Monday, June 27, 2011

(Wo)Man Is (Wo)Man's Own Enemy

Today, I am thoroughly ashamed of this woman called Pauline Nyiramasuhuko. She has been convicted of genocide, war crimes, and crime against humanity, including rape. And to top it all, she was Rwanda's former Minister for Family Welfare and the Advancement of Women! Disgusting!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/rwanda/8597001/Genocide-court-jails-female-Rwandan-former-minister-for-life.html

She has been sentenced to a term of life imprisonment and is not eligible to apply for parole for the next 25 years. Pauline, who is 65, was also found guilty of inciting rape at the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is prosecuting those accused of orchestrating the killings of more than 8,00,000 people in Rwanda in 1994. Her son, Arsene Ntahobali, a former militia leader, is also found to be guilty. He has been sentenced to a term of life imprisonment, with no possibility of parole.

I am shocked that a woman was involved in the genocide and extermination of the Tutsi minority in Rwanda, and of rape. What had got into her? She has behaved like a modern Hitler.

I am not sure if the punishment meted out to her is justified, enough, or even less. But I would like to go from this world without seeing any more such Paulines!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pottermore

For all Harry Potter fans, here's something that J.K. Rowling is coming up...Pottermore. Apparently, it's going to have a lot of reader interaction, and she herself will be sharing a lot of trivia that she has not added in the books. Available on the Pottermore website will be e-books and audio books.

Here's what J.K. Rowling has to say about Pottermore:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYs1d3jAdG0&feature=player_embedded

Don't know if I am excited enough, but it is definitely something worth looking forward to. Till then we have to be satisfied with the HP books and look forward to the second movie part of the 7th book that will be released soon.

Cheerio!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ajanta

Ajanta Caves
Ajanta, another World Heritage site, is something that cannot be missed. Situated at around 100 kms away from Aurangabad, you need the whole day to travel to Ajanta, visit the caves, and return to base camp.

The village near the caves is called Ajintha (अजिंठा) and in Marathi the caves are called अजिंठा लेणी. Ajanta caves are 30 rock-cut cave monuments dating from 2nd century BCE.

Ajanta caves include paintings depicting the Jataka tales. The paintings and a few sculptures are considered masterpieces of Buddhist religious art.

History

The Ajanta caves were carved out of a horseshoe-shaped cliff along the Waghora river. They were used by Buddhist monks as chaityagrihas (prayer halls) and viharas (monasteries) for about nine centuries, and then were abruptly abandoned. The walls of the caves are covered with beautiful paintings and sculptures of Buddhist origin. They fell into oblivion until they were rediscovered in 1819.

(Re)Discovery

Ajanta caves were discovered by John Smith, an army officer in the Madras Regiment of the British Army in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions.

Number of Caves


There are 30 caves, with mostly been completed. A few caves are unfinished. A pathway is scooped out from stone and runs as a crescent by the caves. From this, one can have a glorious view of the ravine below.

What can you see in the caves?

The wall paintings illustrate the events in the life of Gautam Buddha. Stories and scenes from the Jataka Tales are brought to life on the walls.

Waghora River Valley
Why Ajanta?

Ajanta lies on the ancient trade route from the Arabian sea to the Deccan plateau. The Buddhist monks found the peace and seclusion they were looking for in the cool ravine of the Waghora river. With trade centers of Jalgaon and Aurangabad close by, the monks could go to these places to collect alms and return to the quiet of the caves.

Moreover, the texture of the granite rock in layers made it easy for the sculptors to cut the rocks with their instruments and for painters to paint.

How were the Paintings done in such Dark Caves?

Painters used stick torches to light up the caves. Mirrors were used to reflect sunlight into the dark caves. Skills were passed down from father to son. New techniques, tools, and new ways of handling paint and chisel were also invented.

Colours Used

Local colors available from mountain rocks and soil were used. The main colours used were yellow ochre, brown ochre, lamp black, white, and lapis lazuli (blue). Lapis lazuli was imported from Northern India, Central Asia, and Persia. Green was created from lapis lazuli using Indian yellow ochre.

Techniques of Painting

The paintings were executed after elaborate preparation of the rock surface. The rock surface was chiselled and grooves were made so that the layer applied over it could be held in an effective manner. The ground layer consisted of a rough layer of clay, cow dung, mixed with rock-grit or sand, vegetable fibers, paddy husk, grass, and other fibrous material of organic origin on the rough surface of walls and ceilings, thoroughly pressed into the rock.

