A city best known for its medieval monuments and cultural heritage… Once a seat of the Mughal Empire, today a gateway to World heritage sites!  Surrounded by beautiful hills on all sides, Aurangabad, a city that gets its name from the great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, is a city with some amazing tourist attractions. Explore these magnificent edifices with us!

Founded by Malik Ambar in 1610 AD, the Prime Minister of Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar, it was Ambar’s architectural creativity that made Aurangabad one of the prime tourists attractions. Named Kharki, after the demise of Ambar, his son Fateh Khan, changed the name of Kharki to Fatehnagar. But, after Fatehnagar came under the Mughal dynasty, Prince Aurangzeb was appointed the viceroy of the Deccan in 1653 and he made Fatehnagar, which he renamed Aurangabad, his capital.

Enveloped by historical structures like, ‘Ajanta & Ellora Caves’ and the great ‘Bibi Ka Maqbara’, this beautiful city falls under the Marathwada region and is also known as, ‘City of Gates’ for its 52 ‘gates’ each of which have a local history or has individuals linked with them.

Think Aurangabad and the first thing that comes to one’s mind is the Bibi-ki-Maqwara, one of the finest examples of Persian Art and architecture. A mausoleum built for Rabia Durani, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, it is a replica of the Taj Mahal at Agra, and is known for its grace and elegant Mughal architecture. Behind the mausoleum is a small archaeological museum containing Aurangabad’s most prized possessions. Draped in snow-white, this spectacular monument is the most conspicuous landmark of the city. Although it pales in comparison before the original, it is said to be the most beautiful building of the Deccan.

About 16km northwest of Aurangabad is the 14th century Daulatabad Fort, a place once known as Deogiri or Devigiri. Emerging over 600 ft above the Deccan plain, The Daulatabad fort is one of the world’s best preserved forts of medieval times and also one of the few impregnable forts in Maharashtra known for its  excellent architecture.  It is also known for some outstanding structures, and royal palaces, Jami Masjid and Chand Minar.

The Chand Minar is a tower of victory build by Ala-ud-din Bahmani to commemorate his conquest of the fort in 1435. It was supposed to be used as a prayer hall or a victory monument in its time.

The Jami Masjid within the fort was built in 1318 by Qutub-ud-din Mubarak. It is a well-preserved monument, comprising of 106 pillars ransacked from the Hindu and Jain temples, which previously stood on the site.

Another monument within the fort is the Chini Mahal, the site where the last king of Golcunda, Abdul Hasan Tana Shah was imprisoned by the Moghul emperor Aurangzeb, for thirteen years until his death.

Also found here is a large stone-lined Elephant tank, in the nearby area. It was once a major part of the fort’s extensive water-supply system.

Another interesting attraction here is the Panchakki mill, an intriguing water mill famous for its underground water channel which traverses more than 8 km. to its source away in the mountains. The water is then discharged on to the wheel creating a fascinating waterfall. Also charming all is a garden and ‘dancing’ water fountains with fish-filled tanks.

Among mosques here, the Jumma Masjid, Kali Masjid and the Shah Ganj mosque are the most conspicuous. Erected in 1600 A. D. the Kali Masjid is a six-pillared stone-building standing on a high plinth. The Jumma Masjid is known for its simple but elegant design. The Shah Ganj mosque built in about 1720, and constructed in Indo-Saracenic style, is one of the finest edifices of its class to be found in any part of India. Another important Masjid here is the Chowk Masjid built in 1655, by Shayista Khan, the maternal uncle of Aurangzeb

Other attractions here include the Naukhanda Palace. The Himayat Bagh is a 17th century garden. Opposite the Himayat Bagh lies the Salim Ali Sarovar (lake) popularly known as Salim Ali Talab.

The Sunehri Mahal is said to have derived its name from the gold paintings which at one time decorated it. The Pir Ismail Mausoleum was erected in memory of Pir Ismail, a tutor to Prince Aurangzeb.

Aurangabad is also home to some interesting museums, the History Museum of Marathwada University has excavated material of Sathavahana dynasty in the form of sculptures from Marathwad region, miniature paintings of Maratha, Rajput, Mughal and company paintings of East India Company periods. The State Archaeology Museum displays sculptures and broken panels from archaeological sites in Paithan. Other museums here include the HiruBhai Jagtap’s Museum, the Shivaji Museum, and the Purwar Museum,

Situated at a distance of 5 km, nestled amidst the hills, the Aurangabad caves 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.

Carved into the rocks of the Satmala ranges are the thirteen Pitakkhora caves, that possess a unique beauty and overlook picturesque ravines. Dating back to the 2nd century BC, only 40 km away from Ellora caves, many unusual sculptures like Yaksa figures can be found here. Decorating it are nagas and guardians flanking the door, and a row of elephants. A group of viharas, a chaitya hall, and two smaller caves across the gorge with stupas are also found here.

Other interests here include excavations to the Ajanta and Ellora caves, which are situated 3 km North of Aurangabad. The Lonar Crater Lake formed nearly 50,000 years ago, when a 2 million-ton meteorite impacted the earth to create a depression, is the world’s third largest crater.

As for those looking at picking up some souvenirs of the place, visit the Himroo factory for its traditional Himroo fabric, which is a blend of both cotton and silk. Another must buy here include Paithani silk saris, and traditional handloom shawls which are the major attractions in this factory. Aurangabad is also known for its bidriware, the intricate silver inlay craft which was once patronized by the Mughals. For those who love jewellery, 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.

Truly a spectacular city, known for its historic monuments, here’s a tourist hub, which clearly deserves the name the ‘Tourism Capital of Maharashtra’.