Tuesday, March 31, 2020

8 Heritage Destinations you must visit in Madhya Pradesh

Sunrise shot of the Royal Chhatris of Orchha from the top of Jehangir Mahal

A holiday to Madhya Pradesh traditionally meant visiting one of its famous national parks and watching its tigers up close in the wild. After all, it is where ‘The Jungle Book’, Mowgli, Bhalu, Bagheera and Sher Khan were born. But, there is so much more to Madhya Pradesh than just its tigers and national parks. Owing to its unique location in the heart of the Indian subcontinent, it is home to a variety of cultural and heritage sites that can be considered as the pride of India. This central location has been allowing civilizations, kingdoms, dynasties, rulers, warriors, traders, armies and many more people to overlap for thousands of years and it is due to this exchange that you see some legendary heritage sites here. Some of them have been recognized by UNESCO as world heritage sites, while the others are sites of national importance.

Here are 8 such heritage destinations that you must visit on your next trip to Madhya Pradesh. Each of these heritage destinations have had a rich past and have given something unique and special to our country and to the world.

1) Sanchi Stupa

The intricately carved torana at Sanchi Stupa

Gave torana architecture to the world

Nearest airport: Bhopal

One of India’s key heritage monuments, Sanchi Stupa was originally commissioned by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE during the reign of the Mauryan dynasty and its beautiful toranas or gateways were added under the reign of the Satavahana empire in the 1st century BCE. Together, it encompasses most of the evolutions of Indian architecture and ancient Buddhist architecture in India.

The carvings of the stories of Buddha’s life on the toranas of Sanchi were the best in the world at that time. In fact, it was from here that torana architecture spread to the rest of the world.

Such is the specialty of Sanchi Stupa that it has inspired many buildings, including our very own Rashtrapati Bhavan. You can also see it on the back of our 200 rupee currency note.

2) Khajuraho

Gorgeous sculptures on Lakshmana temple as seen from Matangeswara temple viewing platform, Khajuraho

There is more to it than just erotica

Nearest airport: Khajuraho

When we think of Khajuraho, the first thing that comes to our mind is Kamasutra and the various erotic sculptures on the temple walls. But, did you know that the architects, artisans and sculptors had a much deeper meaning to convey? Built in the 10th century by the Chandela dynasty, the temples of Khajuraho talks about how everyone needs to fulfil their desires to find their liberation. It also tries to convey that the definition of god, universe, desire, karma, etc. is different for different people and to each one his own path. This deep symbolism can be found in all of Khajuraho’s temples along with its rich array of sculptures, intricate details and expressive ancient Indian art.

This UNESCO world heritage site with its Nagara style architecture and erotic sculptures talks about the deeper meanings of Hinduism, the learnings from the holy texts and teaches us about Vaastu Shastra, Shilp Shastra, mythological stories, the finer pleasures of life and more. It is a treasure trove of beauty and information and a must experience for all of mankind.

3) Bhimbetka Rock Shelters

The Zoo at Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh

The evolution of man’s cognitive capacity from 100,000 years back

Nearest airport: Bhopal

Today, we use our laptops and phones and machines and are super connected via the internet and all modern day technology. But, we weren’t always like this. There was a time when our cognitive capacity was as much as a chimpanzee. From the time the first man originated in the Rift valley of Africa to being hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, agriculturalists to building human settlements, the journey has been a phenomenal one. Madhya Pradesh’s Bhimbetka offers a rare glimpse into that journey.

An UNESCO World heritage site, the rock shelters of Bhimbetka house some of the oldest known rock art in the Indian subcontinent and is one of the largest prehistoric complexes in the world that house cave paintings. From the first impressions of man dating 100,000 years to cave paintings of animals, hunting, planning and dancing as recent as 5,000 years back, the rock shelters of Bhimbetka show the world how the cranial capacity of the man of early times evolved. A visit here is like a journey up your family tree, but this family is not just yours, but belongs to all of mankind. A truly extraordinary place indeed!

