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Aurangabad

Aurangabad

 

AURANGABAD - Named after the last Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, this place offers an experience of timeless art and culture. It was known as ' khirki' (window) earlier due to its vital position that outfitted a window vista of Deccan Plateau. 
 

Aurangabad is located in the northern part of the state of Maharashtra. Situated on the banks of the Kham River, this historical city is famous for its medieval monuments and cultural heritage. It is better known as the gateway to the ancient caves of Ajanta and Ellora.
 

Aurangabad was an important seat of the Mughal Empire for a short period. Thus, the city has many monuments speaking volumes about the grandeur of the Mughal architecture. There are many Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu temples also in this region.

 

Ajanta Caves
The Ajanta Caves have 30 rock cut Bhuddhist caves and it is 106 km from Aurangabad. The basic designs of the caves are called 'Chaitya grihas' and 'Viharas'. Five caves are Buddhist cathedrals and the remaining 25 are monasteries. The Chaityas are large, rectangular chambers separated by rows of pillars. They are decorated by sculptures and murals, which depict the many incarnations of Buddha. The Viharas are rectangular shaped halls. They have series of small cells, which are attached on both sides. The caves also include a visual form of the life of Buddha and interesting stories from Jatakas. 

 

These caves remain closed on Mondays.
Aurangabad Caves were excavated from the soft rock during the 6th and 7th century. These caves, ten in number, are divided into two separate locations - Western Group Caves having caves 1-5 and Eastern Group Caves having caves 6-10, located 1 km apart. Tantric Hinduism molds the designing and image. Cave 4 from Western Group is the oldest cave. The remaining four Western caves are viharas depicting an early type of Buddhist monastery. Cave 6 which belongs to the Eastern Group has a large statute of Buddha supported with a form of Ganesh and Cave 7 has forms of women which are barely clad and bejeweled.

 

Aurangabad caves
Aurangabad Caves were excavated from the soft rock during the 6th and 7th century. These caves, ten in number, are divided into two separate locations - Western Group Caves having caves 1-5 and Eastern Group Caves having caves 6-10, located 1 km apart. Tantric Hinduism molds the designing and image. Cave 4 from Western Group is the oldest cave. The remaining four Western caves are viharas depicting an early type of Buddhist monastery. Cave 6 which belongs to the Eastern Group has a large statute of Buddha supported with a form of Ganesh and Cave 7 has forms of women which are barely clad and bejeweled.

 

Daulatabad Fort
Daulatabad is situated 13 km from Aurangabad. The fort stands on a pyramid shaped hill. It was previously known as Devgiri. Bhillama, the king of the Yadav dynasty built it in the 12th century. It was Mohammed Bin Tughlaq who gave the name Daulatabad which means city of fortune. The fort of the city is built on top of a high hill. It is surrounded by thick walls and has transfixed gates. Steep slip ways and a deep ditch can also be seen. Curled network of secret, teasing and underground transitions can also be seen in the fort.

 

Ellora Caves
The Ellora Caves are listed in the world-heritage list. They are located about 30 km from Aurangabad. The Kailash Temple of the Ellora caves is the most attractive and masterpiece of the creator. The Kailash temple in the Ellora caves is one of the world's largest and massive sculptures. It was curved out of a rock with the help of 7000 laborers and took nearly 150 years to complete. The shrines are a mix of both Hindu and Jain faiths. Cave number 32 is famous for a glorious Yakshi statue and beautiful ceiling paintings. 
IMP: Ellora Caves are closed on Tuesdays.

 

Excursion to Nanded
Nanded located in the southeastern part of the state, 650 kms from Mumbai and 270 kms from Hyderabad, Nanded was earlier known as 'Nandigram'. It is situated along the river Godavari and is known for its historical, social and political importance. It was the birthplace of three famous Maratha saint-poets - Vishnupant Shesa, Raghunath Shesa, and Vaman Pandit. And is also a holy place of Sikhism.
The main attraction at Nanded is the Takhat Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib that is the main Gurudwara. It is one of the four High seats of Authority of the Sikhs.

