9 Places You Have to Visit When in Aurangabad

We recently went on a long weekend road trip from Pune to Aurangabad and Nashik. We had four days to cover the two cities and come back to Pune. Pinning the three cities in Google Maps showed us that the round trip would be ~700 km. As we would be self-driving, this distance didn’t appear to be a big task, and everyone started researching about the best places to see in Aurangabad.

The UNESCO World Heritage sites Ajanta and Ellora Caves were on top of our list right from the beginning, but little did we know that both the places were over 100 km far from each other. Nor did we knew about other caves such as Aurangabad Caves or Pitalkhora Caves, or about the mini Taj Mahal of Maharashtra, Bibi ka Maqbara. It would be impossible to visit all the places in such a short time, but we also didn’t want to miss out on those “must-see” places. So, that brings us to this post.

9 Best Places to See in Aurangabad

Best Places to See in Aurangabad Map

Best Places to See in Aurangabad Map

Here’s a curated list of the 9 best places that you have to visit when in Aurangabad.

Based on our research, I’ve listed down the open/close timings, ticket prices, best time to visit, and all other information that could be useful to you, in a single page to save your time and effort while researching for the next travel destination. Let’s start with the place that’s on most people’s bucket-list, the Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves are a collection of 29 rock-cut caves monuments that were carved between 2nd Century BC and 6th Century AD. There’s a 30th one too, which is unfinished. These caves were built in two different dynasties: Satavahana Dynasty and Vakataka Dynasty. Each of the caves are numbered for easy identification; among these five (Cave 9, 10, 19, 26, and 29) are chaitya grihas(shrines), while the rest are viharas(monasteries). Cave 10 is the oldest among all the caves.

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves

The Caves are excavated in a horse-shoe shaped bend of rock surface overlooking the Waghur River. You can view these in their entirety from the viewing podium at the top of the mountain located across the valley. Though to reach the place, you’d have to drive close to 20 km.
Ajanta Caves overview
Ajanta Caves served as a secluded retreat for Buddhist monks for about nine centuries. During this time, they painted beautiful mural paintings and sculptures that depict tales of Jatakas on the walls. After its abrupt abandonment by the monks, these caves were rediscovered by an officer of British Army in 1819.

Ajanta Caves pillars

Ajanta Caves pillars

If you are short on time, the best caves to visit at Ajanta are 1, 2, 16, 17, 19 and 26.

Finally, if possible, bring a torch with you as many of the caves are quite dark.

Highlights:

  • Distance from Aurangabad city: 102 km
  • Visit Duration: ~4 Hours
  • Open: Tuesday-Sunday. Closed on Monday
  • Timing: 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Entry Fee: Indians: Rs 30 / Foreigners: Rs 500. Entry is free for children younger than 15 years.
  • Bus Ride to Caves: Rs 21 (Optional)
  • Best Time to Visit: June to March

Ellora Caves

Ellora Caves are located at a distance of 28 km from Aurangabad city near Verul on the Aurangabad-Chalisgaon road. It is also known as ‘Verul Leni’ locally. The caves were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.

Ellora Caves

Ellora Caves

There are 34 caves at Ellora representing three religions: Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Of the 34 caves, first 12 caves are Buddhist monasteries, next 17 are Hindu temples, and the remaining 5 are Jain shrines. The caves, spaced over 2 kilometers, were carved out of the Charanandri hills between the 6th and 10th centuries A.D.
Ellora Caves pillars

There are inscriptions in front of each caves to show exactly what you are viewing. For example, a few of the caves are: Cave 14: Ravana Ka Khai, Cave 15: Dashavatara Cave, Cave 29: Dumar Lena, and so on. If you don’t have time to visit all the caves, make sure not to miss Cave 16: The Kailash Temple. It is the largest single monolithic excavation in the world.

Try to reach as early as possible in the morning to avoid the crowd and the afternoon sun. There are two options to see the caves: walk or bus. There are buses inside that would take you on a tour around the caves. However, if you prefer walking, make sure to wear comfortable foot wear and carry food and fluids with you.

Highlights:

  • Distance from Aurangabad city: 30 Kms
  • Visit Duration: 3-4 Hours
  • Open: Wednesday-Monday. Closed on Tuesday
  • Timing: 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Entry Fee: Indians: 30 / Foreigners: 500. Entry is free for children younger than 15 years.
  • Best Time to Visit: November to March
  • Phone: +91-240-2343169
  • Address: Ellora Cave Road, Ellora, Aurangabad, Maharashtra 431005

Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple

Grishneshwar Temple is located at a distance of 1 km further up the road from Ellora Caves. You can visit this place after having lunch from the MTDC restaurant in front of Ellora.

Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple

Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple

The Grishneshwar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is believed to be the last or 12th Jyotirlinga on earth. Jyotirlinga is a devotional object representing Shiva. Due to this, the temple is considered as a pious destination by the Hindu devotees.

The Grishneshwar temple is built in pre-historical architectural style with red volcanic rock. The walls are covered with intricate inscriptions of several Hindu Gods and Goddesses. It has been twice re-constructed in its lifetime. First by Maloji Raje Bhosale, the grandfather of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, in the 16th century, and later by, Rani Ahilyabhai Holkar, in the 18th century.

Points to note:

  • To enter the inner premise of the temple, men have to remove their shirt and vest.
  • There are no lockers available for bags.

Highlights:

  • Distance from Aurangabad city: 31 Kms
  • Visit Duration: ~1 hour
  • Open: Everyday
  • Timing: 5:30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. / Shravan(August to September): 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Best Time to Visit: All round the year
  • Phone: +91-240-2400620
  • Address: Ghrishneshwar Temple Rd, Verul, Maharashtra 431102

Daulatabad Fort

Daulatabad, formerly known as Devgiri(hill of gods), is a 12th century hill fortress located at the top of a conical hill. This fort was built by Yadava king Bhillama V in 1187 AD. It was given the name “Daulatabad,” which translates to the city of fortune, by the Mughal emperor Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq in 1327 AD. In its entire history, the fort has passed several hands, including Mughals, Marathas, Peshwas, and finally it was placed under the control of the Nizams of Hyderabad in 1724 AD until the Independence.

Daulatabad Fort

Daulatabad Fort. Credit: Lakshmeesha BS used under CC BY 4.0

You can visit Daulatabad while going/coming to/from Ellora Caves or Ghrishneshwar Temple. It takes close to 3 hours to visit major parts of the fort. Do note that viewing the fort involves a lot of walking and trekking. Just to reach the fort, you’d have to climb some 750 odd steps up. However, once you reach the top, the panoramic view of the entire city below is a sight to behold.

There’s another attraction called Chand Minar at the same place. It’s a tall four-storied tower that rises to a height of approximately 30 m. Ala-ud-din Bahmani built this minaret in 1445to commemorate his capture of the fort.

Chand Minar

Chand Minar. Credit: Kalpakanand used under CC BY 4.0

Highlights:

  • Distance from Aurangabad city: 17 Kms
  • Visit Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • Open: Everyday
  • Timing: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m
  • Entry Fee: Indians: 10 / Foreigners: 100
  • Best Time to Visit: July to February
  • Phone: +91-240-2400620
  • Address: MH SH 22, Daulatabad, Maharashtra 431002

Bibi Ka Maqbara

Bibi Ka Maqbara is a beautiful mausoleum dedicated to Rabia-ul-Daurani, the wife of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. It was built by Aurangzeb’s son, Prince Azam Shah, between 1651 AD and 1661 AD.

Bibi Ka Maqbara

Bibi Ka Maqbara

This mausoleum was designed and erected by Persian architect Ata-ullah and Hanspat Rai. Despite the layout and surrounding of the tomb resembling that of Taj Mahal, it somehow fails to produce the magic of the Taj and looks like a smaller replica of the world famous structure in Agra.
Bibi Ka Maqbara Minanrat

Bibi Ka Maqbara Minanrat

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, or the MTDC, organizes a fair every October as the Bibi Ka Maqbara festival. You can also check out the museum located just behind the mausoleum to see rare collection of artifacts and articles of personal use from the times of the Mughal era.

Highlights:

  • Distance from Aurangabad city: 5 km
  • Visit Duration: 1 hour
  • Open: Everyday
  • Timing: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m
  • Entry Fee: Indians: 10 / Foreigners: 100.
  • Best Time to Visit: June to March
  • Phone: +91-240-2400620
  • Address: MH SH 22, Daulatabad, Maharashtra 431002

Pithalkhora Caves

Pitalkhora Caves are a collection of 14 Buddhist caves located that’s located in the most picturesque setting under the valley on Chandora hill, about 80 km from Aurangabad city. To reach these caves, you have to go through a deep river valley, crossing an iron bridge. The scenery is most beautiful right after monsoon.