4) Orchha

A day out exploring the heritage of Orchha

Where nature, culture and heritage all live in a pristine environment

Nearest airport: Bhopal

Hidden between the above three world heritage sites lies a medieval kingdom completely untouched by modern day civilization. It is a place where nature, culture and heritage live seamlessly in a pristine environment. Founded in 1531 by the Bundela Rajput chief, Rudra Pratap Singh, Orchha, the erstwhile capital of the Bundelkhand kingdom, is a treat to the eyes. Set by the banks of the river Betwa, royal Chhatris, the Orchha fort, the Raja Mahal and Jehangir Mahal, the Chaturbhuj temple and the Ram Raja Temple make up the heritage landscape all within a 5 square kilometer area, thus offering you a diverse, yet rich cultural experience in an extremely small area.

Orchha is the kind of place where it doesn’t matter whether you are a birdwatcher, a nature lover, a spiritual person, an art and culture lover or just a simple tourist. It has something to appeal to all kinds of travelers.

5) Chanderi

A portrait of a Chanderi saree weaver

Gave the fine Chanderi silk saree to the world

Nearest airport: Bhopal

The famous horror-comedy Bollywood movie ‘Stree’ was shot here. So were a few key scenes of the Sui Dhaga movie. It is another one of those offbeat cultural destinations of Madhya Pradesh. I am referring to Chanderi, a town of historical importance that is located on the borders of Malwa and Bundelkhand. Ruled by the Bundela Rajputs and the Malwa Sultans, Chanderi was an important location in the trade route through Central India and it was this popularity that led to its many attacks and ruler changes. One such attack at the Battle of Chanderi, led by the Mughal Emperor Babur also led to the disturbing Jauhar ritual where the entire village died that night.

But, Chanderi is not all but its sad stories, but also about its rich heritage, monuments, Jain temples, trade markets, handicraft and more. The Badal Mahal, the Jama Masjid, the Chanderi Museum, the Kati Ghati, the Jauhar site and the fort are a few places to appreciate this rich heritage. And of course, there are the handloom centers where the traditional Chanderi sarees are made. Chanderi’s weaving culture began in the 2nd century, but its first saree came about in the 13th century when the Koshti weavers migrated here and reached its peak during the reign of the Mughals. Today, the traditional Chanderi sarees are a work of pure art with their traditional coin, floral art, peacocks and geometric designs woven into silk and cotton and one that you can take as a special souvenir back home.

6) Bhojpur

Offering prayers at the Bhojpur Shiva Temple, Madhya Pradesh

Home to the largest Shiva lingam in the world

Nearest airport: Bhopal

Another totally offbeat destination, Bhojpur, situated on the banks of the Betwa river, is home to many incomplete temples, quarries, rock drawings, cave of Parvati, a palace and more. The highlight of Bhojpur has to be its 11th century Bhojeswar temple, built by King Bhoja, the most celebrated ruler of the Paramara dynasty. This massive temple, though incomplete, is home to the largest Shiva Lingam in the world. Not only is the Shiva lingam massive, but it is unique as it is built in 3 tiers, symbolizing the trinity. The first level at the bottom refers to Lord Brahma, the middle tier refers to Lord Vishnu and the lingam refers to Lord Shiva. Together, they are about 27 feet tall and it is surrounded by extremely tall pillars and a beautiful dome. Most of the temple was in ruins and has been reconstructed by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Go to Bhojpur for a truly rustic experience and see a site whose size is close to the temples from the Greek times.

7) Taj-ul-Masajid

Taj-ul-Masajid - one of the largest mosques in the world

One of the largest mosques in Asia

Nearest airport: Bhopal

Bhopal is fondly referred to as the city of lakes, but it should be referred to as the city of Begums. It were the begums who called the shots here. They ruled Bhopal in the 19th century and are one of the interesting exceptions to the otherwise male Islam rulers and leaders elsewhere in the country at that time. One of the their key accomplishments was starting the construction of a mosque in the 19th century. Built using Indo-Sarcenic and Mughal architecture, the Taj-ul-Masajid is the largest mosque in India and one of the largest mosques of Asia.

