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Tourist Places To Visit In Aurangabad
Aurangabad’s recorded history goes back to the times when the small village of Khadki was established by Malik Ambar, the Prime Minister of the Nizam Shahi rulers of the Sultanate of Ahmadnagar. Khadki was made the capital and renamed as Fatehnagar. Years later, with the occupation of Nizam Shahi’s dominions including the Daulatabad Fort, Fatehnagar came under the control of the Mughals under Aurangzeb. And Fatehnagar came to be called Aurangabad, probably after the young Mughal prince Aurangazeb. Soon after, Aurangabad came under the reign of the Marathas and then the Nizam of Hyderabad during colonial rule and was finally annexed to the state of Maharashtra after independence.
Aurangabad is a heritage city and has a plethora of ancient monuments, temples, caves and forts that would interest the tourists, especially those who are keen on architecture and history. We will take you on a sightseeing tour around the city of Aurangabad and tell you of some of the best places that you could visit.
An ancient Shiva temple of the 13th century, the Grishneshwar temple is one of the 12 natural Jyothirlingas. The original temple was demolished during Mughal rule and was rebuilt periodically after frequent demolitions right from the 16th century, due to the conflicts between the Marathas and Mughals in the region. The present day temple was built around the 18th century by Rani Ahalyabai, the Queen of Indore. The Grishneshwar temple is built in a South Indian architectural style with a 5 tiered gopura and stately pillars with carvings of mythological stories.
Grishneshwar temple is about 1.5 km from the Ellora Caves and about 31 km from Aurangabad. To reach the temple you can board a bus bound to Ellora caves or hire a cab.
Bibi Ka Maqbara
Taj of the Deccan, bearing a noticeable resemblance to the Taj Mahal at Agra, is the mausoleum built in 1661 to remember Rabia –ul –Daurani, the wife of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
Though built on the model of the Taj Mahal, the Maqbara has a unique style of its own. Built of marble brought all the way from Jaipur, red stone, stucco plaster and lime, the Maqbara displays intricate craftsmanship on the cupolas and minarets that are worth a mention. There are beautiful well laid out gardens with stately trees and watercourses encircling the main mausoleum that adds a touch a charm to the monument.
Bibi Ka Maqbara is about 5 km from Aurangabad.
Badra Maruthi Temple
This is a unique temple where the idol of Hanuman, the monkey God is portrayed in a reclining form. According to legends, Khultabad was known as Badravathi and was ruled by the pious King Badrasena who was devoted to Rama. While the king spent his time singing praises of his Lord, Hanuman who often arrived at the scene, assumed a comfortable bhava samadhi or reclining posture to listen rapturously to the divine ditties. When the king saw Hanuman he requested the monkey God to remain in that form forever in his kingdom. Another legend says that Hanuman rested here while returning home with the Sanjeevani herb for Lakshmana.
Badra Maruthi temple is one among the three temples where Hanuman is worshipped in a reclining posture. The other temples are in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Badra Maruthi temple is just about 4 km from the Ellora Caves and about 28 km from Aurangabad.
Gautala Autramghat Sanctuary
Also known as Gautala Abhayaranya Sanctuary, the wildlife reserve has beautiful lush forested areas along with grasslands, waterfalls, lakes like the Gautala Talab as well as ancient rock cut temples called Phitalhora. The sanctuary is a lovely place to be in especially during the monsoons, when the Sitakhori waterfalls cascades down into the undergrowth, with a misty spray!
The Sanctuary is home to a variety of animal species like jungle cats, leopards, deer, sloth bears, jackal, deer and civets and about 230 species of birds like storks, waders, peafowl, partridges and quail. The sanctuary that is located in the Ajantha and Satpura range of hills in the Sahyadri is about 10 km from Aurangabad.
One of the iconic period constructions of Aurangabad is the Daulatabad Fort, also known as the Devgiri Fort. The Fort stands majestic on top of a comical hill and is surrounded by a moat that probably gave a live run for crocodiles meant to prevent enemy infiltration from across the waters and up the hill. The labyrinth of mazelike passageways, entries and exits that wound their course through the fortress was built perhaps to baffle the enemies. The Daulatabad Fort is said to have been built during the 12th century by the Yadava Kings, but was later taken over by the Tughlaq Dynasty and the Sultanate of Delhi.
The smooth faced impregnable hill is about 22 m high and there are about 700 steps you will be climbing to reach the fort. The fort is surrounded by a lush beautiful countryside and is a must visit. Check out the Chand Minar, a 63 m high tower built in 1435 AD.
Daulatabad Fort is about 27 km from Aurangabad. You could hire a cab or hop onto a bus to Daulatabad.
The earliest Buddhist cave monuments at Ajanta date back to about the 1st- 2nd century BC. More rock cut cave temples were crafted during the rule of the Gupta Dynasty from the 5th – 6th century BC. The Ajanta caves are a set of 29 rock cut cave monasteries, mostly comprising viharas and chaitya grihas that are filled with sculptures, murals and paintings of the Buddha, considered masterpieces of ancient art forms.
The Ajanta Cave paintings are some of the earliest surviving paintings of India. The caves sit on the sides of a horse shoe shaped valley at the bottom of which runs the Waghur River. Ajanta Caves, named after the nearest village of Ajintha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Caves are about 110 km from Aurangabad.
Extending over 2 km along the sides of a flat range of cliffs formed of volcanic basalt on the rocky edges of the Charandri hills, the Ellora Caves are a symbol of religious tolerance and craftsmanship. There are about 34 Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples and monasteries that date from around 600 to 1000 AD most of them built during the reign of the Haihayas, Rashtrakuta and Yadava rulers. The Kailasa temple for Shiva is a spectacular edifice considered the largest rock cut monument of the world.
Check out the Buddhist caves with chaityas and viharas which are broad multi storied complexes with living quarters, prayer rooms, kitchen and dining areas.
Panchakki or simply the watermill is a significant tourist site in Aurangabad. The watermill built in 1744 AD is located in a complex that was once the quarters of the Sufi saints who arrived in Aurangabad by the 12th century. The watermill had an underground channel that drew energy from a stream close by and was used to grind flour in the flour mill. The ground flour was used to feed the pilgrims, saints and the army that stayed in the garrison.
Today water is drawn with the help of clay pipes from a stream that is about 6 km away. The water flows up a column and cascades down into the main tank. Panchakki is an example of medieval India’s engineering skills and is a must visit.
Panchakki is about 4 km from Aurangabad railway station and 2 km from Bibi Ka Maqbara.
With the backdrop of the high hills of the Aurangabad caves, the Soneri Mahal is a grand two storied palace that was built by a Bandalkand chief by 1651 to 1653 AD and later sold to the Nizam of Hyderabad. Built in a typically Rajput style of architecture with simple yet flower patterned arches, the Soneri Mahal was so called because it had paintings that were made of gold!
Soneri Mahal presently functions as a museum that showcases ancient pottery, coins, paintings and other antiques of Indian history. Soneri Mahal is located in Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University and is about 6 km from Aurangabad railway station.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum exhibits rare artefacts that were used by the rulers of the Maratha Empire. There are weapons including cannons, a good collection of ancient coins, metal utensils and paintings. It’s an interesting place for children and history buffs to visit. Check out the chain mail armour that’s about 500 years old, a Paithani sari that’s about 400 years old and a manuscript of the Quran handwritten by Emperor Aurangzeb.
The Museum is at Himayat Bagh, about 5 km from Aurangabad railway station.