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  • Ajaz Shaikh

Perfect Travel Blueprint For Aurangabad Backpacking Trip

Aurangabad laid low through most of the tumultuous history of medieval India and only hit the spotlight when the last Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, made the city his capital from 1653 to 1707. With the emperor’s death came the city’s rapid decline, but the brief period of glory saw the building of some fascinating monuments, including Bibi-qa-Maqbara - Taj of Deccan and these continue to draw a steady trickle of visitors.

Alongside other historic relics, such as a group of ancient Buddhist caves, these Mughal relics make Aurangabad a good choice for a weekend excursion from Mumbai. But the real reason for traipsing here is because the town is an excellent base for exploring the World Heritage Sites of Ellora and Ajanta.

Day One: Reach Aurangabad from Mumbai

The cheapest and convenient way to reach Aurangabad is via railways. Aurangabad has rail connectivity with major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Nagpur, and Pune. If you are coming from the Northern part of India, you can opt for the Jalgaon railway station. Aurangabad is also very well connected by road from Mumbai. The frequency of buses is quite high, and you can get a bus as early as 5:00 am. Aurangabad is also connected by Air.

From Mumbai, I took 12071 Jan Shatabdi Express leaving from Dadar at 02:00 PM which will reach Aurangabad around 08:10 PM.

Where to Stay?

To avoid wasting travel time, I prefer to stay in the central location and Zostel Aurangabad is the best option. Zostel Aurangabad is located around 3.5 kms from Aurangabad Railway station. The charges for the stay at Zostel are INR 499 per night for a bed in a dormitory. But I prefer to have my own space, so took a private suite which cost me INR 2015 per night.


Day Two: Good Morning Aurangabad

Make a small bag with must have things, because today you will need to walk a lot to explore fullest and prefer to wear a slip-on shoe

1. Now let’s take about Ajanta Caves.

Ajanta Caves have always been recognized as the gems that represent Indian history and the impressive artistry that existed in the foregone era. The Ajanta caves, like the temples of Khajuraho, were “lost” for centuries until an Englishman discovered them in the mid-19th century during his hunting spree. They are all Buddhist and known more for their paintings — which were largely destroyed by water damage. But what remains is impressive enough to make these caves as remarkable as those at Ellora, but in a different way.

These magnetic caves got its name by a nearby village Ajanta. In total there are 30 caves including the unfinished ones. Archaeological Survey of India has described it as ‘the finest surviving examples of Indian art, especially painting’. The location of this place provides a calm and composed environment due to which the Buddhist monks used to meditate at these secluded places. Chinese Buddhist traveller such as Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang have also mention about the Ajanta Caves in their memoirs (memoirs - a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge)

It takes around 2-3 hours to explore the caves to their fullest. Peace, serenity or natural bliss, whatever you may need, vacation is gifted by these marvels, the Ajanta Caves. For more details click here.

Opening Hours and Entry Charges:

Entry charges: INR 40 per person (For Indians)

Timings: 08:00AM to 06:00PM (Except Monday)

2. Saptakunda Waterfall - 7 level of circular small ponds

I would recommend one to climb the hill which is exactly opposite to the caves and go till the farthest end. From there one can enjoy the breath-taking views of Ajanta caves and the Saptakunda Waterfall. The waterfall has a 7 level of individual circular small ponds via which water flows before it reaches the Waghora river beneath.

3. Go Beyond: Ajanta Viewpoint

Within 30 mins drive from Ajanta Caves Parking Space, there is Ajanta Viewpoint. The view of the caves of Ajanta lining the dry gorge from this point is astounding. The same panorama teems with an abundance of greenery covering the hills dotted with waterfalls during the monsoons. The river flowing through the gorge at the foot of the caves is called Waghora for the plenty of tigers which roamed around the river (Wagh means Tiger) in ancient times.

The steps descending down from the viewpoint winding through the dry forest area are well built. Midway we reached a rocky terrain which offered a closer view of the caves and Satkund on the extreme left beyond the cave 28 which is an exceptional waterfall of seven cascades which flows to form the Waghora river.

Earlier tourist used to walk from Ajanta Viewpoint to the caves but due to few wild animals sighted around in the walking path in the past few years. This route is not used any more.

Breakfast & Lunch: Hotel Sai Milan Ajanta

If you are travelling in a private car you must take a halt at Hotel Sai Milan Ajanta for breakfast & lunch. It’s a pocket friendly place very close to Ajanta Caves. Must try Masala Omlet with Roti and Non-Veg Chicken Meal. For all chai lover, you will love this place.

4. Himroo Fabrics/Factory: Offbeat Attraction in Aurangabad

Himroo is a fabric made of silk and cotton, which is grown locally in Aurangabad. Himroo was brought to Aurangabad in the reign of Mohammad Tughlaq, when he had shifted his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, Aurangabad. The word himroo originated from Persian word Hum-ruh which means 'similar'. Himroo is a replication of Kinkhwab, which was woven with pure golden and silver threads in olden days, and was meant for the royal families.