As the name suggests, it is indeed the crown of all mosques. Bearing close resemblance to the Jama Masjid of Delhi and the Badshahi mosque of Lahore, the highlight of Taj-ul-Masajid has to be its main pink facade, its octagonal minarets, marble domes, recessed archways and the large congregation space in front of it. It is the heart of Bhopal and hence all visitors to Bhopal should start their trip from here.

8) Udayagiri Caves

Varaha avatar where Lord Vishnu rescues bhudevi from the clutches of demon king Hiranyakashyapa

Home to some of the oldest surviving Hindu temples and iconography in India

Nearest airport: Bhopal

A 4th to 5th century heritage gem of the Gupta empire, the Udayagiri caves are twenty rock-cut caves that contain iconography of Vaishnavism, Shaktism, Shaivism and one that is dedicated to Jainism. Considered a sacred land by the people between the 5th and the 12th centuries, the Udayagiri caves are as popular for their Jaina and other inscriptions as they are for their attractive sculptures. Other items of interest here are rock shelters, petroglyphs, water systems, fortifications and habitation mounds.

While the climb to the top of the hill criss-crossing through the different caves are amazing, the thing that most definitely catches your eye and captivates all attention is the colossal Varaha avatar in Cave number 5. In this cave is the massive sculpture of Lord Vishnu in his avatar as Varaha saving Bhudevi from the clutches of demon-king Hiranyakashyapa and restoring balance to mother earth. It is believed that a nearby water body used to touch the middle of this cave, which means that it actually looked like a giant Varaha was rescuing Bhudevi from the ocean. Today’ the water levels have receded, but it certainly allows you to relish the spectacular image in your head.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Heritage Gem called Ellora Caves: A Photo Essay

The magnificent Kailasa temple at Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

I don’t know why the Kailasa temple at Ellora is not one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s excavation, carving and stature is unparalleled in the whole world. After all, it is the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world.

Ellora caves is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world. Dating from the 6th century CE, this UNESCO World Heritage site houses monuments and artwork is dedicated to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Like I mentioned in my earlier photo essay article on Ajanta Caves, the 2200 year old rock cave wonder, photographs don’t allow you to experience the magnitude of its magnificence and size, but it still gives you a good idea about one of India’s best heritage sites.

The idea is to give you a sneak peek into the rich architecture, stunning sculptures, gorgeous carvings and inhuman excavation capabilities of Ellora caves through this photo essay. I hope it takes you on a virtual tour through one of Incredible India’s rich heritage gems while all of us stay indoors during the lockdown.

Above photo: Every nook and cranny of Kailasha temple is carved or sculpted with gods, goddesses, mythological stories and more. Just this one temple can take you a good half day just to see it properly.

Inside the Jain temples of Ellora

Above photo:
Each cave at Ellora looks different because it was built during a different time under a different ruler and with different artisans. This is how it looks inside the gorgeous Jain temples of Ellora, particularly Cave 32.

Admiring the view of Ellora Caves Kailasa temple - one of the top wonders of the world

Above photo: Kailasa temple was built by chiselling a mountain top down for over 200 years. One can simply stare at it and wonder with an open mouth as to how this was possible 1400 years ago with no machines or technology.

Intricate carvings on the lower deck walls of Kailasa temple, Ellora Caves

Above photo: The relief panels on the lower deck of Kailasa temple showcase mythological stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. And just to give you perspective, this panel is over 30 feet tall.

Carpenter's cave at Cave 10, Ellora Caves

Above photo: Cave 10 at Ellora is very similar in design to the Buddhist caves of Ajanta. Known as the Carpenter’s cave, this is a chaityagraha where Buddha is in a preaching position.

