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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 are three museums housing the art treasures of the region -- the Sunheri Mahal Museum, the University Museum and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum. You can also while away the hours in the pleasant confines of the Bani Begum Gardens.
The first Buddhist cave monuments at Ajanta date from the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. During the Gupta period (5th and 6th centuries A.D.), many more richly decorated caves were added to the original group. The paintings and sculptures of Ajanta, considered masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, have had a considerable artistic influence.
The 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff, not far from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra. Ellora, with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from A.D. 600 to 1000, brings the civilization of ancient India to life. Not only is the Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India.
How to reach Aurangabad
By Air : Aurangabad city has its own airport, which is located at a distance of approximately 10 km from the city center. The airport is well connected with the major cities of India, like Delhi and Mumbai, by direct as well as regular flights.
By Rail: Aurangabad also has a railways station of its own, which is well linked with Mumbai and other major cities in and around Maharashtra. You can easily get direct trains from Aurangabad for most of the parts of the country.
By Road: Aurangabad has good road links with most of the cities in and around the state. Private as well as State Transport buses ply from the city, for Mumbai, Ajanta and Ellora Caves, etc. Taxis are also easily available.
Aurangabad city is situated in Maharashtra, at an altitude of approximately 513 meters above the sea level. The exact location of the city is 19° 53' 47" North and 75° 23' 54" East. Surrounded by hills on all the four sides, it boasts of mesmerizing scenery. Aurangabad is visited by a large number of tourists every year, who come here to explore its architectural as well as natural beauty. Before going anywhere, people usually collect information on the weather & climate of the place, as it helps in planning the trip at the most appropriate time.
The city experiences a moderate climate throughout the year, where neither the summers are scorching hot and nor the winters are freezing cold. Infact, there is never too big a difference between the summer and winter temperatures of the city. Just like the other cities of India, it also experiences three main seasons - summers, winters and monsoons. The summers here last for three to four months i.e. from mid March to mid July. During this time, the average temperature reaches the maximum level of 40° C.
From July till September, the monsoon sets in, with the city receiving moderate rainfall. The annual average rainfall received by it amounts to somewhere around 725 mm, with most of it being received in the monsoon season. The winter season in Aurangabad usually stretches on from November till February. During this time, the average temperature hovers somewhere around 24° C to 13° C. Keeping the weather conditions in mind, one can say that the best time to visit Aurangabad is from October to March, when the weather conditions are at their very best.
Places Of Interest
Aurangabad Caves are artificial caves, dug out of the rather soft rock during the 6th and 7th century. This caves are found on two separate locations, called Western Group Caves (caves 1-5) and Eastern Group Caves (caves 6-10), about 1km from each other. Each group has five caves. The architecture and iconography is influenced by Tantric Hinduism.
Cave four of the Western Group Caves is the oldest cave. It is a Hinayana Chaitya with a ridged roof like the Karla Cave near Lonavala. Hinayana (Sanskrit: Lesser Vehicle) is the more orthodox, conservative schools of Buddhism. Chaitya (Sanskrit) is the word for a funeral monument. There is a stupa in front of it, now partially collapsed.
The other four Western caves are viharas, which are an early type of Buddhist monastery consisting of an open court surrounded by open cells accessible through an entrance porch. The viharas in India were originally constructed to shelter the monks. Cave 3, the most fascinating cave of the Western Group, is supported by 12 finely carved columns. They show sculptures portraying scenes from the Jataka tales.
Bibi Ka Maqbara
Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal, in Agra, in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz. His son Aurangzeb, who overthrew him, built the Bibi-Ka-Maqbara as a mausoleum to his wife Rabia-ud-Durrani.
This is the monument for which Aurangabad is best known, probably because it was obviously intended to rival the Taj Mahal, which it imitates. The comparison with the Agra monument has unfortunately somewhat denigrated the Aurangabad tomb which in itself displays a worthwhile architectural design, with much distinguished surface ornamentation in the late Mughal style.
The mausoleum dates from 1678 and it was erected by Prince Azam Shah, one of Aurangzeb's sons, in memory of Begum Rabia Durani, his mother. It stands in the middle of a spacious and formally planned garden, some 457 by 274 metres, with axial ponds, fountains, and water channels, many defined by stone screens and lined with broad pathways. The garden is enclosed by high crenellated walls with bastions set at intervals, and open pavilions on three sides.
