Aurangabad India – Your Quick Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Aurangabad, known as ‘The City of Gates’, is one of Maharashtra’s most popular tourist destination thanks to its many historical sites of significance including the famous Ajanta and Ellora caves, century-old forts, ancient gates across the city and tombs.
Why go to Arangabad
Tourists and travellers make a beeline to Aurangabad primarily because of the Ajanta and Ellora Caves, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Both a short drive from Aurangabad, they are ancient rock0cut caves which are wonderful examples of ancient Indian art and the skills of Indian artisans and sculptors.
While exploring Aurangabad, one will come across remnants from the magnificent Mughal era of Indian history such as the tomb of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb and the Bibi Ka Maqbara, which is a mausoleum for Aurangzeb’s wife designed in the style of the Taj Mahal. The Bani Begum garden is also a stunning example of Mughal architecture with remains of fountains and stone pathways.
Since Aurangabad was once under the Mughal influence, many of its restaurants serve delicious non-vegetarian Mughlai cuisine, making it a popular destination for food tourism.
Aurangabad has also carried forward its artistic tradition; travellers should look out for the local, traditional Himroo fabric made by blending silk and cotton and antique Bidriware, made by delicately inlaying metal with silver.
When to go to Aurangabad
It’s best to visit Aurangabad in the winter (November to February) or the monsoon (July until September) when the city is lush and green. In November, Aurangabad celebrates the Ellora festival which includes camping and performances near the Ellora caves, making it a tempting time to visit for culture and history lovers.
Where to stay in Aurangabad
As Aurangabad is such a popular destination, there are plenty of places to stay both within and just outside the city. There are plenty of five star hotels like Vivanta by Taj, Lemon Tree Hotel and the VITS Luxury Business Hotel. All are conveniently located near the airport and offer great service, complimentary breakfasts and have pools to cool off in. During peak season, these hotels can cost between INR5000-10,000 per night, so it’s best to book early for early bird deals.
There are also several slightly cheaper hotels across the city which offer fewer facilities but clean, comfortable rooms, like The Manor Hotel which has rooms priced between INR1000-3000. At the city centre, one will also find backpacker hotels with very basic facilities but typically friendly, helpful staff.
If one wants to stay closer Ellora caves, they’ll have to settle for more modest accommodation including Hotel Kailas, a ten minute drive from the caves, which has friendly service but somewhat run-down rooms.
Where and what to eat in Aurangabad
Wherever one stays in Aurangabad, they can be assured delicious food, especially if they stick to sampling the local cuisine, which has Mughali and Hyderabadi flavours.
Slow-cooked non-vegetarian pulaos and biryanis are especially popular and combine a mix of spices with tenderly cooked meat. Another staple is Naan Qalia, a heady mutton curry served with golden crisp naans. Kebabs and haleem – a slow cooked meat and wheat stew – are also non-vegetarian delicacies to sample.
For dessert, one must sample imarti, a sugary deep fried treat made with flour.
To get an authentic taste of all the delights that Aurangabad has to offer, head to Buddi Galli which has street stalls serving biryani, fried chicken, kebabs and paya – meat trotters. These foods are typically very cheap, but if you have a sensitive stomach, you’d be better of enjoying the same dishes at an established restaurant.
How to get around Aurangabad
There are several ways to get around Aurangabad including buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws, which are three wheeled vehicles which usually run on a meter. One is advised against walking too much in Aurangabad as the overbearing sun and humid weather can cause you to tire quickly and its best to save energy for exploring monuments!
The Auragabad Municipal Transport (AMT) buses run through the city, but tend to get very crowded at rush hour as locals extensively rely on travelling by bus. It’s better to take auto-rickshaws which cost approximately INR20 for the first kilometre and then INR17 for the subsequent kilometres.
Private taxis, which can be hired for the day for approximately INR15 per kilometre, are also an option; ask at hotel desks or travel agencies for hiring them. They are also recommended if you are going out of Aurangabad to visit the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. However, one can also hop onto Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation Red buses to go to out-of-city tourist destinations for nominal prices.
How to get to and from Aurangabad
Aurangabad is well connected to the rest of India by planes, buses and trains.
The Aurangabad Airport, which is a twenty minute drive from the centre of the city hosts Air India, TruJet and Jet Airways which run flights from Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi to Aurangabad for between INR2000 to INR6000. From other major Indian cities like Kochin, Chennai and Kolkata, one will have to take connecting flights. Similarly, if you want to fly straight into Aurangabad from an international destination, you’ll have to take a flight into Delhi, Mumbai or Hyderabad and then take a connecting flight from there.
If you’re already in India, taking a train to Aurangabad station is another way to get into the city. From Hyderabad, Ajmer in Rajasthan and Bhopal, one can take the Hyb Aii Special train to Aurangabad station which has travel time of approximately ten hours from Hyderabad and Bhopal and one day from Ajmer. From Mumbai, one can take the Janshatabdi Express which is just a six hour journey. Taking a train from Delhi to Aurangabad will be a significantly longer journey; the Sachkhand Express will take twenty two hours but has a pantry and charging stations to keep travellers comfortable. Second class AC tickets on these trains are typically between INR1000-2000.
From South India, there are fewer train options to Aurangabad. However, from Chennai, one can take the NSL-MAS WKLY Express which runs every Monday and costs approximately Rs.3000-4000 for a ticket. It’s important to note that the train does not have a pantry, so be sure to carry plenty of food along.
Meanwhile, there are no direct train routes form Kochin and Bangalore to Aurangabad; one should take trains like the Jodhpur Express (INR3000) and the Netravati Express (INR3000) to Mumbai and then take a connecting train from there.
Of course, from nearby destinations like Mumbai, Hydrebad, Nashik, Goa and Pune it may be more convenient to go to Aurangabad by bus. The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has several buses from different places in Maharashtra going to Aurangabad with tickets for INR500-800. There are also several private AC and Volvo bus operators which ply to Aurangabad including Neeta Travels, Asiad Travels and Humsafar Travels. These buses are sleeper buses, priced between INR500-1000 and will get you to Auragabad in 10-12 hours. There are several halts along the way which will allow you to stretch your legs and sample local cuisines.
Is Aurangabad a safe place to visit?
Crime rates in Aurangabad are quite low although it’s always prudent to be careful with wallets and jewellery. Avoid carrying large amount of money and documents with you.
Women should be careful to stay in well-lit areas at night and avoid taking private vehicles alone.
Visitors should also steer clear of touts outside monuments, and stick to reputed agencies for tours.