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Better than The Bat Cave

Sorry Batman, I have been to some caves in India that might be better than yours.

I was at breakfast at the hotel when I observed a tour group in the dining hall. The local guide was speaking Japanese. The group had travelled from Japan to see the Buddhist Caves of Ajanta.

Today I ate a big breakfast. I was about to see something rare indeed.

I was excited.

Ancient History in Aurangabad

Sometimes it's easy to become blasé about historical monuments in India. There are so many.

Each state has something special or historical and reminds you of the age of the country.

The Taj Mahal is a wonder of the world and should be seen by all those who can make the journey to Agra, but it is not the only magnificent site in India.

One of my most memorable journeys in India was to Aurangabad to visit the centuries-old Ajanta Caves.

The caves in Ajanta are remarkable. A UNESCO World Heritage site, they are located in the state of Maharashtra.

There are approximately 30 caves, all miraculously carved into a cliff of solid rock.

The caves date back to the 2nd century BCE and showcase some of the finest Buddhist paintings and sculptures preserved in India.

Visitors were not permitted to drive close to the caves. The tourism department had ensured minimal vehicle movement and pollution. Visitors were required to catch buses to gain access to the tourist site.

Cave Exploration

As you climb the stairs and take your first glimpse, it is hard to accept what you are seeing. An entire cliff face appeared; sheer and solid rock. And in the curved formation, the openings to caves are visible.

The mountainside became overgrown at some point, and the incredible caves underneath were "re-discovered" by hunters in the 19th century.

The hunters must have been shocked at their 'discovery,' such is the enormity and magnificence of the caves.

Peaceful Spaces

The cave openings are relatively modest compared to the stunning interior design and artwork.

I entered the first cave. It was a blazing day outside, but the stone surfaces of the cave felt immediately cooling.

The atmosphere was dark and comforting, and there was a presence in the cave. It is hard to describe.

We continued to the subsequent caves.

Each carried a unique feature of religious or artistic significance.

The scale was immense. How could this site be excavated, let alone painted and sculptured?

Sometimes the caves carried gentle echoes of the visitors.

Some were so dark you could not see but for the glow of candlelight.

There were Buddhists praying and photographers snapping.

And a calming presence followed me around.

The dark, cool caves could have been intimidating and scary, but instead were inviting and peaceful.

What is your favourite historical site in India? Comment below.


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