The gateway to the World Heritage Sites of Ajanta and Ellora, Aurangabad
is named after the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. Lying along the right
bank of the Kham River, the city is the district headquarters, which
offers visitors all the modern comforts and amenities.There are
several luxury and budget hotels, shopping centres and banks. In
the city, there are three museums housing the art treasures of the
region -- the Sunheri Mahal Museum, the University Museum and the
Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum.
Rising dramatically over 600 ft above the Deccan plain is the arresting
sight of Daulatabad. Once known as Devgiri, this fort served as
the head quarters of the powerful Yadava rulers. In the 13th century,
Mohammed bin Tughlak, the Sultan
of Delhi, made it his capital and renamed it Daulatabad, or City
One of the world's best preserved forts of medieval times, surviving
virtually unaltered, Daulatabad still displays many of the internal
contrivances that made it invincible. A series of secret, quizzical
subterranean passages lie amidst the fort. Its defense systems comprised
fortifications of double and even triple rows of massive walls.
A fortress conquered only by treachery!
The most notable structures at Daulatabad are the Chand Minar,
Jami Masjid and royal palaces. The tapering 30-metre high tower
of the Chand Minar is divided into four storeys, and was faced with
glazed tiles and carved motifs. The Minar probably served as a prayer
hall or a victory monument in its time. The Jami Masjid was a mosque
built by the Khilji ruler of Delhi, Qutubuddin Mubarak. The palaces
consist of spacious halls, pavilions and courtyards. The fort is
open till 6 pm.
In the 14th century, several Sufi saints of the Chishti order, chose
to reside in Khuldabad or the Abode of Eternity. The dargah, or
tomb of Moinuddin Chishti, the spiritual guide of the Mughal emperor,
Aurangzeb, is within this sacred complex. The austere emperor himself
rests nearby, in a grave as simple as that of a common man's, in
striking contrast to the grand mausoleums of his predecessors. Eloquent
testimony to Aurangzeb's simplicity is the inscription on his plain
tombstone: "No marble sheets should shield me from the sky
as I lie there one with the earth."
A Shiva temple, with beautifully carved sculptures and decorated
pillars stands in the village of Anwa, 10 kms east of Golegaon,
on the main road leading from Aurangabad to the Ajanta Caves. It
was built in the 12th century, and consists of a sanctuary, a mandapa
or open hall with decorated pillars. The niches have exquisitely
sculpted images of Vishnu, Ganesha and other divinities.
Thirteen Buddhist excavations, dating from the 2nd century BC to
the 1st century AD lie about 40 km northwest of Ellora, cut into
the side of the a secluded ravine. Comprising mainly viharas, they
form the largest group of Hinayana Buddhist structures.
170 kms from Aurangabad, is the village of Lonar. Over 30,000 years
ago, a falling meteorite struck the area creating the world's largest
impact crater in basaltic rock. Botanists have recently discovered
vegetation life forms not found anywhere else on this planet, in
the stunning lake of the crater.
Heres a chance to see Indias magnificent hypervelocity
meteorite-impact crater. Lonar ranks 3 rd amongst the worlds
five largest craters. Investigations reveal it to be around 40,000
years old. Within the depression lies a saline lake.
See the ruins of temples constructed in Hemadanti style, where
Lord Narasimha, Ganesh, Renukadevi and Shiva were once worshipped.
At the village around the crater, you can listen to many legends
about Lonar. A fascinating sight is the presence of hundreds of
peafowls, which live inside the crater. Besides other resident and
migratory birds, you can spot monitor lizards, Hanuman langoors,
chinkaras and gazelles,
if youre lucky.
51 kms south of Aurangabad, the looms of Paithan still weave the
beautiful Paithani saris that are prized by all Indian women. The
town is also famous for the Dnyaneshwar Udyan, which is the largest
garden in Maharashtra, and a museum which treasures a fascinating
collection of art. The Jaikwadi Dam nearby is a bird-watchers delight.
Bibi ka Maqbara
Built by Azam Shah in 1678, the Bibi ka Maqbara is a son's loving
tribute to his mother, Begum Rabia Durrani, the Queen of Mughal
emperor Aurangzeb. Standing spectacularly on the lawns of the landscaped
garden with ponds, fountains and water channels, the white marbled
monument rises majestically in an intentional bid to copy and rival
the world famous Taj Mahal of Agra.
The central tomb, distinguished by elaborate surface ornamentation
and intricately perforated marble screens, is framed by four towering
An engineering feat of the time is the Panchakki, or the
water mill built by Malik Ambar in 1695. The water, channeled from
a spring on a distant hill was used to power the flour mill and
grind grain for the pilgrims.
Most of the monuments in Aurangabad are of the Nizam Shahi, Mughal
and Maratha period. There are four main darwazas, or gates leading
into the city, which along with nine secondary darwazas formed part
of the defense systems of the city.
A region as rich in the art and culture of several communities,
would naturally have a legacy of superb handicrafts. The legendary
beauty of Paithani silk saris, the intricate silver inlay craft
of Bidri ware which reached its culmination under the Mughals, and
the beautifully woven silk Himru and Mushru shawls continue to cast
their spell on visitors.
Aurangabad is the gateway to the region, and is generally where
you would arrive or depart from. Aurangabad airport is conveniently
located, around 10 kms east of the town, and is directly air-linked
to Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur and Udaipur.
Aurangabad is well connected to Mumbai and other cities.There are
two trains that depart daily from Mumbai. The Tapovan Express leaves
Mumbai early morning arriving in Aurangabad by late afternoon, while
the Devgiri Express is an overnight train.
There are several luxury and state run bus services that ply between
Mumbai and Aurangabad and the Ajanta / Ellora Caves.
General Information & Accomdation info on Aurangabad city of
Bihar - India