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Three Days In Aurangabad – The City Of Caves

City of Caves

History in every corner, religions that happily co-existed for a very long time now, so many cultures and practices and most of all friendly locals. This is a post which summarizes what we did in Aurangabad – the city of caves for three days. You will definitely need three days just to explore three different caves and one historical fort. All these places require you to walk / climb a lot, so space it out to ensure you make the most of Aurangabad.

Let us take you through Aurangabad – the City of Caves.

Passing Ports Quick Info:

  • We flew from Chennai to Aurangabad – many flight operators connect to this city with a one stop hop. Airport to city (hardly 12-15kms). Auto / Tuk Tuk costs Rs. 90
  • Ideal no: of days – 4
  • Stay: Hotel Raj – Best location, super budget friendly, decent stay, friendly staff and yum breakfast. This is ideal only for budget travellers.
  • Places of interest – Daulatabad Fort, Ellora Caves, Ghrishneswar Temple (last of the 12 Jyotirlings), Tomb of Aurangazeb, Hanuman Temple (a rarity as the idol is in sleeping position), Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad Caves, Balaji Temple, Mhaismal Hill Station, Gulmandi Markets and about 52 gates in and around the city.
  • Food lovers – there is a lot of options to binge on. More details below.

We suggest you buy the guidebooks that are available in Daulatabad forts or one of the caves. It makes it a cheaper option that using a guide.

Our itinerary in Aurangabad for three nights – four days

On the day we landed (which was late night): Chat at Gayatri Chat Bhandar, Dinner at Hotel Bhoj and exploring a bit of Gul Mandi Market (Holi celebrations were crazy here).

Gulamandi in Aurangabad
Holi Celebrations – the road that turned into a club

Day One: Daulatabad Fort, Tomb of Aurangzeb, Bhadra Maruti Temple (Hanuman Temple), Ellora Caves, Ghrishneshwar Temple (last of the 12 Jyotirlings), Bibi Ka Maqbara and Panchakki for sightseeing, a nice relaxing foot reflexology session at Ellora Thai Spa. Paani Puri at Madhur Milan Sweets and dinner at Kream N Krunch.

Day Two: Ajantha Caves, bowling and snooker at Prozone and dinner at Icy Spicy.

Day Three: Aurangabad Caves and lunch at Thaat Baat.

Daulatabad Fort

Entry to Daulatabad Fort

Distance from city: 18 km
Best time: Either first thing in the morning or around sunset
Climb: Easy to moderate

Entry to Daulatabad Fort

Also known as Deogiri / Devagiri, this city of fortune has been in existence since the 12th century. This was initially built by the Yadava empire which then fell into the hands of Mughals and Nizams over a period of time. Many famous rulers were held prisoners here.

Inside the Daulatabad Fort
Chand Minar

 

Inside the Daulatabad Fort
Bharat Mata Temple

Daulatabad Fort

 

Daulatabad Fort in Aurangabad
Andheri Gate

Aurangabad city view from Daulatabad Fort

Cannons inside the fort

This fort has a lot of stories to tell and few of those interesting ones are how war strategies evolved, how the ramparts were done, about the Andheri Gate, the gift called Chand Minar and the cannons in the fort. Also don’t miss the Saraswathi well, the Hathi Hauz and Bharat Mata Temple with beautiful pillars.

Tomb of Aurangzeb

Simple resting place for Aurangazeb

Last of the famous Mughal rulers, Aurangzeb was the son of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. He ruled for about 49 years and was considered very efficient that during his reign and the empire grew in strength and spread. By the end of his period, he wanted a simple tomb for himself and earned the money for the same by stitching caps.

Ghrishneshwar Temple

Shiva Temple in Ellora

This is the last of the 12 Jyotirlings. This temple has been attacked and rebuilt many times in the past. Known to be the smallest of the Jyotirling temples, Ghrishneshwar looks very beautiful and draws a lot of people every day. Men will need to remove the shirt before entering the sanctum sanctorum.

Bibi Ka Maqbara

Mini Taj Mahal

Have you heard about a mini Taj Mahal. This is the one peeps. When Narayanan and I were discussing this mini Taj before heading there, he was under the impression that it cant look as beautiful as the real one etc.

When we reached there, trust me, it was BEAUTIFUL. Small or big, some of these architectural marvels (perfect or imperfect) just takes your breath away.

This is the mausoleum of Aurangazeb’s wife built by their son Azam Shah. Aurangazeb’s father – Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for his Mumtaz Mahal.