With basic training, modernized tools and equipment as well as meticulous planning, Aurangabad’s weavers too can diversify and reclaim the market. However, a true lover of the art continues to insist on the woven magic created by human hands.


You won’t miss out on anything, click here to download one page travel itinerary - Perfect Blueprint for Aurangabad Backpacking Trip


Day Two: Too many places on the list

I would recommend to hire a rickshaw (3 seater motor vehicle), if you go hard on negotiation it will cost you INR 1000 for one full day to see the above places. Make a small bag with must have things, because today you will needs to walk a lot to explore fullest and prefer to wear a slip-on shoe

You need to start you day as early as possible in order to beat the crowd and hence I started my day at 07:00AM from my hotel. It took me 40 mins to reach Ellora Caves and another 30 minutes for a breakfast at Hotel Kailash next to entry gate.

5. Exploring Ellora Caves

Dating back to 5th-10th-century C.E, Ellora caves are divided into 3 parts- Hindu Caves, Jain Caves and Buddhist Caves. Unlike Ajanta Caves, Ellora is believed to be visited by enthused travellers and royal personages. Locally named as, Verul Leni, Ellora Caves is located on Aurangabad- Chalisgaon road, 30 km away from Aurangabad city. The cave is the largest single monolithic excavation in the world. One of the interesting parts of Ellora is the caves were built out of the volcanic basaltic formation of Maharashtra, also known as Deccan Trap. As you move ahead to explore the caves, you’ll come across the glimpse of channels through which volcanic lava once flowed. The lava further gave rise to horizontal flows with vesicular traps beds.

Ellora was once the trade route connecting the western ports of Arabian Sea like Kalyan, Chemula and island cities like Paithan, Ter and others. Ellora was excavated in three different forms- Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism, dated by 6th-7th century AD to 11th-12th AD. Presently, there are 100 caves, out of which 34 fall under famous tourist spots. Caves 1-12 belong to Buddhist, 13-29 to Brahamanical and 30-34 to Jain.

To explore Ellora Caves, you need good amount of time. The artistic expression and architectural splendour is worth excavating. If you love investing time on exploring ancient art, then visit Cave no 10, 16, 21 and 32. These caves gives the clear glimpse of Buddhism, Brahmanism and Jainism art. It takes around 2 hours to explore the caves to their fullest.

Opening Hours and Entry Charges:

Entry charges: INR 25 per person (For Indian)

Timings: 06:00AM to 05:00PM (Except Tuesday)

6. Most beautiful waterfalls in the world

I would recommend one to go towards caves 25 from there one can enjoy the breath-taking views of Ellora Waterfall.

It is the sheer beauty that mesmerises. So even a waterfall not much high or not much broad or not so majestic might be among the most beautiful. That’s the reason why a column of water falling right from the top of the Ellora caves at Aurangabad in Maharashtra has been termed as one of the most wonderful waterfall in the world.

7. Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga

Grishneshwar Temple, the twelfth Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva, is an important pilgrimage site for Shaivites in Aurangabad. Red rocks are mainly used for the construction of the temple, which consists of a remarkable five-tier shikara. Inside the temple is a beautiful display of carving-work of other gods and goddesses. As per beliefs, a staunch follower of Lord Shiva, once found a treasure inside a snake pit and devoted the money to build this temple. Male devotees are only allowed inside the temple without any clothes on upper part of the body. Camera's are not allowed inside the temple and there are no VIP or privileged entry option inside the temple. Though there any small shopes where you can leave your handset safe.

8. Bhadra Maruti - An Lying Hanuman Temple

Bhadra Maruti temple is one of the important places of worship in Khuldabad, Aurangabad. Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, it is visited by devotees as well as tourists. Lord’s idol inside the temple is of Lord Hanuman in a sleeping posture. It is one among the three temples where the idol of Lord Hanuman is found in sleeping posture; the other two temples are located in Allahabad and Madhya Pradesh. Every year the holy site is flocked by a number of Hanuman devotees from all across the country majorly during Ram Navmi and Hanuman Jayanti. Legends say that, in ancient times, Khuldabad was renowned to be Bhadravati and was ruled by a ruler named Bhadrasena who was a strong devotee of Lord Ram. Once, when Bhadrasena was lost in singing the bhajans of Lord Ram, Lord Hanuman arrived at his place listening his songs.  Lord Hanuman was so happy that he silently took a sleeping pose- a yogic posture called as Bhavya Samadhi. After finishing the song, when Bhadrasena saw Lord in resting posture, he asked him to bless the site with his presence.

