Maharashtra, undeniably, has a voluminous history. From the Portuguese to the Mughals, Marathas and the British, this Deccan state had witnessed stories that resonate in all its corners. Two such cities, Aurangabad and Ahmednagar still have traces of its antiquity. For the history buff, a visit to Maharashtra will be incomplete if you don’t explore these two cities of historical significance.
The ‘Tourism Capital of Maharashtra’ and the fifth largest city of the state, Aurangabad is home to the famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves. Originally named Khadki, this town was founded and established by Malik Amber in 1610. Aurangabad and Ahmednagar are both easily accessible by road and can be reached by booking a Pune car rental.
Aurangabad is also known as the ‘City of Gates’ with 52 gateways built during the Mughal era.
Here are a few classic places of interest.
Ajanta & Ellora Caves: These need no introduction. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ajanta & Ellora Caves are located at 107 KM (Ajanta Caves) and 29 KM (Ellora Caves) respectively. The cave sites are known for their rock-cut structures, which remain the benchmark for Indian architecture. The premise, facades, and interiors of the caves have remnants of the finest rock and stone carvings of mythological deities. Get awestruck as you walk through the 34 caves in Ajanta and about 30 caves in Ellora.
Bibi Ka Maqbara: A less imposing version of the ‘Taj Mahal’, this mausoleum was built by Emperor Aurangzeb in memory of his queen. Much akin to the Taj Mahal of Agra, Bibi ka Maqbara gained recognition as the ‘Taj of the Deccan’ and is a prominent monument of Aurangabad.
Panchakki: Not so widely known, this 17th-century water-mill is a resemblance of the progressive aspect of the town, in its days. Spanning 8 KM, this underground water channel is fed by the nearby mountains during the rain and culminates into an artificial waterfall.
Kachhner Jain Temple: A 250- year old temple dedicated to Parsvanath, this holy site is revered among the Jains. For lovers of archaic architecture, a visit to this temple must be on the wish list.
The history of Ahmednagar is older than Aurangabad and dates back to 1490s. Located in the heart of Maharashtra, this town of the Deccan Sultanate was founded by Ahmed Nizam Shah. For those fascinated by the history of this century, the city of Ahmednagar is indeed a treat for the eyes.
When in this historic city, put these sites on your must-visit list.
Chand Bibi Palace: Or the tomb of Salabaat Khan, is a memorial built on a small hillock, right outside the city.
Ahmednagar Fort: This massive and impregnable structure has played a significant role in India’s independence revolution. It is said that the British army held the Indian Congress members including Jawaharlal Nehru, hostage in this fort during the Quit India Movement.
Aurangzeb’s Tomb: Surprising as it may sound, this tomb was designed by Emperor Aurangzeb himself. So was the mausoleum, where he was buried in 1707.
Bagh Rauza: Also known as the Garden of Shrine, this memorial holds the grave of Ahmed Shah. Constructed with fine black stones, the dome of the monuments has inscriptions from the Quran in pure gold. A site truly worth visiting.
St. John Catholic Church: Though dominated by the Sultanate, the city of Ahmednagar also has traces of the British influence. Established in the mid-1800s, this historically religious site houses the Roman Catholic Church and the Episcopalian Church. The cemeteries of the church still hold the memorials of the British generals who ruled, fought and died in this city.
They say, one never gets enough of history. And if you are truly inclined to discover more about these two historic cities, then you must keep going back. And it’s easy to do, if you book Mumbai outstation cabs to visit Ahmednagar and Aurangabad. Because, every time, you are sure to discover something new!