Badami (Feb 18)
We were supposed to spend two days in Badami, but the hotel wouldn't honor our reservation for the first night because they had a large group booking, so we had to travel from Hampi and do our sightseeing all in one day. It was a bit rushed, but we did get to see everything. The hotel we stayed at, the Badami Court, was rather rundown but it did have a good restaurant with some strange items on the menu.
We stuck to more conventional items for dinner !
There are three sites in and around Badami, with the usual mix of temples and other buildings. The main difference from the buildings we had seen in Hampi is that the buildings in the Badami area were built in the sixth and seventh century - much earlier than the buildings in Hampi.
The first location was Aihole (no really !) which was the trading center.
The complex of buildings at Aihole. Note the circular "logs" which makeup the roof. They are actually made of stone to look like logs, which was the usual type of construction at the time
The main temple building, which is most unusual because of the semi-circular shape.
The second location was Pattadakala, which was the cultural center.
The complex at Pattadakala. Note the two styles of architecture - the square buildings, which are typical of South India and the buildings with the curved rooves which are typical of Northern India. This location is a kind of "North meets South" as both types are well represented.
A North India style building with an unadorned, rectangular base and a highly decorated, curved roof.
A South India style building - square or rectangular all the way up and highly decorated everywhere.
A highly decorated and highly polished Nandi - still in very nice condition after one thousand years
The third location was Badami itself, which was the political center.
The temples at Badami are unusual because they are cave temples, created by cutting into the side of a cliff.
The cliffs at Badami
There are actually four temples at Badami, all carved at different times and dedicated to different Gods. The fourth temple was a Jain temple and was originally isolated from the other three, apparently because the Jain priests would normally not wear any clothes and for obvious reasons, needed to be away from everyone else. Now the temples are maintained by the Government and there are no priests around.
All the temples have many carvings inside:
An affectionate couple
One of the many Hindu Deities
The same Jain figure we saw earlier in the giant statue at Sravanabelgola.
The creepers growing up his legs came about because he spent eighteen years meditating in the wildernesss, seeking enlightenment.
On the rocks above the cave was another affectionate couple - a pair of parakeets
Across the lake from the temples was a more traditional temple, which was nicely lit by the setting sun.
And finally, as we left Badami the next day, we passed many fields of sunflowers, which made a tempting subject for a photograph.
Goa (Feb 19 to 24)
Goa was a Portuguese colony until the the Portuguese were kicked out by the Indian Army in 1961. Although it's been a part of India for over fifty years, it has retained a more relaxed attitude than the rest of India and had become a major tourist center for Indians and foreigners alike. It was a big hippy center in the sixties and seventies and some of that "vibe" still remains.
We stayed at the Casa Vagatore, a so called "luxury boutique" hotel. Not exactly luxury, but perfectly OK with a good location just above one of the nicer Goan beaches, Vagatore. The hotel was located next door to a nightclub, which had pounding music every night. We couldn't hear the actual music, but we could hear the bass beat ! Fortunately, they shut down at 10:00 pm each evening, so it didn't ruin our sleep.
Kris heading up to the outdoor restaurant, where we would eat breakfast. The restaurant overlooked the beach
Vagatore Beach. What look like houses are actually a series of beach front restaurants which actually had good, cheap food. Not very picturesque, though.
If you walked along the coast, there were a series of small bays, some of which were prettier and less developed.
One afternoon, we took a taxi to the Anjuna Market which is only held once a week.
That's Kris in the lower left, with the hat !
It was very large and very busy, but as you often find in these markets, many of the shops sell the same things.
Most of our time in Goa was spent at the hotel and on the beach, but we did take a one day sightseeing tour, to see the older parts of Goa created by the Portuguese.
Fort Aquada (literally "Water Fort" because there was a spring inside). It was built by the Portuguese in 1612 to protect against the Dutch and the Marathas, the local tribes.
The Chapel of St Catherine, built around 1510
It commemorates the defeat of the local Muslim rulers by the Portuguese on St Catherine's Day in 1510
The Church of St Catejan, built by Italian friars, modelled after St Peters in Rome
The dome inside the church
A grave marker inside the church. The Skull & Crossbones indicates the occupant died of plague, so probably better to keep it closed !
The second church we visited is the most famous in Goa, the Basilca of Bom (Good or Holy) Jesus.It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was started in 1594 and finished in 1605. It's built in the Baroque style, so lots of Italian influence.
