Published On: Fri, Jan 18th, 2013

AURANGABAD The Tourism Capital of Maharashtra

AurangabadAurangabad is an important city in the state of Maharashtra, India. It sees a lot of international tourist traffic due to world heritage sites, Ajanta & Ellora caves. Aurangabad, a dream destination of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, founded in 1610, is known today, as one of the four important cities in Maharashtra. The name is derived from the Mughal ruler, Aurangazeb. Lying along the right bank of the Kham River, the city is the district headquarters, which offers visitors all the modern comforts and amenities.There are several luxury and budget hotels, shopping centres and banks.The city is heading towards rapid industrial growth, but retains its past glory and charms, heritage and traditions.This city can be visited anytime of the year but the best ime to travel in and around Aurangabad is between October and March, when winter temperatures make the days pleasant, perfect for sightseeing.  Recently, Aurangabad has been declared as Tourism Capital of Maharashtra.It is also one of the fastest growing cities in the world.
Aurangabad is well connected by Air, Rail and Road to other parts of country. Aurangabad enjoys central location with respect to Maharashtra and Goa. All major cities in Maharashtra lie within a radius of 500 Km. Aurangabad has a good network of National and State highways connecting all parts of the country. Aurangabad railhead is directly connected to many parts of the country including major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad. Direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi are available on a daily basis
Bibi Ka Maqbara:
Situated about 3 km from the city is Bibi Ka Maqbara, the burial place of Aurangzeb’s wife, Rabia-ud-Durrani. It is an imitation of the Taj at Agra and 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. Behind the mausoleum is located a small archaeological museum.
Panchakki (Water Mill):
Housed in the Dargah complex of Baba Shah Musafir, it is a 17th century water mill situated at a distance of 1 km from the city. An intriguing water mill, the Panchakki is famous for its underground water channel, which traverses more than 8 km 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.
Gates in Aurangabad:
One of the things that makes Aurangabad stand out from the several other medieval cities in India are its 52 ‘gates’ each of which have a local history or had individuals linked with them. Not many people are aware of the fact that Aurangabad is also known as the ‘City of Gates’.
Naukhanda palace:
The Naukhanda palace was built by Malik Ambar in 1616 upon the summit of a rising ground at Aurangabad, India. The massive portal gateway leading to this, over which the Naubatkhana sounded, was called Barkal. The palace had nine apartments, the interior buildings consisted of five zananas, a Divan i Aam, a Divan i Khas, a masjid and a kacheri, each provided with a garden and a cistern.
Himayat Baugh Aurangabad:
THE Himayat Bagh is 17th century garden that now houses the Fruit Research Station & Nursery, which is a part of the Agricultural university. It is located near Delhi Gate in Rauza Bagh area of Aurangabad. It is a sprawling complex spread over 300 acres (1.2 km2), naturally green and in the olden days it was known as the Mughal garden.
Salim Ali Lake & Bird Sanctuary:
Salim Ali Sarovar (lake) popularly known as Salim Ali Talab is located near Delhi Gate, opposite Himayat Bagh,Aurangabad. It is located in the northern part of the city. During the Mughal period it was known as Khiziri Talab. It has been renamed after the greatornithologist and naturalist Salim Ali. It also has a bird Sanctuary and a garden maintained by the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation.
Aurangabad Caves:
Situated at a distance of 5 km, nestled amidst the hills are 12 Buddhist caves probably dating back to 3 A.D. Of particular interest are the Tantric influences evident in the iconography and architectural designs of the caves. One is also treated to a panoramic view of the city as well as the imposing Maqbara from this point.
Quila-E-Ark:
In 1692, Aurangzeb ordered a palace to be built and named it as the Killa Arrak. The space enclosed by the Killa Arrak or citadel covered nearly the whole ground between the Mecca and Delhi gates of the city. It had four or five gateways and a nagarkhana for the musicians. The walls were battle-mented and loop-holed and had semi-circular towers at the angles, on which guns were once mounted. The inner portion was occupied by recesses similar to those in the city walls. To the right of the entrance was a high terrace extending the whole length of the ground enclosed.
Kali Masjid
Among the mosques, the Jumma masjid and the Kali masjid built by Malik Ambar, and the Shah Ganj mosque are the most conspicuous. Malik Ambar is said to have built seven mosques which go by the general name of Kali masjid. The Kali masjid is in Juna Bazar area and was erected in 1600 A. D. It is a six-pillared stone-building standing on a high plinth. The Jumma masjid of Malik Ambar is near the Killa Arrak. It has fifty polygonal pillars arranged in five rows, and connected by a system of arches, which divide the building into twenty-seven equal compartments, each covered by a domical vault of simple but elegant design. There are nine pointed arches in front. Of these, five were erected by Malik Ambar in 1612 A. D. and the remaining four were added by Aurangzeb.