A second coat of mud and ferruginous earth mixed with fine rock-powder or sand and fine fibrous vegetable material was applied over the ground surface. Finally, the surface was finished with a thin coat of lime wash. Over this surface, outlines are drawn boldly. The spaces were filled with requisite colours in different shades and tones to achieve the effect of rounded and plastic volumes.

The colours and shades utilised also varied from red and yellow ochre, terra verte, to lime, kaolin, gypsum, lamp black and lapis lazuli. The chief binding material used here was glue. The paintings at Ajanta are not frescoes, because they are painted with the aid of a binding agent. In frescoes, the paintings are executed while the lime wash is still wet which, thereby acts as an intrinsic binding agent.

Not-to-be-Missed-Caves

Caves 1, 2, 10, 16, 17, and 26 should not be missed.

We visited the caves starting from cave number 1. But I read it recently, which I found really sensible, that you should start with the last cave first. Thereby, you end at cave 1, which is also the exit point.

But let me caution you for this route. Make sure that you leave enough time in hand for the caves 1 and 2. Usually, as we start, we spend more time in the beginning. As time flies by, we tend to skip caves, or hurry across the numerous paintings and sculptures. That would mean that you have very little time for caves 1 and 2. Make sure you avoid that mistake.

I am still going to describe the caves as we visited them.

Cave 1

Padmapani
This is the most important cave of Ajanta and has elaborate carvings on its facade. There are scenes carved from Buddha's life and also decorative motifs. There are three doors, central, and two side-doors. Two square windows are carved between the doors.

The walls of the hall are nearly 40 feet (12 m) long and 20 feet (6.1 m) high. Twelve pillars make a square colonnade inside supporting the ceiling, and creating spacious aisles along the walls. A shrine is carved at the rear end of an impressive, seated image of the Buddha, his hands being in the dharmachakrapravartana mudra. A group of the master's first five disciples is also shown.

The walls are covered with scenes that are mostly didactic, devotional, and ornamental. The themes are from the Jataka stories (the stories of the Buddha's former existences as Bodhisattva), the life of the Gautama Buddha, and those of his veneration. One pillar in the central right row has a remarkable carving of four deer in different positions sharing the same head that seems to belong to each one of them.

Vajrapani
The doorway of the antechamber of the shrine is flanked by two Bodhisatvas: Vajrapani, holding the thunderbolt on the right, and Padmapani, holding the lotus on the left. Vajrapani is richly bejewelled and leans gracefully against an attendant. Padmapani's eyes are lowered in meditation, his face showing depths of spiritual calm born of compassion for all living forms.

The sidewalls of the antechamber show two scenes from Buddha's life: his temptation by Mara just before his enlightenment, and the miracle of Sravasti, where the Buddha multiplied himself into thousand images.

Above the left porch is the scene of Three Signs (a sick man, an old man, and a corpse) that Buddha saw outside the palace that led him to become a monk. Other tales of the life of Buddha from the Jataka Tales are depicted on the walls.

Cave 2

Paintings in Cave 2
Cave 2, very similar to cave 1 has robust pillars, supported by ornamental designs. The facade of this Mahayana monastery cave shows the kings of Naga and their entourage.

The hall is supported by four pillars making colonnades parallel to the walls. A glorious mandala dominates the ceiling and is decorated with humans, animals, birds, flowers, fruits, semi-divine forms, and abstract designs. The ceiling gives the effect of a cloth canopy, right down to the sag in the middle.

Jataka tales are abundant in the wall paintings. These tales inform us of of Buddha's teachings and life through successive births. The narrative episodes are not depicted in a linear order on the walls.

One of the paintings dramatizes the legend of the Buddha's birth in vivid details. It depicts how Queen Maya dreams about an elephant with six tusks. It also describes how Buddha is born and how he takes six steps as Lord Indra holds an umbrella over him.

Cave 10

Cave 10 is a chaityagriha-prayer hall of the monks. It is 28.5 X 12.3 m with a height of 11 m. It has a stupa at the end of the cave. The cave boasts of an imitation of wooden construction to the extent that the rafters and beams are also sculpted even though they are non-functional.

The paintings in this cave resemble the relief carvings at Sanchi in the 2nd century B.C. The painting on the left wall shows a King with his Retinue, worshiping the Buddha tree. The royal party stops at the stupa and then passes through a gateway. On the right wall are a series of large wall paintings. One painting shows the Shada-danta jataka-the Buddha in his elephant incarnation. The whole crowd is in movement.

