West India Info - What to see in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa
Tourism in West India
Ajanta Ellora caves
Location: From Aurangabad: - Ajanta-100km, Ellora-30km
History of Ajanta and Alora Caves
The Ajanta and Ellora caves are two famous tourist destinations in India. These caves are cut out of the rocks, by hand. There are 29 caves at Ajanta and 34 caves at Ellora. These caves were founded by John Smith a British Army Officer in 1819 while he was on hunting expedition. Ajanta has been designated as World heritage site. The Ajanta Caves are the perfect example of the brilliance of the Buddhist art and architecture. The Ajanta Caves stand for the entire evolution of the Buddhist architecture. The caves were cut out of the volcanic lava of the Deccan. The caves are in a wooded and rugged horseshoe-shaped ravine about 3� km from the village of Ajanta.
The Buddhist architecture at Ajanta comprises of two forms - the Chaitya or prayer hall and the Vihara or monastery. Out of the total of 30 caves, 5 are prayer halls while the remaining 25 are monasteries. The construction of the caves can be divided into two phases - the Hinayana Phase and the Mahayana Phase. The Hinayana Phase includes 2 chaitya halls and 4 viharas while the Mahayana Phase has 3 chaityas and 11 viharas.
The Hinayana is the first phase. At Ajanta the cave numbers 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15A were excavated during this phase. The Mahayana Phase is the second phase which depicts the tradition of Buddhism through paintings and carvings. This phase is also called as Vakataka phase as the place was ruled by the kingdom Vakatakas of Vatsagulma branch. There were two Chaitya-grihas excavated in the Hinayana phase (9 and 10). Caves 12, 13, and 15A of this phase are viharas. The chaitya-grihas excavated in the Vakataka or Mahayana phase that is caves 19, 26, and 29. The maximum size of the Vihara�s is about 52 feet (16 m). They are often square-shaped.
CAVE 1: The design pattern on the doorways of the caves seems to be derived from the doorways of other temples in India. There are many auspicious motifs on the doorways of the cave.
Great Buddha Image, Goddess, Cherubic Dwarf, The Bodhisattva, Four Deer with a common Head, Bodhisattva Padmapani, Vajrapani, The Lovers, Dark Princess, Dancing Girl, Princess Reclining By a Pillar, A maid in a sad Mood, Persian Embassy, The Golden Geese, Pink Elephant, Bull Fight.
CAVE 2: The walls of the Cave 2 show the painting of Thousand Buddha�s, it is a large painting. Women on a Swing: The rhythmic movement of the princess starting off the movement on the swing is on the wall of the right hand corridor. The innocent face and the bursting youth of the girl, shows the change Buddhist idea of the 5th century A.D. that physical vitality itself leads ultimately to illumination.
CAVE 4: The making of Cave 4 has begun at the time of cave 17, but it was not completed, because there are some faults in the rocks. There are large unfinished Buddha images. There is a goddess at the upper left corner of the entrance of the doorway with a flowering tree above her.
CAVE 5: The only feature of this cave is that it is having a T-shaped doorway.
CAVE 6: This was the first important cave of the Mahayana phase. There is a central pillar in this cave. There is a Buddha image in this cave; sitting with his feet squat on the base, in a rigid pose, only enlivened by the gestures of his hand and the flying couples above him. The doorway is simple with not having any special decoration. CAVE 9: This cave has a Chaitya gathering hall. There are two early paintings, Frieze of Animals and Herdsmen, Naga Worshippers, Giant Horseshoe Window
CAVE 10: This is of about the same time as cave 9. It has a similar shape. The large chaitya gathering hall is 28.5m X 12.3m wide and 11m high. It has a stupa shrine at the ambulating passage around the symbolic stupa. The paintings of this cave include: King with his Retinue, Shad-Danta-Jataka, Elephantas in Jungle, Princess and Tusk,The Buddhisattva on the Pillar, Buddha and the One-eyed Monk, Shyama Jataka.
CAVE 11: The Buddha in the Cave 11 is one of the earlist images of Ajanta. The important fact about this Buddha is that it is attached to a stupa. This means a compromise between stupa worship and image worship. This cave is interesting, because it shows the transition from the earlier Hinayana to the later Mahayana Buddhist phase of worship. The round stupa has the images of the Buddha to its bare girth.
