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Things To Do In Aurangabad
When you have explored the city of Aurangabad and visited the ancient monuments, temples, caves and forts, you would be pleased to realise that Aurangabad has more surprises in the offing. The city and its environs have some of the most charming picturesque locales that are most inviting for a day’s trip or even a weekend getaway. Whether you are looking for some adventure or for a peaceful, quiet holiday, check out the things that Aurangabad has to offer. There are quaint hill stations, trekking trails, small forested getaways and charming lakes that are cool places to spend some time at.
We will tell you of the things you can do while in Aurangabad that includes exploring the city, looking for hitherto unexplored places, going off on long heritage walks and learning about the traditions and cultures of this ancient city.
There are some regions in and around Aurangabad that offer easy to moderate trekking trails. Goga baba hill, just a little away from Aurangabad is a favourite among trekkers and joggers. An easy trek up the hill and you can sit on the peak and watch the sun rise or sun set or the beautiful landscape spread over the countryside.
If you would like to include sightseeing with your trekking, clamber up the hill to the Daulatabad Fort, another preferred trekking trail of Aurangabad. One Tree Hill, a quaint shrubbery rounded hill with just a lonely tree on top is another hot trekking destination. The hill is at Satara Parisai and is an easy trek up. Put on sensible shoes and carry a water bottle as you begin your trek.
Mhaismal Hill Station
Pick a cool monsoon or wintery day to visit Mhaismal hill station, a little town about 39 km from Aurangabad. The hill station offers some great photographic locations and has view points for a peek into the plains, farms and fields below. The hill is at an altitude of 1067 m above msl and is an ideal place to spend a day if you are looking for a lush wild nature.
Enroute to Mhaismal are the Ellora Caves, Khuldabad Dargah and Daulatabad Fort, so you could probably spend a day visiting them all. There are streetside shacks in the hill station where you can buy chai and hot toasted corn on cobs. There are fruit stalls near Daulatabad Fort where you could buy fruits to eat on the way. The roads up the hill are not in a very good shape and it’s better to choose a clear monsoon day, if you are travelling during the rains.
Boating and Bird Watching
Salim Ali Lake and Bird Sanctuary is one ecosensitive region in Aurangabad, which is a great place to delight in the lush charms of nature as you go sailing along the lake. The Sanctuary is a bird zone and is an ideal spot to do some bird watching. Monsoon and winter months are the peak seasons for boating, when the lake’s full.
The region had been a marsh land during the period of the Mughals and was later converted into a lake called Khizri Talab. With the lush vegetation turning into a winter home for migratory birds, the lake was renamed Salim Ali Lake after the ornithologist Salim Ali, fondly called Bird Man of India. There is a Mughal styled garden near the lake where you can take an evening stroll, listening to the birds chirp.
Salim Ali Lake is near the Delhi Gate near Himayat Bagh.
If you are game for some adrenaline pumping wild adventure, the historical city of Aurangabad, does hold some surprises. You can participate in camping, parasailing, paragliding, rafting and rappelling sports at Gautala Sanctuary, Daulatabad Fort, Mhaismal hill station and Phitalkhora.
Adventure sports camps are held at Daulatabad fort in winter that includes jumaring, river crossing, day and night treks and valley crossing. These are organized by the State Forest Department. Caving that involves a lot of crawling and creeping through underground tunnels is yet another popular sport in Aurangabad, which has a large number of gigantic caves in its vicinity.
Go for a Drive and See Mosques
Hire a vehicle and get off on an impromptu trip around the historic city. There are a number of very ancient monuments that are still left uncharted. Like the Alamgir Masjid that was Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s personal mosque and has a seat overlooking the pond, on which according to legends the Emperor sat and wrote the Quran by hand. Check out the ruins of Aurangzeb’s citadel Qil A’ Ark and a small mosque close by that was meant for the ladies of the royal household.
If you are visiting Khuldabad, which was once called Rouza or garden of paradise, do visit Aurangzeb’s tomb near the Dargah of his spiritual master Sheikh Zainuddin. Legends say that the Emperor wanted his tomb to be as austere and simple as possible and earned money for his resting place by selling caps that he had knitted.
A picturesque garden that is ideal for an evening stroll, Himayat Bagh is a must visit. The lush greenery, quietitude and the occasional sight of a peacock fills one with serenity and calm. Stretching over 400 acres, the Himayat Bagh goes back to the times when Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb ordered that the disused walls of his palace be brought down and the area converted into fields. An enterprising officer transformed the fields into a garden with fruit trees and flowering shrubs, ideal for a royal garden.
Today Himayat Bagh has a Fruit Research Station and government run nursery where you can buy saplings of grafted plants grown locally.
If your tour of Ajanta and Ellora Caves has triggered your passion for cave exploration, grab your camera and trek off to the Aurangabad caves that were carved out of the soft basalt rocks of Sihaychal ranges sometime about the 6th century.
The caves are tad smaller than the Ajanta and Ellora Caves and less visited all the more reason why you should take a walk up the rocks to explore the still, dark rock cut Buddhist monuments. There are sculptures of the Hindu Gods of Ganesha and Durga in the Hindu caves as well as a beautiful 7.10 ft high sculpture of the Preaching Buddha in a shrine, nagas, attendant ganas and flying apsaras which are some of the striking sculptures that one can observe.
Aurangabad Caves are about 8 km north of Aurangabad.
Monsoons and winters are great to be spending a quiet evening at a waterway. About 50 km south of the city of Aurangabad is the Jayakwadi dam, a gigantic construction that’s about 10 km long. One of the largest multipurpose dams of Maharashtra, the Jayakwadi waters the fields of the Marathwada regions.
Near the dam is a reservoir called the Nath Sagar Lake, along with a garden called Dyaneshwar Udyan close by and a bird sanctuary as well. From the Nath Sagar Lake, the dam looks an impressive and amazing feat of engineering.
Some of the more unexplored places in Aurangabad include the Naukhanda Palace. The residential building was the home of the Nizam Shahi rulers of Aurangabad. The palace is said to have been built in 1616 by Malik Ambar, with later additions by Alam Khan of Emperor Aurangzeb’s court and Asaf Jah I.
The palace had huge gateways and an impressive array of inner quarters with nine apartments, zananas, hot baths and a masjid. Some of the quarters are well preserved, while some like the Divan i Aam are in ruins. But the palace still holds on to the remnants of its legacy and is worth a visit for its antiquity.
Join a Heritage Walk
What better way to tour the city, exploring the hidden edifices and monuments than a heritage walk. Join the Aurangabad History Society, or Heritage Half Marathons organized by MIT Aurangabad that takes you on a heritage walk through the city’s quarters to ponder at and admire the monuments of yore. Let experts tell you about the ancient Mughal and Maratha kingdoms and traditions and cultures of Aurangabad, while on the move.
Heritage Lovers Group conducts culinary Heritage Walks during Ramzan at Buddi Land that’s a significant foodie hub and enthusiastic participants would get to explore heritage buildings as well as to savour local cuisines.