Bibi Ka Maqbara Passing Ports

Mini Taj Mahal

While people call Bibi Ka Maqbara a so-so representation of what Azam’s grandfather had built in Agra, this is a must visit place in Aurangabad. Go around this place and spend some time here, you will realize that everything in this world is beautiful even with all its defects and faults.

Ellora Caves

Aurangabad city of caves

Where can I start about this one? Simple – the Kailash Temple :D. Literally, that’s the first temple that you will notice as you enter Ellora Caves. This temple is Cave no: 16 and is in the centre, so we took left and started our trip from Cave 09. We knew we had only a few hours to cover the Ellora, so we narrowed down on which ones to go to.

 

Buddhist caves in Ellora

Buddhist caves in Ellora

We covered Cave 9,10, 11, 12 and then went to 16. Post that we took a bus which will take you to cave 30 to 34. They also stop in between if you want to visit Cave 21 and 29.

Jain caves in Ellora

Jain Temples inside Ellora Caves

Caves 1 to 12 are Buddhist caves, 13 – 29 are Brahminical excavations and Jain excavations are 30-34. Ellora caves is 28 kms long so a day is not enough if you want to explore this place fully. We spent about three hours and felt that an entire day needs to be set aside for this place.

Ellora Caves are closed on Tuesdays

Kailash Temple – Cave No: 16

Cave No 16 in Ellora Caves

The star, the celebrity or the main attraction of Ellora is the Kailasha Temple. Known as the largest monolithic structure in the world, the temple has been cut and built from top to bottom while almost all constructions of such nature start from the bottom.

Temple in Ellora Caves

Temple in Ellora Caves

Kailash Temple in Ellora Caves

They say hundreds of architects and sculptures were responsible for this grand structure. At least 4 lakh tons of rock has been removed those days with just simple chisels to achieve what we see today as cave no 16.

Art inside Kailash Temple

Take some time – which will automatically happen – and experience energy and beauty at the same time. Walk all the way up to experience this beauty from the top.

Ajantha Caves

Panoramic view of Ajantha Caves

Our first impression about this one was, Oh thank God, this is not going to be as exhaustive as Ellora. There are totally 30 caves and you can cover all of them (some are closed though) in under 4 hours.

We took the early morning AC bus at 0730 AM from Aurangabad Central Bus Station. This bus is the same route as Ajantha Caves so the driver was kind enough to stop just for us. Once we reached there, we bought our tickets to pass a park, then waited for the local bus inside Ajantha to take us to the caves. While returning, at 1430hrs there was a direct AC bus to Aurangabad Central Bus Station. IMHO, this is the best way to reach and get back from Ajantha Caves.

Paintings in Ajantha Caves
On the ceiling

Paintings in Ajantha Caves

Statue of Buddha

Passing Ports in Ajantha Caves

The most important caves here are 1,2,4,16,17,19,24 and 26. Caves 9 and 10 are the oldest chaityas caves and 8,12,13 and 30 are oldest viharas.

Paintings in Ajantha Caves

In whichever cave you enter, don’t miss the paintings on the ceilings – as that intrigued me the most and some of the exteriors of the cave are just so beautiful.

Caves in Ajantha

We bought few idols as souvenirs back home and check them out. We bargained a lot and because we went there during the offseason, we were able to make the most 🙂

Ajantha Caves are closed on Mondays

Aurangabad Caves

Two caves in Aurangabad

A not so hidden secret, however, is a place not visited by many. Much closer than Ajantha and Ellora Caves, Aurangabad Caves is beyond Bibi Ka Maqbara and the total distance from city centre is about 10 km one way. Hire a car or auto for half day unless you are prepared to walk your way back in that hot sun. We were told that we will get cars (Ola) but we got none, not even Auto/ Tuk Tuk and ended up sitting there for about 45 mins to get a car to get back that day. After walking around the Aurangabad Caves, we weren’t ready for another 2-3 km walk as it was blazing hot!

One side of the caves in Aurangabad caves

One side of Aurangabad caves

View from Aurangabad Caves

There are two sides or two groups of Aurangabad caves – Hanuman Tekdi and Soneri Mahal. There is a small juice vendor between these two groups of caves. You can cover all 12 in under one and half hours. You will get a beautiful panoramic view of the city like the picture above and don’t forget to spot Bibi Ka Maqbara 🙂

Other side of aurangabad Caves

Other side of aurangabad Caves

Don’t miss this one as it’s not a difficult climb at all. We wonder why people give this a pass!