One scene shows a six-tusked elephant that was the Buddha in one of his earlier birth. The animals are beautifully drawn and the large space of the forests is shown with its thick foliage and trees. In the second scene, the princess, seated on a stool, is shown fainting, because the six tusks of the elephant are brought to the king. The queen has wished that the elephant be killed. Now that his tusks are brought before the court, she faints at their sight.

On one of the pillars, a gracious figure in a pink and buff cloak surrounded by green aureole is emerging to cast blessings on mankind. Two monks kneel by his feet and the flying angels above his black head indicate that they are going to lift him to heaven. The umbrella on the top is symbolic of the protection he offers to all.

The painting of Buddha and the one-eyed-monk show the devotion of the followers of the Enlightened one. The face and figure of the Buddha and the monk seem to be echoes of the heavy physical types of Gandhara art of northwest India. Only the flowing draperies have softened their contours. The aureole on the Buddha's head and the closed eyes show a dreamy calm. The Shyama-Jataka on a wall in this cave relates the story of where the Bodhisatava was born as son of two blind parents, a hunter and his wife.

Cave 16

Cave 16 has a seated, more than life size Buddha shrine. Lions and other active animals support the throne. Bodhisattvas stand behind him.

Sundari fainting, with an attendant and nurse (in spot light) in Cave 16
It has a beautiful painting of the princess Sundari fainting after learning that her husband (the Buddha's half-brother, Nanda) was going to become a monk. The sad drama is depicted by the bent head of the the princess and the tense female attendants.

Another painting shows Buddha with the begging bowl.

In yet another painting, Prince Siddhartha is shown stretching the bow. Another master painting is the descent of Buddha from the Tushita heaven.

The Dying Princess is one of the famous paintings from Ajanta in this cave. There is agony in the drooping, sightless eyes, the helpless abandon of fingers, and the farewell gestures. The emotions of the attendants are also expressed beautifully.

Prince Gautam practising archery
The Sutasama Jataka painting narrates the story of the previous incarnation of the Bodhisattva and the son of the king of Indraprastha named Sutasama. The prince is trained in all the arts and sciences by a guru at Taxilla. One day, Sutasama was seized by a man-eating dacoit. The prince promised him he would come back and be eaten after he had offered flowers to the Enlightened one. And he did as he promised. The cannibal was surprised to see Sutasama. He, who had once been a fellow student of the Bodhisattva at Taxilla and then king of Benares was converted, and he became the king of Benares again.

Cave 17

The Wheel of Life
Cave 17 is covered with maidens, celestial musicians, celestial guardians, goddesses, and lotus petals. One mural shows Prince Simhala's encounter with the man-eating ogresses of Sri Lanka, where he'd been shipwrecked. Another shows the king of gods flying amidst clouds with his entourage of celestial nymphs (apsaras) and musicians.

On the portico's left wall, the Wheel of Life shows life in its different phases.
The love of happiness radiates through the pictures in Cave 17. The earth has become heaven. The Apsaras and the Flying Spirits float across the sky. Lovers sit in the air houses. All paintings seem to illustrate the beauty of nature and human love and happiness. There is a magnificent painting showing a king and queen with their attendants going in a royal procession. There are colorful umbrellas over their heads and trees in the background. Some women are looking at them through the window.

The Sleeping Buddha
Cave 26

Cave 26 is a chaityagriha. It houses the famous Sleeping Buddha statue. It's Buddha in the Parinirvana state in a horizontal position with all his followers mourning his death. The wall also depicts the scene of the Temptation of Buddha.

So Much to See and So Little Time

That's what you feel when you are in the caves, looking at the paintings, and taking in their beauty and art. I have been able to describe almost only a few of the important paintings and sculptures in the caves. But what each wall and each painting shows, is something that needs to be experienced by oneself.

Lifetime Experience

I shall recommend that we all should see these caves and paintings at least once in our lifetime. We take time out to visit places of natural beauty, fun and frolic, and even religious places. But we should really visit these caves to acknowledge and appreciate our glorious, rich heritage.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Eagerly Awaited

The eagerly-awaited, ever-soothing, greenery-giving, splashy, beautiful, life-giving, romantic rains are here. Out with your raincoats, umbrellas and all your wet gear.