Shahganj Masjid:
Occupying the great market square of Aurangabad is the large Shah Ganj mosque, one of the finest edifices of its class to be found in any put of India. It was built in about 1720 A.D. Khafi Khan, the author of Muntakhabu-1-Lubab, referring to Sayyad Husain Khan’s viceroyalty of the Deccan . The mosque is on a raised platform, and has shops on three of the outer sides; while the fourth or the north side is open and is ascended by a flight of steps the facade represents an arcade of five scalloped arches, constructed in the Indo-Saracenic style, and supported on stone pillars. This portion projects a little; and the interior contains twenty four pillars, which with six pilasters in the back wall, are arranged in the form of a square. The central portion is covered with a graceful bulbous dome, having the base adorned with crisp crinkled lotus leave tied in a neat narrow band; and the apex bears an elegant spire.
Chowk Masjid:
In 1655 was built the Chauk Masjid by Shayista Khan, the maternal uncle of Aurangzeb. Its front has five pointed arches, and is two arches in depth. These are connected with one another by eight pillars and corresponding pilasters, and support five domes. The central dome, with a metallic spire is lofty, while the others are concealed in the roof. The corners are decorated with minarets. The whole structure has a high basement containing chambers used for shop, which open out on the roadside. The gate has two minarets. There is a cistern in the courtyard in front of the mosque.
Pir Ismail Mausoleum:
Outside the Delhi gate along the Harsul road, in a garden, is a mausoleum to Pir Ismail. Though principally in the Moghal style of architecture, it shows some features common to Pathan architecture. It is said to have been erected in memory of Pir Ismail, a tutor to Prince Aurangzeb. The garden also contains several ruined cisterns and fountains. The gate is rather imposing and has a large pointed archway, forming a sort of portico. The actual entrance is through a small arch at the further extremity. The parapet is nearly ornamented, so is the facade, which has three small windows with pointed arches, besides recesses. Each corner of the terrace has a little tower surmounted with a bulbous dome and a spire. The mausoleum is square in plan, has five pointed arches on each side and similar domed towers at the corners. The interior is connected by a system of arches, corresponding with those on the sides and carrying a series of little domes.
Sunehri Mahal:
The Sunehri Mahal in Paharsingpura was erected by a Bundelkhand Chief who accompanied Aurangzeb into the Deccan. The building is in stone and lime, and has a high plinth. It is said to have derived its name from the paintings of gold which at one time decorated it.
Ajanta Caves:
Ajanta Caves situated about 107 kilo meters from the Aurangabad city and just 40kms from Jalgaon; the rock-cut caves of Ajanta nestle in a panoramic gap, in the form of a massive horse shoe.    There are 29 caves Ajanta (as officially numbered by the Archaeological Survey of India), of which 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 are chaitya-grihas and the rest are monasteries. These caves were discovered in AD 1819. All paintings show heavy religious influence and centre around Buddha, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas. The paintings on the walls, illustrate the events in the life of Prince Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism and in the more popular Jatakas stories pertaining to Buddha’s previous incarnation.
Ellora Caves:
Ellora Caves situated 30 kilometers from Aurangabad city. Ellora Caves, Famous for its monumental caves, Ellora is a World Heritage Site, are impressive in their own right are the rock cut temples and monasteries. There are 34 cave, actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the hills, 12 Mahayana Buddhist caves (caves 1-12), 17 Hindu caves (caves 13-29) and 5 caves of the Jain faith (caves 30-34) 22 more caves, dedicated to Lord Shiva, were recently discovered. The central attraction at Ellora is Kailas Temple (cave16), is the most remarkable. Chiselled by hand from a single massive rock, it includes a gateway, exhibition area, square, hall, hut, sanctorum and tower which bear testimony to the excellence of Dravidian art. It is believed to have taken 7000 laborers, working in continuous shifts and 150 years to build.
Daulatabad:
Daulatabad ؛ meaning “City of Prosperity”, is a 14th century fort city in Maharashtra, India, about 16 kilometers northwest of Aurangabad. Daultabad Fort magnificent 12th century fortress stands on a hill, Built by Raja Bhillamraj once known as ‘Devgiri’, Initially a Yadav stronghold, it passed through the hands of several dynasties in the Deccan.
Khuldabad:
26 kms. from Aurangabad city lies Khuldabad, sorrounded by beautiful natural and eye catching mountains, literally ‘heavenly abode’. It is the holy shrine of Muslims. The final resting place of last great Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb, He built the crenellated wall around the town, once an important center for the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and few great Sufis.
Grishneshwar:
35 kilometers from Aurangabad City and half kilometer from Ellora Caves, lies this 18th century temple with its beautiful architecture and carving, one of the five ‘Jyotirlingas’ in Maharashtra were Shiva is worshipped
