Aurangabad, the Tourism capital of Maharashtra, is easily accessible from Mumbai & Pune. It’s also titled as The City of Gates for 52 big gateways built during Mughal era but only a few main gates have survived. The main tourist attractions are the 17th Century marble Bibi Ka Maqbara or Mini Taj, Shivaji Maharaj Museum, dedicated to Maratha king Shivaji, which displays War weapons and coin collection. Ajanta and Ellora caves comprising Ancient, rock-cut shrines.Medieval Daulatabad Fort
It is recommended to schedule one whole day to visit this cave. It takes a minimum of 3 hours to get the complete essence of the entire cave. The Caves were carved between 2nd Century BC and 6th Century AD. Construction of the caves was carried out in two phases; the first group of caves was built around 2nd Century BC, while the remaining was built between 4th & 6th centuries. these caves served as secluded retreats for Buddhist monks for about nine centuries, then abruptly abandoned. These caves were rediscovered by a British Army Officer “John Smith” in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions.His name is inscribed in Cave 10.After his discovery ,It took nearly 30 years to cleap up the entire space and reveal them.
There are totally 30 caves, All of them depicts the life of Buddha as in Jataka tales, The Paintings and sculptures are handmade, Sculptures been done only with their hammer and chisel. The entire cave is Horseshoe shape. Cave 1, 2 ,4, 16, 17,19 and 26 are must see attractions in Ajanta. Various incidents from the life of Gautama Buddha and the Jataka Tales are represented and recreated on the walls of these caves. Scenes from the royal court of the respected era were also painted. Ajanta Caves Bus Stop is the nearest bus stop, which is about 4km from the caves and connected by Tourism Dept Eco-Friendly Buses. The cave is dimly lit, to preserve the paintings.
The painting techniques at Ajanta are similar to European fresco technique.
The primary difference is that the layer of plaster was dry when it was painted. First, a rough plaster of clay, cow dung, and rice husks was pressed on to the rough cave walls. This was then coated with lime juice in order to create a smooth working surface. The dark outlines of the figures were then added followed by a palette of only 6 colors. The pigments the artists used came from natural resources.
The carving work in Ellora Caves began around 550 AD, about the same time the Ajanta Caves were abandoned. This was built at a time when Buddhism was declining in India and Hinduism was beginning to emerge again
The Ellora Caves are an impressive complex of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain Cave temples. The Ellora complex includes 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu, and 5 Jain Caves. Caves 1 to 12 are Buddhist monasteries, chaityas, and viharas, while caves 13 to 29 are the Hindu temples. Dating back to the 9th and 10th century, Caves 30 to 34 are the Jain shrines.
The central attraction at Ellora is Kailash Temple (Cave16), which is the most remarkable. and is the first to visit in Ellora. This is the center of Attraction and is a sculpture made by cutting down of rocks by sculpturing it rather than building up the temple by an architectural design.Other Important caves include Cave 10, 12, 15,17,21,32
SHIVAJI MAHARAJ MUSEUM
This museum is located at a distance of 5.5 km from Aurangabad Railway Station. It is dedicated to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the great Maratha ruler. A visit to this museum takes visitors back into the days of Maratha valor and their love for their homeland.
The building has a total of 6 exhibition halls. The display comprises Maratha war weapons and other artifacts from the battlefield of some of the most popular wars that the Marathas fought. The main exhibits here include the 500 year old war suit, a copy of the Aurangzeb’s handwritten Quran, and a 400 year old Paithani sari.
The first hall is decorated with the wooden craft which reminds the glorious past. The second hall is full of sword shields and ancient rifles. In the next hall photographs and transparencies of forts like Torana, Lohagad, Panhalgad, Sinhagad are displayed, which is indeed the architectural beauty. The fourth hall consists of vessels used by the people contemporary to the great King Shivaji Maharaj. There is a separate space provided for the exhibition of coins. These coins are very rare.
GRISHNESHWAR JYOTIRLINGA TEMPLE
It is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana
The Grishneshwar temple was re-constructed by Maloji Raje Bhosale, the grandfather of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, in the 16th century.
This temple has a weird ritual of dropping the Baby from 30 ft high Balcony (Which is also mentioned in Dan Brown’s ORIGIN), According to Legend, the story goes like this, In the Devagiri Mountain, there lived a Brahmin couple named Brahmavetta Sudharm and Sudeha. They had no children and according to the wish of Sudeha, Brahmavetta married her sister Ghushma. On the advice of Sudeha, Ghushma used to make 101 lingas, worship them and discharge them in the nearby lake. With the blessing of Lord Shiva, she gave birth to a son. Out of jealousy, on night Sudeha killed the baby and threw him in the lake where Ghushma used to discharge the lingas. Mourning with pain Ghushma continued worshipping the Shivlinga. When she dipped the Linga in water Lord Shiva appeared in front of her and gave life to her son. Since then Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Jyotirlinga Ghushmeshwar. Another specialty is the holy water, which flows from inside the temple.
Daulatabad or ‘the abode of wealth’ was the name given by Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq when he made Aurangabad as his capital in 1327 AD.
The fort passed several hands, captured and re-captured by the Mughals, Marathas, Peshwas and finally placed under the control of the Nizams of Hyderabad until independence. It is located 16Km from Aurangabad, on the Ellora Road. Please do not think about visiting them on the same day.
During my Visit, I encountered a real thrilling experience.There was a Tunnel/ bat cave in the middle level of the Fort and a person was standing in front of the cave and said he will take us inside. Without any questions two of us, went with him, inside of this cave was pitch Dark, we will never be able to come out of this place, without the Guide. We could sense none other than the bad smell of the bats, its Noise and our Heartbeat. We went through the flight of steps and finally reached the top level of the Fort within Minutes. The Best Lifetime Experience!
BIBI KA MAQBARA
The Bibi-Ka-Maqbara is built by Aurangzeb’s son, Prince Azam Shah in
the memory of his mother Rabia-
Panchakki belongs to the medieval Indian architecture, the water mill runs on scientific principles. This is Setup to generate electricity from the water spring, which was used to grind grains for the pilgrims who visited the Dargah. There is a huge tree which is almost 300 years old inside the complex near the tank. There is a Masjid nearby, which dates back to 17th century.
Please Note Ajanta is Closed on Mondays, and Ellora will remain closed on Tuesdays.