Shiva as Natarajar - Cave 15, Ellora Caves

Above photo: Learning about the life of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati is one of the special experiences of Ellora Caves. Each aspect of their life has been beautifully sculpted on the rock temple walls. This is Shiva as Natarajar in Cave 15.

Ellora Caves Kailasa Temple at a glance

Above photo: Kailasa temple or Cave 16, the center of all attention at Ellora Caves. This is how it looks as soon you get your entry tickets and enter the main trail.

Kailasa temple - the single largest rock excavation in the world

Above photo: Kailasa temple’s art and creativity can be experienced at the ground level, but to experience its sheer size, you will have to climb the steep trail along the sides of the temple. This trail which leads you above the temple and that makes you stand on the same hill as the temple gives you an idea of its massive size and also allows you to admire its beauty from a different perspective.

Parvati and Shiva at leisure - Rameshwar temple, Cave 21, Ellora

Above photo: Rameshwar temple or Cave 21 is one of the gems of Ellora Caves. This Hindu temple is full of gorgeous sculptures of the gods and goddesses. Here is a sculpture of Shiva and Parvati sitting in leisure at Kailasa while the devalok watches them.

The top view of Kailasa temple, Ellora

Above photo: Another top view of the Kailasa temple at Ellora shows you the attention to detail even while carving the top of the world. It feels like these 4 lions were to guide the people in the sky to the temple.

The beautiful Jain temples at Ellora, Maharashtra

Above photo: The Jain temples at Ellora might not have the size of the Buddhist temples or the grandeur of the Hindu temples, but they certainly make up through intricate and delicate carvings.

Stunning carvings on Kailasha temple, Ellora caves, Maharashtra

Above photo: A side view of the Kailasa temple at Ellora showing you the multiple levels of the temple, its carved pillars and its attention to detail.

Parvati's wedding to Shiva, Rameshwar temple, Cave 21, Ellora

Above photo: Another gorgeous sculpture from the Rameshwar temple or Cave 21. This is Parvati’s wedding to Shiva while the other gods and goddess look on.

The magical Kailasa temple of Ellora Caves, Maharashtra

Above photo: One of the best experiences at Ellora Caves is to climb to the top of the Kailasa temple. This location gives you a good lay of the land and allows you to appreciate the top down excavation of the mountain that you are standing on.

Lord Varaha killing Hiraniyakashyap - Cave 15, Ellora Caves

Above photo: Ellora caves is full of beautiful mythological stories. This is in Cave 15 where Lord Vishnu takes the avatar of Varaha to kill the demon king Hiranyakashyapa and free Bhudevi from his clutches. This fight took place in the deepest parts of the ocean.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Discover these hidden gems of Madhya Pradesh

Mandu, Madhya Pradesh

Domestic and international travelers to India usually know the popular tourist destinations that our beautiful country has to offer. But, there are so many hidden gems out there that are as beautiful and offer a rich experience to its visitor. Shouldn’t we visit such lesser known places? Let’s take the state of Madhya Pradesh as a case in point. It’s popular tourist destinations are its tiger reserves of Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench, Khajuraho and Sanchi Stupa. While these destinations are fabulous, there is more to the state of Madhya Pradesh. And not only are they as special, they span the full spectrum of diversity ranging from culture, heritage, nature, adventure and more rich wildlife avenues. Below are four such lesser known destinations that need to be a part of every Madhya Pradesh holiday itinerary.

Bhimbetka Caves, Madhya Pradesh

1. Bhimbetka – is an archaeological treasure and these rock shelters encompass over 500 caves. They exhibit the earliest traces of human life and gives us a sneak peek into the evolution of our cognitive capacity. Its cave paintings dating from 100,000 to 5,000 years show the evolution of man’s creative capacity and glimpses of life then, with themes such as animals and early evidences of dance and hunting. They are the oldest known rock art in the Indian subcontinent. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003, its scenic beauty will leave you spellbound. These rock shelters are surrounded by rich forest flora and fauna and the wide mountains ranges of the Satpura.