The main altar
The Basilica contains the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier and every ten years, the partially mummified remains are brought out for public exhibition, the next time being in 2014. His remains are kept in a sealed glass coffin above a very elaborate mausoluem which can be seen every day.
The mausoleum of St Francis Xavier. You can just see his body through the glass windows
The third and final church we visted was the SE Cathedral, started in 1562 and completed in 1619. It originally had two towers but one collapsed and was never rebuilt.
The SE Cathedral from the side
The SE Cathedral
The main nave
After the many churches in Old Goa, we drove to Panjim, which became the Portuguese capital after the Plague broke out and the Portuguese moved the capital to what they hoped would be a safer place near the sea.
The old portuguese houses which remain are slowly being renovated and in some cases turned into boutique hotels.
Many of the houses have a ceramic rooster on the roof
Some of the older buildings use oyster shells in place of glass (which was expensive and had to be imported) to let in some light
Oyster shell windows
Goa was the last stop on our Indian Road trip, as we were planning to fly from Goa to Aurangabad and then to Mumbai, so we had to say goodbye to our third and final driver, Praveen. He was very pleasant, but spoke hardly any English. Still, he seemed to understand us, most of the time, and got us safely where we needed to go, so we were grateful to him for that.
Aurangabad (12 Feb to 28 Feb)
There's really only one reason people go to Aurangabad and that's to see famous Cave Temples at Ajanta and Ellora, both of which can be visited from Aurangabad in a day. We had a long day of travel from Goa to Mumbai and then to Aurangabad and didn't get settled in to the hotel until about 9:00pm. However, the hotel was very pleasant with a nice pool and garden area.
The Taj Residency, Aurangabad
The hotel by night
Next day, we set off for the two hour drive to Ajanta, not really knowing what to expect. As we discovered, the Ajanta caves, which are all Buddhist, were built between the 2nd century BC and the 6th century AD. The caves are extensively painted inside and photography is allowed, but not with flash and not with a tripod, so it was almost impossible to photograph the interiors. There are 30 caves in all - we visited about 11 of them.
Our first view of the caves
The caves from a different angle
An early cave - note the "wooden" beams in the ceiling - actually carved from the rock
Detailed carvings along the walls
A ceiling detail. It would originally have been painted
A painted ceiling - gives some idea of the paintings inside the caves
A large reclining Buddha
On our second day, we visited the Ellora Caves, which aren't as far away as the Ajanta Caves. These caves are newer than the Ajanta caves -in fact construction of the Ellora Caves began as the Ajanta Caves stopped. Like the Ajanta Caves, they are carved from the solid rock. They were constructed between the 5th and 10th century AD. Unlike Ajanta, which are all buddhist, the Ellora Caves are Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. Photography inside the caves was allowed, but this time there were no paintings.
Some of the Ellora Caves
A Buddhist Temple somewhat like the temples we saw at Ajanta, but later, because there is a statue of Buddha. The early temples had no human figues, just a representation.
A cave which may have been a library
A three story building carved in solid rock. It is thought that it was used as a training facility for Buddhist monks
The third floor of the building. There's a seated figure of Buddha behind us.
Cave 16, otherwise known as the Kailasa, is the masterpiece of Ellora. It consists of several huge buildings carved together from the solid rock. It was started in the 8th century Ad and took over 100 years to complete. It represents the Himalayan home of Lord Shiva and covers an area twice the size of the Parthenon in Greece.
At the back of the excavation is a huge unsupported overhang of rock which looks as though it could fall at any time, but it's been there for 1,300 years so it's probably pretty stable.
A small fragment of painting which did survive
Finally there are several Jain caves a short distance away. Although not as impressive as the Buddhist or Hindu temples, they were the final caves built at Ellora, built in the 9th and 10th centuries. Although quite impressive, they pale next to the much larger caves and in many cases, were never finished.
Jain Temples, Ellora
The Tree of Life
On the way back from Ellora, we stopped at the Daulatabad Fort, dating from the 12th century. There's nothing pretty about the fort, which was built for purely defensive purposes, but as you walk through, it's easy to see how it would have been very difficult to attack.
The fort sits on a hill:
There was a palace and a mosque at the bottom of the hill - this is the mosque with the fort behind.