I can't wait for the weekend!

I love rains!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ellora

Known as Velur (वेरूळ) in Marathi, Ellora caves are listed in the World Heritage Site list. Ellora is situated around 30 kms from the city of Aurangabad. There are 34 caves that are divided into Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain rock-cut temples and monasteries.

Understanding the Caves

Ellora Caves
Caves 1-12 are Buddhist caves, which include monasteries and chaityagrihas. Caves 13-29 are Hindu caves, with the famous cave 16, which is the largest single monolithic excavation in the world. Caves 30-34 are Jain caves, depicting Jain philosophy and tradition.

The caves are dated back to the time period of around 6th-7th century A.D. to 11th-12th century A.D. These caves are a classic example of the coexistence of multiple religions. These religious establishments could have had royal patronage, though not enough and complete information is available.

Inscriptional Evidence

Sculpture in cave 29
The only definite inscriptional evidence is that of Rashtrakuta Dantidurga (c. 753-57 A.D.) on the back wall of the front mandapa of Cave 15. The Great Kailasa (Cave 16) is attributed to Krishna I (c. 757-83 A.D.), the successor and uncle of Dantidurga. A copper plate grant from Baroda of the period of Karka II (c. 812-13 A.D.) speaks about the greatness of this edifice (cave 16). The inscription tells us that this great edifice was built on a hill by Krishnaraja at Elapura (Ellora). Apart from these two inscriptions, the cave complexes lack any other inscriptions.

The entrance to the caves from the car parking opens at cave 16. Also known as the Kailasa cave, it is a remarkable example of rock-cut temples. Its striking proportion, elaborate workmanship, architectural content, and sculptural ornamentation is marvelous. This cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva and named after His mountain home in the Himalayas, the snow-peak Kailasa.

Not-to-be-Missed Caves

Although it's right at the entrance, I am going to start from the beginning to describe the caves. We visited caves 6, 10, 12, 15, 16, 21, 25, and 29. We did not have enough time to visit the Jain caves. Caves 10, 12, 15, 16, 21, 25, 29, and 32 are not to be missed.

Chaityagriha-Cave 10
Cave 6

Cave 6 is a Buddhist cave with two fine sculptures. On the left is goddess Tara, and on the right is Mahamayuri, the Buddhist goddess of learning. A diligent student sits at his desk below.

Row of seated Buddhas in Cave 12
Cave 10

Cave 10 is a magnificent chaityagriha, a place of worship and meditation for the Buddhists. It has a beautiful, ornamental facade. Also known as Visvakarma, it is a typical chaityagriha with stone beams across the ceiling. A seated Buddha is enthroned in front of a large stone stupa in the cave.

Cave 12

Buddha giving his first sermon
Cave 12 is known as Teen Tal, literally meaning three floors. It is three storied, each with a hall with pillars. The walls of the shrine room are lined with five large bodhisattvas, and is flanked by seven Buddhas, representing each of his previous incarnations. It also has a sculpture of Buddha, giving his first sermon depicted by a pair of deer at his feet. The historical value of this cave lies in the fact that human hands built a three-storeyed building from rock with such painstaking efforts and skills that even the floors and ceiling are smooth and levelled. Teen Tala is a monastry-cum-chapel with cells.

Cave 15

Narasimha Avataar coming out of the pillar
Cave 15 is called the Cave of Ten Avatars or Dashavatar. It is a two-storeyed temple having large sculptural panels between the wall columns on the upper floor illustrating a wide range of themes, which include the ten avatars of Vishnu. A panel to the right of the antechamber also depicts the superiority of Shaivism in the region at the time - Shiva emerges from a lingam while his rivals Brahma and Vishnu stand in humility and supplication. One of the sculptures is Shiva as Nataraja.

Cave 15 is the only cave for which you  have to ascend a great many steps, because it is situated at a height. And that's the reason that it is not as frequently visited as other caves. So, if you want to visit cave 15, make sure that there are a few more people with you when you climb in. Going in there all alone is quite spooky. Unlike other caves, it smells of disuse. It's a strange feeling to be all alone with those sculptures all staring at you. And yet, the carvings in this cave are as beautiful as in others. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, some of the sculptures are really magnificent.

Cave 16

Cave 16, Kailasa cave, is the best of the 34 caves. It is a temple worshiping Lord Shiva and depicts various poses, scenes, and stories of Shiva.

