Named after Aurangzeb, last of the six great Mughal emperors, and his son Azam Shah, who built a mausoleum here for his father's wife, Rabia Durrani, Aurangabad les almost in the centre of Maharashtra. The city is a convenient base of organising visits to the world-famous rockcut temples of Ajanta and Ellora. Besides, the presence of Buddhist caves in the vicinity show that the region enjoyed celebrity status as early as the7th century.
Chikkal Thana Airport is 8 km from downtown. Aurangabad is well connected by Indian Airlines with Delhi and Mumbai, usually on flights that also connect with Jaipur and Udaipur.
On the South-Central Railway's Manmad-Kachiguda route, Mumbai and Delhi passengers change at Manmad Junction, 114 km from Aurangabad. Jalgaon on Central Railway, is 59 km from the Ajanta Caves.
Aurangabad is well connected by road to Mumbai, Nasik, Shirdi, Ajanta, Pune, Jalgaon, Nagpur and Ellora.
Some important road distances from Aurangabad.
Aurangabad Caves Excavated between the 3rd and 11th centuries, the 12 caves belong to the Buddhist era,. 3 km from town, the incomplete caves were hacked into a high hillside cleft.
Bibi Ka Maqbara Built by Aurangzeb's sone for the emperor's wife, it is popularly known as the 'poor man's Taj Mahal'. Built in 1679, 25 years after the Taj, it was modelled on the mausoleum in Agra.
Panchakki Overlooking Kaum river, it was built in the memory of Sufi Saint Baba Shah Musafir, Aurangazeb's spiritual mentor. The historic watermill turns large grinding stones harnessed to a perennial water supply through underground pipes with springs from nearby mountains.
History Museum At Dr. Ambedkar Marathwada University. Exhibits for history buffs include excavated material from the Satvahana dynasty. Sonheri Mahal consists of sculptures from Paithan's archeological sites.
Daulatabad Halfway to Ellora is this remarkable hilltop fortress. Built in 1187, it gained fame as the place selected by Mohammad Tughlak ('the mad Sultan of Delhi') who shifted his capital here, renaming it Daulatabad ('City of Fortune'). He force-marched his subjects here and 17 years later marched them back to Delhi. Perched on top of a hill, it is surrounded by thick walls, picked gates steep gravelled slideways and a moat. Inside the entrance gate is Chand Minar tower, overlooking a small mosque built over a Jain temple.
Grishneshwar The 18th century Shiva temple house one of the 12 'jyotirlingas' of the country.
Ellora Site of the finest examples of rockcut caves in the country, it is meeting-point of the Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. There are 34 caves - 12 Buddhists (600-800 AD), 17 Hindu (900 AD) and 5 Jain (800-100 AD). Cave 16, the renowned Kailasa Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is probably the largest monolith in the world and is said to have taken 7000 labourers, working continuous shifts, 15 years to build. Lavishly carved and sculpted from a single rock, it bears testimony to the excellence of Dravidian art.
Cave no. 32, assembly hall of Indra, belongs to the Jain group. A shrine within contains the seated Mahavir, last of the 24 tirthankars and founder of Jainism. The lotus design details on the columns are the finest examples of this craftsmanship in the Ellora complex.
Ajanta Located 100 km from the city, these 3rd century caves are fine achievements by Buddhist monks. Beautiful frescoes, wall paintings and vivid sculptures reflect the peak of ancient Indian art and architecture. The horseshoe-shaped over a period of 900 years. Most were carved in the first 400 years, between 2nd century BC. and 2nd century AD. The reminder were built in the 5th and 7th centuries. Then work ceased and the monks moved to the Ellora caves site.
Nashik On the banks of the Godavari, it is said Lord Rama spent the major part of his exile here. The holy city has over 200 temples and hosts the Kumbh Mela every 12 years.
Pithaikhola Caves The oldest Buddhist caves in India, they form a link between the art of Amaravati and Sanchi.
Khuldabad Translated 'Heavenly Abode' and known for the austere tomb of Aurangazeb. Renowned for his puritanism, the emperor had stipulated that only what he earned himself, by copying the Quran, be used to pay for his tomb, thereby atoning for his spendthrift predecessors The decorative marble screen around the grave was later donated by a Nizam of Hyderabad.
Paithan Seat of the Satvahana dynasty which ruled here from 2nd century BC to 2nd AD, 56 km south of Aurangabad, it is located on the banks of the Godavari and famous for Sant Eknath's shrine. famous for the intricately hand-woven gold and silver Paithani saris, an integral part of every Maharashtrian bride's trousseau.
Fairs & Festivals
Ellora Festival During the third week of March every year, the MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) organises the Ellora Festival of Classical Music and Dance with the caves as a back-drop. India's renowned artistes participate. A must for every culture enthusiast.
Aurangabad is famed for its age-old weaving craft 'Himroo' and 'Mashru', fabrics of cotton and silk, with the lustre of satin and motifs derived from Ajanata paintings.
Bidriware is another of the region's ancient professions. The plates, vases, urns, necklaces are made of a zinc-copper combination with either intricate inlays embossed, or overlaid in silver. Originally, 'bidri' was used to make 'hookahs' and boxes or plates to offer 'paan/supari'. Today they come in a wide range of objects.
Paithani saris, woven from an art almost 2000 year old are collectors' item. The yarn used is pure silk and he 'zari' is drawn from pure gold. Some of the more intricate designs take upto one and a half years to weave.
Where to stay
NOTE : Special permission is required from the ASI (Archeological Survey of India) for use of tripod and artificial lights for photography of archeological monuments, caves and frescoes. Video shooting from outside monuments is permitted by paying a nominal fee.