Pitalkhora Caves

Pitalkhora Caves. Credit: Anandajoti used under CC BY 2.0

The caves are divided into two groups: one is of 10 caves and the second of 4 caves. The first group of caves are located on the northern side of the canyon, and the second group is at the southern side.

Of these 14 caves, 10 are viharas (monasteries) and four are chaitya grihas(large shrines). Cave 3, from group 1, has the best paintings and there are 37 pillars that separate the aisle from the hall. If you go further below to the basement, there are many carvings and a stupa which houses many rare crystals.

Pitalkhora Cave pillars

Pitalkhora Cave Pillars. Credit: Ms Sarah Welch used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Few caves are in poor condition, but it’s still worth a visit to see these 2000+ years old sculptures.

Highlights:

  • Distance from Aurangabad city: 80 Kms
  • Visit Duration: 2 hours
  • Open: Everyday
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Best Time to Visit: June to March
  • Phone: +91-94216-34733

Tomb Of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb

The Tomb Of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb is located in Khuldabad, which is on the way to the Ellora caves.

Tomb Of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Entrance

Tomb Of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Entrance

On visiting this place, one striking feature you would see is the sharp contrast to other Mugal tombs, which are large monuments. Aurangzeb, who ruled most of the Indian subcontinent, wanted his tomb to be built in 14 rupees and 12 annas, at that time. It is said that he earned this amount by stitching caps during his last years.

Aurangzeb died in 1707 at Ahmednagar. According to his wish, his body was then carried to Khuldabad by his son, Azam Shah, and daughter, Zinat-un-Nissa, to be buried near the dargah of Sheikh Zainuddin, his spiritual guru.

The marble structure you’d see now on visiting this place was later added by George Curzon, former viceroy of India.

Tomb Of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb

Tomb Of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb

One thing I didn’t like about the place is how every person who acts and claims as the caretaker of the tomb are begging for money. After giving a brief detail about the tombs, they’d wait there until you make a “donation.” And, to add to that, it’s not just one guy. You’d find 3-4 people asking for separate donations.

Highlights:

  • Distance from Aurangabad city: 26 Kms
  • Visit Duration: 1 hour
  • Open: Everyday
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Best Time to Visit: All year round
  • Phone: +91-240-2343169
  • Address: Ellora Cave Road, Ellora, Aurangabad, Maharashtra 431005

Gul Mandi Market

Now that you seen all the famous places in and around Aurangabad, let’s do some shopping now at the famous Gul Mandi Market.

Gul Mandi is famous for Himroo shawls and Paithani sarees. Himroo originated from the Persian word Hum-ruh – meaning ‘similar.’ This clothing was brought to Aurangabad by Mohammad Tughlaq, when he had shifted his capital to Daulatabad. And, Paithani is a variety of sari that’s named after the Paithan town in Aurangabad. Paithani sarees are hand woven, and are made from very fine silk.

Gul Mandi

Himroo shawls at Gul Mandi market

This market is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Tara Pan Center

Tara Pan Center is as famous as Ajanta-Ellora in Aurangabad. This shop serves 51 types of pan, starting from Rs 7, for Masala Chota Nawab Pan, to the famous Rs 5000, Couple Pan. The Couple Pan, also known as Kohinoor Pan, is exclusively made by the owner, Mohammed Sarfuddin Siddiqui, with the ingredients kept in a backroom brass box(which no one else can touch), and mixed in the presence of only one other trusted employee.

Tara Pan Center Menu

Tara Pan Center menu

We had a nice chat with, Sarfubhai, as he’s popularly known, where he told us how he started this shop in the 60s with the help of his mother. It was mother who introduced him to the famous couple pan and its secret recipe. He was happy to pose for a picture with us, and while leaving, he also gives us a pack of four pans as a gift.

Tara Pan Center pan
There are two Tara Pan Centres in the same lane. You should be able to easily recoginize this store with the tall, white-bearded man smiling at the counter.
Highlights:

  • Open: Everyday
  • Timing: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Phone: +91-94237-81634
  • Address: New Usmanpura, Aurangabad, Maharashtra 431005

Those are the 9 best places to see in Aurangabad. If you have some time left in your stay, you can also explore these places within the city: Bhadkal Gate, Naukhanda Palace, Panchakki, Himayat Baugh, Salim Ali Sarovar lake, and Siddharth Garden and Zoo, and Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary.

Hope this post was helpful to you. If we missed anything, please let us know in the comments below. Keep traveling! 🙂

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