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Aurangabad (City of Gates)

Taking its name from the great Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, Aurangabad city is a famous tourist destination in Maharashtra. The city houses a number of historical monuments, palaces and tombs which hold the essence of Aurangabad's rich past. The cultural diversity and pleasing weather of the city make it a popular destination of India. Also known as the City of Gates, Aurangabad is a must visit for history buffs, art lovers and photographers.

The city is a hub for shopaholics. Major attractions of the city include woven Himroo shawls, Paithani Sarees, metal goods, handicrafts and semi precious stones jewellery.

Aurangabad is best known for being the gateway to UNESCO world heritage sites, Ajanta and Ellora Caves. The city is also dotted with some exotic Mughal monuments like Aurangzeb's tomb, Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad Caves and more.

Here is a list of the top tourist attractions of Aurangabad:

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is best known for having several paintings, statues and sculptures of Lord Buddha as carvings. The wall paintings feature Buddhist arts such as Padmapani, Bodhisattvas and Avalokiteshvara. The paintings and sculptures are believed to have been made by the Buddhist monks. Many sculptures and holy images of Lord Buddha are well preserved in the Ajanta Caves. Almost all the paintings are based on the message of religious themes. Some specific paintings are inspired from Roman and Greek style but major part of them are inspired from Indian style.

Every cave depicts the life of Buddha and has its own importance. The carvings and paintings in the caves are sculpted from massive rocks. There are images of animals and humans in the caves which are inspired from Gupta and post-Gupta period.

There are a total of 30 caves, out of which 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 cave are known as Chaityagrihas. The rest caves are known as Viharas. These caves are categorized into two groups. Cave 10 dates back to 2nd century B.C. that has many stupas and objects of worship. Some of the caves even have mural paintings. The best paintings can be found in caves 1, 2, 16 and 17, while the best sculptures can be found in caves 1, 4, 17 and 19.

Ellora Caves

Set at a distance of 30 km away from Aurangabad city, the Ellora Caves are listed as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The caves are believed to be carved out by the Rashtrakuta Dynasty. The caves are known to feature exquisite carvings which reflect the spectacular workmanship of those times.

There are a total of 34 caves which are divided into three main groups - the Buddhist Group, the Hindu Group and the Jain Group. The Buddhist Group has the first twelve caves, the Hindu Group has 17 other caves and the Jain Group has the last five caves. All these caves are located near to each other which represent the harmony between these religions which prevailed during 5th to 11th century in India.

Bibi ka Maqbara

One of the most popular historical monuments of India, Bibi Ka Maqbara is located at a distance of 5 km from Aurangabad. Bibi ka Maqbara was built back in 1678 by Aurangzeb's son- Prince Azam Shah in the memory of his mother Begum Rabia Durani. The burial place of Aurangzeb's wife, Bibi ka Maqbara is built exactly like Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. However, no semi-precious stones have been used in the construction of the monument.

The monument stands in the middle of a spacious garden and is all around surrounded by water channels, fountains and axial ponds. White marble has been used throughout for the construction of the monument. The structure features intricate carvings, stucco and inlay work.

There is a small archaeological museum behind the monument which honors the history and architecture of Bibi Ka Maqbara.

Panchakki

Panchakki is a major attraction of Aurangabad which was built back in the 17th century by Sufi Saint Baba Shah Musafir. The place is well-known to be an abode of the great Sufi saints.

The place derives its name from the water mill which was used earlier. The mill was earlier used to grind grains for pilgrims and to generate energy through water. As the water flows through the pipes, it rises to a high raised masonry pillar. Once the water reaches the masonry pillar, it falls from that height to flow as a beautiful waterfall.

Aurangabad Caves

Located at a distance 2 km from the famous Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad Caves are beautiful caves of Buddhist Origin. Believed to built back in the 2nd century AD, Aurangabad Caves are a total of 12 caves which are divided into three different groups as per their location. The carvings and designs of the caves are inspired from Tantric Hinduism.

The sculptural carvings of these caves are considered the best examples of Indian classical art and are compared to the best paintings of Ajanta Caves.

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