Map.gifMap of My travels with updated path from Central to South India including the Ajanta and Ellora caves, Bangalore, Mysore and many places in the state of Kerala. 49 KB  
Ellora_Caves.jpgFrom Mumbai Victoria station (CST), I took a last-minute train to Aurangabad and visited the famous Buddhist and Hindu cave-temples at Ellora. 48 KB  
Ellora_Caves.jpgWhat I didn't realize until arriving was that these are all carved directly into stone mountains! Nothing was "constructed", but rather pieces of stone were removed to make these tranquil/magnificent temples. 29 KB  
Ellora_Caves.jpgThis one was great! The huge, vaulted ceiling, the 12' high Buddha and the entire space itself was just carved out of the mountain! Beautiful, cool spaces -- it was 103°F outside! 44 KB  
Ellora_Kailasa.jpgThe most awesome of the temples at Ellora -- Kailasa. Known as the largest monolithic structure in the world --It’s estimated that about 200,000 tons of rocks was scooped out over hundreds of years to construct this monolithic structure... Rooms, windows, walkways, arches -- everything carved out of the mountain as one piece of stone. 47 KB  
Ellora_Caves.jpgHindu temple relief carving. 44 KB  
Ellora_Jain.jpgIn addition to the Buddhist and Hindu caves, there are some really beautiful Jain caves. 29 KB  
Ellora_Jain.jpgAlthough they were more simple, the Jain caves were still my favorite. Just "felt" like holy places. 38 KB  
Bats.jpgWhat would caves be without them? 43 KB  
Ellora.jpg 32 KB  
Ellora.jpg 44 KB  
Ellora.jpg 28 KB  
Ajanta_Caves.jpgThe next day I woke up Early, packed my junk and went to Ajanta. It took a while to get there, but I made it in time. The caves here were much more "developed", which means very little room for playing, lots of roped off areas so you can't see the details and dramatic colored lighting. The security/safety precautions (to be honest) were nothing compared to what we would have in the USA -- I am just spoiled I guess. 40 KB  
Ajanta_Children.jpgBut, they were still really beautiful... there was so much more detail -- paintings, carvings, etc than at Ellora. 35 KB  
Ajanta.jpg 26 KB  
Painting.jpgThere are still some caves with paintings visible on the walls. 47 KB  
Ajanta.jpgSome really nice grand entrances... 56 KB  
Ajanta_Buddha.jpgAlmost every cave had a Buddha statue in it. 45 KB  
Stone.jpgDetailed carvings. 51 KB  
Funky_Chicken.jpgA really funny guy at the Jalgaon train station. What is he doing? Don't know myself. He was kinda making fun of me, but also of himself... he bought me a mango juice, then I found out he sold peanuts on the trains (which indicates he really didn't have extra money to spend). Life is never boring... 27 KB  
Bangalore_Park.jpgTook a super-long train ride all the way to Bangalore. I had a mild interest in seeing the "Silicon Valley" of India, but ended up there just because it was the only major destination to the south that was available! I bought a "wait-list" ticket (no guaranteed seat) and just got lucky (25 hours of standing is not fun)! Oh, found some nice parks in Bangalore. 66 KB  
Bangalor_M.G.Road.jpgI really saw many similarities with "Silicon Valley", not a bad description. Really "felt" similar to the South Bay to me, very unlike other parts of India. Needless to say, it was not my favorite place, but glad I saw it. 42 KB  
Mysore_Palace.jpgFrom Bangalore, took a bus to Mysore. Just happened upon the Palace while looking for a hotel my first night. Had some wonderful street food (biryani with coconut chutney on a large leaf). 29 KB  
Mysore_Design.jpgAs I wandered around Mysore, I saw various designs like this in front of most homes. Most had been made with some kind of powder -- really nice! I was told they were "Hindu", but couldn't find out anything else. 42 KB  
Movie_Billboard.jpg"Men who get angry!" Seems to be a popular plot for films here... maybe everywhere... 49 KB  
Bekal_Trees.jpgI flew through Mangalore and got on a train going south to Cochin, Kerala. But after an hour or so, I just got so excited by the lush Kerala landscape, that i jumped off the train in Bekal. 49 KB  
