Aurangabad in northern Maharashtra has a rich history with traces of settlements dating to the Stone Age. In 1610, it turned from a village named Khirki into a prosperous imposing city by Malik Ambar, the Prime Minister of Murtaza Nigam Shah II. It sits on a hilly upland terrain in the Deccan Traps and is a gateway to the awe inspiring caves of Ajanta and Ellora. The Buddhist rock cut Aurangabad caves, the fortified citadel of Devagiri Fort and the Mughal gardens of Himayat Bagh are some of the incredible historic places that can be visited here. Most prominent, however, is Bibi Ka Maqbara (Tomb of the Lady) from 1660. It is sometimes unfairly called a poor-man’s Taj Mahal, as it was commissioned by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb for his wife, bears a striking resemblance to the tomb of Aurangzeb's mother, Mumtaz Mahal and was designed by the son of the chief architect of Taj Mahal. Tough competition!
Aurangabad is known as “The City of Gates” as it was once fortified with huge entrance gates, thirteen of which still stand. Today, the city has a reputation as a smart city and an IT centre but despite its rapid growth and large population, it feels relatively uncrowded compared to other big Indian cities. It is home to many fascinating sites, such as the Bibi-ka-Maqbara, a tomb built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb for his wife Dilras Banu Begum and the Panchakki water mill. Aurangabad, once an important silk and cotton textile producer, specialises in Paithani silk and Himroo, a fine hand-woven silk blended with locally grown cotton.
The spectacular rock-cut Ajanta Caves and Ellora temples are only an hour’s drive from Aurangabad. Famous for their Buddhist murals expressing startling emotions and exquisite Hindu carvings, these spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites are utterly breathtaking. Despite their magnificent artworks and rich history going back thousands of years, it is one of those special experiences that few people have heard about.
>> Read our blog: Aurangabad: The home of India’s ancient treasures
Features in the following itineraries
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Leslie Siben, India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Anonymous, India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka