Memories of India – Ajanta caves

You can read the first part of Memories of India here.

We were one the first who reached the parking lot of the Ajanta complex that morning. There were only three cars and one bus there. My driver showed me the way to the bus stop and waved his hand saying: “We meet here once you are done with the visit.” I tried to take a picture of his face in my head to remember him. Who knows me well can rightly say it had no sense. But I thought it might work. And one more important information to find my driver later, we have a white car.

I walked towards the bus stop. But to get there was not easy. The only way was walking through the crowd of vendors that had their stands there. From my experience from Asia, I knew they try to sell anything they have, and if you are not buying, they are not happy. Once I got some nice umbrella back pat from a woman in Bangkok when I said politely, no thank you.

It was similar here. Guides were waiting for you and offering different services. Some offered to  show you around and to carry your shoes, as you have to take them off when entering the caves, but they won’t tell you much about the site.

People at the stands introduce themselves with their names and want to know yours as well. They also make sure you stop by once you are leaving. They have a great memory, no matter how difficult your name seems to be. So, when leaving, you will hear your name from everywhere. You do not want to spend money, and you are politely saying no? That does not work much. Patience is needed. Or I recommend walking fast through the stands without looking at anybody’s face. You have to take it as a normal part of the touristic sites.

I have brown eyes and black hair, so my friends joked with me that I just make that dot on my forehead, and I will fit perfectly.

If you want to feel like a star, go to India. I will explain it to you right away.  

I made it quite fast to get to the “historical” bus. Some Indians were already lining up there, so I joined them. One by one, they started to look at me. I had to be very exotic in their eyes. One guy came closer and asked for a selfie with me, and suddenly a woman was asking the same. And later on, the whole group was taking pictures with me. They were all kind, smiling, and wanted to take photos and selfies again and again. The bus driver saved me when he asked us to enter the bus. But even on the way, the taking selfie activity continued.

Finally, we made it to reach the complex, and I was very happy I was among the early birds to see it. One of the guides advised me to start from the other end than usually recommended, and it was a great idea. I was alone in many of the caves. It was nicely quiet, and I could enjoy the magic atmosphere alone. It was breathtaking. I could not resist, and here and there, I chanted yogi Om. It was amazing. Inner peace flooded me. I could image this was the right place for meditation.

It was a beautiful feeling to enter the sacred places that remember the human presence for so long. 

Ajanta

is a Buddhist complex of 29 rock-cut cave monuments forming a horseshoe shape. Since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The oldest monuments were from 2nd-1st century BC when Buddhism was blooming in India. The youngest parts are from 5th-6th century CE. For centuries they were abandoned until they were discovered in the 19th century by British soldier John Smith.

Ajanta became known mainly thanks to well-preserved paintings depicting the life of India, Buddha and Buddhist legends. Not only walls but also ceilings and columns are painted. In some caves, paintings are missing entirely, but they have rich plastic decoration. Mandalas, lotus ornaments, and goddess Harith with a child are quite frequent. The reclining Buddha is also well known.

The caves are relatively dark without significant lighting to protect the paintings from being damaged. So it is good to have a flashlight with you or have your mobile charged.

It takes a while to explore all the caves and enjoy the magical atmosphere. During the day, the number of tourists increased, and I had no chance to be alone in the last caves. It was so different.

On the way back, the area with the stands was busy. I wanted to buy some nice souvenirs to remember this magic place. It worked well to have my money divided into different places in the wallet so that the vendors could not see how much money I had left. Because when you pay, your hands are checked if maybe you could spend a bit more.

When I finally got to the parking lot, I started to laugh. I knew our car was white, but when I looked around, white cars were everywhere. There were many drivers, and they all seemed to be the same to me. I stopped where I was and waited. Some drivers looked at me, and I thought they understood I had no idea where my driver or car was. In a few minutes, somebody asked me if I was ready to go home. I was only hoping that this guy knew well that I was his client, and he was my driver.

I did not eat much during the day. I only had some biscuits and water, so I was starving. The different time zone got to me, and I got very tired. My driver wanted to stop at some street stand so I could buy something to eat, but I thought I’d rather wait we are in town. I didn’t want the digestive troubles, that you probably can’t avoid in India, hit me the first day already.

The streets were busy again. I liked the painted and decorated trucks. I wanted to take a few pictures of them, but they drove so fast, so it was impossible. Finally, we found one parked, and the driver was friendly and stopped right in front of it.

It was already dark when we arrived at the hotel. Luckily they had a great restaurant there, so I had a delicious Indian dinner. Even though it was not the right time to go to bed, I could not keep my eyes open anymore. I wrote some whats up messages, closed the curtains, and fell asleep immediately.

To be continued 🙂

 

Hana Bartošová
„I love sound healing, and I have been teaching yoga for several years. With the help of both, I will show you how to discover your own strength, restore your inner balance, and learn about self-healing process. I will guide you to your conscious yoga and your inner peace." You can read my full story here
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