The city of Aurangabad is known for its medieval monuments and cultural heritage. It was the seat of the Mughal Empire for a short period. The city boasts of Bibi-ka-Makbara, a tomb that has some resemblance to the Taj Mahal. The importance of Aurangabad is great, owing to its proximity with world heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora. These sites have Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples. Aurangabad is also famous for its silk and cotton textiles.
Aurangabad city is located in the northern part of the state of Maharashtra, in the western region of India. It is 375 km from Mumbai (Bombay). The city is surrounded by hills. The weather of Aurangabad is temperate with moderate winters (November-February) and summers (April-June). This region experiences good southwestern monsoon rains in June-September. River Kham passes through the city of Aurangabad.
The Mauryans ushered Buddhism in this region of India, which is evident from the profusion of numerous Buddhist cave temples in and around Aurangabad. Temples built by Satvahanna and Rashtrakuta rulers are located here. The famous caves of Ajanta are a part of this Buddhist tradition. The heritage of Aurangabad is linked with different Muslim rulers and dynasties of India. The city was founded in 1610, on the site of a village named Khirki, by a local Muslim noble Malik Ambar. His son Fateh Khan ruled it and named the city as Fatehpur in 1626. Aurangzeb, the last great Mughal ruler, took over this city in 1653 and renamed it as Aurangabad. Due to its strategic location in peninsular India, Aurangzeb made Aurangabad his capital. He used this city as a base to quell the rising power of the Marathas.
Though the weather of Aurangabad is moderate, it is advisable to visit it in the winter season.
Bibi-ka-Makbara, the mausoleum of Aurangzeb's queen, is the main tourist attraction of Aurangabad. This mausoleum is also termed as 'poor man's Taj Mahal' owing to it being a poor replica of the Taj. A small archeological museum is located behind the mausoleum. Panchakki (water wheel) is another tourist spot and it has the Tomb of Baba Shah Muzaffar, a Sufi Saint, near by. Himroo (traditional cotton-silk blend fabric) factory, Purwar Museum, and Aurangabad Caves are other prominent tourist attractions within the city.
There are a number of important tourist spots beyond the city limits of Aurangabad. The cave temples of Ellora, listed among the World Heritage sites, are 30 km northwest of the city. The world famous Buddhist caves at Ajanta, also a World Heritage site, lies 166 km northeast of Aurangabad. The Buddhist caves of Ajanta are world famous for their well-preserved frescoes (wall paintings), which vividly depict the lifestyle of that period. The fortress of Daulatabad is 13 km from Aurangabad and is situated en route Ellora. Khuldabad, the last resting place of Aurangzeb, is 3 km from Ellora. Grishneshwar temple, an important Hindu pilgrim place, is located in the village of Verul, near Ellora caves. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India, where Lord Shiva is worshipped. Paithan, 56 km south of Aurangabad, is famous for its traditional Paithani silk saris. Twenty-four kilometers from Aurangabad lie the Bani Begum Gardens, which surround the tomb of one of Aurangzeb's queens. Pithalkora caves are 78 km from Aurangabad. Mhaismal, 25 km from Aurangabad, is another tourist spot.