Seven long hours on a train west of Mumbai, I found myself in the enchantment of Ellora Caves. The caves are World Heritage listed and not far from Aurangabad in India. While I was exploring these ancient monuments and shrines, I was spotted by Imran, a 19 year old local man who was selling old Indian artefacts and postcards.
Once we got the business out of the way, getting the hard sell from Imran, purchasing an old coin and a few postcards I didn’t really want, we started to explore these amazing caves. We exchanged stories, walking and laughing as he told me of his happy life in Ellora. We rediscovered an ancient Hindu Temple with magical acoustics. (pictured above) We experimented with sounds as young kids do, to hear our own voices echoing in the cave.
I quickly realised the beauty in the sounds we were hearing as Imran started to sing an old Sanskrit mantra. The natural acoustics in this cave were amazing. I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I recorded him singing this beautiful mantra, explaining I had a microphone and a recording device. Strangely looking unsurprised with my request he was happy to sing. From these few fortunate moments of ancient inspiration came the vocal for the track “Gatchami”.
English vocal translation: “Buddha’s feet are planting the flowers”.
After the recording was over he was eager to hear his voice back on the headphones, laughing at himself and being amazed at the clarity of the recording. I explained that I may one day like to use it on a record, asking if it was ok……. he said no problem but refused my request to take a photo and to note down his last name. I asked why….. he explained that if some of his Islamic friends found out he sang a Buddhist mantra he may get in trouble.
Ellora Caves: The cave temples, chapels and monasteries of Ellora were carved over a period of five centuries by (Buddhist, Hindu and Jain) monks and date back as far as 600AD. They stretch for over 2 km.