2. Mandu – is an ancient city dating back to 6th century BCE and that is located about 100 km from Indore in Madhya Pradesh. It’s Mandu Fort, the largest fortified fort in Asia, is witness to the legendary romance of Rani Roopmati and Baz Bahadur. The places to visit in Mandu are divided into three main groups -- the Royal Enclave, the Village Group, and Rewa Kund Group. The star attraction being the Jahaz Mahal that is a part of the Royal Enclave. Mandu has a lot more to offer than what catches the eye and there is a lot to explore here. Do remember to visit this heritage city during the monsoons to see it in its full splendour.

Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh

3. Pachmarhi – is a hill station, the highest point in Madhya Pradesh and is popularly referred to as the, ’Queen of Satpura’. A number of old colonial properties that function as hotels today add a very colonial aura to the place. This picturesque town is a part of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is home to leopards, giant squirrels, gaurs and other wild animals. A must do at Pachmarhi is to explore the offbeat Satpura National Park Safari in an open gypsy ; it is not very crowded and has amazing wildlife. Five sandstone cut caves on the hill top inside this national park are believed to be the residing spot of Pandavas during their exile. This, along with the Mahadeo Hills and Jata Shankar Temple make it a very alluring spot for religiously inclined people. To add some streaks of adventure for those visiting Pachmarhi, the Madhya Pradesh government organised a thrilling cycling tour, ‘Explore Satpura’, in August 2019 that lets cycling enthusiasts cover the full stretch of the Satpura. Many cycling enthusiasts from different states participated in it, riding through unexplored paths; it indeed was an adrenaline pumping adventure.

Hidden Orchha by the Betwa river, Madhya Pradesh

4. Orchha
– is where nature meets culture and heritage. Located by the banks of the Betwa river, this erstwhile capital of the Bundela kingdom is home to some fantastic temples, a fort, palaces and chhatris (cenotaphs) all set in a beautiful rural setting that is surrounded by pristine forests. A walk through the streets of Orchha make you feel as if time has come to a full stop here. Whether you are inside the Ram Raja or Chatur Bhuj temple, watching sunrise by the banks of the Betwa river, watching vultures near the Chhatris or admiring the Indo-Saracenic architecture of the beautiful palaces and mahals, you will notice how time has slowed down to help you experience the true beauty of Orchha’s rich legacy.

Monday, March 23, 2020

What you should do if you have been in an accident with a truck

What do do when you have an accident with a truck

Any road accident is scary, but when it involves a truck, it is terrifying. Whether you are driving a truck yourself or you are in a car, the first steps you take after an accident are vital, and there is a lot to think about. You may need medical attention. And, if you weren’t at fault, then you will need to pursue legal action and fight for compensation; you should speak to a truck accident lawyer.

It is essential that you stay at the scene of the crash, phone the emergency services if needed, check for injuries, document evidence, exchange information, and are cautious about what you say.

Stay at the scene of the crash

Leaving the incident could constitute a hit and run. Therefore, stay where you are until either emergency services have arrived or a pick-up truck. If you need urgent medical attention, then you should try not to move too much. Either way, you should leave the vehicle where it is so that authorities can get a clear idea of what happened.

Call for help

If a truck was involved, then it is likely that you will need assistance from emergency services. Therefore, you should phone 9-9-9. Safety is your top priority. Often medical staff arrive with the police who will gather evidence.

Check for injuries

Often crashes involving trucks involve several other vehicles or pedestrians. They may need assistance first.

Gather evidence

Police will likely gather witness statements and take photos. However, if you are well enough and the police don’t arrive, then you will need to do this yourself. Get the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. You will also need to take photos, including skid-marks and road signs - gather anything which may have contributed to the crash.

Keep all of the information you gather handy for pursuing legal action; this can often take months to be resolved. You can find a list of information you are looking for here.

