The famous Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra are beautiful, but the journey to the site is “very painful”, tourists from Japan have complained. They said they will definitely inform people of their country about this popular UNESCO world heritage site comprising around 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments, located in Aurangabad district, but also warn them about the pothole-ridden road connecting the city to the tourist destination.
A group of six Japanese nationals on Friday visited the caves, located around 100 km from the district headquarters, where footfalls have been going down due to poor condition of the key connecting road. “Once we go back, we will surely recommend our countrymen to visit the Ajanta Caves, but we will also let them know about the bad condition of the Aurangabad-Ajanta road. We will ask them to check the road conditions before planning the trip,” tourist Sakai Hiroshi told PTI.
“It took us just about two hours to see the caves, which are beautiful, but we spent eight-long hours on our journey which gave us body pain,” he informed through translator Dayanand Upadhyay. Hiroshi said he would like to visit the caves again, but only after the main road is smoothly operational.
“Our government is also spending money here and tourism is a key area for that. The Indian government should check this and resolve the bad road issue fast,” he added. Oda Yaoyi, a Tokyo-based woman who was part of the tourist group, said, “During the entire journey on the Aurangabad-Ajanta road, we couldn’t find a toilet facility till we reach near the caves.” “The buses are big (having high seating capacity) and tourists (arriving early) need to wait for a sufficient number of passengers before these vehicles start,” she said.
Instead, they can operate smaller vehicles which will help visitors save some time, she suggested. “If the infrastructure facilities are good, we can complete our visit to Ajanta and the neighboring Ellora Caves, located around 103 km apart, in a day and can spend another day to visit monuments in Aurangabad city,” she said.
Upadhyay, the Delhi-based guide who was escorting the group, said earlier when the road condition was not so bad, he would visit the caves once or twice every a month with Japanese tourists. “But this year, this is just my second trip to the caves,” he said.
An official of the Public Works Department here last week said the work order for repairing two lanes of the Aurangabad-Jalgaon road with paved shoulders was given in June 2017 and was supposed to be completed by June this year. In the meantime, this work was expanded to four lanes in January this year. “Now, a new deadline of January 2021 has been set up for completion of the work,” he added.
According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the number of tourists visiting the caves, including domestic, foreigners and those coming from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries, has been decreasing due to the road’s bad condition.