Jan 29, 2008
We stood there in silence, stunned at the simplicity of the tomb: the tomb of The Great Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. This man who was endowed with all riches of his ancestors wrote in his will, "No marble sheets should shield me from the sky as I lie there one with the earth." And just as he desired only the portion where he lay is not covered with marble. The sides covered with plain white sheets. It is left open to sky, with few tulsi plants growing over it.Earlier the grave was just a plain mound of earth we were told. In 1911, Lord Curzon the then viceroy of India ordered a marble enclosure for the grave. The grave is thus enclosed in a delicately carved, lattice-work grill made of marble.
Aurangzeb didn’t want the expenses for his mausoleum to be taken from state treasury, instead he earned it all by stitching caps, copying verses from Quran and selling them. He was forever committed to simple living. He died in Ahmednagar but was buried in Khuldabad in the Dargah of his Guru, saint Sayyid Zain-ud-Din, who died in 1370 as per his wish.The tombs of Azam Shah (Aurangzeb’s second son), his wife’s and their daughter’s tomb were in another enclosure.A walk along the Dargah’s premises will take you to the various rooms, dormitories, open water tanks and tombs of other historical figures. We sensed a profound mood in the interiors which was so silent in spite of the human traffic there.
He died in March 1707, and we were there at the quiet sepulcher three centuries later, Dec 2007!
Jan 22, 2008
The temple was built by Rajarshi Bhadrsen. And the legend goes like this:
“Khuldabad previously known by the name of Badravati Nagar was ruled by King Bhadrasen, a kind and pious man. King Bhadrasen used to sit singing bhajans in praise of Lord Hanuman on the banks of Bhadrakund Talab.
One day while the King was singing the devotional songs, Lord Hanuman appeared in front of him. Listening to the captivating music, he fell asleep on the ground. Later, Lord Hanuman pleased by the astute devotion of King Bhadrasen, granted him a wish.
The good King desired that the Lord would stay there forever and fulfill the desires of all his devotees. Lord Hanuman granted the wish and disappeared. Much later, an idol of Lord Hanuman in a sleeping posture was found where he had stood. That’s how the name Bhadra Maruti or ‘Sleeping Hanuman’.”
The interiors of the temple are in marble and the ceiling at the entrance had numerous designs and hymns written with painted mirrors. The sleeping hanuman idol is covered with orange colored sheet and garlanded with a string of banyan leaves. Outside the temple there are rows of shops selling various puja articles and food items. Our next destination was the tomb of Aurangazeb in Khuldabad. Bhadravati Nagar was earlier called Ramapur and during the reign of Emperor Aurangazeb the town got its name Khuldabad.
Jan 21, 2008
Read the article here:
'Indian craftsmen, artisans used nanotech 2000 yrs ago'
"Citing examples of the famous Damascus blades used in the famous sword of Tipu Sultan and Ajanta Paintings, Nobel laureate Robert Curl Jr. said studies have found existence of carbon nano particles in both."
So what does it all mean… the wonders I saw at Ajanta and Ellora caves, the serenity and beauty of the paintings, the elaborately sculptured treasures… all result of such high technology??
That too centuries ago?!
Nanotechnology refers broadly to a field of applied science and technology whose unifying theme is the control of matter on the atomic and molecular scale, normally 1 to 100 nanometers, and the fabrication of devices with critical dimensions that lie within that size range.(wikinanotechnology)
Jan 19, 2008
It was three, the temple doors were open and we could spend more time inside the sanctum as there was no rush of devotees then. Photography inside the sanctum was a strict NO. We watched the Puja going on there for some time; the Jyotirling was covered with offerings of flowers, incense, fruits, notes and coins. The hymns and chanting soothed our tired sensory nerves. Male members have to remove their upper garments to be let inside. Outside, the temple walls were sculpted and were of brownish red color stones, same as in Ellora caves. We spent around 20 minutes there.
