Maharashtra: Aurangabad - A Travel Guide

 

Aurangabad :

Season: October- November.

Temperature: 70- 80 F.

Rainfalls: 800 mm (June- September)

Famous for serving as a gateway to
Ajanta Caves  and   Ellora Caves

The historical city, Aurangabad was built by Ambar, the waji (Prime Minister) of Murtaza Nizam Shah (2nd) and the owner of the slaves of Abyssinia.

Once well protected with a 4.5 meters tall fortification, Aurangabad has now become a prominent business hub. The significant city houses a well known university, an engineering college and medical college. The city is more than one thousand years old and its age is evident on the structures of the edifices of the city. Muslim architectural flair of the buildings of the city is the evidence of its age. More than 6 lakhs people are living their lives comfortably on the grand premise of Aurangabad. People of various creeds and beliefs are staying here but Muslim citizens have outnumbered other communities. Traditional Muslim women carry their traditions forward wearing burkas.

It’s a significant and noteworthy destination of India. But, it’s irrefutable that the crowded Aurangabad irritates many for its ever increasing populations. The Main Square of Aurangabad is a shoppers’ paradise. Innumerable shops are scattered and are doing their businesses around Shahgunj Mosque (1720). The construction of another pilgrimage spot called Juma mosque was started in 1620 and got its ultimate shape later on when the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb completed the construction process.

Located towards the eastern side of the holy Juma mosque, the Killa Arak (1692) is carrying the memories of the royal empires. Ruins of the kingdom of Aurangabad can be witnessed here, at the junction of Delhi and Mecca gate.

The Kali mosque and Naokonda palace were erected by Malik Ambar. The wonderfully designed Kali mosque was built on 6 contiguous pillars. The structural elegance of these historical monuments still is pulling crowds in abundance regularly.

Other sought after and commendable destinations of Aurangabad are the Chalk Masjid and Lal mosque (built by basalt rock). The unique and singular Chalk Masjid, built in 1665, had laid its foundation on 5 domes. Drive your car towards the south- western side of the city to Marathwada to watch the impressive collections of the historical evidences in the History museum. The new Aurangabad city tour can be completed in 2 hours.

Atop the diminutive hill, the charming 600 feet tall Daulatabad fort, situated at a distance of 13 km towards the north- western corridor of Aurangabad, on Ellora road, is said to be one of the wonders of the world. This age- old and distinctive fort of Aurangabad was built in 1187 by emperor Villamar. Spend just 5 rupees to buy a ticket to eye- witness the splendor of the fort along with the historical spectacle here.

Bibi ka Maqbara, the shrine of the 1st queen of Aurangzeb (Rabia Ud Durrani), is not very far away from the city. It’s just 5 km away towards the southern side of Aurangabad. Resembling the grandeur and structure of the time-honored Taj Mahal, the Taj for the poor, was erected by Aurangzeb during 1653- 1678. Credit of making this historical monument goes to the Persian architect, Ustad Atta Ullah. The opinion regarding the construction of the monument, however, varies. It is believed that a mammoth 668203 (approximately) rupees was spent to give it the desired look. The place is rightly said to be the Taj of West India. But, the architectural grandeur and artistic depictions are not at all comparable to that of the Taj Mahal of Agra. The structure showcases an innovating commingling of plaster and marbles. The In-lay ornamentations of flowers and Jali architectures on the walls of this monument are laudable even today.

The adornment of brass doorway of the Maqbara, erected by Haibat Roy is impressive. It depicts the class apart and pretty Hindu architectural touch. The well-thought-out construction plan of this Maqbara made sure that sun rays comes inside and falls on the shrine for 3 minutes through the Jafri window. Visitors can witness the spectacular Maqbara during 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. spending 5 rupees each. The annual festival of Bibi Ka Maqbara, organized during the month of October by MTDC, is a prime enticement of Aurangabad.

The water stream produced by a running pump is coming down with its feral force from a hill, about 6 km away from the city. The untamed water which comes down from the hill is used to run machine and press wheat. Hence, it is also named as “Pani (water) Chakki (pressing machine)”. It was built long back in 1696. The innovative thinking and planning of Malik Ambar are quite apparent here. But, due to scarcity of water, the pressing machine has stopped working today. The shrine or Dargah of Baba Shah Musafir was built using white marbles in 1624. The orchard on the same premise shows an eye soothing splendor. Feed the animated fishes which move around in the water body. A 5 rupees ticket would allow you to go inside and watch the historical monument. The newest and one of the sought after tourists’ enticements of Aurangabad is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum (10- 13:30, 14- 18:00).

Tourists, who are interested in antique collection, have to flock to the Purwar Musuem. A well known textile industry has grown on the premise of Aurangabad. Purchasing some silk sarees for your loved ones would not be a bad idea. Shoppers should visit the weekly market, located at the western side of the Bus Stand of Aurangabad.

