AURANGABAD –THE GRANDEUR OF HISTORY

Aurangabad, as the name suggests, has a historic significance not only because it was ruled by the last Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, but also because the city houses the famous Ajanta – Ellora caves from 2nd century BC. Located at a distance of 253 by train and 327 by road from Mumbai, Aurangabad is a simple yet elegant city that has a great history to be told.  My recent visit to this city has been a mesmerizing experience as I witnessed the historic grandeur that depicted the highest artistic creativity, way before the human race could be called civilized.

Aurangabad - The grandeur of history
Aurangabad – The grandeur of history

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

Our journey to Aurangabad began on an early morning Shatabdi Express from Mumbai that takes around 6 hrs. of travel time. On arriving in the city, we checked into our pre-booked hotel that offered us a pretty much comfortable accommodation.

Travel IN A BAG
Travel IN A BAG

After freshening up in the hotel room, I could not wait any longer to explore the city on our own terms. So, we booked an auto rickshaw for the latter half of the day for just Rs 500 and he promised us to take to every important corner of the town. I think that was a pretty good deal for the start.

And there we were all set to reconnoiter this unknown city with an unknown person on a three-wheeler auto-rickshaw on unfamiliar roads that already had geared up our thrill.

PLACES OF INTEREST WITHIN THE CITY

Bibi Ka Maqbara: Raheem, my auto driver first wanted to take me to Bibi Ka Maqbara, the tomb of Dilras Banu Begum, who was the wife of the last Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. This tomb holds importance also because it has got striking resemblance with the famous Taj Mahal of Agra. It is the burial place of Dilras Banu that was constructed under Aurangazeb’s instruction in 1660 to commemorate her memory.

Aurangabad - The grandeur of history
Aurangabad – The grandeur of history

The tomb is made of white marbles and still holds the elegance of the bygone era. I was amazed to see the huge tall wooden doors that were layered with metal sheets above. And they look strong even today. The main mausoleum is built on a square high platform surrounded by four minarets.

Metal layered Door in Bibi Ka Maqbara
Metal layered Door in Bibi Ka Maqbara

Inside it there lay the tomb which you can view from the top. People throw coins in respect and reverence and the tomb bed is now covered with so many shinning coins that it looks like some kind of decorations. The garden at the entry of the tomb is a well maintained one. Though the tomb is maintained well till now, importance should be given to keep the surrounding area clean.

Aurangabad - The grandeur of history
Aurangabad – The grandeur of history

Parnchakki:

It is a water mill which was used to grind grains for the pilgrim. It was built in about 1695 which has a mosque and a madrassa. It is interesting to find how the water in the reservoir was used to grind grains during that time. The reservoir and peaceful surrounding do create a calming atmosphere all around.

Travel IN A BAG
Travel IN A BAG

However, this place needs much attention in terms of maintenance and cleanliness. If supervised properly, it has great scope of becoming an attractive tourist spot. There are few shops inside the gate and they sell beautiful hand curved metal decoration pieces called the Bidri work. I could not resist myself from buying one such piece.

Bhadkal Gate: Aurangabad is also known as the city of Gates since there were around 52 gates all around from medieval times. But as of now only a few of them are remaining. And Bhadkal gate is one among them.

Aurangabad - The grandeur of history
Aurangabad – The grandeur of history

Ajanta and Ellora Caves

With these, we ended our day’s tour of Aurangabad as the sun was setting down and it was time for us to go back to our hotel room. I waited for the next morning with excitement we were about to head for the most interesting part of our Aurangabad trip and that is Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Travel IN A BAG
Travel IN A BAG

Ajanta Caves: As the morning approached we headed to Ajanta caves. It is about at a distance of 100 km from Aurangabad. Upon reaching our destination, we directly headed to the main area from where the actual journey to witness the grandeur begins.

At the starting point, it is a steep climb which would surely compel you to take some heavy breaths. But once you are at it, all your tiredness would vanish in a second.

Travel IN A BAG
Travel IN A BAG

There are about 30 rock cut caves that belong to 2nd century BC to 9th century BC. The caves at Ajanta are purely Buddhist caves and there are colorful paintings in some of the caves. I was just awestruck as to how people could carve out such amazing art without any modern facilities like electric lights. I was told by a guide that the artisans would put water in the floors and with sun’s reflection on it, they would carry out their work. Now that sounded really interesting.

Travel IN A BAG
Travel IN A BAG

The paintings depict the Buddha’s life and the day to day life of the people in those days. Most of the paintings are fading away with time but the remaining paintings still talk a lot about the efficiency and intelligence of our ancient citizens.

We walked from one cave to the other and each one has a history and story to tell. There are huge Buddha statue in some of the caves that meditation halls. There were some rock cut beds inside of few caves and I could not resist myself lying there and thinking of their life in those days.

Travel IN A BAG
Travel IN A BAG

As we came to the end of this great tour my mind could not stop thinking about the people as to how they lived, what they ate and what they wore. I kept nagging my husband (who is also my partner in crime) to answer my questions. You can of course understand his condition.

The night too went into some thoughts and amazement of such a grand era. And I could not help feeling proud of our heritage.

Ellora Caves: The excitement of the previous day was still fresh and to top of it was time to head to another beauty of the world, and that is the Ellora Caves which is at a distance of just 30 kms from the main city of Aurangabad.

Travel IN A BAG
Travel IN A BAG

On reaching the site the first thing that came into my mind was the fact that even in ancient time our country had such religious tolerance. Because Ellora is the site of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu caves set all together in harmony.

There are about 100 caves in Ellora, but only 34 of them are open to tourist view.  Ellora caves are more of rock cut architecture. There are 12 Buddhist caves, 17 Hindu caves and 5 Jain caves that are excellent architectural elegance. All these belong to 2nd to 9th centuries.

Travel IN A BAG
Travel IN A BAG

I glued with astonishment at these wonders and it took me to an era that became a subject of ponder for many days ahead.

The caves carvings, the architecture, the relics, the gorgeous statues made me belong to that period over and over again.

As the tour came to an end my heart longed more of these beautiful heritages of a great period of history.

Travel IN A BAG
Travel IN A BAG

Timings and entry fees to Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Ajanta Caves
Timings: 9 am to 9:30 pm (Mondays closed)
Entry fee: INR 30 per head (Indians) | INR 500 per head (foreign tourists) | INR 25 per camera

Ellora Caves
Timings: 9 1m to 5.30 pm (Tuesday Closed)
Entry fee: INR 30 per head (Indians) | INR 500 per head (foreign tourists) | INR 25 per camera

Things you may collect from Aurangabad:

You may collect beautiful souvenirs from here which I have done without any guilt. The local shops around Ajanta and Ellora caves offer a huge number of collections of natural and colorful stones, crystal lamps, stone carving statues, wall hangings and much more. Paithani, a typical Maharashtrian sari is named after Paithan city of Aurangabad. So, you can grab one of them too.

Travel IN A BAG
Travel IN A BAG

Places to visit around Aurangabad:

Daulatabad is a wonderful destination which is in close proximity to Aurangabad. It is just at a distance of 16 kms from Aurangabad. It is famous for the Daulatabad fort which is regarded as one of the important fortresses. Earlier the city was known as Devagiri. While at Daulatabad you may visit the fort, the Chand Minar and Chinni Mahal.

Travel IN A BAG
Travel IN A BAG

However, I could not visit Daulatabad Fort due to time constraint. But I am sure to pay a visit next time I visit Aurangabad and very soon I shall revisit this beautiful destination.

I hope you loved reading my article on Aurangabad. Would love to hear from you. Thank you very much for visiting my page.

 

 

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