The Ellora Caves and temples
Ellora Caves is a site about 30 km from Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Personally I am not that keen on visiting caves, but the Ellora complex is different. There Buddhist, Hindu and Jain temples all cut out of the surrounding rocks. The 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves are of course UNESCO World Heritage site.
Best way to visit the site is by taxi from Aurangabad (just over 200 km from Pune, in, roughly, west India). It is very easy to spend a day or if you like more in the complex. There's so much to see.
The complex is extensive but there are some temples that are so stunning, one can hardly believe they were actually 1000 years ago made.
Although there are many masterpieces, one stands above all. Cave 16 represents Mount Kailash, the home of Lord Shiva. It's a multi storey complex but it was carved out of one single rock.
It's even more impressive when you realize it's even double the size of the Pantheon in Athens, Greece. The building started in the 8th century.
Although cave 16 might marvel out the other caves, it's certainly not the only magnificent temple. Cave 10 looks much like a cathedral.
Caves 10 and 16 will keep you busy for a few hours. Should you want to see the other caves too, the best is to come back the next day. It can be very overwhelming.
I visited the caves 10 and 16 in the morning with the idea to continue in the afternoon. In the afternoon I went to several of the other caves. My diary read: "After cave 10 and 16 the other caves are nice. It's like visiting Angkor Wat followed by the lesser impressive temples, I can't really enjoy them as I am so full of caves 10 and 16".
It was not fair. Cave 21 for example had some awesome carving, and so did some of the Jain temples.
Most people come to the Ellora Caves in a day trip from Aurangabad. However, opposite of the Ellora Caves, there's a hotel (Hotel Kailas) with rooms for around US $20. Should you want to visit more days (recommended), staying here is a good option. Otherwise, Aurangabad is nearby. Find more hotels in Aurangabad with Tripdavisor or Agoda.com.
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The temples of Khajuraho
The temples of Khajuraho belong not only to UNESCO's World Heritage, they are also some of the most beautiful and vivid ancient examples of sandstone carving.
Aurangabad and surrounding might have the spectacular cave temples, Hampi has most certainly one of the most extensive temple cities.
Much is still in use and much is preserved. I loved it as much as I loved Aurgangabad
The Ajanta Caves, 80 km north of the Ellora caves are another must visit. Here you find some of the finish art Indian Buddhism has ever produced.