“Legend has it that a devout woman Kusuma offered worship to Shiva regularly by immersing a Shivalingam in a tank, as a part of her daily ritual worship. Her husband's first wife, envious of her piety and standing in society murdered Kusuma's son in cold blood. An aggrieved Ksuma continued her ritual worship, and when she immersed the Shivalingam again in the tank, her son was miraculously restored to life. Shiva is said to have appeared in front of her and the villagers, and then on is believed to have been worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlinga Ghusmeshwar.”
Dwadasa Jyotirlinga Stotra by Adi Shankaracharya:(One who daily recites the names of these Twelve Jyotirlingas in the morning and evening, his sins of seven births becomes absolved by simply remembering them.)
"सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम् ।उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोकांरममलेश्वरम् ।परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशंकरम् ।सेतुबंधे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारूकावने ।वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्रयंम्बकं गौतमीतटे ।हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये ।ऐतानि ज्योतिर्लिंगानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः ।सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति ।"
'Saurashtre Somanaatham Cha Sree Saile MallikarjunamUjjayinyaam Mahaakaalam Omkaare MamaleswaramHimalaye to Kedaram Daakinyaam BhimashankaramVaaranaasyaam cha Viswesam Trayambakam GowtameethateParalyaam Vaidyanaatham cha Naagesam DaarukaavaneSetubandhe Ramesham Grushnesam cha Shivaalaye '
Jan 14, 2008
Caves 1 to 12, Buddhist monastries
Ellora caves are 28kms north of Aurangabad. After the visit to Ajanta caves, we were eager for more! And Ellora caves had cave temples dedicated to three different religions. I don’t think any other place in world can boast of historic monuments with sculptures of three different religions. It shows how different religions have developed and existed in harmony for centuries in India. Salutations to the spirit of tolerance of our great country - India!
It is best to start sequentially when you are there, i.e. walk right up to the first cave and keep exploring and walking towards cave 16. If you don’t have enough time it would be wise to spend the time at Kailash Temple as I mentioned earlier. Cave 1 doesn’t have any sculptures or carvings, but just eight cells. They must have been used by the monks staying there.
Cave 2 is small but attractive and lavishly decorated with sculptures of Buddha...huge standing Boddhisattvas at entrance to sanctums.
Ellora caves are scooped out in the sloping hillsides, and unlike Ajanta caves, are spread over a distance of two kilometers. The entrance from Cave 1 is closed and tickets are issued only in the parking lot in front of Kailash temple. The taxi dropped us right in front of Kailash Temple the (cave 16). Facade of cave 4...delicately carved columns...
Image of Buddha radiating calm and peace ...we accessed the cave 9 through cave 6. The Ellora caves is a UNESCO world Heritage site.
Lord Buddha inside the sanctum with Boddhisatvas Avalokiteshwar and Padmapani on right and left of entrance.
Cave 10...This cave is called the Vishwakarma cave, named after the legendary architect of Universe.
Caves 11 and 12 the Do Taal and Teen Taal caves are huge and look like three storey apartments of today, the facades are plain and don’t have any sculptures.
Cave 11 was known as Do Taal as the ground floor was not discovered for a long time. The interiors are again elaborately decorated and spacious and feature two sculpture panels with images of Buddha in teaching and meditative postures.
Buddha in Pralambapad Asan, just one look at Buddha’s face and you will be forced to pause there totally mesmerized.
Caves 13 to 29, the Hindu group of caves
All the 17 caves are dedicated to Lord Shiva. In most of the caves the idols have been so skillfully carved that you get to see the details of ornaments, their hair dressings...just amazing!
Cave13 was empty... probably a resting place. Most of the other caves have Shiv Ling installed and some of them continue to be worshipped.
Cave 14 is called the Ravan Ki Khai. All the walls have sculpted images but it was sad to see many damaged. All attention by the authorities seem to be focussed on Cave 16, nobody to stop anyone from damaging these sculpted treasures.
