For most of the morning before our trip to Ajanta, my mind was wrapped around the presentation that I was going to give later that day. I spent that morning and part of the bus ride going over my thesis and annotated bibliography deciding what I was going to say, but by the time the bus stopped, I still did not feel confident in what I was going to present. I later realized that the reason I did not feel ready for my presentation was because I had never actually seen the Ajanta caves in person. Luckily seeing the amazing view calmed my nerves and made me excited to explore.
Even after seeing the view and exploring the first cave of Ajanta, the moment did not truly become real for me until I saw Buddhist monks. REAL BUDDHIST MONKS! After studying and practicing Buddhism for the past couple of years, I thought very highly of Buddhist monks, so it was kind of like seeing celebrities. Although I felt as excited as an Indian child when they see Re, Gabby, or Connor, I felt that asking for a selfie might not have been entirely appropriate; so instead, I made a mental note and moved on. I was also amazed by the godlike Buddha statues in most of the temples. Upon entering a cave, the statue, which was sometimes illuminated, would immediately steal my gaze and draw me closer. I would have to say that my favorite Buddha statue out of the many that I got to see yesterday was the statue in Cave 11. If anyone needs a reminder of which one that was, refer to my previous post or checkout the background on my phone.
Aside from my interest in Buddhism, I think the reason that I enjoyed our visit to Ajanta so much was because it had been my research topic. This allowed me to move about the caves with more of an art historian’s perspective than I did any other day, paying special attention to cave maintenance and water damage. I also found that as we moved from cave to cave, I was able to recognize more Naga depictions, which made me more comfortable for my presentation. After experiencing the caves leading up to 16 and gaining clarity from Professor G(I can say it but I won’t even attempt to spell it) regarding the things that I already knew, I was able to give a confident and stress-free presentation. To top off my Ajanta experience, we all got to turn the unfinished cave into our play house, which is a moment that will always bring me joy when remembering Ajanta.