Other places of interest in Aurangabad

Panchakki which we found to be so poorly maintained while the interesting part was how they got water those days from far away.

Places to visit in AurangabadThis is a water mill and the power of the water flow was so high that no human was required to grind the grains. Imagine – no google, no books – just usage of brains and coming up with techniques.

There are so many gates around the city which gives you the feeling of travelling back in time. There are about 52 gates and some people refer Aurangabad as the city of gates too 🙂

Another place of interest if you are travelling during the season is Mhaismal Hill station. During the monsoon season (June-Jan), this place is supposed to be gorgeous. Don’t forget to visit the Balaji Temple nearby.

Food in Aurangabad

Listing down some of the most sought out eateries in Aurangabad – thank god we had a friend who took us to all these places 😀 So we can safely say that these are highly recommended by the locals and we loved it too.

Chaat in Aurangabad

Gayatri Chat Centre in Gulmandi
Balaji Mithaiwala for Kachoris
Madhur Milan Sweets for Pani Puri and Masala Milk
Icy Spicy in Connaught place for Ice Gola and Sandwich
Tara Pan. There are so many Tara Pan so ensure you head out to the right one.

You can also hang out in Prozone Mall –  if you want to. Paithani Sarees are a speciality here. Ellora Thai Spa is where we went to get a foot reflexology done after the long walks.

Foot Massage in Aurangabad

Travel back in time, visit these caves, be awed and grateful to have visited here 🙂 Happy travelling!

 

Preethika
Founder of Passing Ports, Preethika is a traveler whom you just can't ignore. A juggler between office hours and personal life, nothing gets her more excited than exploring new destinations and cultures. Extremely passionate about going to lesser known places, Preethika started penning down her experiences, and Passing Ports is the result of that love for travel, thus inspiring others to experience a life beyond the rants of our daily lives.

20 thoughts on “Three Days In Aurangabad – The City Of Caves

  1. Such an interesting article. You guys have put a lot of information together. Really loved to read it and the photos are beautiful too!

  2. lovely trip, you have managed to see so many sights! incredible, whats your secret to take a picture at Taj Mahal without crowds? 🙂
    Kailash Temple is so beautiful, reminds of Cambodia for some reason

    1. Hey you know what – many temples in India will remind you of the Angkor temples. The kings from here sailed all the way there and thats how you will find so many similarities in the layout, the carvings and the entire structure as such. And that’s not the Taj Mahal, this is built by the son and the grandson of Shah Jahan who built the Taj 🙂 That’s why its not as crowded as Taj. Nonetheless, the was a beautiful place to visit.

  3. I have been following your Aurangabad Instastories since the start. Thanks for sharing all the details. It looks like a place for history buffs, would love to visit soon.

    1. Awww thanks soo much Suman. You don’t know how happy your comment has made us feel. I really hope you get to visit this side of the country!

  4. This is beyond helpful – Its very easy to follow your guide, and makes perfect sense. Thank you for sharing – bookmarking it.

  5. What an awesome and unique trip! The architecture and sculptures are incredible. And I love the paintings on the ceilings of the caves! I wonder what kind of structure was required for the artists to lay on as they painted those. 🙂

    1. The Buddhist monks were really creative weren’t they :)? There were so many questions that went thru our heads too when we were exploring the caves. Definitely an awesome experience.

    1. I completely am with you. You know just to think how these guys lived those days and pulled such stuff is just beyond amazing.

  6. I hadn’t heard about the mini Taj Mahal before but it looks like a great idea with a few less crowds. The Caves looks fantastic as well. What an interesting place to visit.

    1. Not many in India have heard about the mini Taj. Aurangabad is one awesome place to visit as it has so much history to offer.

  7. Aurangabad is indeed a gateway to many unique treasures of India. Ajanta and Ellora are of course the piece de resistance of sorts of that region. We spent hours lost in the beauty of these rocky testimonials to the artists of yore. Another favourite is the so-called Taj Mahal Clone, the Bibi Ka Maqbara. We have not visited the Daulatabad fort but would love to head back to Aurangabad to see this and take another peek at the wonders of Ajanta and Ellora.

    1. The Daulatabad Fort has so much to offer. The cannons there speak a lot and how these guys were ready with strategies to counter invasion is just incredible. I really wish we had a machine which could just take us to those days 😀

    1. Thanks Kellyn. These caves / buildings – to have seen so many years pass by and still standing so strong is an experience for all of us 🙂

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