Sunday 4th October. A little slow to get up for 4.30am we made it out of the hotel past the sleeping man on the floor at 5.30am in the rain. The streets were full of water and drainage seems to fail here as large pools had formed in places along the streets. At the bus station we boarded the grotty bus for Ajanta which left around 6am.the trip took 2 hours through lovely green farmlands. The rain continued on and off. At Ajanta we headed into the more touristy caves complex than Ellora caves site. Foreigners pay 250 rupees ($6.50 Aus) whereas Indians pay 5 rupees ( 12.5 cents) to enter the caves. We were quickly accosted by “nice” men insisting they walk with us to show us where to get brekky and then of course come to see their shops!!!!!! The brekky was paratha bread with potato curry inside, samosas and coffee. The caves were 5km from the complex by bus to a gorge where the caves are carved out of the cliff faces
. The caves similar to Ellora are hand carved but older dating from 2nd century BC to the 8th century AD when they were abandoned. These caves are Buddhist and most famous for the wonderfully ornate paintings on the insides of the caves made similarly to the Italian style of frescoes but with a different technique which was not using the paint on wet but dry surfaces. The caves were discovered in 1819 by British from the East India Company who came upon them from the jungle and viewed them across the gorge. There are 28 caves here and some more elaborate than others. The intricacies of the paintings are stunning as well as the carved Buddhas and interiors of the temples inside. By 1pm we had finished in the caves and walked along the river back to catch the bus to the touristy complex where we were “found” by the men and each had a look at their shops and bought little mementos of course!! Suckers always. Despite being told the bus doesn’t stop where we got off this morning (in an effort to get us to use the taxi nearby! we had a short wait for the bus to continue another hour to Jalgaon the town where we would catch the train to Varanasi at lunchtime Tuesday. The timing was tricky as the Ajanta caves are closed Mondays so we had to go today meaning we spend 2 nights in Jalgaon (not a sightseeing town at all) . Never mind we could do with a chill day. At Jalgaon we headed to the recommended (by guide book and Ajanta shopkeeper) Plaza Hotel near the train station which suited us. What a pleasant and friendly owner the man was and the hotel spotless and good value at 500rupees for an ensuite room with TV and fan
. The rain continued and we hung out in the room watching THE MotoGP from Estoril Portugal live on the Indian cable sports channel. What excellent luck as we had seen the qualifying on telly in Aurangabad and knew it was on. We enjoyed the races and lost a couple of minutes here and there due to the rain knocking out the satellite. Poor Rossi 4th but yay for Lorenzo and Stoner 1st and 2nd. Indian hotels are funny you don’t get top sheets often in the cheaper ones. In this one we had towels which was a bonus and my sarong doubles as my top sheet in this instance. The owner (I have forgotten his name sorry) was so so helpful he advised on good restaurants for us so tonight we had an excellent thali (tin plate with lots of little pots of different curries, pickles, raita and dal etc) nearby. This is a thali restaurant where no words are spoken you just sit down they place the dishes in front of you and you keep eating till you are full as they keep topping up the pots and the parathas. All up the meal cost 2 dollars which included 2 cups of buttermilk. The best meal we have had so far. Back at the hotel we watched telly and slept well after eating so well as the rain fell.
Monday 5th October. A big sleep in today , seems we just keep having to catch up on some sleep when we can. Anyway folks the best yet as we hung in bed till 2pm!!!Emerging from the room fresh and rested we headed to another restaurant suggested and had a great meal (again the only non Indians for miles) of rice, pakoras, dhal and coffee. Wayne ate byriani rice and nan (nan is his favourite Indian bread). We headed then to the internet café and checked our emails (none for me - maybe they’re not getting through). And the rain teemed down again. We returned to the hotel with little else to do. We did not eat again today. We watched a few English spoken movies- all B grade and heavily censored for the Indian audiences.