The Chand Minar, also at the foot of the fort, was built much later as a "Tower of Victory"
Then there are a series of gates
Note the spikes at the top of the gate to discourage elephants
Then a moat with a narrow bridge for access
There would have been crocodiles in the moat
From above, it's easy to see the layers of defense. Without inside help, it's hard to see how any army could have broken through.
Our final stop was the Bibi Ka Maqbara , a mauseoleum which was strongly influenced by the design of Taj Mahal. The Taj was almost finished when construction on this building began in 1679. The building was created as a mausoleum for the first wife of Aurangzeb, who founded Aurangabad. He was the son of Shaj Jehan (who built the Taj Mahal) and he imprisoned his father in Agra and took over his throne.
The Bibi Ka Maqbara, or the poor man's Taj Mahal. Unlike the Taj, which is made of marble, only the dome is made of marble. The rest is made from sandstone and has plastered walls. There is no inlay work at all. Although it cannot compare to the actual Taj, it is a well regarded piece of Deccan architecture in it's own right.
The actual tomb of Rabia-ud-Durrant under the dome. It is covered with coins and notes dropped as offerings.
This was the end of our sightseeing in Aurangabad and after two busy and tiring days, we spent our last day in Aurangabad watching the Oscars on television and then sat out by the pool for the rest of the day.
Mumbai (Bombay) 28 Feb to March 3
The last stop on our journey around Southern India was Mumbai, where we stayed at the famous Taj Palace Hotel. It's always been famous since it opened in 1908 but it became infamous in 2008 when it was attacked by terrorists, who attempted to blow it up and burn it down. They killed 32 people, including both staff and customers, before they were stopped. The hotel was closed for two years and re-opened in 2010. Security was VERY strict !
The Taj Palace Hotel with The Gateway to India on the right. The Tower Building behind the Gateway is part of the hotel and is where we stayed.
The hotel lobby, in the base of the Tower building
The Gateway to India was built in 1924 to commemorate the visit of the King George V in 1911.
Ironically, 24 years later, it saw the departure of the last British troops from India, ending British Rule in India.
On our second day, we took a sightseeing tour around Mumbai, starting with a ferry trip across the harbor to the Elephanta Caves, which are located on Elephanta Island.
Ferry to Elephanta Island
The Elephanta Caves (built in the 6th & 7th centuries) are impressive in their own right, but after Ajanta and Ellora, something of a let down. Still, they are one of the sights in Mumbai, so we had to see them.
The only cave at Elephanta which was ever completed. The Portuguese decided they couldn't live with the carvings so used guns to destroy many of the carvings - shades of The Taliban in Afghanistan !
An unusual four headed figure of Shiva, to whom the temple is dedicated. Apparently he has five faces, but the fifth is sacred and cannot be represented and in this case, the fourth face is implied, but not carved.
Then back to the mainland for a city tour. Many of the best buildings were built by the British using various architectural styles, usually mixed together.
The University Clock Tower, looking A LOT like Big Ben in London
The (former) Prince of Wales Museum, with strong Moorish elements in the design, although the architect was British
The (former) Victoria Terminal - the main railway station, which looks more like a Gothic Cathedral than anything else
The top of the Victoria Terminal - wonderful gargoyles !
City Hall for Mumbai - right across the road from the Victoria Terminal and designed by the same architect
We continued on our tour with a view of the shoreline of Mumbai.
At the same location was a pretty park built by the British on top of a large water tank, which supplies water to Mumbai. The tank was covered over to keep out trash and other pollutants which would have made the water undrinkable and then covered to make the gardens. These are known as the "Hanging Gardens" although the name is a little misleading.
Our last stop was view of the Ghats, where laundry is washed and dried by hand.
These are the traditional commercial laundries of Mumbai and are still used by small hospitals and hotels for their laundry needs.
We had one more day in Mumbai and spent it mooching around the shops near the hotel. We had seen most of the major tourist sights in Mumbai and decided to take it easy on our last day. Although our flight left at 5:00 am the next day, we had to leave the hotel at 1:00am as Indian airports are notoriously slow, especially with International flights. When we arrived at the airport, the airline switched us to another carrier (Qatar Airlines) which actually meant we arrived in Manchester a couple of hours earlier than we had expected. And that was the end of our adventure in South India. We hope you have enjoyed following our trip and we look forward to our next adventure, wherever and whenever that will be !
India 2012 >