Dhwajastambha
Kailasa has been carved out of a single rock. Kailasa is believed to have been started by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I. The construction was a feat of human genius – it entailed removal of 250,000 tons of rock, took 100 years to complete and covers an area double the size of Parthenon in Athens.

A two-storeyed gateway resembling a South Indian gopuram opens to reveal a U-shaped courtyard. The courtyard is edged by columned galleries three storeys high. The galleries contain enormous sculptures of various deities.

Gajalakshmi
The first huge sculpture is the Gajalakshmi that you see as soon as you enter the cave. Two life-size elephants cut in rock on each side in the courtyard magnificently guard the cave. The pillars, Dhwajastambhas in the courtyard are intricately carved.

The whole temple consists of a shrine with lingam at the rear of the hall with Dravidian sikhara, a flat-roofed mandapa supported by 16 pillars, and a separate porch for Nandi surrounded by an open court entered through a low gopura. The Nandi Mandap stands on 16 pillars and is 29.3 m high. The base of the Nandi Mandap has been carved to suggest that life-sized elephants are holding the structure aloft.

Mahabharat and Krishna Leela scenes
The temple is a tall pyramidal structure reminiscent of a South Indian temple. The shrine is complete with pillars, windows, inner and outer rooms, gathering halls, and an enormous lingam at its heart – carved from living stone. The temple is carved with niches, pilasters, windows as well as images of deities, mithunas (erotic male and female figures) and other figures. Most of the deities at the left of the entrance are Shaivaite (followers of Shiva) while on the right hand side the deities are Vaishnavaites (followers of Vishnu).

Narasimha Avataar
One of the most remarkable sculptures is the grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva, with his full might. Some other sculptures include Ravana offering his nine heads to Shiva, Shiva as Nataraj, scene of Shiva-Parvati wedding, Mahishasur Mardini, Mahabharat, Krishna Leela, and Ramayana carvings, Narsimha avataar, Vishnu resting, Tripurantak Shiva, and some other splendid carvings.

Ravana shaking Kailasa
You need at least two hours to see Kailasa. And it definitely is awe-inspiring.

Cave 21

Ramayana scenes
Cave 21 is also known as Ramesvara. It has figurines of goddesses Ganga and Yamuna at the entrance. Cave 21 is thought to be the oldest Hindu cave.

Cave 25

Cave 25 features Surya driving his chariot towards the dawn.

Cave 29

Nataraj in Cave 16
Cave 29 has sculptures of Ravana shaking Kailasa and the wedding scene of Shiva-Parvati. Pairs of lions guard its three staircases. Inside, the walls are covered in large friezes. To the left of the entrance, Shiva slays the Andhaka demon, then defeats the many-armed Ravana's attempt to shake him and Parvati off the top of Mount Kailash. There's also a dwarf baring his bottom to taunt the demon! On the south side, Shiva teases Parvati by holding her arm back as she prepares to throw dice in a game.

Cave 32

Shiva-Parvati wedding
Cave 32 from the Jain caves is known as Indra Sabha. The upper floor has elaborate carvings, including a fine lotus flower on the ceiling. Two tirthankaras guard the entrance to the central shrine. On the right is the naked Gomatesvara, who is meditating deeply in the forest - so much so that vines have grown up his legs and animals, snakes and scorpions crawl around his feet. On the upper level is also seen an imposing image of Ambika, the Yakshi (dedicated attendant deity) of Neminatha found seated on her lion under a mango tree, laden with fruits. We did not have enough time to visit this cave.

Overall, it is a great experience to behold the confluence and spiritual tolerance of three religions. The magnificent structures stand proof to the glorious culture, architecture, art, and painstaking efforts taken by the sculptors in those bygone days.

Grhishneshwar Temple

It is with a heart full of admiration, and the head full of the different sculptures that we come out of the Ellora caves site. It is easy to then visit Grhishneshwar and pay respects to Lord Shiva at one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India.

Grhisheshwar is still a small temple, yet well-known, and very jagrut. The temple was constructed by Ahilyabai Holkar. It is believed that an ardent devotee named Kusuma offered prayers to Lord Shiva at Grhishneshwar by dipping the Shivalinga in a water tank. Eventually Lord Shiva appeared in front of her and her prayers for the restoration of her son's life were answered.

