[Day 15] We visited the second group of caves at Aurangabad today, they are separated from the first group by around a kilometre, but have to be approached by a different road, which ends on a parallel plane to the caves, so there was no climbing involved, except up steps to the various caves in the group. Unlike the first group the attendant was insistent that we pay for entry at this site.
There are four caves in this group, and the period and style are much the same as the first. The most elaborate and best decorated of the caves is found in this set and is very finely wrought, and the morning sun rising into the caves provided lovely chiaroscuro and brought the reliefs and statues into good light.
One of the most noticeable developments in the statuary in these later caves is the dominance of female figures, many in voloptuous poses. In the side section of one of the caves was an unexpected group of around seven female forms, with a Bodhisattva at one end of the group and a standing Buddha at the other, all of about the same size.
In another of the caves the original Buddha statue had been carved away and a clumsy addition of a Ganesh head added to the body; and even in the 19th century Fergussen and Burgess reported that one of the caves was being used by Jainas, who had modified some of the statues to suit, although I could not see where this had been done.
Another of the caves again appeared to have been only half finished before it was abandoned, presumably because sources of support, whether political or from sufficiently rich devotees dried up. As in the first group there was another set of donees carved in worshipful posture around one of the large Buddha statues.
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Afterwards we went to the Bibi-Ka-Maqbara tomb, sometimes called the second Taj Mahal, though it has nowhere near the same size or skill in execution. Still it is a fine set of buildings with austere patterning.
It was built by Aurangzeb in 1660, in memory of his first wife and chief consort, Dilras Banu Begum, and is similar to the Taj in style, which was built for Aurangzeb’s mother, and is the largest of the monument’s built by this Moghul emperor.
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- Ajanta Caves, Final Day