Interesting Places to visit in Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Aurangabad came to limelight in map of Maharashtra Tourism after 1983. Till then this historic city was almost unknown. In 1983 Unesco declared Ajanta and Ellora Caves as world heritage sites. Initially my interest in the city was for these world heritage sites but a little bit of reading up about the city threw in a lot more options to explore in the city. Here is a concise list of other sites worth visiting while on a tour to Aurangabad.

UNESCO World Sites in Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Ajanta Caves

This is listed in World Heritage sites list since 1983. There are 29 rock cut caves dedicated to Lord Buddha. Origin of Ajanta caves dates back to 2nd to 5th century. It is believed that followers and students of Buddhism used these caves for lodging. During the time of their stay, they beautified the caves with their architectural skills and artistic paintings. Some of the paintings that have escaped the wrath of time still seem to be bursting with life. The pictorial carvings and murals at Ajanta depict life scenes of the society that existed in those times.

Visit time can stretch between 2 to 4 hours. The trip best enjoyed during winters. Tickets are available at the entrance to the caves

Ajanta Caves Aurangabad Maharashtra

Ellora Caves

There are 34 caves divided in to 2 stretches, a distance of 2kms. You may have to commute between them in a vehicle unless you can walk it off. Most pleasant fact of these caves is that these caves are a conglomeration of 3 religions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Must see sights among Ellora caves are Vishwakarma Cave, Kailasnatha temple, 10 avatars of Vishnu in Cave 15 and the set of 5 Jain caves.

Tour time can be anywhere between 3 to 6 hours depending on the details wish to capture. Tickets are at the entrance. Best time to visit would be winters.

Varah Avtar Ellora Caves Places to visit in Aurangabad

Interesting Places to visit in Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Buddha Caves, Aurangabad

Aurangabad Caves is another name for Buddha Caves. These are a set of 13 rock cut shrines, with origins from 6th and 7th centuries. Comparatively they are smaller and with fewer carvings inside. Unfortunately very few tourists are aware of this set of caves. The popularity of Ajanta and Ellora caves has overshadowed the existence of Buddha caves in Aurangabad. Tour time is one hour.

Daulatabad Fort

Another of the interesting places to visit in Aurangabad is the 14th century Daulatabad Fort. This fort is ranked as one of the 7 wonders of Maharashtra! The first Yadava king Bhillama V built this fort in 1187. Must see sights within this fort are the Chand Minar, built as a replica of the Qutub Minar of Delhi and Chini Mahal which was the prison for VIPS those days.

Tickets can be purchased at the entrance. It is a uphill climb, so good shoes are recommended. The climb and tour can easily take 3 to 4 hours.

Bibi ka Maqbara

A tomb built by son for his mother! Aurangzeb was not in favor of building this monument.  His son Alam Shah was determined to have a monument to his mother that might vie with the Taj Mahal of Agra. And Alam Shah prevailed upon his father who eventually relented. This is such a contrast to Taj Mahal which is built by a loving husband for his wife! There is an uncanny resemblance with Taj Mahal. Bibi ka Maqbara is also called the Taj of Deccan. It is built of white marble with four minarets so much similar in style with Taj Mahal. Twilight hours are the best time to visit it for interesting photo opportunities.

Grishneshwar Temple

Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple is famous as the abode for one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Jyotirling means Lord in flaming form. This temple is a very important pilgrimage center for the Hindus. Photography inside is strictly prohibited. Grishneshwar Temple is 1km from Ellora Caves. This is doable on return trip from Ellora caves.

Aurangzeb’s Tomb, Khuldabad

Aurangzeb’s tomb is just a small space covered with white cloth. It is nothing like the tomb Taj of Deccan built by his son for his mother! He lies in the serene atmosphere of the court yard of Alamgir Dargah. Hard to believe this is the remains of the man who once ruled India sitting on jewel encrusted thrones.

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How to reach Aurangabad

Aurangabad is easily accessible by air, train and road. Traveling by train is a lot easier now, thanks to IRCTC. (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations of the Indian railways.) It is easy to book tickets online through ICRTC website. Aurangabad is well connected to all cities of India by road.