Bekal_Kappil_Beach.jpgFirst beach I had seen in India... was so empty it was almost scary! Met a nice boy that lived nearby though and the Muslim villagers helped me find the beach in the first place. 21 KB  
Bekal_Temple.jpgThe colors hurt my eyes to look at them... 39 KB  
Bekal_Train_Station.jpgHopped back on the train the next day and continued south. 37 KB  
Kochi_Trash.jpgJust looks like it once was a cute character encouraging people not to litter... 46 KB  
Kalarippayattu.jpgIn Kochi. (aka: Cochin), I found a really nice Portuguese-style room at the Kathakali center and went to see a Kalarippayattu demonstration. 23 KB  
Munnar.jpgFrom burning hot Kochi, I got a bus up to the Munnar hill station. It was very cool there... 11 KB  
Munnar_Walk.jpgTook a random walk out of town and found this stream... decided to just follow it. 48 KB  
Munnar_Mango.jpgStopped on the grass to read and eat this huge juicy mango -- my first real mango in India! 31 KB  
Munnar_Bug.jpg 32 KB  
Munnar_Waterfall.jpgFollowed the stream crawling over boulders and under them. Into these little caves... really nice afternoon. 34 KB  
Munnar_Walk.jpgJust before cutting up to the road and heading back, I took this pic of the stream. 49 KB  
Kumily_Periyar.jpgNext place was Kumily, close to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Rode a bike into the reserve and did the touristy boat around the lake. Saw these elephants come to the water to drink. 48 KB  
Girls_Water.jpgAlthough its against the rules, I took a "detour" off the road while leaving the park. Found a group of villagers fishing by the river. People were really nice and surprised to see a white guy wander out of the "tourist zone". 56 KB  
Family_Tree.jpg.jpgThis family was across the river, just chillin, eating, cooking (maybe even living???) under this large tree. 44 KB  
Boy_Umbrella.jpgEscaping the sun... 49 KB  
Woman.jpgOld woman fishing on the riverbank. 42 KB  
Kumily.jpgView from the walkway of my hotel... 16 KB  
Kottayam.jpgStayed in a small village on the edge of Kottayam. 54 KB  
Kottayam.jpgWas surprised by the number of Christians I met here in Kerala! I figured they were converts from the colonizers. But then found out that no -- St. Thomas brought Christianity here almost 2000 years ago -- well before it came to Europe even! 28 KB  
Ferry.jpgYep, its actually water! Covered in various plant life though. This ferry ride from Kottayam to Alappuzha (aka Alleppey) was one of my best boat rides this trip! Really nice trip through the semi-saline "backwaters"! 47 KB  
Alappuzha.jpgEnded up staying much longer than expected in the small town of Alappuzha. It was just so nice and calm. 47 KB  
Alichet.jpgMet this boatman named Alichet. He totally hooked up a really nice afternoon, of canoeing though the backwaters, drinking tea with friends in a tiny village on the banks. 61 KB  
Boats.jpgPhoto of the traditional rice barges which are now used as luxury house boats. 39 KB  
Backwaters.jpgAlichet and I paddled our way along with paddles carved from coconut palm wood, saying hello to people, picking mangoes off the trees that hung over the boat. He was a really intelligent man and we had some good talks about many things, including communism in Kerala (the first freely elected communist government in the world!). Although I was paying him, the whole experience was just so nice -- really not the typical "tour". 47 KB  
Backwaters_Umbikaram.jpg 66 KB  
Fisherman_Net.jpgSome fancy net fishing, a friend of Alichet. 31 KB  
Yellow.jpgMy bus just drove by this lively street festival – everyone dressed in yellow, many elephants decorated in elaborate gold jewelry. I tried to find out if April, 24th, 2006 was a special holiday, but neither the internet, nor locals could tell me what it was. 51 KB  
Rubber_Tapping.jpg This photos is of a rubber tree being "tapped" by a plantation worker. The white line is liquid latex oozing from the tree. This was on the small plantation owned by the family of Sony Thomas – a co-worker from San Francisco (and also a native of the Kottayam district, Kerala). Got to stay with Sony and his family for a night, really nice way to say goodbye to India… 43 KB