CAVE 16: This cave contains two Goddesses standing on neatly carved pillars. This cave gives a good view of the ravine. From the large verandha we enter a hall. There are six cells on each side. Giant Statue, Dying Princess, Buddha with a Beginning Bowl, Prince Sidharth Stretching the Bow, The decent of the Buddha, The Sutasama Jataka.
CAVE 17: This cave is similar to that of cave 16. The plan of this cave is simple and severe. The pillars in both the porch and interior are arranged in a strict order. All the pillars were painted. The Buddha in the shrine is seated in the Yogasana. His hands are held in the Dharmachakra mudra, or teaching gesture. The paintings in this cave are: Apsaras and Flying Spirits, Indra and the Apsaras, Royal Procession, Shad-Danta Jataka, Prince Simhala, The Buddha Returns.
CAVE 18: The Ajanta masters have shown human life in all its varied colors. One of the scenes, always preferred in Indian painting, has been of sringar, showing the decoration by the women of her body. The most important painting is a princess is looking at her mirror. One of her female attendants holds a tray of toilet utensils. The other holds a flywhisk in her hand.
CAVE 21: The interior of this cave consists of pillars. This cave consists of CHAITYA hall. On the left wall of this cave shows a statue of Buddha in Parinirvana. On the same wall there is a sculpture of Temptation of Buddha.
CAVE 24: This cave is famous for its style of pillars. The earliest pillars are simple, roughly shaped on four sides. Later the Mahayana period they were tapered into octagonal form.
CAVE 26: This Cave consists of Chaitya Horseshoe Arch, Sravasti Miracle, Nagas, Nanda,Anupananda, Goddess, Buddha Head with curly Hair, Family Group.
CAVE 27: This cave follows many elements from cave 20. For instance, the Naga here is similar to a Naga Dwarpala in cave 20. The entrance doorway of cave 27also derived from the shrine doorway of cave 2.
It is locally known as �Veru Lani�. It is also world famous largest single monolithic excavation in the world. The most famous of the Buddhist caves is cave 10, a Chaitya Hall, or �Vishwakarma �Cave , and it was popularly known as �Carpenter�s Cave�. At cave there is a 15-foot statue of Buddha seated in a preaching pose. Amongst other Buddhist caves, all of the first nine (caves 1�9) are monasteries.Hindu Caves
The Hindu caves were constructed during the period 500 CE and 1000 CE. The (caves 17�29) were constructed during the Kalachuri period, while the caves 15 and 16 were constructed during Rashtrakuta period.The Kailasanatha
The cave 16 is named as the Kailasa or Kailasanatha temple; it is the centerpiece of Ellora. In this there is a Nandi Mandap and main Shiva temple each is about 7 meters high. A living rock bridge connects the Nandi Mandap to the porch of the temple. The temple is a splendid achievement of Dravidian art. This project was started by Krishna I (757�773) of the Rashtrakutha dynasty that ruled from Manyakheta in present day Karnataka state.The Dashavatara
The Dashavatara cave (cave 15) was begun as a Buddhist monastery. It has an open court with a free-standing monolithic mandapa at the middle and a two-storeyed excavated temple at the rear. The layout of the temple is closely related to caves 11 and 12. Large sculptural panels between the wall columns on the upper floor illustrate a wide range of themes, which include the ten avataras of Vishnu. According to Coomaraswamy, the finest relief of this cave is the one depicting the death of Hiranyakashipu, where Vishnu in man-lion (Narasimha) form, emerges from a pillar to lay a fatal hand upon the shoulder of Hiranyakashipu.Other Hindu caves
The Cave 21 is called as Ramesvara cave which indicates of river goddesses Ganga and Yamuna at the entrance.
How to Reach Ajanta & Ellora
By Air: Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves are about 99 Kms and 30 kms away from Aurangabad respectively. Aurangabad is directly linked to Delhi, Udaipur, Jaipur and Mumbai.
By Rail: Aurangabad is directly connected to Mumbai and Pune. Jalgaon, a railhead on the Central Railways line, is 59 km from Ajanta. You can board train to reach Aurangabad and accordingly get in taxis and tourist coaches to reach Ajanta and Ellora Caves.