History of Aurangabad, Maharashtra (for History Buffs)

The history of Aurangabad for last 20 centuries is really interesting. Ruled by several dynasties, one after another, each of them have left their mark on the city.

  • 2nd to 5th century – The Satavahana, Chalukya and Vakataka dynasties built the Ajanta Caves, a total of 30 rock cut caves around a gorge.
  • 5th to 10th century – The Rashtrakuta dynasty build Ellora caves, 34 of them. Kailasanatha Temple, 16th of 34 Ellora caves was built by 8th century Rashtrakuta King Krishna I in 756-773 CE.
  • (After that these two set of caves lay forgotten for several centuries. They were discovered by an Army Officer in the Madras Regiment of the British Army in 1819 during one of his hunting expeditions.)
  • AD 1626 – Aurangabad was known by the name Khadki during medieval times. Malik Ambar, the Prime Minister of Murtaza Nizam, Shah of Ahmadnagar made this village the capital city sometime in early 17th century. His son renamed Khadki as Fateh Nagar.
  • 1633 AD – Mughals conquered Fateh Nagar. Aurangzeb renamed the city to Aurangabad.
  • AD 1724 – Asif Jah, a Turkic general and Nizam al-Mulk of the Mughals in the Deccan region seceded from the crumbling Mughal Empire, with the intention of founding his own dynasty.
  • AD 1795 – Aurangabad came under the Maratha rule.
  • 1803 AD – the city came under the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad, under the protection of the British East India Company. This was after British victory in the Second Anglo-Maratha War.
  • 1947 – 1956 – Aurangabad was a part of Hyderabad state of India.
  • 1960 – It became a part of Maharashtra state.

Interesting Places to see in Aurangabad, Marashtra India

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58 Responses to “Interesting Places to visit in Aurangabad, Maharashtra

  • Fascinating place and such lovely shots.

  • Oh! We had missed Grishneshwar temple! Didn’t know it is just 1km from Ellora… 🙁 We had seen daulatabad fort from its entrance, didn’t climb up as it was not in our list. We enjoyed picturesque views from the parking area, bought some fancy ornaments and had to leave for Ellora. Managed to see Bibi ka Makbara. There is so much to see in aurangabad! May be you did a 3 or 4 day trip?

  • I really wish we had more time to explore India! I really wanted to go to the Ellora and Ajanta caves. They look stunning and filled with ancient history.

  • Great to read. Thanks for all infos.

  • I’ve never been to India, so like reading these kind of posts about its history. The Ellora Caves look incredible, especially with all that detailing. The fort would also be worth visiting, as it’s one of the 7 wonders of the state. Thanks for this.

  • I had no idea these caves even existed. They looks really fascinating and thanks for briefing us on their history and the place! There seems to be so much to uncover in all of India, such a beautiful country.

  • India is such an amazing country with a wealth of heritage! You’ve provided some really good tips for visiting these sites – it’s amazing how easy it is to forget good shoes for instance, in hot climates

  • India has too much sauce of history, which makes every bit of the country lovely and memorable. Can you imagine such a filial son as Alan Shah?I had better keep this from my parents, they think I’m not filial enough. Sighs. I love the other caves too, they are amazing and beautifully sculptured.

  • I’ve never visited India yet but it’s on top of my bucket list! I do love visiting UNESCO heritage sites but it seems like there’s so much more to see. I’m really interested in those caves.

  • I had no idea UNESCO had declared Ajanta and Ellora Caves as world heritage sites. India is such a huge country and it seems impossible to explore every bit of it. I appreciate blog posts like this!

  • These gems surely merit the UNESCO status. Wonderful images too. I got very noisy pics when I last visited. Your pics do a better justice to the intricacies of the paintings!

  • I visited the Ajanta and Ellora caves years ago and am still awestruck at how amazing and unique they were. I missed the Buddha Caves and Daulatabad Fort though. This gives me a good reason to go back – this time with a better camera!

  • I have been to Ajanta and Ellora caves but never knew Aurangabad has so much more. Bibi ka Maqbara looks just like Taj Mahal – thanks for this wonderful info. I will bookmark this post for ready reference when I get to visit Aurangabad next. Thanks for sharing

  • India is just such a huge country; it’s so hard to chooses where I want to spend my month there. Ajanta Caves looks absolutely stunning. I would love to visit there! Bibi ka Maqbara looks like an awesome alternative to the Taj Mahal.

