Ajanta Caves, Day One

[Day 22] Today was the first real day shooting at Ajanta, and because of the later opening time we took a good breakfast and a packet lunch with us, and left it with a very helpful hotel manager near the cave entrance.

The road to the caves lies around 5km outside of Fardapur, on the Aurangabad side. All cars, etc. have to stop here, and then there is a state bus to reach the entrance to the caves around 3km further inside. After buying tickets there is a climb over a fairly steep hill before we arrived at the first of the caves.

We were advised that many people would be in the caves as Ellora was closed today and we were best to start at the far end before people made their way there. When we looked however it appeared there were very few people inside and so we started photographing at caves 1 & 2, both of which are richly decorated with paintings.

The lighting, however, although very atmospheric, is also very low and the distance photos did not turn out as well as expected and the 360 degree photos are unusable owing to being dark, and having too much noise despite supplementing the lighting with our own (non-destructive) video lighting.

I am now considering how to improve the painting photos as only so much can be done in post-production. One of the photos that did come out well was of the iconic Padmapānī painting, which was taken in close-up, and it may be that we can get better results with telephoto lens tomorrow, but that will also slow us down in our progress through the caves.

We actually managed to cover around 10 of the caves today before it was coming up for lunch and we started heading back to the restaurant to take lunch. It then became apparent that I was feeling very, very poorly as we climbed up and down the steps, and I was hardly able to eat when I got there.

Later it became apparent that I had dehydrated, despite drinking quite well and being in the shade. Because of this we retired again early, and made it back to the guest house in order to recuperate strength and hopefully be well enough to continue on the ‘morrow.


Ajanta Padmapani



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