The facade of cave 14. The long flight of steps to cave 15. It has two storeyed temple and a large courtyard. School children had come there on picnic and Ishani commented, "How lucky they are to come to such an interesting place on a picnic."
Varah Avtaar, reincarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of a boar. After visiting the Kailash temple we left for Caves 17 to 27, which was half a km away. (You will do well to)Replenish your water bottles here and stuff yourself withsome energy boosters as well.
Mahishasura mardhini and Ganesha on either side of entrance to cave 20.
Shiv Ling. Caves 17,18,19 each had ShivLings. The caves had incomplete sculpted work with traces of several colors on some of them.
Cave20. The set of caves had no care taker. Ellora caves do not seem to have any elaborate protective measures when compared with Ajanta caves. There were no guides around too.
Cave21...Nandi outside the cave placed on a high pedestal.This is the only cave where Nandi is placed outside. The facade to this cave is also very beautiful...the carvings very intricate compared to the caves of 17, 18, 19
Ganga with apsaras...extremely graceful...embodiment of celestial beauty
Ravana shaking mount Kailaash...this sculpture was found in a few other caves too. Here I took the closeup of Ravana..many hands sculpted depict the vigorously shaking action I guess...
Caves 17 to 28 stretch across a climbing path. Ishani took a breather even as Arundhati found the motivation to strike a sculpted pose...This was at cave 26
Cave 27 had the standing images of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in one group and Krishna, Balram and Shubhadra in another.
Cave 28 is situated under the waterfalls...We walked back all the way to cave 17 to the waiting taxi and drove to cave 29. Tourists climbing up the way to cave 29. As there is no proper hold along the way, and with our taxi waiting we gave the adventure a miss...
Cave 29 also called as Sita ki Nahani or Dhumar cave. At the entrance is a pair of majestically seated lions. This cave is a massive structure with huge columns and a number of halls.
There are many large scale reliefs on the walls of this cave. Ravan shaking mount Kailash.
Shiva killing Andhakasur-colossal Shiva dances in destructive fury.
Marriage of Shiva and Parvati. Click on the image for a more detailed view of the Gods witnessing the marriage.
Beside this cave was the waterfall of river Yelganga. It is dry this winter. Many tourists climbed down and took the adventurous route to cave 28. One has to visit in the rainy seasons to view the water falls there.
Caves 30 to 34, the Jain group of caves
The last of the five caves 30 to 34 are just under one kilometer from the last Hindu cave-Sita ki Nahani. We got dropped here by Taxi.
These Digambara Jain excavations date back to the period between ninth and eleventh centuries.
Cave 30A was on a nearby hill, it was sort of abandoned and not very well maintained. The work around looked incomplete too.
The other caves were at the foothill. You will need to leave footwear outside. Cave 30 resembles the Kailash temple and is rightly called the 'Chota Kailash'.
A life-sized sculpture of an elephant at the entrance of cave 32. This is a double storey cave. One can find the best examples of Jain sculpture here.
The lower floor is incomplete. The upper floor had pillars and columns richly sculpted. The delicate ornamental work quite resembles ivory carvings. (see picture) besides this were carvings of Mahavir flanked by Tirthankaras.
Cave 32 is known as Indra Sabha. The walls had carvings of elephants, lions and Tirthankaras like in the image. There was a beautiful shrine beside this... ceilings carved with lotus... large figure of Mahavira...
Cave 33 - there was Lord Indra seated on an elephant, under a banyan tree and in the opposite side Indrani Devi under a mango tree. If you observe carefully you can see a monkey plucking mangoes.
We accessed the cave 34 from the Indra Sabha and came out through its main entrance, peeping into the small rooms and dark passages on the way. At the end of it all was a mixed sounding, "Mama it is over ..."
We returned with memories, definitely tired but reverently proud of all that we had seen.