By Road: There are regular state buses that run from Mumbai, Pune, Ahmednagar, Jalgaon, Shirdi, Nasik, Dhule, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Indore and Bijapur to Aurangabad, and from Jalgaon to Ajanta. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (M T D C) operates conducted tours from Mumbai to Aurangabad.
Khandala - Tour to Hill Station
Khandala is a hill station in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, India. It is located at one top end of Bhor Ghat, a major ghat (Valley) on the road link between the Deccan Plateau and the Konkan plain. It is about 3 km from Lonavala and 7 km from Kajrat. The hill resorts of Khandala have a special attraction for the Mumbai crowd seeking a convenient weekend holiday in the hills.
How to reach here:By Air:
The nearest airport is Pune, 66 km. away.By Train:
There are connecting trains available from Mumbai Central Station and Pune Junction. All the trains halt at Khandala before travelling onto to Lonavala.By Road:
The Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the main link between the major cities of Mumbai and Pune, passes through Khandala. The distance between Mumbai �Lonavala is 104 km. Pune-Lonavala is 66 km.
Places of interest:
The scenic beauty, green valley, gushing waterfalls and historic forts are the main attractions of these hill stations of Maharashtra. It is quite popular as health resorts.
Khandala having beautiful landscaped is famous for their seemingly innumerable varieties of chikki. But they also offer many sites worth visiting. Trekking is a good way to get around, but having a vehicle (even a bicycle) is still better, as some points of interest are quite some distance from the main towns.
Duke�s Nose is a majestic cliff on the Sahyadri range of mountains. This cliff resembles the nose of the Duke of Wellington, which explains its intriguing name. It is a popular viewpoint as it offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains, valleys and forestsTiger�s Leap:
When viewing the valley from a certain point at this location, one has the illusion of a tiger leaping across the valley, hence the name. The echo caused by dropping rocks into the crevasse is another attraction.
Lohgad attracts visitors with its wide, refreshing waterfalls, an ancient fort, and, of course, those famous caves � atop a steep flight of steps
Korigad Fort in Amby Valley is located roughly 3050 ft. above sea level. To get there, you travel from Lonavla to the village of Shahpur using any available means of transport, and thence proceed by foot to the fort through rugged hills and forests.
Other attractions around Khandala are: Bhushi Dam, Valvan Dam, Kaivalyadhama Yoga Hospital, Ryewood Park, Karla & Bhaja Caves is nestling in the hills of Lonavala, these rock-cut caves rank amongst the oldest finest examples of Early Buddhist temple art in India.
Altitude:625 metres above sea level
Temperature:Summer:Reaches upto 36 Deg C
Winter:Reaches upto 12 Deg C
Language(s):Marathi,Hindi and English
Best Time to Visit:October to May
Overview of Lonavala
Lonavala is an important hill station in the state of Maharashtra. It is popularly known as the jewel of the Sahyadri Mountains.This hill sation is set amongst the Sylvan Hills of the Western Ghats.It is a popular gateway from Mumbai and Pune.This hill station is located at a distance of 106 km from Mumbai.It also serves as a starting point for tourists interested in visiting the famous, ancient Buddhist rock cut caves of Bhaja and Karla, which are located near this hill station.
History of Lonavala
The area around Lonavala was an important Buddhist center in 2nd century BC and a number of ancient Buddhist rock-cut cave temples can be found in this area. As Lonavala is located in the inhospitable terrain of the Sahyadri mountain range, it was not an important site in terms of history. Chattrapati Shivaji, the founder of the first Maratha Empire, ruled this area. Later it came under the Peshwa rulers, who founded the second Maratha Empire. It was finally taken over by the British when they defeated the Peshwas.
Attractions in Lonavala
This hill resort has most places of tourist attractions like-Beautiful Hills,Deep Green Valleys,Huge Lakes,Historic Forts,Waterfalls.etc
There are numerous lakes around Lonavala,namely Tugauli,Lonavala and Bhushi lakes.
The small hill station Khandala is just 5 km from Lonavala.
