The historic city was founded in 1610, on the site of Khirki village by Malik Ambar, the Prime Minister of Murtaza Nizam Shah II. In 1653, Aurangzeb became the viceroy of Decan, he made the city his capital and named it as Aurangabad. The town is associated with the rulers of Delhi and the Deccan and its surroundings are dotted with a number of Muslim monuments and Buddhist caves. Aurangabad is also famous for its Himroo Shawls, Bidriware and Aurangabad Silk. It is a convenient base for visiting the world famous Ajanta and Ellora caves as well as Daulatabad.
Aurangabad Tourism Information
Aurangabad takes its name from the last of the great Moghul emperors, the hardedged Aurangzeb, who enacted an almost Shakespearean drama in the 17th century when he took control of the empire by murdering his siblings and imprisoning his father, Shah Jahan, before leaving Delhi in 1693 to make this city his base. Today the sprawling city of Aurangabad is one of the fastest-growing industrial cities in India, and not a destination in its own right. However, time allowing, it has a few attractions worth noting. Best known is Bibi-ka-Maqbara, the “Mini-Taj,” a mausoleum built for Aurangzeb’s empress by his son, Azam Shah, and a supposed replica of the more famous mausoleum built by his grandfather in Agra. Set amid large landscaped gardens and surrounded by high walls, it’s primarily interesting from a historical point of view, lacking as it does the fine detail and white marble of its inspiration (the builders were forced to complete the project in stone and plaster because of financial constraints). Although you can’t enter the tomb itself, an amble through the grounds affords you the opportunity to compare this project with the original Agra masterpiece. If you follow the dirt road that leads past Bibi-ka-Maqbara up into the hills for some 2km (11⁄4 miles)—a stiff climb—you will come across the Aurangabad Buddhist Caves , a series of nine man-made caves dating back to the 6th to 8th centuries. Similar to the Buddhist Caves at Ajanta (but not in the same class), they feature original painting fragments and offer spectacular views of the city and the landscape beyond. On the way to Ellora is Daulatabad Fort . Built by the Yadavas between the 10th and 11th centuries A.D., it comprises an elaborate system of mazelike tunnels that served as an ingenious defense system: Once intruders were holed up deep within the tunnels, guards would welcome them with flaming torches, hot oil, or burning coals, effectively grilling them alive. A place largely untouched by tourism is Lonar Crater—created some 50,000 years ago when a meteorite careered into the basalt rock. It has a diameter of 1,800m (5,760 ft.), making it the largest crater in the world. Filling the bottom of the crater is water in which Ram and Sita are believed to have bathed while they were exiled from Ayodhya; temple ruins lie at the water’s edge. Tranquil and remote, the crater is about 150km (93 miles) east of Aurangabad.
This mausoleum of Aurangzeb’s wife is a striking replica of the famous Taj Mahal. It was built in 1679, by Aurangzeb’s son, as a tribute of his mother Begum Rabia Durani.
The cave on the outskirts of the town, belong to the Buddhist era and were excavated between 3rd and 11th century and reflects tantric influences in their iconography and architectural designs. Cave number 3 and 7 are the most interesting among the group.
The 17th century water-mill was used to grind grain for the pilgrims. It receives a perennial water supply though earthen pipes, which are connected to water springs located in the nearby mountains. Mortal remains of a sufi saint and spiritual guide of Aurangzeb were buried here in 1624.
Sunehari Mahal or Golden Palace
It is thought to be built by Malik Kafur.
Aurangabad Tour Information
Ajanta is word renowned for the rock cut Buddhist caves, dating from 2nd century BC to 5th century AD. There are about 30 caves nestling in a panoramic gorge amidst Sahyadri ranges in the form of a gigantic horseshoe. This treasure house of art and architecture was discovered in 1819, by a group of British officers. Today, Ajanta has been designated as a ‘World Heritage Site’ by UNESCO. The caves were once the retreat of Buddhist monastic orders and comprises of Chaitya halls or shrines dedicated to Lord Buddha and Viharas or monasteries, used by monks for meditation and the study of Buddhist teachings. The frescoes in 5 caves and some of the sculptures are considered to be among the greatest achievements of Indian artists. The nearest convenient railhead for Ajanta is at Jalgaon (58km).
The huge hilltop fort here has been described as ‘the most impregnable fort ever constructed’. It was earlier known as Devgiri and is said to be constructed by the Yadava Kings in 1338. There are several historical antiquities within the fort.
The rock-cut cave temples of Ellora nestles amidst the Chandragiri hills and have been designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In all there are 34 cave temples, 12 Mahayana Buddhist caves (600 – 875 AD), 5 caves of Jain faith (800 – 1000 AD) and 22 caved dedicated to Lord Shiva, which were recently discovered. The caves were excavated between 5thand 11th century and are adorned with splendid sculptures. The Kailasa temple (cave 16) has been hewn out of a single rock and is considered to be the most gigantic monolithic rock cut temple in the world.
The sacred site is just half kilometre from Ellora ad enshrines one of the 12 Jyothirlingas of Lord Shiva.
It is the Karbala town or holy shrine of Deccan Muslims. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was buried here.
The pilgrim site on the banks of river Godavari is the birthplace of the Marathi poet-saint, Eknath. Several temples dot this pilgrim centre. The Dnyaneshwar Udyan located nearby is laid out on the lines of Myosre’s Vrindavan Gardens and is perhaps the largest garden of Maharashtra. The town is also famous for zari work sarees, known as Paithanis.
Pitalkhora Caves (78km)
The 13 rock-cut caves at Satmala ranges were excavated between 2nd century BC and 5th century Ad and are said to be the oldest cave temples in India.
A unique sacred town that lies 3km off the highway between Ahmadnagar and Aurangabad. The presiding deity of the Shani temple here is said to be ‘jagrut’. No one uses locks in the town, as one uses locks in the town, as it is believed that anyone who steals will become blind. In fact, the houses her have no doors and windows, not even in the rooms inside the house.
Crafts of Aurangabad
Mashru and Himru
The Mashru and Himru fabrics are made of cotton and silk with the luster of satin.
It is made with a combination of zinc and copper and is a work of intricate workmanship of pure silver, embossed, overlaid or inlaid on the metal surface. Originally, Bidri were items were used as hookahs or paan daans. Now a day, they are more often used as souvenirs.
The art of weaving Paithani saris in pure silk yarn and the zari or gold threads is said to be over 2000 years old. It takes about six months to one and half years to weave a heavily brocaded paithani sari.
Aurangabad Distance Guide