Thursday, 19 May 2011

Sightseeing Marathon!

Well, sorry I haven’t been around for a while, my parents have been over visiting us and we have all been on a marathon of sightseeing both here in Pune then onto Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

The first stop of our sightseeing marathon was the Karla Caves which are impressive man made Buddhist caves that date back to approximately to the 2nd century BC. They are near a small hill station called Lonavala, which is located high up in the mountains on the National Highway that connects Mumbai and Pune. It is a popular destination for locals who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the cities and get some respite from the heat.

Tom and I rode by motor bike to meet my parents at Lonavala, who were travelling by taxi. It was the longest journey over here that we have done by motor bike so far. It’s about an hour and a half from our home and I have to say it was really uncomfortable. The seat was so hard my bum went numb! It was also the fastest ride I’d ever had! The first time we reached 90kph, it was intense, (I’ve only ever done max 40kph before) it felt as if my head was being yanked off backwards as we cut through the air and the vibrations of the bike made my feet tickle - crazy but I was laughing to myself the whole time!

Half an hour after the time we were supposed to meet my parents, we finally found them in Lonavala. They had been really lost in the countryside somewhere going down bumpy dirt tracks and being swamped by people begging for money! I think they were really glad to see us.

We travelled in convoy a few miles away to the mountain where the Karla Caves were. At the base there was a really steep road that led up to a parking area that cut out at least half of the hike up to the caves. I was a bit worried that that our little bike wasn’t going to get us up but luckily it did with ease. However the car that my parents were in struggled and after rolling backwards down the road a few times and revving loads, it eventually made it up.

When we arrived at the bottom of the steps that led up to the caves, we were approached by a man who wanted to be our guide. Normally I’d just say no and not bother with a guide, but after bartering with him to get a good price, we all decided it may be more interesting with him, as he could tell us more about the caves and we’d learn more than what we would if we just walked around aimlessly. So like sheep, we all followed him up the steep steps to the summit and cave entrance.

The view at the top was breath taking! You could only imagine what it would’ve looked like during the monsoon when it’s all green.

After paying 100 rupees each, we were led to the main and largest cave called the Chaitya Hall. Just outside the entrance to the hall were loads of bee hives attached to the ceiling. I’d never seen anything like it! I was a bit scared that one was going to fall down onto my head; one of them was really wobbling in the breeze!

The hive on the right was the one that was really wobbling around!
The entrance was amazingly grand and was decorated with beautifully chiselled sculptures of animals, humans and Buddhas.

The large pillar to the left of this picture is similar to the Ashoka pillar in Sarnath ( and has four lions standing back to back carved on it. This image appears on most of the Indian notes and coins.

Inside, the hall was lined with over 30 huge pillars that had intricate people, horses and elephants carved into the top of them. The high concave ceiling had curved teakwood beams that gave it the appearance of being inside a rib cage. At the front of the hall above the entrance were small windows that let light in and were apparently perfectly lined up so that at sunset, they let in the most amazing light that showered the entire hall and focussing on the enormous round structure at the back of the hall.

The whole place was so mind blowing; the detail was incredible considering how old it all was and the limited technology that they were able to use.

There were two other caves next to the hall, but they were simpler and were just small rooms where the Buddhist monks would have slept and meditated. Some of these were so dark and I have to admit it, it did feel a bit spooky in them.

Entrance to the third cave

After spending over an hour at the caves, we decided to make our way back down the mountain. Even with the breeze, it was so hot and we were all a bit too hot and bothered to stick around for much longer so we made plans to go back to Pune and grab some dinner.

The ride back was nice as it was much cooler when we were moving; but it was still just as uncomfortable as ever and I was so glad to finally be off the bike.

After settling my parents into their room in our apartment, we all went to ABC Farms for a drink at the cafe Aromas and then dinner at a restaurant called Curve. We had a really lovely Indian meal and I think I ate and drank way too much!     

1 comment:

Rob said...

Those caves look so beautiful! I really hope I'll get the change t see them myself this year. During the monsoon.

Also great that your parents came over for their holiday. It is a good feeling to be host and show parents around the places you know. At least, I think so. My mum came over this weekend to visit me in exotic Uxbridge. And even that was fun :)