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, a Taj Mahal replica, 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.
One of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Maharashtra, Ellora dates back to the Rashtrakuta dynasty, about 1,500 years ago, and is the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 caves are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the hills of Charanandriand you will find here evidence of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain ‘viharas’ and ‘mathas’ which tell the story of how social and economic order was often represented through religion. The caves of Ellora are located 31 kilometers from Aurangabad. The closest government guesthouse near Ellora is in Khuladabad on the way from Aurangabad.