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Aurangabad: The gateway to India’s ancient treasures

Aurangabad: The gateway to India’s ancient treasures

The arrival by air into Aurangabad gives the impression of this being a rather unremarkable destination; a bustling city surrounded by hot and dusty arid land. How looks can be deceptive! Aurangabad is the base from which to explore many of India’s ancient treasures – the famous Ellora and Ajanta Caves and the mighty Daulatabad Fort. Once a major Mughal centre, as the gateway to the Deccan, Aurangabad got its modern name from the last great ruler, Aurangzeb, whose modest tomb is another site well worth visiting, nestled deep within the Muslim quarter of the city.

Having explored the many famous forts of Rajasthan, I thought I had seen it all. However Daulatabad is like something out of a film or a fairy-tale; the epitome of the mediaeval battleground with industrial size cannons, fake doors and booby traps, all towered over by the impressive Chand Minar, or ‘Moon Tower.’ The views over the surrounding hills are splendid and local tourists add splashes of colour to the landscape, while friendly monkeys pose for photos on crumbling courtyard walls.

Daulatabad 4
Daulatabad 1
Daulatabad 3
Daulatabad 2
We visited the Ellora caves as they opened, at sunrise, with not a soul for company apart from a few temple monkeys. First on the list was the show-stopping Kailasa Temple, a marvel of architecture and carving – the entire temple ‘structure’ was actually carved out of the rock by dedicated Hindu artists between the 8th – 9th centuries. Kailasa has to be one of the most impressive temples in India. To have it completely to yourself (a rare feat) we recommend staying at the simple but clean Hotel Kailas which faces the hotel complex – this will mean you arrive hours before the crowds coming from Aurangabad.

Ellora 1
Ellora 3
Ellora 4
The Ellora Cave complex comprises 33 different cave temples, and are Hindu, Jain and Buddhist. We had a wonderful experience in Cave 10, Vishwakarma, where our guide explained how the Buddhist monks carved the rock in certain ways to create atmospheric acoustics – along with an audio example!



Although the Ellora cave complex is undeniably impressive, for my Ajanta was the crown jewel of the sightseeing we did while in Aurangabad, and actually the entire trip. Sculpture, including ancient sculpture, is prevalent nearly everywhere you go in India. However, what Ajanta offers, other than a stunning location and impressive rock carving, is an array of some of the most beautiful historic Indian paintings. Historians believe that India’s harsh climate is to blame for the lack of painting dating from ancient times. This makes the Ajanta cave complex, protected by nature for nearly a thousand years, a rare wonder. Colourful scenes in multiples caves show both religious scenes but also fantastic snapshots of daily life – demonstrating that human nature hasn’t changed an awful lot in over a millennium. We approached the complex form the viewing point which I would recommend to everyone as the location of the caves, carved out of cliffs along the bend in a river, and is as impressive as that which lies within it.

Ajanta 2  (1)
Ajanta 3
Ajanta 4
The Vivanta by Taj is a leafy lush base from which to explore this cultural rich area – we loved the green lawns, expansive poolside and airy marble corridors. Aurangabad was a perfect place to end our cultural touring on a real high – this is the place to come for show stopping historical sites, when you think you’ve seen the best that India has to offer.

Vivanta By Taj
For more information or to start planning your tailor-made holiday to India, please get in touch with us:

info@ampersandtravel.com   /  +44 (0) 207 819 9770



Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Ampersand’s details preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet/direct booking age. Shalmali was a delight to work with – before and during our trip.
- Mr David Wallace, North India

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