9. Valley of Sufi Saints - Tomb of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb

(Tomb of Aurangzeb, Tomb of Hazrat Khwaja Shaikh Burhanuddin Gareeb and Dargah Syed Zainuddin Shirazi )

Town of Khuldabad has come to be known as the Valley of the Saints because of the many tomb shrines of the Chishti Sufi masters and saints that adorn the valley’s landscape. The shrine of Moinuddin Chishti of Khuldabad and the shrine of the Sufi saint Muntajib al-Din are located here. Apart from the tomb of the Sufi saints, the valley also hosts the tomb of Aurangzeb, the last great Mughal emperor, the Tomb of Asif Jah, the first Nizam of Hyderabad and the tomb of Tana Shan, the last king of Golconda. Amongst the sprawling green meadows of Khuldabad, the shrines, and tombs of the great saints are an inspiration for many travelers who frequent this place in their quest for spiritual realization and inner peace, and experience Sufism in all its dignity and humbleness.

Quite in keeping with his austere tastes, Aurangzeb’s tomb in Khuldabad is a plain, brilliantly whitewashed structure with a large, arcaded courtyard in a typical mix of Islamic and Rajasthani architecture. In striking contrast with the tombs of his forefathers, this has few embellishments save a modest dome or two and minarets. A red signboard reads, Tomb of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgeer. It is within the compound of the Dargah Syed Zainuddin Shirazi, and the pathway leading to the inconspicuous entrance is lined with a couple of shops selling flowers, perfumeries and other offerings. Facing it, on the other side of the road, is the white tomb of Hazrat Khwaja Shaikh Burhanuddin Gareeb. This is not the kind of tomb where you expect the Mughal emperor who held sway for the longest period — 50 years — to be interred. Khuldabad is 24 kms from Aurangabad, and several Sufi saints lived here

In Aurangabad, everything is classic and magnificent; even the mausoleums. Zainuddin Shirzai's Maqbara, the mausoleum of the Sufi saint - Zainuddin Shirazi, is an example of Mughal architecture, and a must visit for tourists. Zain uddin died in H. 771, and a handsome mausoleum was erected over his tomb at Roza. Along with Zainuddin Shirazi, here lies the Mughal king Aurangzeb, in a manner he wished, simple and bare. While Aurangzeb chose Khuldabad for himself because it was religiously important, he chose Aurangabad for his wife since it was the royal city. Along with the architecture, what makes this vestige look apart from others is that it features "parahan" (the robe of the prophet) and "taj" given to Burhanu-d din on succeeding to the kaliphat, carefully preserved in the wooden box.

10. Daulatabad Fort

(Bharat Mata Temple, Chand Minar, Baradari, Chini Mahal, Mendha Cannon & Daulatabad City Aerial Viewpoint)

Built on a 200-meter high conical hill, it was one of the most powerful Forts of the medieval Deccan. It is considered to be one of the seven wonders of Maharashtra and you shouldn’t give it a miss.

The defense system that made Daulatabad virtually impregnable comprises fortifications with double and even triple rows of massive walls. In addition, there are ingeniously built mazes with a complex arrangement of entryways and deep rock-cut moats and trenches which can be crossed only at one point, over a drawbridge. Defense mechanism of rock-cut subterranean passage is unbelievable.

The fort is one the most complex and intricate forts of Deccan, having the honor of the capital of Yadavas for over a century (1187-1294), capital of India during Tughlaq period (1328), Capital of Nizamshahis of Ahmednagar (1607 A.D).

The fort is one the most complex and intricate forts of Deccan, having the honor of the capital of Yadavas for over a century (1187-1294), capital of India during Tughlaq period (1328), Capital of Nizamshahis of Ahmednagar (1607 A.D).

Interesting facts that shouldn’t be missed to be known

  • Hathi Haud: measures 47.75 m in length, 46.75 m in width and 6.61 m in depth.

  • Bharat Mata temple: Measures 87.14 m EW and 72.80 m NS with two openings to the east and north.

  • Chand Minar: Built by Sultan Alau-ud-din-Bahmani (Sultan Ahmed Shah 2) in AD 1447, height 70 m and circumference 21 m at base.

  • Andheri: A serpentine dark passage used as defence mechanism which was never conquered.

  • Baradari: Built in A.D 1636 perhaps for Shah Jahan's visit (A.D 1627-1658) consisting of 13 halls. The building was the favourite summer residence of Emperor Shah Jahan and his son Alamgir Aurangzeb

  • Chini Mahal: The thought provoking Chini Mahal is all that remains of Chini Mahal, which is ironically known as the Chinese Mahal. This blue tiled palace was used by Aurangzeb to imprison the for the last king of Golconda, Abdul Hasan Tana Shah until his death. Now in ruins, the palace was once covered with blue stones, and that's why it was called the Chini Mahal. Chini Mahal marks the entrance of the Daulatabad Fort.

  • Mendha Cannon: The cannon with the ram’s head is called Mendha Tope as Mendha means ram and tope means cannon in Marathi. And one look at the beautiful rear end of the cannon which is shaped in the form of a ram’s head will make you ‘baa baa bleat’ with agreement.