Aurangabad
 
     
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Aurangabad
 
 


From ancient times Aurangabad has been a place of great importance due to it’s location on the famous "Silk Route" that traversed across the breadth of Asia to reach Europe. Textiles, embroidered finery and various kinds of beads made in nearby Paithan were exported to the markets of Greece, Rome and Egypt.

Aurangabad


Under royal dynasties such as the Satavahanas, Vakatakas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas, Aurangabad developed as a centre of culture and learning. It gave birth to or provided inspiration for great poet – saints and philosophers like Dyaneshwar, Eknath and Ramdas, Wali and Siraj.

Aurangabad’s strategic position in the Deccan earned it the name of "Khidki" meaning window, serving as it did, as an opening through which North India could look into the Deccan.

Mohammed-bin-Tughlaq the ‘Mad King’ was so impressed by the topography of the Deogiri mountain that he forsook Delhi and moved his capital down renaming it Daulatabad. Thus Aurangabad enjoys the rare distinction of being the only city apart from Delhi to have served as the capital of India. Finally, Aurangabad became the seat of the last of the great Moghuls Aurangzeb as he fought to block the resurgent Maratha power.

Attractions:

Ellora Caves : (Distance – 15 km): The famous rock cut caves temples of Ellora depict the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths, and were constructed between the 5th and 8th centuries A.D. Of particular interest are the architectural marvel of the monolithic Kailasa temple, the Buddhist Vishvakarma chaitya and vihara, the famous Jain cave number 32 famous for a magnificent Yakshi statue and ceiling paintings. Every December, MTDC organises the Ellora festival of music and dance at the Kailasa Temple. The Ellora Caves have been declared a World Heritage site.

Daulatabad Fort : ( Distance – 7 km ): Originally the mountainous Deogiri fortress, it was an old Hindu stronghold, finally captured and plundered by deceit in the 13th century. Made the capital of the Delhi Sultanate a 100 years later by Tughlaq, it was the prime fortress of many successive dynasties in the Deccan. Daulatabad is famous for it’s series of trick defences, secret escape routes, etc. Important monuments within the fort include the Jami Masjid – now the Bharat Mata Mandir, the Chand Minar, Elephant Tank and Chini Mahal or Chinese Palace.

Khuldabad : ( Distance – 14 km ): At the holy village of Khuldabad or Abode of Eternity is located the tomb of the last great Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb. His simple tomb remains an eloquent testament to the staunch faith and spartan lifestyle of this pious Muslim ruler. As per his instructions, the tomb was built only with the few rupees he had earned by stitching cloth caps! On his tombstone is inscribed in elegant Persian calligraphy : "No marble sheets should shield me from the sky as I lie there one with the earth."

Ghrishneshwar Temple : ( Distance – 18 km ): Worshippers of Shiva flock to the Ghrishneshwar Temple, of particular importance since it enshrines a jyotirlinga. This particular aspect of the god’s luminous energy is manifested in only 12 temples. Ghrishneshwar was built in the 18th century of spotted red sandstone. Decorative friezes and sculpture depict a pantheon of Indian gods including Bhrama, Vishnu, Ganesh, the marriage of Shiva and Parvati, celestial beings, and even Maratha heroes.

Ajanta : ( Distance – 110 km ):Ajanta’s wondrous cave temples are cut into the rocky sides of a dramatic crescent-shaped gorge, at the head of which is a waterfall that drops over the mountain rim in a series of seven steps to a pool far below – the Saptakund. Dating back to the 2nd century B.C., deep inside the mountain are the Buddhist chaitya – vihara prayer and monastery caves. They cover a span of 800 years where under the royal patronage of ruling dynasties, professional artists helped Buddhist monks to create magnificent murals narrating the story of Buddha in his cycle of incarnations, while simultaneously creating a painted record of the panorama of life in ancient India. Etched and painted in mineral dyes, the paintings have a langourous stylised beauty and magical eloquence. The Ajanta Caves are a World Heritage site.