In the middle of the south wall is an imposing gateway with brass-inlaid doors; these are inscribed with the name of the architect, Atam Aula. The central focus of this vast enclosure is the tomb itself. This is raised on a high terrace to look out over the garden plots and waterways. Access to the octagonal chamber containing the unadorned grave at the lower level is from a flight of steps that descends from the terrace. The grave is enclosed by an octagon of perforated marble screens. The chamber above is a high square structure presenting identical fagades on four sides. Each is dominated by a lofty portal with a pointed arch, flanked by smaller arched niches of similar design. A great dome, with a pronounced bulbous profile and a brass pot finial, crowns the whole composition while four lesser domes mark the corners.
One of the major attractions of Aurangabad is Panchakki, which literally means 'Water Mill'. Indeed, it a mill in the city that receives water from an underground channel, with its source being 6 km away in the mountains. An artificial waterfall has been created near the mill, through which this water is discharged on to the wheel. The other attractions of Panchakki comprise of a lush green garden and a beautiful fountain. The water tanks of the fountain are filled with fish and are a hit amongst kids. Situated near the mill is the tomb of Baba Shah Muzaffar, a Sufi Saint who served as the spiritual adviser of Emperor Aurangzeb.
The Jama Masjid of Aurangabad is very popular amongst tourists. The mosque was constructed under the patronage of Emperor Aurangzeb and is located in Killa Arrack. Encircled by groves, it has a low building that stands adorned with slender minarets and a broad band. The band has been inscribed with Koranic inscriptions that have been carved through the length of the portico.
Chauk Masjid is another splendid mosque situated in Aurangabad. It was built by Shayista Khan, the uncle of Emperor Aurangzeb, in the year 1665. This masjid has been embellished with five beautiful domes.
Lal Masjid is located in the old city area of Aurangabad. The mosque is a red-painted basalt building that dates back to the year 1655.
The museum deals with the both the historical and technical study of Indian handicraft and textile industry and attracts tourists from across the globe. A number of researchers and scholars visit the place for a better understanding of the industry. Calico museum showcases a plethora of things, apart from textiles and fabrics. One can see handicrafts, temple artifacts and marble, bronze and sandstone icons here. It preserves fabrics, spun and woven in the different parts of the nation.
These caves were built by the rulers of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty and are located just 30 km from Aurangabad and were built in the 7th century AD. Cave 16, which is known as the Kailashnath Temple is a masterpiece art at Ellora. The temple is a splendid achievement of the Dravidian style of art and was started by King Krishna of the Rashtrakuta dynasty that ruled Manyakheta. It took around 100 years to complete this cave. There are other caves here which depict the tradition and Philosophy of the Buddhist and Jain art and architecture.
There are three museums in the city of Aurangabad, through which one can glimpse into its art legacy. These museums include Sunheri Mahal Museum, University Museum and Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum.
Shopping in Aurangabad is fascinating as the region is rich in the art and culture of several communities. Aurangabad is known for :
Fabric -The beauty of Paithani silk sarees is legendary .So also the beautifully woven silk Himru and Mashru shawls, of which Himru is an age-old weaving craft of Aurangabad with a blending of cotton and silk. which gives a feel of satin.
Silver - Aurangabad is also known for its bidriware, the intricate silver inlay craft which was once patronized by the Mughals.
Semi-precious stones - One can find a wide display of jewellery made of semiprecious stones and decorative pieces in Auranagabad.Agate in particular is available in a variety of forms and shades.
Old Coins - Aurangabad is the place to look for old coins dating back to the Mughal period.
There are many decent restaurants in the city and your hotel mostly likely will have one.
If you are looking for kream and Krunch that will give you complete western food, generally serving all cuisines. The food here is good and the desserts are excellent. The only non vegetarian restaurant in Nirala Bazaar is Kohinoor Plaza based on the first floor, which is a bar cum restaurant. Connaught place in CIDCO has a number of restaurants where both vegetarian and non vegetarian foods are available.
Try Thai food at the newly opened restaurant behind Scholar Stationary shop in Station Road near Kranti Chowk.
There are other good restaurants spread over the city, like darling near kranti chawk, chopstick on kranti chawk, and quite a few of them on the railway station road. some good restaurants can also be found on the Daulatabad road.
Other Good Restaurants include Indian Fast Food Centers Such as Uttam Bhandar, Gayetri Chat Center in Gulmandi, Milan Mithai & Chappan Bhog outlets. There are lots of restaurants offering both Veg and Non Fooda Such as Indrali, Prathmesh, Mewad Restaurants, Sagar Hotel & Jazeera hotel in buddi lane, Priya Hotel in city chowk and Lots of Dhaba Restaurants Like Fauji,Ambience and Tinu's.
There is no nightlife to speak of, other than the odd entertainment supplied by the hotels.