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Places Near Aurangabad

There are many places to see near Aurangabad. The first and foremost destination is Ajanta Caves that were chiselled out by Buddhist monks between 200 BC and 650 AD as ‘chaityas’ (prayer halls) and ‘viharas’ (monasteries), and contain exquisite frescoes and fine sculptures. Each cave has its own story to tell.A party of British officers discovered this group of 30 caves hidden behind dense undergrowth and excavated out of a steep horseshoe shaped gorge. So go there and discover them for yourself and before leaving, do go to the ‘viewpoint’ on the flat-topped hill opposite the caves for an amazing view of the whole group and the gorge.

The Ellora Cave temples are from a later period than those at Ajanta (350 AD to 1000 AD), and include Hindu and Jain monuments as well (13 Buddhist, 16 Hindu and 5 Jain). The architecture and the carvings of the 34 monolithic cave temples are truly awesome and breathtaking in their grand scale and design. The most incredible feature is that they were chiselled top downwards from a 2 kms sheer rock escarpment. Pride of place here goes to the gigantic Kailasa Temple, the world’s largest monolithic sculpture, which required hours of diligent chiselling, sculpting and carving and scooping out of an estimated 200,000 tons of basalt rock, with absolutely no margin for error! A short distance from Ellora is the Grishneshwar temple, one of the five ‘jyotirlingas’ (‘self born’ lingams) in Maharashtra, and an important pilgrim centre for Hindus.

Daulatabad, 13 kms from Aurangabad (enroute to Ellora), has an awe inspiring fort perched on the top of an insurmountable 200 metre rock hillock. Dating back to the 9th century when it was known as Deogiri, the fort has a chequered history, having been under the control of the Yadavas, Delhi Sultans, Mughals and finally the Marathas. The fortress is remembered mostly for Muhammed bin Tughlak’s abortive attempt to shift his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad in the early 14th century. The fort is worth seeing for its elaborate and superb multi-level defences, as well as the excellent viewsof the surrounding countryside from the top.

Khuldabad also called Rauza, is a small walled town 22 kms from Aurangabad. The Dargah of Sayeed Burhan-ud-din is believed to be a repository of hair from the Prophet’s Beard, which increases in numbers over a period of time. It is also fabled to have two silver trees. Several historical figures of the Deccan lie buried here, including the last great Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. The emperor’s simple plastered masonry tomb is located next to the Dargah of the Sufi saint and is remarkable in its austerity - the simplicity reflects the life of the emperor, who paid for his grave in cash he collected from the sale of the skullcaps he hand stitched. On display on the 12th day of the Rabi-ul-awwal month of the Islamic calendar (usually November) is the Robe of the Prophet, the most prized possession of the Dargah. On special holy days qawwalis (devotional songs) are performed in the Nakkar Khana.

Paithan a Hindu pilgrim city lies on the banks of the Godavari, 56 km south of Aurangabad. It is famous for its beautiful ‘Paithani’ silk saris, adorned with intricate ‘zari’ (gold embroidered) borders. They take master weavers aeons to make, cost the earth but are treasured heirlooms and sheer poetry in silk.

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