If you want to understand what Incredible India truly means, head to Aurangabad, in central Maharashtra, around 350km from Mumbai, the city around which you have the incredible Ajanta & Ellora caves.
Named Aurangabad, by the Mughal Emporer Aurangzeb, the city remains a major tourism hub today.
What to see in Aurangabad:
These are the must see places:
- Ajanta Caves
- Ellora Caves
- Daulatabad Fort
- Bibi ka Maqbara
You can cover all the above in 2 days over a weekend. Avoid the summer though, as exploring the above needs a lot of walking!
Aurangabad is very well connected by bus as well as railways, so reaching the place should not be a concern.
Ajanta caves are known for its paintings, whereas Ellora caves are known for its architecture. 30 rock cut caves at Ajanta was excavated around Waghora River. These belong to 2 distinct phases of Buddhism – the earlier Hinayana from 2nd Century BC to 1st Century AD, and later Mahayana phase from 5th to 6th Century AD.
Caves 1, 2, 9, 10, 16 and 17 boasts of a few magnificent paintings. The paintings denote scenes from the life of Buddha and Jataka tales (tales from previous incarnations of Buddha). There are also many superb sculptures of Buddha, most remarkable among these is the one in cave 26.
There is parking below the mountain, from where you need to take a Maharashtra Tourism bus to the foothills of the caves. From this point, it is a short hike to the caves.
Once you have gone through all the caves, you just feel blown away by the stupendous scale, beauty, detailing of the work in the caves. Few paintings, done more than 2000 years ago still hold the colors of the natural colors used to paint them! The true depiction of Incredible India!
Ellora Caves are just 30kms from Aurangabad town.These consist of 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves.
Cave 10, 12 are the most interesting caves among the Buddhist caves. Among Hindu caves, cave 14, 16 are the most important.
Cave 16, in particular, features the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailasha Temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Hindu God of Destruction. The Kailash Temple will really dazzle you and the fact that this huge temple is built with one rock, is just too amazing a fact to imagine!
Again, do carry water bottles, umbrellas, as going through the caves is quite a tiring task.
I would suggest, take a guide for at least the Kailash temple. He’ll tell you a lot of interesting facts…Though I don’t remember anything now 😉
Daulatabad Fort, Built in 12th Century AD, this fort was previously known as Devgiri. Sultan Mohammad-Bin-Tughlaq moved his capital from Delhi to Devgiri and renamed it Daulatabad or “The City of Fortune”.
This fort falls on the way to Ellora caves and can be covered together.
The defense system that made Daulatabad virtually impregnable comprise of fortifications with tripe rows of massive walls. In addition, there are mazes with a complex arrangement of entryways and deep rock cut moats, trenches which can be crossed only at one point over a drawbridge.
Within the fort are the 70 m high Chand Minar and Royal Palaces.
One of the most interesting things here is Andheri (Dark Passage). This dark passage runs round and round. The path leads such that the front rungs of the enemy army is led onto the later rungs of the same army, and in the darkness, the enemy army would get confused and end up killing each other. Hot oil and water would also be poured on the enemy army inside this dark rocky passage.
Now there are few steps constructed inside this, for the convenience of tourists.
Bibi Ka Maqbara
Bibi ka Maqbara, is the primary monument inside the city of Aurangabad. With striking resemblance to Taj Mahal, this was built by Azam Shah, Aurangzeb’s son, in memory of his mother.
Do visit Aurangabad, this is a trip you’ll remember for a long time!