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Location : Maharashtra
Attractions : Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad Caves, Panchakki, Pithalkhora Caves, Daulatabad Fort, Ellora Caves, Ajanta Caves etc.
Best Time To Visit : October to April
Aurangabad, a city in the West Indian State of Maharashtra is a gateway for visiting the World Heritage Sites of Ajanta and Ellora. Situated in the heart of Maharashtra state, Aurangabad lies along the right bank of the Kham rivers. Now a modern city, Aurangabad is seeped in medieval past, where ruined monuments overlook a bustling industrial town, filled with backpackers, pilgrims and architecture enthusiast.
Literally meaning "Built by the Throne", Aurangabad is named after Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, but earlier in its history it was known as Khadke. During the Aurangzeb's rule, Aurangabad became the seat of Mughal power. Aurangzeb's reign contributed to architectural gems such as the Bibi Ka Maqbara and the Panchakki.
Most of the people think of Aurangabad simply as a place to stay when visiting the cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora. But it is a fact that Aurangabad itself houses a number of attractions in its own right that attract equal number of tourists like Ajanta and Ellora. Hence, plan a trip to the city of architectural wonders and see some of the rare architectural masterpieces of the world.
How to Reach Aurangabad
By Air : Aurangabad has its own airport which is connected to Mumbai, Delhi and other important cities of India. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and other airlines operate flights to and fro from Aurangabad to Mumbai. From the airport taxis and auto-rickshaws are available for the city.
By Train : Aurangabad railway station is well-connected with cities important places of India. There is a direct rail link between Mumbai and Aurangabad. Devgiri Express and Tapovan Express run daily between Mumbai and Aurangabad. From Aurangabad there is a direct train to Hyderabad too. Sachkand Express ply between New Delhi and Aurangabad.
By Bus : National and State Highways connect Aurangabad with cities of Maharashtra and neighbouring states. Maharashtra State Transport Corporation (MSTC) and private operators run daily buses to Aurangabad from Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Jalgaon, Indore and Nashik.
Local Transport : For local transport you can hire a car from any of the car rental companies. You can also take an auto-rickshaw.
Places Where You Can Stay
Aurangabad is dotted with several hotels ranging from Deluxe hotels to economy hotels. Most of Aurangabad's cheaper hotels are close to the railway station. Important hotels of Aurangabad city are mentioned below :
Deluxe Hotels : Taj Residency, Welcomegroup Rama International, Ambassador Ajanta, Hotel President Park and Quality Inn The Meadows.
Standard Hotels : Quality Inn Vedant, Hotel Aurangabad Ashok and Hotel Amarpreet.
MTDC Accommodation : Holiday Resort and Fardapur
Tourist Attractions in Aurangabad
Bibi Ka Maqbara : Commonly known as 'the poor man's Taj Mahal' the Bibi Ka Maqbara was in 1679 by Aurangzeb's son as mausoleum for his mother Rabia-ud-Darani. Situated to the north of the city, Bibi Ka Maqbara is the poor imitation of the Taj Mahal both in design and execution. Though the Bibi Ka Maqbara is not in the same league as Taj but is the only example of Mughal architecture on the Deccan plateau.
Aurangabad Caves : Just three km from downtown lies the Aurangabad Caves. Built around the 6 th and 7 th century AD, the Aurangabad caves comprises nine caves, five in the western group and four in the eastern group, which are one km apart. All the caves are Buddhist and they showcase art by Buddhist monks, dating back hundred of years. You will also see an interesting series of sculptures depicting scenes from one of the jatakas. Other sculptures depict figures of women, scantily clad but ornately bejewelled. There is also a massive statue of of Bodhisattva prays for deliverance from eight fears of the enemy, chains, lions, shipwreck, mad elephants, snakes and death, represented as a demon.
Panchakki : Panchakki, the water mill derives its name from the mill which was used to grind grain for pilgrims. In the year 1624 a Sufi Saint was buried here and pleasant garden with its series of tanks serves as his memorial. Panchakki is a cool, relaxing and tranquil place, must pay a visit to this place during your trip to Aurangabad.
Pithalkhora Caves : Regarded as the oldest Buddhist caves in India, the Pithalkhora Caves form a link between the art of Amravati and Sanchi. Set amidst the Satmala range of the Sahyadri Mountains, these 13 caves houses Buddhists chaityas (monasteries) and viharasa dating between the 2nd century BC and 5 th century AD.
Tourist Attractions Around Aurangabad
Daulatabad Fort : One of the finest examples of war strategy and intrigue, Daulatabad Fort is situated between Aurangabad and the Ellora Caves. The magnificent hilltop fortress of Daulatabad Fort lies at a distance of 13 km from Aurangabad. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, known as the 'mad sultan of Delhi, built this fort in 14 th century. Daulatabad fort is surrounded by five km of sturdy wall, while the central bastion tops a 200 mtr high hill. Climb to the top of the fort for getting fantastic views of the surrounding areas.
Ellora Caves : Located at a distance of 30 km from Aurangabad, Ellora Caves are one of the finest examples of ancient Indian art. A World Heritage Site, Ellora Caves reflect the essence of three distinct religions namely Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. The caves of these three religions coexist harmoniously in a spectacular display of high art. Ellora Caves comprises 34 rock-cut caves that include 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and five Jain caves. It is believed that the rock temples of Ellora were constructed under the aegis of the Rashtrakutan King Krishna I.
Ajanta Caves : Ajanta Caves are situated about 100 km from the city of Aurangabad. The caves were discovered in 1819 by a group of British army officers during a hunting expedition. Presently the world famous Ajanta Caves are one of the chief tourist attractions in India. There are 30 caves in Ajanta and they served as monsoon retreats or varshavasas for Buddhist monks between 200 BC and about 650 AD.
Ellora Festival : Each year during the winter season, the Ellora Festival of Classical Dance and Music is organised against the dramatic backdrop of Ellora Caves. During Ellora Festival India's leading artists perform amidst the beautiful rock cravings. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) organises this annual festival and it is a must-participate event.
Shopping in Aurangabad
Shopping in Aurangabad is a delightful experience and a trip to the city is incomplete without some shopping. As you enter the narrow bylanes (gullies) of the old city, suddenly you will be transferred to an another era. Visit the Himroo workshop situated in near Zaffar Gate, here you can witness weaving, which was practiced hundreds of year ago, even today kept alive by skilled weavers. You can buy Himroo shawls and sarees which are found in the many showrooms around the city. Aurangabad is also famous for Paithani sarees, combining pure gold zari (golden thread) with pure silk to create a motifs of colours and motifs. Bidriware is another renowned art of the Aurangabad region. Some of the specialties of Bidriware are plates, vases, urns, boxes and necklaces made of a zinc-copper alloy. Check out the a wide array of semi-precious and precious stones available across the city of Aurangabad and stalls around the Ajanta Caves shopping complex.
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