  • These caves remind me of the elephant caves near Mumbai. I was quite shocked by the explicit natures of some of the sculptures but was a great day out from the city.

  • This looks like a great place to visit. I would love to check out the Buddha Caves and the temples

  • I had never heard of this place until reading this article! It looks amazing and I can’t believe it dates back to the 2nd century and it is still there! I haven’t explored India, but it looks like I need to!

  • Aurangabad looks to be such a fascinating place within India. I had honestly never heard of Bibi ka Maqbara and how it was built to resemble the famous Taj Mahal. That would be so good to visit as well as both caves you have featured. The rich culture and history of India together with it’s beautiful architecture and artistry just make it such a preferred destination for anyone living outside to want to experience.

  • This is such a well researched guide. Aurangabad has been limited to few attractions and known only for ellora and ajanta caves. This will help many. Loved it

  • Thank you for writing such a beautiful blog on Interesting Places to visit in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. I was not aware of this places . The information given here are very useful to me. Images shown here is very interesting.I will visit this city once in my life time to make my life memorable.
    Once again thank you very much.

  • India has so many beautiful places full of cultural heritage and architectural beauty. I’d love to see some of the UNESCO heritage sites in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Especially Bibi ka Maqbara because I still hope that one of my sons is going to built such peace of art for me 😉

  • Not sure I’ll ever make it to India, so I appreciate being able to read this post — you gave me so much information and I enjoyed your great photos too. Interesting that an Indian ruler’s grave would be so modest as to mark it with a white sheet!

  • fantastic articles with beautiful pix

  • Very nice article. After we see all of America I think we will have to get passports and visit so that we can see some of these amazing places.

  • The caves look fascinating! I have always loved these kinds of carvings because they look like they were created so meticulously. India is truly a must-visit country.

  • Wow, there certainly is a lot to do in Aurangabad! The caves are fascinating, I especially like how the Ellora Caves have the mix of three religions – I wish all religions could live in harmony like that! When you say the best time to visit is in winter is that due to the temperature, or less crowds perhaps?

    • Indrani Ghose
      2 months ago

      Yes due to temperature. Crowds will be more at this time. But caves are spread all over so you will not feel congested places.

  • Wow those caves look and sound really fascinating. I was just in India earlier this year but didn’t see much out side of the major tourist attractions. I’d love to go back and explore more and include this area as well.

  • Hii Indrani,
    I feel so damn bad for myself. I have been to aurangabad region for many times on official trips but regret could not get time to explore even for once. Its a treasure trunk for history heritage freak like me and I would love to be there soon. You have prepared an exhaustive list for us. Just to add, I heard aurangabad is famous for its traditional silk sarees also.

  • I had never heard about Aurangabad before but it really sounds like a fascinating spot! The Ajanta Caves sound really interesting—I would love to see the paintings that are still there and all of the other caves would be cool to check out as well. Daulatabad Fort looks like a pretty spot to explore, too! The history you shared about Aurangabad is really interesting—it’s amazing to think all the way back to the 2nd century and see all the different rulers and transitions that happened over the years!

  • It is really cool how the caves take parts of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism and work them together. Was your guide able to point out which parts were from which religion?

    When you say rock cut cave, does that mean that the locals cut the caves out of the rock so they are entirely manmade?

  • I had never heard of Aurangabad or Maharashtra before this post. How many UNESCO World Heritage Sites does India have?! This place certainly has a massive history! I’d be interested to see those caves for sure.

    • Indrani Ghose
      2 months ago

      Hi Skye Class, Total number of UNESCO World Heritage Site in India is 36 (1 mixed, 7 Natural and 28 Cultural).
      How many have you seen?

  • I didn’t know that Buddhism had such a hold in India at one time. I’ve travelled in countries (like Cambodia & Vietnam) where the Cham people brought Hinduism into a largely Buddhist area but had no idea that Buddha ever made it to India. I obviously have to do some more research on that. Thanks, once again, for inspiring me to travel to lesser-known places in India. Really interesting as always!