The Karla and Bhaja caves are at a distance of 11 km from Lonavala.These rock-cut cave temples dating back to 2nd century bc and are amongst the oldest and finest examples of Buddhist rock cut temple art in India, belonging to the Hinayana sect of Buddhism.
Forts at Lonavala
How to Reach LonavalaBy Air
Nearest airport is at Pune at a distance of 66 kms from Lonavala.By Rail
Lonavala is on the Mumbai Pune Rail line of the central Railway.By Road
Lonavala is on the Mumbai-Pune Highway,104 kms, Pune-Lonavala, 66 Kms
Mahabaleshwar is situated in the Western Ghats, in Satara District of Maharashtra, India. It is the most popular hill station in Maharashtra, and once the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British Raj.
Mahabaleshwar means �God of Great Power� in Sanskrit. Indeed, the place is great and bountiful, rewarding the visitor with a mix of old-world charm, natural beauty and modernity.
How to reach here:By Road:
State Transport buses ply regularly between Pune-Mahabaleshwar and Mumbai-Mahabaleshwar.By Train:
Nearest railhead is Wathar, but Pune is considered to be more convenient.By Air:
The nearest airport is Pune, 120 km.
Places to see:
A tour of Mahabaleshwar town and the surrounding countryside would take at least a couple of days as there is much to see and experience.
Mahabaleshwar is known for its numerous sightseeing points, each providing a unique perspective of the majestic hill range. Old Mahabaleshwar and the famous Panchganga Mandir, which is said to contain the springs of five rivers: Koyna, Venna, Savitri, Gayatri and the sacred Krishna River. There�s also the Mahabaleshwar Mandir, revered for its Swayambhu Lingam.
There are many points offering great views of flat-topped ghats, dense forests and lush green valleys. Lodwick Point is one of the most visited Points and holds a great view of the Jor Valley. About a kilometer away lies Tiger�s Spring, and if you venture further down you�ll come to a ledge named The window � a point that�s famous for its mesmerizing view.
Other tourist attractions are Mount Malcolm was one of the famous buildings of its time built in 1829. Mahabaleshwar Club, built in 1881, offers a peaceful retreat and many recreational facilities, including a badminton court and a mini golf course.
Pratapgad Fort is about 24 km away from Mahabaleshwar, is the pride of the Maratha Empire built in 1656; it is a maze of ponds, chambers and long dark walkways, some of which lead to trap doors that open to a 100 meter fall. A visit to this historic monument is recommended.
Mahabaleshwar known for soaring peaks, breathtaking valleys, Lush flora, Cool, crisp mountain air. It is also famous for its fruit products, Strawberries, honey, Jams, crushes and chikki (a sweet made from jaggery and an assortment of nuts) are a favorite buy-and so is handcrafted leather footwear.
Mumbai (Earlier known as Bombay)
Area:440 sq km
Altitude:10 Meters above Sea Level
Summer:Max.-34 degree C Min-23 degree C
Winter:Max -28 degree C Min-16 degree C
Language(s):Marathi, Hindi, English, Gujarati
Best time to visit:October - February
Overview of Mumbai
On an average 50% of the city's total population is of non Maharashtrian. Among the major groups that has made Bombay their home away from home are the Gujratis, the South Indians, the Parsis and Sindhis and a large number of people from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that are scattered all over the city. It is also worthy to note that almost half of the total population in the slums.
The metropolis has its own local roadside fast food consisting of vada pavs and bhelpuri. South Indian and Chinese food is also very popular in the city. Other exotic foods to the city range from Lebanese, Korean, Thai and Mexican. Other than Chinese and South Indian, Mughalai, Punjabiand Continental are also popular.
Tea is the most popular beverage drunk followed by coffee. There are numerous tea stalls in almost all roads and corners catering to this drink. Other popular drinks include fruit juices and coconut water.
Mumbaikars belong to diverse ethnic and social backgrounds. People try to follow the celebrity lifestyle as they belong to the "Film City of India". They participate in every occasion irrespective of castes and religions. Festivals bring greater enthusiasm among the dwellers. People forget their caste, creed, religion, position and come together to share rare moments filled with divine ecstasy. The food they prepare, the clothes they wear, the music they play all have their unique fervor and charm.
