Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Trip to Pune - part 2

As I had written in the previous post, hubby and me visited India during the new year holidays. We visited my parents in Pune from 28 December 2008 to 03 January 2009. In this post I will write about the final three days of our trip to Pune.

1st January
We hired a car with a driver and went for sightseeing around Pune. My parents also accompanied us. We went to see Karla caves and Khandala.
Situated on the Pune-Mumbai Road, Karla caves are approximately 50 km away from Pune. These caves date back to the 2nd century BC and represent the golden period of Buddhism in India. Karla caves is a complex of cave shrines built by Buddhist monks that are oldest and excellent example of Indian rock-cut architecture adhering to the Hinayana sect of Buddhism. These caves do not actually show the Buddha and have only symbolic descriptions.

There was a steep 350-step climb that led to the caves. My parents did not go up to the caves as it would have been very tiring for them. They worshipped in a Hindu temple located at the beginning of the steps.

Hubby was very happy to see a cow while climbing up the steps.

On the way up, there were several small shops selling items like flowers, incense sticks, and sweets as prayer offerings.

A small shop selling photos of various Hindu Gods

We were rather tired after climbing all the steps. But the view was fantastic from the top.

View from the top

There is a recently built temple at the entrance of the Karla caves.

Roof top of the recently built temple (orange) is seen at the main entrance of the cave

Temple (blue) at the right side of the entrance of the cave

Also at the main entrance of the cave, there is a giant pillar from the Buddhist period that has four lions at the top. This design has been adopted as the national emblem of India.

A giant pillar depicting four lions at the top

The Karla cave complex comprises of a number of chaityas i.e., prayer halls, which have been carved with great precision. There is a sun window on the top of central doorway that is a wonderful arrangement for the diffusion of light inside the main chaitya. This chaitya is 45 meters long.

Sun window at the top of central doorway

The walls of the outer porch of the main chaitya are finely decorated and carved with sculptures of human couples along with magnificent carvings of three elephants.

Sculptures of human couples

Me standing in front of a wall with sculptures of human couples

Sculptures of couples and three elephants

Hubby and our car driver posing with the sculptures of elephants

Although the Karla caves were made during the Hinayana sect of Buddhism, by the seventh century AD, the Mahayana sect took over and representations of Buddha became more common. By the central doorway, there are sculptures of the Buddha preaching while seated on a lion-supported throne, along with the carvings of three elephants.
Sculptures of the Buddha and elephants

Inside the main chaitya hall, there is a stone stupa (funeral mound) that is placed under an umbrella. A remarkable feature of this cave are the wooden rafters that support the arched roof. These wooden rafters have survived for more than 2000 years.

Hubby posing inside the main chaitya hall in front of a notice board

The main chaitya hall

Stone stupa placed under an umbrella

In addition, the interior of the hall consists of 37 pillars adorned with beautiful carved figures of men and women on elephants.

The pillars

Hubby posing in front of the pillars

There are also a number of viharas that were the dwelling places for the monks. The viharas are also ornamented and consisted of a lot of sculpted statues. The viharas consisted of cells cut into the walls around three sides of a hall.

The viharas

Me in front of the sculpted statues inside a vihara

Hubby and me sitting in a cell that is cut into the wall

Window in a vihara

Hubby and me liked the Karla caves very much. It was almost 3 pm by the time we came down the steps. My parents were sitting and chatting under the shade of a huge tree. We all were very hungry and decided to have lunch in a Maharashtrian style restaurant about 5 km away from the Karla caves. The food tasted delicious.

The Maharashtrain 'thali'

Since the restaurant where we had our lunch was on the way to Khandala, we had to do car ride only for a few more kilometers before reaching the next sightseeing scenic spot of Khandala. Khandala is located about 16 km away from Karla caves. Khandala, although small, is one of the major hill stations in India. It is located at an altitude of 625 meters, and sits on the western slopes of the Sahyadri mountain range. Khandala offers beautiful green environs and has abundant natural beauty.

First we went to the Rajmachi point. The view was superb.

View from Rajmachi point (the place is usually full of clouds during rainy season)

Khandala valley (In January, the waterfall had dried up)

Me, mother, and father

Hubby with a monkey

Monkey at Khandala

Next, we went to the point known as Duke's nose in Khandala. It was a breathtaking sight.

Duke's nose

Amazing view

Hubby posing at Duke's nose point

We enjoyed seeing the Karla caves and the scenic spots of Khandala. We returned back home at about 6 pm. We all were very tired, had a light dinner, and retired for the night.

2nd January
We had a guest in the morning who is my father's friend. My hubby enjoyed chatting with him about the culture and traditions of Japan.

Father chatting with his friend

After lunch, hubby and me went for a walk near my parents' home. In the past few years the area has developed into an IT sector area and we saw several huge IT company buildings.

An IT office building

We also saw a Suzuki car-dealer shop nearby.

Car-dealer shop

Although the area has modernized and changed a lot in the past few years, but the road system has not kept up the pace with the tremendously increased number of cars and other vehicles plying on the roads. There is a lot of noise pollution due to unnecessary usage of horns. Hubby (me too) was very scared to see pedestrians crossing the roads while the traffic was moving at full speed. Traffic signals are required at a lot of points but.....

Pedestrians crossing the road while the traffic is moving

Hubby made a video of the noise pollution due to unnecessary usage of horns by the vehicle drivers.

While returning back to my parent's home in the evening, hubby bought sweets and snacks from a shop as presents for friends in Japan. After returning home, we chatted with my parents for a long time. In the night we had eggs, lentils (dal in Hindi), rice, vegetables, and salad for dinner. Later we enjoyed custard as a sweet dish. My mother cooked the dinner as well as the sweet dish. Afterwards, we packed our luggage as we were to leave for Delhi and Chandigarh the next day.

Hubby enjoying custard

3rd January
In the morning, we all were in a sad mood as it was our last day in Pune and we all would be seeing each other again after quite some time. My parents went to the Pune Airport to see us off. The flight to Delhi was initially scheduled for 9 am. However, the flight was delayed for more than two hours due to severe foggy conditions in Delhi. Finally at 11.30 am, the flight departure was announced. I was very emotional while saying good-bye to my parents. Even my hubby had tears in his eyes. Now, I am waiting to meet my parents again during the next year holidays!


indhu M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Indhu M for your comment.