The historic city of Aurangabad, on the Deccan Plateau, has many tourist attractions and could easily stand on its own charm were it not overshadowed by the world famous Ajanta and Ellora caves nearby. Founded in 1610 on the site of a village called Khirki by Malik Ambar, prime minister of Murtuza Nizam Shah II, this city was renamed Fatehpur after the Nizam’s son Fateh Khan succeeded the throne in 1626. When Prince Aurangzeb became Viceroy of the Deccan in 1653, he made the city his capital and re-christened it Aurangabad. The traces of the long artistic and cultural influences that a number of dynasties have cast upon it are present everywhere in Aurangabad. The city continues to attract tourism from all over the world who come to discover an old world carved in stone. The handicrafts of Aurangabad reflect many cultural influences. The legendary beauty of Paithani silk saris, the intricate silver inlay craft of Bidri ware, which reached its peak under the Mughals, and the beautifully woven silk woven silk Himru and Mushru shawls are some outstanding examples.
STD Code: 0240
Climate: October to March is the best time for a visit, although the tourist season extends throughout the year. It is warm from April to July, but the climate is pleasant during the rainy season, extending from August to October. The winter months, from November to March, are the coolest. Average maximum and minimum temperature is 32° and 17°C respectively. Average annual rainfall is 710 mm. Cool cottons in summer and light woollens for winters are recommended.
Getting There & Away: How to reach Aurangabad
Road: Mumbai to Aurangabad is 388 km (via Manmad) and 400 km (via Pune). State Transport busses run from Mumbai, Pune, Ahmednagar, Jalgaon, Shirdi, Nasik, Nagpur, Dhule & Osmanabad to Aurangabad.
Rail: Aurangabad is on Manmad –Kachiguda section of South Central Railway.
Air: Aurangabad airport is about 10 km from the city centre.
Tourist Attractions in Aurangabad
Aurangabad Caves: Carved between the 2nd and the 6th century, these ten hillside caves are typically Buddhist in architectural form, with remarkably detailed sculptures.
Ajanta: This World Heritage is located about 107 km from Aurangabad city. Dating from 200 BC, these caves were excavated in two phases and reportedly took more than 800 years to complete. They comprise Chaityas (shrines) dedicated to Lord Buddha, and Viharas (monasteries) used by Buddhist monks for meditation. The paintings and sculptures depict incidents from the life of the Buddha and various Buddhist divinities, with the Jataka tales, illustrating stories of Bodhisattva, being the most famous. Besides the temples and monasteries, there are magnificent murals that attract visitors from all over the world.
Ellora: About 30 km from Aurangabad are the world renowned Ellora Caves, known for their Buddhist, Jain and Hindu cultural influences. There are 34 caves containing shrines, monasteries and temples. The Buddhist caves were carved during the period 200 BC to 600 AD. These were followed by the Hindu caves (500–900 AD), and finally the Jain caves (800 – 1000 AD). The Kailash Temple at Ellora is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the greatest monolithic sculpture in the world. It is carved from a single, mammoth rock.
Daulatabad Fort: About 15 km from Aurangabad, on the way to the Ellora Caves, is the hill fortress of Daulatabad – one of the world’s best preserved medieval forts. Once known as Devgiri, meaning Hill of Gods, this magnificent 12th century fortress was the capital of Yadava rulers. It was renamed Daulatabad (City of Fortune) in the 14th century by Mohammed Tughlaq, Sultan of Delhi.
Bibi-Ka-Maqbara: In In 1679, Aurangzeb’s son built the inspiringly beautiful Bibi-ka-maqbara as a tribute to his mother, Begum Rabia-ud-Durani. A replica of the Taj Mahal of Agra, it is the only piece of Mughal architecture on the Deccan built towards the end of the Mughal Era in India.
Panchakki: This 17th century water mill exemplifies the engineering ingenuity of that age. The mill, which runs on water channelised from a river 6 km away through an earthen pipeline, was used for grinding food grains for the community kitchen. Surrounded by a series of fish-filled tanks, it also serves as a memorial to Sufi Saint Baba Shah Muzaffar, the spiritual mentor of Aurangzeb.
Ghrishneshwar Temple: About half a kilometer from Ellora is the Ghrishneshwar Temple, which was built in the 18th century. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga in India, and place that one must visit in order to make the pilgrimage to the Jyotirlingas complete. This beautiful temple hasv 24 exquisitely carved stone columns, which support the main hall.
Paithan: Situated about 50 km south of Aurangabad, on the right bank of the Godavari River, this ancient city (once known Pratisthan) was also the capital of the Satavahana kingdom, and the birth place of great Hindu saints such as Bhanudas, Mukteshwar and Eknath. The place is also internationally renowned for its unique Paithani silk saris, which are masterfully woven by artisans using traditional methods.
Khuldabad: The ancient walled town of Khuldabad, near Aurangabad, is where the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb was buried. It is a place of pilgrimage for the Indian Muslim community and a major centre for the five-day Urs celebrations held annually.
Bani Begam Gardens: The Bani Begam Gardens are located about 24 km from Aurangabad. The fluted pillars, huge domes and aesthetic fountains showcase the architectural splendour of a bygone era.