Aurangabad is definitely an interesting city to the explorer. Most visit the city with a view to explore the Buddhist caves the region is known for and in particular the Ajanta and the Ellora caves that are located on the outskirts. These caves are known to contain recorded examples of some of the oldest and rarest Indian art forms, specifically in painting. Aurangabad is also home to some really fascinating historic relics and is a city that draws the fascination of history geeks and the culturally curious.
One other reason to visit Aurangabad is because of its proximity to the Lonar Crater Lake. A lake that was literally formed after an asteroid impacted the earth. How cool is that! The lake is about 3 hours away from Aurangabad and makes for a memorable Day trip. Need to know more about Aurangabad? We’ve got it all down in our Aurangabad Travel Guide.
A large part of Aurangabad’s relevance comes from the Ajanta and Ellora caves. Ajanta and Ellora have been aptly designated UNESCO World Heritage sites due to their historic relevance and the sheer beauty of how well the caves epitomize rock-cut architecture.
While the caves are the reason why Aurangabad is primarily a tourist hotspot, the city has had its moments in the spotlight on more than one occasion. Aurangabad’s relatively recent history is closely intertwined with Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who annexed the city, named it after him and made it his power seat for a good part of the 17th Century.
Such was Aurangzeb’s passion towards the city that he commissioned the construction of a mausoleum, ‘The Bibi ka Maqbara’, for his first wife, Dirasa Banu Begum, who died soon after giving birth to her fifth son. Now not only is the story eerily similar to that of Aurangzeb’s parents, the mausoleum also holds a striking resemblance to its grander predecessor, a mausoleum of love that was built by a certain Emperor Shah Jahan in Agra. The similarity with the Taj is written off, largely due to Aurangzeb’s lack of interest in architecture.
Aurangzeb’s death in 1707 is a pivotal point in Indian History. Aurangzeb’s death marked the impending end of the Mughal Empire. The Mughals Dynasty would go on to lose most of its empire to other dynasties and colonial powers. Not too long after, the Mughal empire was reduced to a fraction of its former self. Aurangzeb’s death also marked the end of Indian medieval era and the beginning of the Modern Indian era. This was again due to the decline in the Mughal Empire and the rise of European forces leading up to the events in India’s recent history and the formation of India as a country.
The other reason why Aurangzeb’s death is important is because it also worked as a catalyst in Aurangabad’s rapid decline. The rulers that followed moved the capital back to Delhi and the city longed for a ruler who would give her the same love as Emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangabad has since undergone a massive change, having served as the capital of the Maratha Empire and the State of Hyderabad.
Today Aurangabad apart from being a tourist hub is known to be an Industrial hub. MIDC (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) played a big part in driving Aurangabad’s rapid industrialization and the city is one of the largest cotton and silk manufacturing hubs. A lot of MNCs have their industrial manufacturing units set up in Aurangabad.
Getting To Aurangabad By Air – Aurangabad has an airport called the Chikkalthana Airport, located in the city. Aurangabad enjoys very good connectivity with Mumbai with about 28 flights operating between the two cities. Flying from other cities is likely to come with a layover in Mumbai.
Getting To Aurangabad By Train – Aurangabad enjoys good rail connectivity with Mumbai, Pune and largely most of Maharashtra. Hyderabad also enjoys decent connectivity with Aurangabad by Rail. Mumbai in particular has a plethora of options to travel to Aurangabad.
Getting To Aurangabad By Road – Getting to Aurangabad by road from Hyderabad, Goa, Pune and Mumbai is relatively straightforward. While the journeys are long, the roads are good and traveling by road is definitely an option. Aurangabad also enjoys good road connectivity with most places in Madhya Pradesh, specifically to Indore, due to its relatively central location.
The best time to visit Aurangabad is during the winters, from November to March. The city is also very green and the weather is pleasant from June to October during the monsoons. Rains could, however, be a hindrance to your sightseeing experience. Visiting Aurangabad between April to June during the summer is a bad idea. The weather is unbearably hot and a trip is best avoided.
Getting around Aurangabad is relatively easy and cheap compared to other tourist hotspots in the country. For starters there’s the Maharashtra State Road Transport Commission buses (MSRTC) and the privately operated Aurangabad Municipal Transport (AMT) buses to choose from. Between these, most tourist destinations within and the outskirts of the city are covered.
For day trips to Ajanta and Ellora, hiring a cab is just a lot simpler and not that expensive. Ideally hire a cab for two days, one to explore Ajanta and the other to explore Ellora and Aurangabad the city.
