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Study Trip

A VISIT TO SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST EXQUISITE SCULPTURES IN THE ROCK CUT CAVES AND CAVE PAINTINGS OF MAHARASHTRA STATE, INDIA

Saturday, 24 to Friday, 30 November 2018
Leader: Khun Euayporn Kerdchouay, Senior Consultant of the Siam Society

 

 

The state of Maharashtra has Mumbai (Bombay) as its capital and in terms of area is one of the largest states in India. There is a considerable number of places of interest in Maharashtra, particularly the world famous cave temples of Ajanta, Ellora, Elephanta, Karla and Bhaja.

Mumbai: Once an island surrounded by malarial mud flats, then a Portuguese possession, Bombay passed to the English crown as part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza for her marriage to Charles II in 1662.  The British proceeded to drain the marshy area and connect the island with the mainland, and then turned it into their “Gateway to India”. Bombay prospered as an important trading centre and today it is the second largest city in India - and certainly the most prosperous. If New Delhi is the government centre, Varanasi the spiritual centre, Calcutta the intellectual centre, then Mumbai is the business and financial centre of India (not to forget Bollywood). In the historical heart of Mumbai are colonial buildings, museums, cathedrals, exclusive clubs and the modern blocks of India’s largest commercial centre.

 

 

Ajanta: The world famous monastery and temple caves of Ajanta are 106 km from Aurangabad and some 54 km from Jalgaon. The Ajanta caves were stumbled upon by a hunting party of British officers in 1819. Dug from solid rock, there are some 30 in all, in different stages of completion – some unfinished, others carved with extreme detail and completely covered with wall paintings.  The earliest, caves 9 and 10, are contemporary with early caves like Bhaja and Pitakhora in western India (1st century B.C.). Cave 9 is an apsidal chaitya with a long colonnade of twenty-three pillars creating a central nave with aisles on either side. In the apse is a carved stupa. This is an early cave with traces of wall paintings of about the first and second centuries B.C. Cave 10 is also a chaitya with the usual votive stupa at the end of the apse. The important paintings here are of the worship of the Bodhi Tree; the Sama Jataka, a touching story of a boy who supported his blind parents; and the Chaddanta Jataka, a popular story of a kindly elephant that offered its tusks even to the wicked hunter who sought its life. The rest of the caves date to the 5th-6th century.  The group, as a whole, carved into the semicircular scarp with a stream running by, is a very impressive sight.  A visit to this Buddhist site is a great human experience.

Ellora: Ellora has a most interesting series of cave temples that extend for more than 2 km. The first group of caves is Buddhist, the second Brahmanic, and the last Jain.  Most fantastic of the caves is the Kailasa, a huge Hindu temple which covers an area twice as large as the Parthenon in Athens and is 1½ times as high.  All temples were cut from the top down to the ground. It has been estimated that cutting the Kailasa involved the removal of 200,000 tons of rock.

Karla and Bhaja Caves: The great Karla cave dates from around 80 B.C. and is one of the best-preserved Hinayana Buddhist caves in India.  It is comparatively little known and unvisited, compared to Ajanta and Ellora.  The Bhaja Caves, located in the village of Bhaja, are the famous chaitya caves that are among the oldest in Western India.

 

The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Saturday, 24 November 2018: Bangkok - Mumbai

4:30 p.m. Meet at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Intl. Airport, check-in counter Row J, Thai Airways.
6:55 p.m. Depart Bangkok for Mumbai by TG317.
10:00 p.m. Arrival at Mumbai Intl. Airport, transfer to hotel Leela

Day 2: Sunday, 25 November 2018: Mumbai – Lonavala

- Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
9:00 a.m. Proceed to Lonavala (87km.)
Visit three cave sites of Karla, Bhaja and Bedsa comprise some of the finest rock-cut architecture in the northwest of Deccan region. The three sites lie some way from each other, all to the east of Lonavala.
- The eighteen caves at Bhaja date from the late second to early first century BC. Large portions of the façade of these interesting caves are broken and lost, but what remains is impressive. The huge horseshoe-shaped arch with rock beams that imitate wood, the simulated balustrades, the pierced-window designs and the small chaitya arches all make up an imposing façade, giving the appearance of a multi-storied and balconied structure. These caves are among the oldest in western India.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Late afternoon: Visit Karla or Karli. Here there are four caves of particular importance for the study of architecture of about AD 100.  Cave No. 1 is a chaitya and is the largest and the best preserved one here. Cave No. 2 is a ruined three-story vihara, with monk cells, and carvings of Buddha images. Cave No. 3 is a two-story vihara, with monk cells, small chaitya, seated Buddha, Bodhisattvas and inscriptions.
- After that visit Bedsa. Here there are small group of caves. Bedsa’s chaitya hall, excavated later than that at Karla, is far less sophisticated. The vihara cave with eleven cells, all with doorways surmounted by chaitya arches and a continuous balustrade pattern running between them, is an interesting example of its kind.
- Dinner and overnight at the hotel Rythem, Lonavala

