After a low-key existence, Aurangabad came to glory when it was made the capital of Maharashtra from 1653 to 1707 by Aurangzeb, the last Mughal emperor. After he died the city declined, but before then he oversaw some fantastic building work including the ‘poor man’s Taj Mahal’, the Bibi-ka-Maqbara.
Aurangabad is known for producing silk, in particular its beautiful Himroo and Paithani saris, lovingly woven by hand. It’s also the perfect location to explore the nearby Ajanta and Ellora Caves, both designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
With its gleaming white structure and central onion-domed mausoleum surrounded by four minarets, it’s easy to see why the Bibi-ka-Maqbara is nicknamed the ‘poor man’s Taj’.
Unlike the real thing in Agra, the Bibi-ka-Maqbara isn’t made with vast amounts of white marble. Built in 1679 as a mausoleum for his mother Rabia-ud-Daurani, Aurangzeb’s son Azam Khan wanted the entire mausoleum in marble, but his frugal father wouldn’t allow it. Therefore, it was built using cheaper materials to use state money more sparingly! The gardens, with the Deccan hills in the background, are absolutely beautiful.
Don’t miss the chance to visit the majestic hilltop fortress of Daulatabad, proudly perched on the craggy Devagiri (Hill of the Gods). Dating back to the 12th century, the monument was built by the Yadava kings to be an impenetrable fort.
Then in 1328, the Delhi sultan Mohammed Tughlaq renamed the fort as Daulatabad. Quite the quirky fellow, he then marched the entire population of Delhi over 1,100km to Daulatabad to live there. Unfortunately, this relocation was short-lived as, despite its lofty position, Daulatabad was an unsuitable capital because of a severe lack of water, so he marched them all back again.
There’s quite a climb up to the top of around an hour, past doorways with unusual angles and spikes to prevent elephant charges. On the way up is the soaring Chand Minar (Tower of the Moon), and further on is the Chini Mahal, the prison of the king of Golconda Abul Hasan Tana Shah for 12 years before his death in 1699. Be prepared for crumbling staircases, dark passageways and steep ascents, and bring plenty of water!
You can visit Aurangabad on our Mumbai, Ancient Caves and Goa Holiday or as part of your own bespoke Indian holiday. Contact our travel experts on 01792 315499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org