Ancient India

Amanda and I are taking The Plant Stories Project to India. Amanda’s brother is getting married on Sunday in Mumbai so we are delighted to find ourselves on the sub-continent. We got over our stomach bugs just in time to fly, and here we are. Amandas parents have taken us on a pre-wedding outing to the Ajanta and Elorra Caves in Maharashta State East-nor-east from Mumbai.  These caves were dug out by the faithful Buddhists, Hundus, and Jainists over many hundreds of years. IMG_3791 (600x800)

They are monastic centres and have ‘cells’ for living in and temples for worshiping. The caves would have been plastered and painted. Very little of the paint has survived but in a few caves perhaps half of the wall paintings are visible and in good condition. One of the most striking things to me was the use of flowers in the carving and painting. Obviously the Lotus features prominently, but many other species can also be found. In Uganda plants and their flowers were almost never used ornamentally and we saw no evidence of them being used in any cultural practices (other than being given to us on our farewell). These paintings and carvings are between 1500 and 2200 years old and other than some conservation work (taking off the shellac the Italians put on) they have not been touched.

 IMG_3775 (800x600)IMG_3891 (800x600)

In India flowers are everywhere whether planted or painted or picked and adorning someone or something. It will be an exciting time over the next 4-5 weeks as we head south and explore Tamil Nadu, the western ghats, and Kerala.

Driving through Maharashta we saw sugar cane being harvested, harvested maize fields, cotton, some okra, chillis,  fields divided with the Castor Oil plant (Ricinis communus), and then some crops which I’ve never seen before. I think some were lentils, and then some which I cannot place. Maybe we’ll find out.

Also – as we are travelling on the cheap we do not expect to have the regular access to internet that we have been privileged with up until now.

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One response to “Ancient India

  1. Dorothy

    Dear Malcolm
    So glad you and Amanda are recovering from the food poisoning and have arrived safely in India and enjoying your time there up to now. How interesting to see these ancient caves and still so beautifully preserved. The artistery intricate. I am sure this will be of special interest to Amanda.
    Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your travels and stay in India with the highlight being the wedding of Mark and Bhakti over the weekend 3rd, 4th and 5th December 2011.
    God bless you all.
    Lots of love and all best wishes.
    Auntie Dorothy

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