Be mindful about what you say

Don’t make any statements regarding the accident. You may not think that you are admitting fault, but anything you say could be twisted. It can be an overwhelming situation, and your instinct could be to apologise. Stay calm and remain vague, have some time to reflect on what happened before speaking to the appropriate people.

Report it

As well as calling emergency services, you will need to speak to your insurance company. Your insurance company will also be able to advise you about what to do at the scene and the weeks leading afterwards.

If it wasn’t your fault and you are unable to use your car, you should fight for a hire car.

Speak to a doctor

Your health should be a top priority. Therefore, you should see a doctor after the incident and follow any advice that they have, which could include follow-up appointments. This will also help your legal case, as you will be able to prove how the crash has affected you.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The 2200 year old Rock Cave Wonder called Ajanta Caves: A Photo Essay

The iconic cave paintings of Ajanta Caves

It is home to some of the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art. UNESCO calls them masterpieces of Buddhist religious art. I am talking about the rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments called Ajanta caves that is located about 120 kms from Aurangabad city in Maharashtra.

Everything about Ajanta is mesmerizing. Be its U-shaped gorge along the meandering Waghore river with its umpteen waterfalls, its sheer engineering marvel, its acoustical capabilities or its creative oomph that one can experience through paintings, sculptures and carvings, it is a treat to the eyes and an experience of a lifetime. 30 caves, the oldest about 2200 years old, portraying stunning rock architecture with expressive paintings, pictorial tales and interesting sculpting beg to be explored.

This photo essay is an attempt to give you a sneak peek into its diverse beauty. However, I would recommend that you see it in person to get the true experience.

Above photo: One of Ajanta’s most iconic paintings, it depicts the gentle features of Padmapani or Avalokiteshwara, a Bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. The colors may have faded over the years, but its grace and three dimensional beauty still remains.

Waghor river, the forests, the Sahyadris and the Ajanta caves

Above photo: A few kilometers from Ajanta caves uphill through the forest brings you to a view point from where you can see all the 30 caves in one way along with the entire gorge landscape and the meandering Waghore river. A much recommended location on your next trip to Ajanta caves.

Stunning worship hall of Cave 19, Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

Above photo: Cave 19 is one of the top caves to visit in Ajanta. It’s large worship hall is made up of beautifully decorated pillars, an arched roof, many sculptures and beautiful acoustics.

Admiring the Ajanta landscape while sitting on the steps of one of its caves

Above photo: It is an absolute joy to sit in one of Ajanta’s caves and just admire the entire cave landscape. And may be even visualize how it would have been 200 years ago.

Ajanta caves build along the canyon walls of the Waghor river

Above photo: If you walk downward from the viewpoint to Ajanta caves, you will come across a steep drop in the gorge, a large 7 tiered waterfall and the Waghore river flowing by the Ajanta caves 30 to 1 (in descending order).

Inside the gorgeously carved cave 17 of Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

Above photo: Cave 17, another one of Ajanta’s gems is home to an intricately carved inner shrine with a large statue of Buddha, many wall paintings and ceiling work.

Shaddanta Jataka - 6 tusked elephant giving away his tusks - Cave 17, Ajanta Caves

Above photo: This wall painting in Cave 17 portrays a story from the Jataka tale. Called Shaddanta Jataka, it is about a 6 tusked elephant giving away his tusks.

Intricate work on the pillars inside Cave 17, Ajanta Caves

Above photo: Ajanta is not simple rock cut caves, but one that has been painstakingly carved with beautiful designs and motifs.

Cave 26 - one of the best sculpting in Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

Above photo: Cave 26 has to be one of Ajanta’s best caves when it comes to sculpting, sheer size and the stories it tells through its sculpting.

Mara and his daughters try to disturb Buddha's meditation - Cave 26, Ajanta Caves

Above photo: A sculpting story in Cave 26 where the demon king Mara asks his daughters to seduce Buddha and break his meditation.