Day 3: Monday, 26 November 2018: Lonavala - Mumbai - Aurangabad

- Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
9:00 a.m. Proceed back to Mumbai.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant and transfer to airport
3:25 p.m. Depart Mumbai to Aurangabad by Air India flight AI442.
4:30 p.m. Arrive at Aurangabad Airport and transfer to the hotel.
- Check-in at Taj Residency in Aurangabad.
- Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 4: Tuesday, 27 November 2018: Aurangabad – Ajanta Cave

8:30 a.m. Proceed to Ajanta Caves.
- The famous monastery and temple caves of Ajanta are about 106 km from Aurangabad. Dug from rock face, there are about thirty altogether, in different stages of completion - some unfinished, others covered with finicky detail and completely embellished with wall paintings. The earliest, Caves No. 9 and 10, are contemporary with early caves like Bhaja in western India. The rest of the caves are Vakataka (CE 250s–CE 500s). The group as a whole, carved into the semicircular scarp with a stream running by, a very impressive sight. The caves at Ajanta offer a unique opportunity to study Vakataka architecture, sculpture and particular painting.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Late afternoon: Return to Aurangabad and visit Aurangabad Caves.
- Aurangabad has a number of Buddhist caves in its vicinity, all of which belong to the Vakataka period except Cave No. 4, which is of the time of the Satavahana, the second century AD.
Evening: Dinner and overnight at hotel Taj Residency in Aurangabad.

Day 5: Wednesday, 28 November 2018: Aurangabad – Ellora Caves – Mumbai

- Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
8:30 a.m. Proceed to Ellora Caves.
- The Ellora Caves consists of 34 rock cut shrines dating from the 4th to 9th century AD. The most remarkable among them is the Kailasa Temple, meant to be a replica of Lord Shiva's celestial abode.  Kailasa is the best example of rock cut architecture and is an engineering marvel. This famous free-standing shrine was carved out of solid rock by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna.
 
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Visit Bibi Ka Maqbara, the burial place of Aurangzeb’s wife, Rabia-Durrani. Aurangzeb’s son built this monument in 1679 AD in memory of his mother Rabia-Durrani.
5:30 p.m. Proceed to the Airport (Light supper will be provided).
8.25 p.m. Depart Aurangabad for Mumbai by Air India flight AI 441
9.35 p.m. Arrive at Mumbai Domestic Airport and transfer to restaurant for dinner
- Overnight at hotel Vivanta President, Mumbai.

Day 6: Thursday, 29 November 2018: Mumbai – Bangkok

- Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
8:30 a.m. Take an one hour ferry ride to visit Elephanta caves.
Elephanta Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a collection of cave temples predominantly dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. They are located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri (literally "the city of caves"), 10 kilometres  to the east of the city of Mumbai in the Indian state of Mahārāshtra.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant
Afternoon: Sightseeing in Mumbai, visit Prince of Wales Museum, the Fort District, Victoria Terminus, Gandhi’s Home, Dhobi Ghat, etc.
Evening: Dinner at local restaurant and transfer to Mumbai Intl. Airport
11.20 p.m. Depart to Bangkok by TG 318

Day 7: Friday, 30 November 2018: Bangok

5.05 a.m. Arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Intl. Airport.

Booking

Bt. 85,000 (Bt. 88,500 for non-members). Single room surcharge Bt. 18,000. A deposit of Bt. 30,000 and photocopy of passport must accompany the booking. Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the deposit has been made. Payment in full is required 45 days before the start of the trip (i.e. by Tuesday, 9 October 2018)

Please pay by cash or cheque payable to ‘The Siam Society’. There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges. Alternatively, you can deposit/transfer the money to the Siam Society travel account at the Thai Military Bank, Asoke Branch saving account no. 053-2-18000-7.  Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us. In case the tour has to be canceled due to insufficient participants, a full refund of the deposit will be made.

Includes/Excludes:

The contribution includes international airfare, meals as mentioned in program, accommodation for two persons per room, transfer and sightseeing by A/C coach, entrance fees, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible. It excludes visa fee to India (if any), personal expenses, personal beverages, etc.

To comply with payment and cancellation policies set forth by tour agencies, and to facilitate smooth working condition between the Siam Society and the tour agencies, please read carefully the cancellation policies stated below:

Cancellation charge:

45 days before the start of the trip:                                                  Deposit forfeited
45-30 days before the start of the trip                                              50% of the tour cost
Less than 30 days or cancellation without notice:                               No refund

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary. Seats are limited. Please book your place as soon as possible. For further information and bookings please contact Khun Prasert or Khun Supanut.