stones and candle holders for minimum INR 3,000. They are very, very cheap in Amazon india and in department stores across the country. (They will even tell you that it changes color when dipped into water.)
Follow Kristine and her adventures on her blog ‘Musings of my Soul’.