Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mumbai and Ajanta caves - 18-22 December 2010

Traffic in Mumbai as we make our way from the airport to Navi (New) Mumbai where our friends the Gosavis live

Vijaya Gosavi with her granddaughter, Anina, and Gopal
Local shopping mall, ready for Christmas
Gopal, Lena (Vijaya's daugher), Anina, and Vijaya at the entrance to Lena's architectural firm
En route to see the Ajanta caves, Vijaya and I rode in the women's car on the train to the main Mumbai station
Train to Aurangabad
Bus fares to the Ajanta caves outside Aurangabad.  Notice the difference in fare between Indians and foreigners.
Ajanta caves

from Wikipedia     The Ajanta Caves (Ajiṇṭhā leni; Marathi: अजिंठा लेणी), MaharashtraIndia are 31 rock-cut cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BCE. The caves include paintings and sculptures considered to be masterpieces of both Buddhist religious art (which depict theJataka tales)[1] as well as frescos which are reminiscent of the Sigiriya paintings in Sri Lanka.[2] The caves were built in two phases starting around 200 BCE, with the second group of caves built around 600 CE.[3f

from the "Ajanta" booklet, World Heritage Series, Archaeological Survey of India (the introduction by R.C. Misra, Director General)

Rock-cut caves near Ajanta, possessing perfect specimens of Indian mural paintings were discovered in 1819 by
a band of British officers while hunting a tiger.

These caves excavated in a semi-circular scarp overlooking a narrow sinuous gorge, includes five chaitya-grihas
and some twenty-five viharas or monasteries.  They were excavated between the second century BC and seventh 
century AD and served as sanctuaries for Buddhist monks during the monsoons.

The caves of Ajanta are famous for their architectural qualities, graceful elegance and serenity of sculptures, and
above all, the world-famous paintings that adorn their interiors.

The paintings are intensely religious in tone and theme and depict the lives and times of Buddha and 
Bodhisattvas.  They also act as a sort of illuminated history of those times - court scenes, street scenes, cameos
of domestic life as well as animal and bird sanctuaries.  These murals have stood the test of the highest standard
of mural paintings.

The pictures below I borrowed from the internet because ours didn't turn out well.  There was no light in the caves.  The internet pictures were taken when the caves were lit by electric lighting - very beautiful.  But eventually they found that the light was deteriorating the ancient paints and colors, so they took them out.  Gopal took our pictures, because my cataracts were so bad at that time, I couldn't see in the dark at all.

Antechamber ceiling

Bodhisattva Padmapani
Our picture of the Bodhisattva Padmapani

Buddha in Padmasana

Cave 4

Cave 4 tempera

Cave 10, pillar and wall

Cave 10 stupa

Cave 12

Cave 26 sculpture

Ceiling outside cave

Monks' bedchambers, Cave 13

Pillar sculpture

Reclining Buddha

Scenes from Jakata tales

Our camera was not able to take good photos in the dark, but this is restoration work going on in the dark.

It was soooooo hot in the sun and I had no hat

On our way back to Aurangabad from Ajanta, I took this picture of plastic water bottles through a curtain behind the bus driver's seat.  Plastic bottles by the zillions everywhere!  So depressing.

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