Mumbaikars have their own blend of dialect, called the 'Bambaiyaa Hindi'. Other main languages spoken in the city are English, Hindi and Marathi. The smell of modern India can be better felt in Mumbai due to the conglomeration of Indo-western culture. People live in this teeming megalopolis with affection for each other.
History of Mumbai
When India became Independent in 1947 Bombay became the capital of Bombay state. In 1960 Bombay state was dissolved and the state of Maharashtra came into being, with Bombay as its state capital.In 1995 Bombay changed its name to Mumbai. The name Mumbai is derived from "Mumbadevi" the patron goddess of the Koli fisher folks.
Sighseeing in Mumbai
Aarey Colony Mumbai
One of the most modern milk colonies in the world is Aarey Milk colony of Mumbai. The best way to reach Aarey would be to board a train to Goregaon Station West.From there visitors can avail auto rickshaws going towards Western Express Highway.Flora Fountain Mumbai
Flora fountain is beautifully adorned stone fountain which is located in the Fort area in South Mumbai. It is situated in one of the most congested areas of the Mumbai city. Surrounded by huge and impressive colonial buildings on all the sides, Flora Fountain has a magnificent statue of Flora - the Roman Goddess of Flowers, on top.Nehru Centre Mumbai
The Nehru Centre was constructed in 1972, not as a mute memorial, but as living testament and monument of faith in Jawaharlal Nehru's vision of human being's development and his compassion for humanity. It has a Mini Planetarium also, which is taken out to remote rural areas to project the astronomical shows. The centre is equipped with Digistar-3 Planetarium equipment and has maintained well furnished library. It offers wide variety of facilities which help in making any event a successful one.Vasai Fort Mumbai
It was a strategic place in the western coast of India. The Portuguese understood the importance and captured the fort and remodeled it according to their wish. Nowadays most of the part of this fort is in ruins. Most of the walls are hidden by the brushwood and palm groves. The roots of these trees have damaged a lot of the portion of this fort.Gateway of India Mumbai
The Gateway of India was built to honor the visit of the King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai. Today this symbol of colonialism has got Indianised and draws a lot of local tourists and citizens. Behind the arch are the steps leading down to the water. The Gateway of India was starting point for the tourists who come to Mumbai.Powai Lake Mumbai
Offering a much needed escape from the chaotic city life, Powai Lake is an ideal spot for picnickers. You could laze around the bank of the lake and enjoy the nature in peace. Powai Lake can be approached by King's Circle, Sion and Kurla as well as from Santa Cruz and Andheri.Vihar Lake Mumbai
A person can reach this place via Andheri, Santacruz or alternately via Goregoan location as this famous lake is located in center of City. This is one of the famous source of Major water supply in Mumbai by Mumbai Municipal Corporation. Here too like other Dam sometime a person can see reptiles like crocodile and tortoises. Unfortunately this lake is restricted to public, where you can also see a plant in progress for water treatment.Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, formerly known as Victoria Terminus, is a historic railway station connecting the city through the Mumbai suburban railway as well as connecting India through long distance trains. As the headquarters of the Central Railway, India, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is also one of the bust railway stations in India.Elephanta Caves
The Great Cave at Elephanta is one of the great monuments in Mumbai near to Gate way of India.Haji Ali Mosque
Honoring the Muslim saint Haji Ali this mosque was built in the middle of the sea with only a narrow path leading to it giving it an ethereal look. The mosque can be reached only during low tide.Churchgate Mumbai
The Churchgate area is also a hub of educational institutions such as University of Mumbai, Jain Hind College, K.C. College, Government Law College and Indo-German Training Center. The area has also some of the high profile sport complexes such as Wankhede Cricket Stadium, Mahindra Hockey Stadium, Brabourne Stadium and Oval Maidan.
How to Reach MumbaiBy Air
Mumbai has more flights connecting it than even the national capital New Delhi. All major airlines fly to and from Mumbai to most of the important cities of the world.By Rail
Central Railways runs services to the east and north, the Western Railways also runs trains to North India from Churchgate and Central stations.By Road
The National Highways No. 3, 4, 6, 8, 9 and 17 pass through the city, making it accessible from all parts of the country.