The sculpted world inside Cave 26, Ajanta Caves

Above photo: Another angle to show you more beauty from Cave 26, one of the top caves to explore in Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra.

Beautiful main shrine of Cave 2, Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra

Above photo: Cave 2, along with Cave 1 is an absolute treat to the eye. The wall paintings, the 3 dimensional colored ceiling, the Buddha statue, the carved pillars and the amazing work in every nook and cranny makes this cave extra special.

Hall inside cave 1, Ajanta Caves

Above photo: Cave 1 is famous for its paintings that have stood the test of time. There are so many things to see and learn here. Just this cave should take you an hour if not more.

Murals on the ceiling of cave 1, Ajanta Caves

Above photo: This is how the ceiling of Cave 1 looks like. Murals adorn not just the walls, but the ceilings too. The motifs talk about life at that time.

Mahajanaka Jataka tale where the king abdicates his throne to become an ascetic

Above photo: This wall painting in Cave 1 is from the Mahajanaka jataka tale where the king (Lord Buddha) abdicates his throne to become an ascetic.

Cave 1 with the most famous wall paintings of Ajanta Caves

Above photo: The view that greets you as soon as you enter Cave 1. Everything about it is special. It’s wall paintings are legendary. Its ceiling murals are amazing. Its pillar carvings are spectacular and even the statue of Lord Buddha in the inner shrine is splendid. One of Ajanta’s top attractions.

Ajanta Caves - Cave 2 fresco - Buddha in Tushita heaven

Above photo: Another one of the wall paintings in Cave 2 of Ajanta. This depicts Lord Buddha in Tushita heaven. You can also see the mandala like carvings on the wall beside the ceiling and more colorful murals on the ceiling.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Don’t miss having this best thali meal in Aurangabad during your Ajanta Ellora trip

Must have Thali at Bhoj Thali restaurant, Aurangabad, Maharashtra

The cave temples and monasteries at Ajanta and Ellora are some of India’s best heritage wonders and they deserve to be in everyone’s travel bucket-list, that is if they are not already there. However, be ready to spend a lot of energy walking long distances, climbing stairs and ascending different view points in the sun. Is spending energy bad? Certainly not! But, then it gives you the perfect excuse to gorge on some delicious food.

While you are exploring the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, you cannot be bothered to have a proper meal as you need a walk a good amount in the sun. Hence, what works well is a light meal and lots of liquids. But, when you return to your accommodation in Aurangabad after your day trip, that is when you can look to recover all those lost calories by indulging in the best vegetarian thali meal in the whole of Aurangabad. And the perfect place to have such a great thali meal is Bhoj Thali restaurant, an iconic name in the Aurangabad dining circuit. Serving a mix of Rajasthani and Gujarati cuisines, their colorful, tasty and rich thali takes you on a quick trip to culinary heaven. Their menu seems to change every day, but the number of items on your plate usually remain the same. My favorites in this thali meal are the sweet kadhi, jowar roti with jaggery and ghee, masala khichdi and the rich ghee dessert. These items and the entire meal are a perfect way to celebrate your day and prepare yourself for another action packed day in the sun climbing historic sites and gorgeous locations. A highly recommended meal during your Ajanta Ellora trip.

If the thali is a bit too heavy for you, you can try out these other iconic food joints of Aurangabad.

1) Gayatri Chaat bhandaar at Gulmandi for some delicious Halwayi foods like Kachori, Samosa, Aloo wada and Moong bhajiya.

2) Lucky juice centre at Paithangate for milk shakes, juices and faloodas, and

3) Tara paan centre at Usmanpura for one of Aurangabad’s famous paans

Location: There are 2 branches of Bhoj Thali restaurant. One is called Bhoj Thali restaurant and it is located near the Central bus stand in Samarth Nagar. The other branch is called Shahi Bhoj restaurant and it is located near CIDCO bus stand.

Price: INR 250 per thali plus taxes