"Ajanta & Ellora Caves are the only places worth seeing in Aurangabad"
While the Ajanta and Ellora caves are definitely the key attraction, the Bibi ka Maqbara (Aurangzeb’s Taj Mahal for his wife) and the Daulatabad Fort which has been key to the Deccan kingdom are also sites worth visiting. If history interests, you Aurangabad has more than enough to keep you fascinated.
Ajanta & Ellora Caves - These are two separate sets of caves in two separate directions from Aurangabad, and ideally warrant two separate day trips to soak in the magnificence of these caves. They are predominantly Buddhist Caves that signify great rock architecture. The Ajanta and Ellora caves have recorded some of the oldest forms of art, as well as rare forms of painting and records of Warli paintings. These are UNESCO designated sites, and are a must-see when in Aurangabad.
Bibi ka Maqbara
‘The poor man’s Taj’ is what happens when an Emperor who doesn’t care too much for architecture builds a tomb for his beloved wife to showcase his conjugal fidelity towards her. Built in the likeness of the Taj Mahal, the Bibi Ka Maqbara is an interesting visit and gives a lot of perspective to Aurangzeb and Mughal architecture. The monument, while underwhelming, is not a disappointment and must be checked out at least once. If you haven’t seen the Taj Mahal it may even wow you.
Daulatabad is a historic fortified citadel that has literally been around for centuries. It was called Devagiri in the Common Era and was the capital of the Yadava Dynasty for much of 5 centuries! In the 12th century, Devagiri was annexed by Sultan Alaudin Khalji and soon became a part of the Delhi Sultanate. Sultan Muhammad-bin-Tughluq in 1327 renamed Devagiri to Daulatabad and announced it as its new capital, ordering a mass migration of its subjects only to reverse the decision a few years later.
The city of Aurangabad was built around the fort and a lot of fortifications took place in the 17th century when the Ahmednagar Sultanate was created. The fort was built to repel sieges from invading armies and the hike up the fort for panoramic views of the Western Ghats.
Can I See Ajanta Ellora In One Day?
Yes, you can see both caves in a day though this is not advisable as they have loads to offer. Star early and head to Ajanta, and head to Ellora after lunch. Both caves have nearly the same timings, just ensure you avoid going on a Monday (Ajanta caves are shut) or a Tuesday (Ellora is shut).
Which Is Better Ajanta Or Ellora?
Both caves are equally magnificent, but differ in terms of what they offer. You can see ancient paintings at Ajanta, while Ellora has gorgeous sculptures. In terms of accessibility, Ellora is a little closer to the city of Aurangabad than Ajanta.
Is Aurangabad Safe?
Yes, Aurangabad is a fairly safe city, especially for tourists. The crime rates aren’t exceptionally high nor worrying, and the locals are friendly and helpful.
How Much Time Do You Need At Ellora Caves?
You should be spending at least 3 to 4 hours at Ellora to explore the place thoroughly. Any less time and you’ll only be skimming through all it really has to offer. Of course, you can always spend more time here soaking in the history; we recommend an entire day being devoted to it.
Which Day Are Ellora Caves Closed?
The Ellora caves are closed on Tuesdays every week.
Is Photography Allowed In Ajanta Caves?
You can certainly photograph the paintings in the Ajanta Caves, as long as your flash is off. The paintings have survived the years and in order for them to continue to survive, restrictions have been placed on the use of flash bulbs and lights in many caves.
How Far Is Ellora Caves From Aurangabad?
The Ellora Caves are 30 kms away from Aurangabad, and can be reached within an hour’s drive. Conversely, Ajanta is 100 kms away, and it takes a little over 3 hours to get there by road.
What Is The Famous Food Of Aurangabad?
The must-try signature dish of Aurangabad is called ‘naan khaliya’. It is a non-vegetarian dish, and is either mutton or beef mixed with spices eaten with naan.
Who Destroyed Ellora Caves?
Legend has it that Mughal ruler Aurangzeb sent a thousand of his men to destroy the Ellora caves, but failed. However, this fact is to be historically verified.
What Is Famous In Aurangabad For Shopping?
Aurangabad’s textiles are famous across India, available at places like the Paithani Weaving Center, Gul Mandi, Connaught Shopping Market and Nirula Bazaar. Look out for Paithani sarees, and fabrics like mashru and kimkhab.
How Do I Get From Aurangabad To Ellora Caves?
The Ellora caves are only an hour away from Aurangabad, and you can easily take a cab or a bus there.