The world has a ‘world’ in it. So much to explore. So much to see that a life is too less a time for it. That is one of the biggest dilemmas of my life. 26 odd years gone… wasted just like that. And I haven’t still got a chance to explore even a fragment of the world. Not even my vicinity.. leave apart going to the all the nooks and corners, as I dream.
So I cherish like a treasure, those rare, just-about-a-handful of moments that pampered the traveler in me. I mean, that gave me a chance to discover the delightful places on the earth. A trip to the Ellora caves, is one such memory, I wouldn’t forget all my life.
It wasn’t a planned trip, but more of a surprise detour towards Aurangabad. We were enjoying our yearly trip to Shirdi. And this time we had a good full week with us. Given enough time to Baba, we asked his consent to look around the place and the neighboring ones under his ChchatraChchaya. We planned to take out a day or two to visit Nasik and Aurangabad.
On our way to Aurangabad, I was beaming and brimming with excitement. I felt like a professional excavation expert, a historian, a scholar. I strained to remember everything I had read about the place and its significance in my history books. Had I known, I was to visit the Ellora, I would have come prepared (sigh). Anyways, I still could make it an experience of a lifetime.
My mother and all her companions chanted Sai Ram-Sai Shyam all the way. I could hardly meditate my mind towards anything devotional. I sought a secret apology to Baba, and hoped, he being my best friend would understand my plight.
Just the sight at the caves made my mom and her buddies pant. They flatly refused to trek up the caves to see those ‘blackened-worn-out rocks’. One of them inquired, ‘Kya hai upar?’ The cab driver replied, ‘Arey, salon pehle raja-maharajaon ne in gufaon me murtiyan banvayi thi. ‘ Pat came the answer,’ Arey to bas patthar ki murtiyan dikhane itni dur le aya? Mai to yahin thik hu. Jise jana hai, ho ao jaldi.’
I was flabbergasted. Some aunties even mumbled something about the erotic nature of the sculptures and how awkward it would be to watch them with kids. I couldn’t take the crap any longer and jumped out of the cab and declared that no matter what, I would go.
I wish I had a digi-cam at that time(Year 1998. I had a Kodak reel-laden camera).
There was an air of mystique. A charm of the lost world. A magnificence of the golden times.
I wondered, how opulent were the Satvahanas! What a refined taste of art!
I could have spent the whole day there. Some of the caves seemed as if they had no end. I couldn’t muster the courage to enter them. They looked like dark, echoing pits. Even the torch-light seemed unable to pierce the darkness inside. There was an element of fear and murk in them. I loved it! But wait. What’s that odor? A familiar pungent smell!! This can’t be true!!! For God’s sake, it’s India’s oldest and one of the highly refined architectural sites!
It was urea. The aroma that adds flavor to the urban living. One out of every five walls sports a message- ‘Yahan Peshab Karna Mana Hai’ Or ‘Dekho Gadha Peshab Kar Raha Ha’ Or messages that are meant to humiliate the street sprinklers even more, and take my bet, those particular walls with the message on them, would be the dampest of all.
But for Heavens sake, these morons should have atleast forgiven an arty paradise. I was filled with loath for them. Just then a tourist, a foreigner passed by me. I couldn’t help but move out of the place as fast as my feet could take me. I was ashamed.
It feels sad. We Indians are extra-concerned about things that are truly meaningless. We create havoc in the name of culture and so-called Indian tradition and honor. And we piss-off on things that are truly important for country and its dignity. What a shame!