Bibi ka Maqbara : ( Distance – 6 km ): It is the tomb of Begum Rabia Durani, wife of Emperor Aurangzeb. Due to its similar design, it is popularly known as the mini Taj of the Deccan. The Maqbara stands in the middle of a spacious and formally planned Mughal garden with axial ponds, fountains, water channels, broad pathways and pavilions. Frequent visitors are flights of chattering parrots ( The Maqbara can be viewed from the gardens of The Meadows ).

Panchakki : ( Distance – 4 km ): An intriguing water mill, the Panchakki is famous for its underground water channel which traverses more than 8 kms to its source away in the mountains. The channel culminates in a mesmerising ‘artificial’ waterfall that powers the mill. The beauty of the mosque housed in the inner enclosure is enhanced by a series of ‘dancing’ water fountains.
Aurangabad

Aurangabad Caves : ( Distance – 8 km ):Nestled amidst the hills are 12 Buddhist caves probably dating back to the 1 A.D. Of particular interest are the Tantric influences evident in the iconography and architectural designs of the caves. Some of the chaityas are constructed on a mandala plan for the circumambulation of the Buddha who is depicted here seated on an intricately carved throne. One is also treated to a panoramic view of the city as well as the imposing Maqbara from this point.

Lonar : ( Distance – 122 km ):At Lonar is one of the world’s 5 largest craters, formed by the impact of a meteorite nearly 50,000 years ago. The surface diameter of the crater is nearly 1.75 kms, and its depth is nearly 132 metres. At its base has formed a beautiful lake, formed over thousands of years by the perennial streams flowing into the crater. Mineral deposits (probably from the meteorite) make the lake water very salty while freshwater springs abound at the crater’s edge. A unique ecosystem has evolved in the crater attracting numerous birds like flamingoes, moorhen, coot, peacocks and dabchicks. On the shores of the lake are temples built in the 12th – 13th century. Their exquisite carvings are remnants of their glorious past.

Shani Shignapur : ( Distance – 68 km ): The village is famed for its temple dedicated to Shani – the planet Saturn. More remarkable however is that there are no locks on any of the doors in the village be it residential or commercial, including the bank. Local legends claim that the village is ‘protected’ and no thief can cross its borders without dying. Sceptics please note that the village has remained theft – free in recorded history.

Pariyon ka Talab : ( Distance – 60 km ): Translated to mean ‘Fairies’ Lake’, it is a large lake with steps all along its western shore and a stage like platform which bears great resemblance to the ancient roman amphitheatre. On the banks is also a temple of Shiva with its own colourful history.

Paithan : ( Distance – 56 km ):The ancient city and pilgrim centre of Paithan is situated on the banks of the Godavari. Today it is famous for the beautiful ‘Paithanis’ – woven silk sarees with intricate zari borders. A visit to the weavers’ workshop is fascinating and you can order a customised saree as well. A trip to the garden at the Jayakwadi dam with its dancing fountains and special observation points for bird watching is also an option.

Pithalkora : ( Distance – 78 km ): Located on the ancient trade route, at Pithalkora are 13 cave sanctuaries dating back to the 2nd century B.C., with additions in the 5th and 6th centuries. The relief work in Pithalkora is richer, more elaborate and the carving more precise than at early sites.

REACHING AURANGABAD:Accessible by air, rail and road, Aurangabad is a convenient base for visiting Ajanta, Ellora and nearby places. By air it is directly linked to Delhi & Mumbai. By rail  directly linked to Mumbai and Pune. Jalgaon, a railhead on Central Railways, is 59 Kms from Ajanta. By road, via Nasik-Manmad, Mumbai-Aurangabad distance is 388 Kms., while via Pune it it 400 Kms. The Delhi-Aurangabad distance by road via historical cities such as Mathura, Agra, Gwalior, and Indore the Ajanta Caves are 1323 Kms. By rail you can reach Jalgaon or Purna in Nanded district and from there  reach Aurangabad by road. 

Aurangabad


TRANSPORT: State transport buses run from Mumbai, Pune, Ahmednagar, Jalgaon, Shirdi, Nasik, Dhule, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Indore and Bijapur to Aurangabad and from Jalgaon to Ajanta. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation operates conducted tours from Mumbai to Aurangabad. For local Transportation taxis, autorickshaws, tongas and buses can be hired.


 
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