Salutations to God and visits to awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage sites – That pretty much sums up the essence of our trip. When you are travelling with a multi-generational family, planning a trip where everyone has a chance to see something on their list can be challenging but, at the end of it, the trip becomes a success because everyone gets to strike something off their list. Our journey was something like that. Here is what we were able to accomplish over 3 days in the beginning of June.
Day 1 – Pune to Shirdi
We started our journey from Pune to Shirdi early in the morning. Along the way, we stopped for breakfast. We reached Shirdi around lunchtime. We ate lunch at a local restaurant and then headed to the guest house complex where people can pre-book and rent rooms for their stay. Once we settled in, we decided to take a short nap before heading to the temple area.
Around 5pm we headed to the temple area. We spent the rest of the evening exploring the temple complex and participated in the evening aarti. After the darshan, we had dinner at a restaurant next to the temple and headed back to the guest house complex.
Important note: In the temple, they separate the men and women. Determine your meeting point ahead of time. We wasted a LOT of time trying to find each other.
Day 2 – Shirdi to Ajanta and then to Aurangabad
We woke up early in the morning and checked out some of the important sites in Shirdi. After breakfast we headed to Ajanta… our first UNESCO World Heritage Site on the trip. We reached Ajanta around 1pm. We grabbed lunch at the restaurant on site and then headed out to explore the caves. The amazing thing about Ajanta is that there are porters available who will carry people who cannot walk or climb too many stairs…. so, we hired a couple of people to help us transport our elderly…. this proved to be a smart decision as there was quite a bit of climbing up and down during the cave exploration.
The caves were simply stunning… mix of paintings and rock sculptures. There were caves that also had stairs that led to an upper floor. After spending a couple of hours, we headed to Aurangabad for our night halt.
Day 3 – Aurangabad to Grishneswar to Ellora to Pune
The day started early. After eating breakfast, we first headed to Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad. After spending some time exploring the area we headed to the Grishneswar temple. This is a famous Shiva temple and is one of the Jyotirlingas. After an amazing visit we headed to Ellora.
In Ellora, we hired a guide to help us explore the area. A problem we encountered was that one of our elderly travellers was not feeling well, so we could not spend more than an hour… which really was not enough.
We first went to the Jain group of caves. The sculptures were simply amazing. Afterwards, we quickly headed to the area with the Kailasa Temple. The entrance has a drop dead gorgeous sculpture of Goddess Laxmi (the photo I took just does not do justice). The 3D nature, height and visual setting of the sculpture are just phenomenal. We quickly went around the complex soaking in the amazing sculptures.
Unfortunately, we had to scoot out of there fairly quickly before we could complete our visit. We headed back to Pune and called it a day.
Hoping we will go back to Ellora once more. The Kailasa Temple itself has so many mysteries that we could not unfold during this trip.
We allocated just about enough time for this trip….we could have spent at least 3 more hours in Ellora before heading back to Pune on Day 3. Unfortunately, the food we ate in Shirdi and Aurangabad did not sit well with some of the members in our group which resulted in them getting sick, mildly. Mild stomach sickness can be a real pain… not a medical emergency but at the same time, cannot be ignored. Lesson about India gets solidified further – do NOT eat raw food (or drink juices) unless you prepare it yourself or closely watch the preparation. In large groups, you just cannot stop people from eating and then suffering, but, to stay safe, you must take care yourself and realise all may not go as planned!