    Jane M

  • I was living in Mumbai for 3 years yet I never made the plan to visit Ajanta and Elora, which is quite shameful actually! Many times we planned it but didn’t work out. I didn’t know, though, that there’s so much more to do in Aurangabad! Thanks for sharing.

  • Your photos are lovely, and each of these places sound unique and stunning in their own way. Very old places associated with religion are always very moving to me, because it’s almost like you can feel all those centuries of devotion around you – even if you’re not religious, yourself. Between the art and the history, it seems like choosing which spot to visit would be impossible! Wonderful write up!

  • I am going to visit Ajanta Ellora in December. It was a nice read. Would drop another comment if I needed some help.

  • Aurangabad is new to me but I’m wowed by the caves there. I’d love to visit each and everyone of these caves for an architectural exploration. I’d also love a trip to Bibi Ka Maqbara and see the remains of it.

  • I spent a lot of time in India in my younger days, and I loved it. Unfortunately I missed Aurangabad. The temples and the tombs and especially the caves, all sound very interesting. I had no idea there was an almost replica of the Taj Mahal there.

  • Those places do look interesting. I haven’t been to India but if I ever do, of course, I won’t miss these places. Based on your post and the previous ones that you’ve posted before, India is a huge country and it has a lot to offer travelers, even to locals. Seems like you’ll find something unique everywhere.

  • Wow! Aurangabad’s sites are really incredible. Admittedly, this is my first time to read about it. Good to know that you took the time to research the city and found this gems! The caves sounds amazing. The Taj of Deccan’s history is quite interesting. I was amazed how it somehow resembled Taj Mahal (I looked twice as a matter of fact just to be sure. LOL). How many days can be allocated to explore these sites?

  • Fascinating! I haven’t done much cave exploring so I’ll put this on my list of things to do in the near future. I also liked that you wrote a section for history buffs.

  • Very informative and marvellous captures!

  • It’s amazing that this site has been used for 20 centuries. That is amazing that the early works weren’t destroyed in that time.

    I love the story of Bibi ka Maqbara and how the son built it for his mother. True love right there.

  • Great to find this list. I can see a few extra attractions apart from the one’s I knew,especially the Buddha cave. I have only seen Ajanta-Ellora and Bibi Ka Maqbara while I saw Daulatabad from by bus. It was such a rushed trip that I could not do justice to it and could not even see many of the places that I knew about.

  • Very useful information and nice pictures.

  • These places are so interesting. India has a lot to offer for history lovers.

  • India really has so much richness doesn’t it? Maharashtra is not an area I knew about before your post, but I do love to visit World Heritage sites and the Ajanta Caves seem to be fascinating. On top of that, you have listed so many other attractions, from forts to temples, and even tombs. Each one has a history associated and is very distinct. Thanks for adding another place to my list!

  • It’s awesome to know how many interesting sites you can visit in just one site. I’m more fascinated at the ancient temples. I salute all those people who intricately carved those temples and statues without the use of modern technology.

  • Both the caves and the Taj seem like amazing sites to visit. I’m alway so impressed the the tombs that people used to build. Are these sites commonly visited, or off the tourist radar mostly? I’ve never heard of them before but am constantly amazed by how much there is to see in India

  • Such a shame I haven’t gone to the western part of India, but these look amazing and off the beaten path! Oh well, another reason to go back there! 🙂

  • Wow all of those caves are spectacular. I love all the carvings and art inside. It always slips my mind that India has so many centuries of history and that culture has developed over time. Where would you recommend visiting for a first time visitor to India?

  • The architecture of India is just superb and those caves are majestic! Buddhist caves are very interesting. Correct me if I’m wrong, India is predominantly Hindu?

    • Indrani Ghose
      1 month ago

      India has a mix of all religions. No dominance of Hindus.

  • Incredible the power of Unesco all around the world, isn’t it? But all the caves I beautiful and worth the visit. By your descriptions I would probably start with Ajanta Caves. Great that during your travel planning you found other interesting things to see and do in the area. They were probably very enjoyable without the crowds. Out of curiosity: at school do you study the history of your own state or the whole India? History in (whole) India sounds very complex . .

  • the cave is breathtaking. but i agree, the place would be better with less people, less hassle, more enjoyable

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