Famous as the City of Gates, Aurangabad stands with pride as a Tourism Capital of Maharashtra through its myriad of colours. The city derived its name from Aurangzeb, the last Mughal Emperor of India. Located on the banks of the Kham River, the city offers numerous heritage sites of medieval and cultural importance. Once known as Khirki (window) it provided a window view of the Deccan region.
Along with a sneak-peek into Mughal grandeur, Aurangabad also holds proximity to two of the classic caves featuring the finest Indian sculptures and murals of ancient tradition. Popular worldwide as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the stunning Buddhist caves at Ellora and the pinnacle of Deccan’s rock-cut architecture at Ellora captivate the attention of any visitor.
The characteristic part of this city is its 13 gates, which still stand with pride and narrate the anecdotes of the Mughal tradition.
Major Tourist Destinations
The world heritage site of Ellora consists of 29 rock-cut cave monuments which still narrate the historical anecdotes of Buddhism and Jataka Tales through murals and frescoes. Ellora caves are located 100 km away from the present Aurangabad city. The caves were built in the canyons of the Waghora River as Chaitya-Grihas during the rule of Satyavahanas during 200 BC. Shaped as a horse-shoe, the cliffs were used as a refuge by monks in monsoon season. The heritage of this site was almost lost, till 1819, when a team of British Hunters accidentally explored the immense beauty of these set of caves. Thanks to their isolation, that presently tourists can relive the art of Indian antiquity.
The Ellora caves are located 35 km away from Aurangabad city. Pinnacle of Deccan rock cut architecture, Ellora features a set of caves featuring the majesty of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Excavated during 5th to 13th AD, the set of 34 caves represent revival of Hinduism under Chalukyas and Rashtrakuta dynasties, followed by the decline of Indian Buddhism to the resurgence of Jainism. The monasteries, chapels and temples at these rock shrines showcase the profusion of incredible detailing in sculptures.
Aurangabad caves are a set of 12 Buddhist shrines dug out artificially on soft basalt rock. Out of all rock caves, Cave 3 and 7 hold prominence due to beautifully carved pillars and sculptures depicting scenes from the Jatakas and richly ornamented images of women. Quiet and peaceful, these caves can be compared to the best paintings of Ellora.
Bibi ka Maqbara
Literally translating to ‘Tomb of the lady’, Bibi ka Maqbara was built by Prince Azam Shah, son of Emperor Aurangzeb in memory of his mother, Rabia-ud-Daurani. Known by other names such as ‘Taj of the Deccan’ or ‘Poor man Taj’, the tomb represents the transition of Mughal architecture from being an ostentatious one to the simple minimal constructions.
An engineering marvel of its times, Panchakki is a 17th century water mill used to crush the grain for pilgrims. Baba Shah Muzaffar, a sufi saint and spiritual guide to Aurangzeb is buried in Panchakki. This memorial garden houses a series of fish filled tanks near a shady Banyan Tree.
The City of Prosperity, Daulatabad is a 14th century fort city located 13 km away from Aurangabad. This invincible fortress placed atop a charming hill boasts of a 5 kilometer robust wall with an intricate series of ramparts.
Best Time to Visit - October and March
How to get there
By Road – Linked by national and state highways to all parts of the country, Aurangabad boasts of excellent road connectivity to all important cities of Maharashtra. Various coaches and cars are available to explore the hidden heritage of Ellora and Ellora through well laid highway connection.
By Train - Aurangabad has direct rail links to important Indian cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, etc. The nearest railway stations are Aurangabad station, Manmad, Bhusaval and Jalgaon.
By Air – The city is connected by air from Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad.
The city of Maratha warrior Shivaji, Pune surprises a traveler at every turn. Blessed with idyllic beauty, Pune is the second largest city in the state and is considered as Maharashtra’s cultural capital. Popularly known as ‘Oxford of the East’, the city is a home to universities, colleges and institutes galore. A cosmopolitan city, Pune is also known as a second software hub after Bengaluru. Along with this, Pune is also famous for its surrounding hill forts offering panoramic bird's-eye views to a traveler.
To explore more about Sai Baba, one has to visit Shirdi. It is the place where Sai visited as a child ascetic and continued to heal troubles of devotees by one firm belief – ‘Sabka Malik Ek’. Nearby Shirdi, another temple namely Shani Shingnapur is dedicated to Lord Shani or Planet Pluto.
The orange orchard of India, Nagpur is the capital of Vidharbh region. Precisely placed as a geographical center, Nagpur is ‘Zero milestone of India’.
Famous for the Hazur Sahib Gurudwara, Nanded is a divine land which witnessed an important development in present day Sikhism. It is the place where Tenth Guru – Guru Gobind Singh Ji handed over the Guruship to the Guru Granth Sahib. And here only, much revered 300 years of Sikhism festival came to an end with over 3,000,000 devotees cherishing once in a lifetime opportunity of having darshans in this city.
Mumbai (400 km), Pune (237 km), Nasik (190 km), Ellora (100 km), Ellora (35 km), Shirdi (144 km)
Where to Stay