About 7 km away towards the northern side of the city, the Aurangabad cave, a very popular tourists’ destination of Aurangabad, is a pretty creation atop the Sahyadri hill. This pleasing cave was built with the financial aids of the Bakatak and Kalchuri emperors. 10 caves altogether form this Mahayana Buddhist cave. Divided into two different sectors, the Aurangabad caves significantly showcase both Chaityar and Viharas. The western sector houses caves 1- 5. The cave 1, however, is incomplete. Vihara 2 showcases a colossal idol of Buddha who’s here giving lessons to his followers. The square shaped 3rd cave is well decorated where as the 12th cave had laid its foundation on 12 neighboring strong pillars. Pretty carvings and illustrates Jataka tales have made the 12th cave a coveted tourists’ attraction.

The oldest of all the caves is the cave 4. It is a chaitya and was built long back during 1st century. The cave 5 is in ruins now. Cave 6- 10 of the Eastern group is situated at a distance of 1.5 km away from the Western Cave.

If you want to witness the primeval art forms and sculptural elegance, then you have to flock to the Cave 6 and 7. The structure of the 6th Cave is still intact. A Hindu idol, Ganesh, is now sharing space with the grand Buddha idol in the Cave 6. The hair design and ornamentations of the woman idol, placed in this Cave, are treats to the eyes of the travelers. The pretty and appealing pictures on the ceiling deserve praise as well. Shakyamuni and Padmapani (popular divinities of Buddhist Pantheon) are delimited by 6 Devis (Goddesses). Panchika and Hariti are residing at the left hand side of the Shakyamuni and Padmapani. Bodhisatwa is placed at the left hand side of Panchika and is searching for freedom. Sculptures of dancers and musicians are carved on the walls. Eight idols, placed in the 7th cave, represent eight forms of choler (Fire, Sword of the enemy, Chains, Shipwreck, Lions, Snakes, Mad elephants, Demon). The 9th and 10th Caves are unfinished.

If you avail a package tour, then you would not be able to visit the caves which are included in the list of the World Heritage Sites. But, hiring an auto or taxi would be an apt and wise decision to watch the scattered attractive spots of the historical Aurangabad city.

Khuldabad (the heavenly residence), about 5 km away from the cave of Aurangabad, houses the shrine of Aurangzeb. The simple shrine of Aurangzeb, on the premise of the Alamgir Dargah, was shaped spending the money which was earned by Aurangzeb by copying Koran. Later on, the reticular of stones was formed around the shrine by the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Khuldabad, located at an elevation of 630 meters, is also popularly known as Rauza or Karbala. The city during that era was delimited by a fortification and it could be accessed only through the seven imposing entrances. The shrines of Syed Zain-Ud-Din, Syed Burhar Ud Din, Malik Ambar and Abul Hassan Tana Shah are special enticements to the Muslim pilgrims.

Innumerable significant commemorative recollect the historical memories of Aurangabad. An angrakha of Paigambar is one of the very popular memorials of Aurangabad. The ancient Mughal Bagicha (garden) called Bani Begum Bagh is the spot where Bani Begum (The wife of one of the sons of Aurangzeb) was buried.

Maheshmal, about 14 km away from Khuldabad, is a sought after site for the picnic and outing lovers.

About 78 km away from Aurangabad, the cave, carved atop the Sahyadri hill in Pithalkora, displays an impressive blending of both Chaitya and Vihara architectures. The relief art forms, exhibited here are even more attractive than that of Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Located at a height of 166 meters, one of the most secured spots of that period, the captivating Daulatabad fort, is located at a distance of 5 km away from Aurangabad and is well protected by a 5 km long rampart. The mountain and a moat at two different sides of the fort are enhancing the protection of the riveting fort. The architectural panache and elegance of the fort are noteworthy. Carry a torch and get inside the fort along with a guide. Two stretched out roads used to mark ways inside the fort through darkness. One of these two roads used to meet at boiling oil where as the other one used to meet at moat which used to have ferocious crocodiles. The connecting viaduct over the moat could also be furled back to protect the fort from the enemies. The sound of a clap reaches all the way to the top of the hill and people present in the fort could hear that.

To recall the old memories and the win of South India, Allauddin Bahman had erected the pink colored Chand Minar in 1435. The green tiles of the fort, however, are not there anymore. Take a walk for some time to access the dark path of the fort or the Bhulbhaliya.

The holy Juma mosque was constructed on ruins of the consecrated Jain temple at the opposite side of the Chand Minar. 106 pillars of the mosque were brought in from the Hindu temple. The mosque, nevertheless, has been transformed into a temple of Bharat Mata. The 31 meters tall Victory Tower was built by Alauddin in memory of the victory of the fort. The basement of the tower has 24 rooms and a mosque is also there.