Jayakwadi Dam:
The Jayakwadi project is one of the largest irrigation projects in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is a multipurpose project. Its water is used mainly to irrigate agricultural land in the drought-prone Marathwada region of Maharashtra. It also provides water for drinking and industrial usage to nearby towns and villages and to the municipalities and industrial areas of Aurangabad and Jalna. The surrounding area of the dam has a garden and a bird sanctuary.
Dnyneshwar Udyan:
Dnyaneshwar Udyan is the largest garden in Maharashtra resembling the Vrindavan Gardens of Mysore, situated on the banks of Nathsagar Lake formed due to Jayakwadi Dam. It is located in the ancient town of Paithan which is 40 km south of Aurangabad. Out of the 125 hectares, orchids cover 26 hectares, 28 hectares are laid out as parks and 15 hectares beautified with floriculture.
Pitalkhora Caves:
Pitalkhora in the Satamala range of the Sahyadri hills are of great interest. There are thirteen caves, set high up on the hill, overlooking picturesque ravines. Many of the caves have crumbled and are badly damaged. Because of its remoteness Pitalkhora has few visitors.
Pitalkhora Caves, which dates back to 2nd century BC are only 40 km away from Ellora caves at Aurangabad. One can see here many unusual sculptures like Yaksa figures. The main gate has a wide terrace, with the naga and guardians flanking the door, and a row of elephants decorate the complex. A stair directly connects the entrance to the chaitya. A group of viharas, a chaitya hall, and two smaller caves across the gorge with stupas consist the complex.
Gautala Sanctuary:
Gautala sanctuary located at a distance of 65 km from Aurangabad. It was declared a protected area in 1986, has an area of over 250 km2 and is located at a height of 700 feet. Spread in the hill ranges of Sahyadri the diversified vegetation scattered intermittently support rich faunal and floral diversity. Particularly it is good for sloth bear habitat and excellent for resident and migratory birds.Wildlife population includes chinkara, sloth bears, bats, wild boar, jungle cat, monkey, civet cat, barking deer, fox, jackal, langur, leopard, nilgai and wolf. Cranes, spoonbills, storks, ibis, pochards, peafowl, quail, partridges, and various species of waders are some of the bird species found here.
Kaghzipura:
A place situated near Daulatabad made first handmade paper        in India after the technology was brought here by Mongol invaders – it is a landmark even today. Interestingly this paper has been used to print the Quran.
SHOPPING
Shopping in Aurangabad is fascinating as the region is  rich in the art and culture of several communities. The famous shopping zones of Aurangabad are Nirala Bazar, Cannaught Place, Paithan Gate, Gulmandi etc. Aurangabad has myriad number of shopping complexes and is able to cater to individual desire and needs.The beauty of Paithani silk sarees is legendary. So also the beautifully woven silk Himru and Mashru shawls, of which Himru is an age-old weaving craft of Aurangabad with a blending of cotton and silk. which gives a feel of satin.  Aurangabad is also known for its bidriware, the intricate silver inlay craft which was once patronized by the Mughals.One can find a wide display of jewellery made of semiprecious stones and decorative pieces in Auranagabad.Agate in particular is available in a variety of forms and shades.Aurangabad is the place to look for old coins dating back to the Mughal period
Nirala B azar  situated in the heart of the city; you will find branded show rooms here. Connaught Place is now becoming very popular place amongst young and slowly but surely making its presence noticed. Anurangapura  situated in the old city and it is a hub for education. You will find premium school, college, tuitions and books sellers’ shops here.Paithan Gate is the Second best place for shopping of ready made cloths and shoes and few branded show rooms.
The current day Aurangabad offers a wonderful opportunity to step back to past history. Ajanta and Ellora caves and Bibi-Ka-Makbara bring back the visitors to the past history of the town.The city with the rich medieval heritage has too much to offer to its tourists from historical monuments, religious places, royal gardens and its art and craft, all of national importance. Plan a tour to this city and explore its every nook and corner and you will find many important tourist attractions…………

HOW TO REACH
BY AIR : Chikalthana Airport is equipped with all modern facilities (Airport code : IXU). Air India, Jet      Airways, Kingfisher Class, Kingfisher Red and JetLite have a number of regular flights from Mumbai, Delhi & Hyderabad to Aurangabad. The nearest international airports are Mumbai and Pune
BY ROAD : Aurangabad is linked by national highways and state highways to all parts of the country. Aurangabad has excellent road connectivity to all important cities in Maharashtra namely Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Nasik etc. The highway connections make the journey to the world famous destinations of Ajanta and Ellora very comfortable
BY RAIL : Aurangabad is a Railway Station of South-Central railway on Manmad – Secunderabad section .The city has direct rail links to important Indian cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, etc

Sreerekha R. Nair

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AURANGABAD The Tourism Capital of Maharashtra