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AURANGABAD

Munnar Aurangabad, commonly used as a base for a visit to the World Heritage Sites of Ajanta and Ellora is seeped in medieval history. Named for Aurangzeb, the last of the great Mughal Emperors, Aurangabad acquired plenty of monuments and a rich culture as its heritage from the middle ages. The one single factor that determined Aurangabad's role in the history of medieval India is its location. So strategic is its location at the cross roads of north and south India, that Mohammed-bin-Tughlak and Aurangzeb, two powerful kings attempted to translocate their capital from Delhi to Aurangabad. Their vision was clear, from Aurangabad, they would be better able to control both northern and southern regions of their empires. The fact they failed should not be attributed to the inherent flaws in their scheme as it should on the less evident fact that their empires were crumbling.

Aurangabad's crowning glory is undoubtedly the famous Buddhist caves at Ajanta & the magnificent rock temples of Ellora. Built between 200 BC and 650 AD, the viharas and chaityas at Ajanta are masterpieces as are the incredibly ornate temples carved out of hard rock at Ellora.

PLACES OF INTEREST
Bibi ka Maqbara - Aurangabad Bibi ka Maqbara
The most famous monument in Aurangabad is the Bibi ka Maqbara, the mausoleum of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb's queen. Inspired the Taj Mahal, it was built as the final resting place of Begum Rabi'a Daurani. Close to the begum's tomb is the unmarked grave of her devoted nurse. A poor replica of the Taj, it was designed and built by Ata Ullah whose name is engraved on its door. But some questions remain unanswered - was it built for the Emperor's first wife or his second?
Buddhist caves -  AurangabadBuddhist caves
A couple of km north of the Bibi ka Maqbara is a cluster of nine rock cut Buddhist caves which date back to the 4th - 8th century when the Vakatakas and Chalukyas ruled over the region. They are categorized into eastern and western caves but all belong to the Mahayana Vihara type except the 4th one, which is a chaitya or prayer hall of the Hinayana sect of Buddhism. The 6th is the most intriguing as it has a Ganesha (a Hindu god). They have their own story to tell and are certainly worth a visit.
Panchakki - Aurangabad Panchakki
The Panchakki is an interesting water-powered flourmill built in the 17th century, an engineering masterpiece of its day. The water is pumped from a reservoir 6 km away into a tank, that today houses entire shoals of khol fish. It lies in the same complex as a memorial to the Sufi saint Baba Shah Muzaffar, Aurangzeb's spiritual guide.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves - Aurangabad Ajanta and Ellora
Without a doubt, the rock-cut monuments at Ajanta and Ellora are the prime attraction for people visiting Aurangabad. Both these architectural marvels figure on the World Heritage list. Ajanta lies 99 km northeast, about two hours away by road, while Ellora is much closer, just 30 km to the northwest. Both places have dining and boarding facilities for overnight stops.
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