The enamoring Chini Mahal, atop the fort, was constructed placing bluish tiles and is in ruins now. The last emperor of Golkunda was imprisoned in this Chini Mahal for 13 long years.

6.6 meters long Kila Shikon, the iron cannon was built commingling 5 metals. Cross the tunnel and climb up the Baradari or Yadav queen palace. Later on, the Mughal emperor Shahjahan used to live here in the Baradari. Cross few more stair ways to watch three cannons. Criminals were thrown into the deep quarry from the Bhulbhalaiya which is not very far away from the Baradari.

The Vishnu Pada Padma is positioned at the highest peak and was built by emperor of Yadav dynasty. The ammunition room was also there in the vicinity. The excavation has confirmed the existence of a hallowed Shiva temple here. The excavated idol of the Jain Tirthankar is older than the Shiva lingam. If you avail a package tour to the fort, then it would be impossible for you to complete the tour of the fort in the required time frame.

How to reach Aurangabad: A number of buses ply regularly to Aurangabad from Mumbai, Pune, Shirdi, Nagpur, Udaipur, Bijapur, Bidar, Ahmadabad and many more destinations of west India. Aurangabad is also well connected to Hyderabad, about 536 km away from Aurangabad, both by bus and by train. Besides, Hyderabad it is well connected by train to Mumbai, Nanded, Jalna, Secunderabad, Vishakhapatnam, Pune, Dhanbad, Bhopal, Amritsar and Delhi.

Where to stay at Aurangabad: Hotel Chikalthana, Rama International, Taj Residency, Hotel Rajdoot, Hotel Amarpreet, Hotel Neelam, Printravel Hotel, Hotel Oberoi, Hotel Kranti Chowk, Hotel Vedant and Hotel Ellora.

Ahmednagar: About 87 km away from paithan, Ahmednagar, houses few historical memorials. To recollect the reminiscences you have to watch the grandeur of the grand Ahmednagar fort and the Alamgir Dargah. Both of these historical commemoratives, about 4 km away towards the north- eastern side of the railway station of Ahmednagar, were constructed by Ahmed Nizam Shah. The riveting Ahmednagar fort was reshaped and revamped entirely later on by Shivaji though.

The fort had witnessed the death of the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb on 3rd March in 1707. He was buried temporarily in the Alamgir Dargah in Cantonment as well.

A number of mosques and baugs, scattered in and around Ahmednagar, exhibit Persian architectural touch. Later on, British had constructed a Jail on the premise of the fort. Jawaharlal Nehru wrote the book named the “Discovery of India” while he was behind the bars here during 1942.

Chandbibi Mahal (9 km away from Ahmednagar) and Farabaug are the other coveted destinations of Ahmednagar.

How to reach Ahmednagar: Ahmednagar can be accessed by bus both from Pune and Aurangabad. It is well connected to Howrah, Pune, New Delhi, Bangalore, Nizamuddin and Goa by trains.

Where to stay at Ahmednagar: Motel Suvidha, Ashoka Tourist Hotel, Hotel Nataraj, Hotel Sablok and Hotel Sanket.

Paithan: About 51 km away towards the southern side of Aurangabad, on the northern River banks of the Godavari, Paithan, is the famous birthplace of Eknath, the poet. The emperors of the Satavahana dynasty had established their kingdom in Paithan during 2nd century B.C. to 2nd Century A.D.

5 diminutive hills and snake-shaped Godavari River make this place a sought after tourists’ destination. The natural locale and ambience around would enthrall you. To recall the memories of Eknath, a holy Math had been constructed on the divine premise of Paithan. A number of holy dotted temples showcase pretty and impressive architectures.

Women would love to watch and buy very popular and a bit expensive (5000-8000) Paithani saris. These saris shimmer due to the attached valuables, such as, gold and silver.

Nature lovers should not miss the opportunity to take a look at the Jayakwadi dam and the Nathsagar reservoir. Bird watchers particularly would be able to spend a quality time around Nathsagar watching innumerable native and indigenous birds.

Hire a car from Aurangabad to visit Paithan. You can also avail a bus to Paithan from Aurangabad.

Where to stay at Paithan: Lake View Resort of MTDC.

Jalna: Jalna is definitely not a very popular tourists’ destination but many know Jalna as a historical spot where Abul Fazal, the writer of Ain E Akbari, was put behind the bars and was killed by Veer Singh.

Interested tourists and spiritual crowds can travel to the holy temple of the Lonar Devi, about 113 km away from Jalna. Jalna, nestled in water, houses a number of other divine temples as well.

How to reach Jalna: Jalna railway station, about 62 km away from Aurgangabad, can be accessed from Aurangabad and Nanded by train. Buses ply to Jalna from Aurangabad as well regularly.

Where to stay at Jalna: Tourist Complex of MTDC, D B and Rest House.

Continue to Ajanta Caves

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