Guru Gobind Singh, 10th and last Guru of the Sikhs died here and his ashes are buried in the Gurudwara beside the river Godavari. Visitors also go to the Nanded fort that is surrounded by Godavari River on three sides.

 

Excursion to Paithan
Paithan is a village in Aurangabad. It is located 56 km south of Aurangabad. It is the ancient capital of Satvahanas. The hamlet is famous for its 6 yards silk brocade sarees. The name of the saree is also Paithan. 

The hamlet follows the 2000-year-old convention of saree weaving. The sarees woven of silk with dainty zari borders are a feast to the eyes. 
Beautiful Silk from Paithani was merchandised to many countries in return for gold and precious stones. 
Conventional originative art and conscientious workmanship fuse to form this unparalleled cloth. The cost of the sarees range anywhere from Rs 6,000 to Rs 5,00,000.

 

Shirdi -
A sleepy little village in the interiors of Maharashtra, Shirdi came into prominence when an old sage died in 1918. The saga of Sai Baba of Shirdi started in the middle of the last century when, as a boy of about 16 years of age, he first appeared here under a neem tree (Azadirachta indica) absorbed in a hard penance. For the next 60 years, he devoted his life for the upliftment of the poor and suffering. His origin, religion, and early life are shrouded in mystery, and though he is believed to be an incarnation of lord Shiva, his teachings transcended all religions and beliefs. Today, all places, persons, and possessions connected with him have become objects of veneration by millions of devotees who throng to Shirdi every year from all parts of the world. Sai Baba's shrine has been incorporated as one of the holy places in the world's map of pilgrimage.
There are several places of tourist attractions in Shirdi, but it is the shrine of Sai Baba that is the hub of activity.

 

Samadhi Mandir -
Samadhi Mandir of Shri Sai Baba was actually owned by a millionaire from Nagpur and a famous Sai devotee Shreemant Gopalrao. He wanted to keep an idol of Murlidhar here. However, according to the legends, Baba himself became Murlidhar and the temple became the Samadhi Mandir of Baba. The Samadhi of Baba is built with white marble stones. The railings around it are full of ornamental decorations. The idol of Baba is a marvelous statue made up of Italian marble built by Late Balaji Vasant in 1954. 

 

Dwarkamai -
Situated on the right side of the entrance of the Samadhi Mandir is Dwarkamai, a mosque. This was the place where the sage stayed until the end of his life. Main attraction of the site is the oil paintings of the sage.

 

Gurusthan -
The place from where Sai Baba first came to Shirdi in the form of a Bal Yogi (child ascetic) is known as Gurusthan. A temple has been constructed on this site. There is also a small shrine in Gurusthan.

 

Chavadi -
At a short distance lies Baba's Chavadi. Baba used to sleep here every alternate day. The Chavadi is divided into two parts. One part of the Chavadi has a large portrait of Baba along with a wooden bed and a white chair belonging to him.

 

Mini Taj (Bibi ka Maqbara)
The monument Bibi Ka Maqbara was built in 1679 AD by Aurangzeb's son. He built it in memory of his mother Rabia. Ata Ullah was the architect and he based the design on the Taj Mahal. 
The memorial is built of sandstone with plastered walls and has a marble dome. It has an flowery wall around with an entrance which provides the best view of the memorial. The enclosure of the tomb is made of marble and is octagonal.

 

Water Mill
Panchakki otherwise known as the water mill was built during the early years of the 17th century. The mill used to grind grains for the pilgrims. It was so designed that it generated energy through water, which was brought from a spring on a mountain. 

These pipes are lined up at particular distances. To allow the water to flow through the pumps masonary pillars are erected. Water through the pipes flows with a force and it rises to a huge raised masonary pillar and from there it falls to make an attractive water fall.