Back to Aurangabad

With a heart full of devotion to Lord Shiva, you return to Aurangabad for relaxation. Another big day awaits you: a visit to Ajanta.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ennui

It happens once a while. Extreme boredom. Nothing helps. Rather, nothing you do seems to drive away your boredom. Visiting friends does not help. Visiting relatives is doubly taxing. Routine tasks and jobs are tedious and shackling.

It's an overall feeling of dullness and low esteem. And obviously, the reason is unknown.

I am trying to think of some remedies: shopping, movies, pizza party, (re)newed exercise regime, two-days trip, or best, going underground. Let me see if any (or all) might work.

Visiting Daulatabad

The first stop that you can take when you visit Aurangabad is the Daulatabad fort. This fort is around 15 kms from Aurangabad on the Ellora road.

Courtyard of the Daulatabad Fort
A massive land fort, it served as the capital of the Yadav dynasty. Daulatabad is also known as Deogiri and was once considered as invincible. Devgiri is a 12th century fort that was built by the Yadava king Bhillama V. He established the Yadava stronghold in Deccan by making Deogiri as his capital.

Deogiri is a strong land fort and has seven lines of defence. The fort has never seen battles and has seen a change of power only once, and that too through treachery.




High fortified walls with watch towers

On the road to Ellora, when you see the massive Daulatabad fort on your left, you can immediately feel the strength and power of the fort. As you enter the first darwaza, you come across a courtyard

 You cross the courtyard and the second darwaza, and you are met with high fortified walls.


Victory Pillar
As you start walking in towards the fort, you can see the Victory Pillar on your right, also known as Chand Minar. This pillar was raised in 1445 by Ala-ud-din Bahamani to mark his capture of the fort. Chand Minar is 210 ft. (64 m.) high and 70 ft. (21 m.) in circumference at the base, and was originally covered with beautiful Persian glazed tiles.

Opposite the Minar is the Jumma masjid, whose pillars originally belonged to a temple.  Now it has a Devi's mandir. Close by is a large masonry tank, the common bath.  The Chini Mahal lies in ruins and was the place where Abdul Hasan Tana Shah, the last king of Golconda, was confined by Aurangzeb in 1687 AD.

Beyond the main entrance, lie the wet and dry moats, a narrow bridge to cross the wet moat, and the famous Andheri.

The wet moat has small openings from the Andheri, the dark passages. Enemies were thrown directly into the water 30 feet below from the Andheri. It was sheer impossible to cross the wet moat from the narrow bridge and then cross the Andheri.

Andheri

After you cross the narrow bridge, you are led to the dark, dangerous passages that are designed to befuddle, entrap, and finally kill the enemy. The Andheri is a series of secret, quizzical, subterranean passages coiled like a python amidst the fort. In these passages, flaring torches were thrust upon an unwary enemy. Or hot oil poured down his path, as he deliberated in the labyrinth. Heat from a brazier was blown into the passage by a process of suction suffocating the entire garrison within.

Once you are successful in crossing the Andheri with the help of a local guide, you reach the first level of the fort. I suggest that you take the help of the local to cross the Andheri. Not only is it really dark and scary, and you might get lost, but it is also worth listening to the story he tells you as you cross the Andheri. It's chilling and exciting to listen and see the places in the Andheri where the soldiers would be hiding, waiting for the enemy, and the means they would use to destroy the enemy.

In the Andheri, at some places, stone hedges are built so that the enemy walks in the darkness and gets hurt on the knees. The enemy would logically turn to a side with hurt knees only to be banged upon solid stone wall and breaking their heads.

View after coming out of the Andheri
Even with these injuries, if some brave ones are able to move ahead in the labrynth, the hidden soldiers do their work of pouring hot oil on the enemy, or shooting arrows from hidden crevices.

At one point, you can feel the blast of cool air coming and are automatically attracted to it, thinking it's an opening out of the Andheri. But you are mistaken, because that outlet opens directly to the wet moat outside. One step through the opening and you are down the drain, in the water. Fortunately, it is all closed and barricaded now. Can you imagine how many men must have lost their lives in hope of cool, fresh air?



Victory Pillar and the way out seen after coming out of Andheri

After the Andheri, you can keep climbing right up till the top of the fort. We skipped that and returned to the base, because we wanted to cover Ellora too. But the fort was absolutely mesmerizing. It is a standing example of the power, cunning, intelligence, architechtural elegance and excellence that the great Yadav rulers had.


If you plan to visit Aurangabad, do keep time to visit this formidable fort.