'Aurangabad'- the word literally means built by the throne. It is named after the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The city is a tourist hub, surrounded with many historical monuments. The administrative headquarters of the Aurangabad Division or Marathwada region, Aurangabad is said to be a City of Gates and the strong presence of these can be felt as one drives through the city. Recently, Aurangabad has been declared as Tourism Capital of Maharashtra. The city is also one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The monuments of Ajanta and Ellora is declared as World heritage site by UNESCO. Many beautiful Mughal monuments can be seen in Aurangabad. Aurangabad is popular for its woven Himroo shawls, Mashru and Kimkhab weaves and is also a good shopping hub for tourists. Any Woman who steps into this city will definitely be lured by its fantastic Paithani sarees and semiprecious stoned jewelry.
PLACES TO VISIT
The Ajanta Cave
The Ajanta Caves comprises of 30 rock cut Bhuddhist caves. It is located about 106 km from Aurangabad. The basic designs of the caves are called ‘Chaitya grihas’ and ‘Viharas’. Five caves are Buddhist cathedrals and the remaining 25 are monasteries. The Chaityas are large, rectangular chambers separated by rows of pillars. They are decorated by sculptures and murals which depict the many incarnations of Buddha. The Vhharas are rectangular shaped halls. They have series of small cells which are attached on both sides. Opposite to the entrance is an image of Buddha.
The caves also include a visual form of the life of Buddha and interesting stories from Jatakas.
The Ellora Cave
The Ellora Cave temples are from a later period than those at Ajanta (350 AD to 1000 AD), and include Hindu and Jain monuments as well . Precisely, 13 Buddhist, 16 Hindu and 5 Jain. The architecture and the carvings of the 34 monolithic cave temples are out of the world. The most interesting thing is that they were chiseled top downwards from a 2 km sheer rock escarpment. The main beauty of this place is the gigantic Kailasa Temple, the world’s largest monolithic sculpture, which required hours of diligent chiseling, sculpting and carving and scooping out of an estimated 200,000 tons of basalt rock, with absolutely no margin for inaccuracy! A short distance from Ellora is the Grishneshwar temple, one of the five ‘jyotirlingas’ meaning ‘selfborn’ lingams, and an important pilgrim center for Hindus.
Daulatabad is 13 kms from Aurangabad. It has an awe inspiring fort perched on the top of an overwhelming 200 meter rock hillock. Dating back to the 9th century when it was known as Deogiri, the fort has a left a mark in history, having been under the control of the Yadavas, Delhi Sultans, Mughals and finally the Marathas. The fortress is remembered mostly for Muhammed bin Tughlak’s abortive attempt to shift his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad in the early 14th century. The fort is worth seeing for its elaborate and superb multi-level defences, as well as the excellent viewsof the surrounding countryside from the top.
It is a Hindu pilgrim city lies on the banks of the Godavari, 56 km south of Aurangabad. It is famous for its beautiful ‘Paithani’ silk saris, decorated with intricate ‘zari’-gold embroidered border. It is a price the earth has to pay, but it is considered treasured heirlooms and sheer poetry in silk.
Bibi ka Maqbara
It is the mausoleum of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s queen. Inspired by the Taj Mahal, it was built as the final resting place for Begum Rabi’a Daurani. Close to the begum’s tomb is the unmarked grave of her devoted nurse. Although a poor replica of the Taj Mahal, it is definitely a place to visit. It was designed and built by Ata Ullah whose name is engraved on its door.
HOW TO VISIT?
The Aurangabad airport is situated at about 10 km east of the city and it is well connected by daily flights to Mumbai and Delhi.
Aurangabad is not exactly located on the main route where trains ply but some trains do stop here. The best way to get to Aurangabad is by reaching Manmad which is 113km northwest of Aurangabad Trains from major cities ply to this place. There are two direct trains that connect to Mumbai as well as a daily train to Hyderabad. Other direct connections are to Delhi (1395 km) and there is one train every five days to Amritsar via Delhi.
A drive to Aurangabad is a great idea as it is well connected by road to the towns and cities around it. State Roadways buses and private bus companies ply between Aurangabad and Pune (5 hours), Nashik (5 hours). Overnight luxury buses connect Aurangabad and Mumbai (12 hours) through Pune or Manmad.
WHEN TO VISIT?
This city can be visited anytime of the year but the best time to travel in and around Aurangabad is between October and March, the winter temperatures make the days pleasant making it perfect for sightseeing.