• Main Attractions: Ajanta & Ellora Caves, Daulatabad Fort, Bibi-ka-Maqbara
  • Best Time to Visit: Late October to early March
  • Local Specialty: Historic sites
  • Travelled By: Train, bus, auto rickshaw
  • Cost: $$
  • Duration of Stay: 4 days
  • Location: Maharashtra, India

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Aurangabad is an important city in the state of Maharashtra and a popular gateway to the UNESCO world-heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora Caves. The vegetarian food options and the transportation service in this city is of the highest quality and makes spending a few days in this small yet historical city a pleasurable experience.

Aurangabad: Our Experience


22nd November, 2013 (Day 1)


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We arrived into Aurangabad on a train from Mumbai around 8:30 pm. This time we had booked seats in the AC chair car compartment instead of the AC 3-tier compartment. It is really nice travelling by AC chair car during the day as the seating arrangement is similar to an airplane especially when you get exit row seats with extra leg room.

We were booked into Hotel Panchavati so Mr Ashok the manager from the hotel picked us up from the train station in his car.

As it was late, we decided to have dinner in our hotel room by ordering room service from the hotel restaurant. We ordered Baigan bharta with Tandoori rotis while Graham decided to try Thums Up for the first time.


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Thums Up is the Indian version of Coca Cola or Pepsi. It is a slightly more carbonated drink than Coca Cola which can be quite refreshing. However, Graham didn’t like it as much and decided to stick with Coca Cola.


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Baigan bharta is an Indian aubergine or eggplant dish bearing resemblance to baba ghanoush. It is primarily a vegetarian dish that comprises bharta (minced vegetables) made from baigan (aubergine or eggplant) which is grilled over charcoal or direct fire to infuse the dish with a smoky flavour. The smoked eggplant is mashed with fresh cilantro (coriander leaves), chili pepper, onion and mustard oil. Traditionally, this dish is eaten with an Indian flatbread (specifically roti or paratha) which goes really well with this vegetarian dish.



23rd November, 2013 (Day 2)


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It was an early morning start for us as we were headed to Ellora Caves located 30 kms from Aurangabad. To get there we took a government bus from the Central Bus Station located near our hotel. This is the most affordable way to get to the caves as it costed only Rs 100 per person and took us nearly three hours to get there.

The World Heritage Site-listed Ellora cave temples is the epitome of ancient Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 Hindu, Jain and Buddhist caves carved in the volcanic rocks at Ellora are among the finest architecture in India. We spent the entire day here enjoying the landscape, architecture and the marvellous sculptures inside the caves.


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Since we were spending the entire day at the Ellora Caves we decided to have lunch at the local cafeteria located in the Ellora Caves complex. They serve good quality vegetarian thalis so we had the special vegetarian thali for lunch which included yellow rice, dal fry, paneer tikka masala, vegetable curry, dahi (yogurt) and a papaddum.

They also serve snacks, ice creams and drinks.


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We got back to our hotel in the evening after an interesting day at the Ellora Caves. After a nice, hot shower we headed out to dinner – at Kailash Restaurant.



24th November, 2013 (Day 3)


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Having seen Ellora Caves yesterday, today was spent at the world-famous Ajanta Caves located 106 kms from Aurangabad. Once again, we took a government bus from the Central Bus Station located next to our hotel. The government bus was a convenient and affordable way to travel from Aurangabad as these red buses were very reliable and dropped us in front of the attraction.

Dating from around the 2nd century BC to the 6th century AD, the Ajanta Caves could well be called the Louvre of ancient India. They were among the earliest monastic institutions to be constructed in the country. We spent the entire day at these Buddhist caves admiring the renowned frescoes or temperas which adorn many of the caves’ interiors.


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Having spent the entire day at the Ajanta Caves, we get back to our hotel in the evening. After a short rest and a nice, hot shower, we made our way to dinner at Swad Restaurant.

Swad Restaurant is a lovely vegetarian restaurant that serves up a fantastic range of Indian snacks and staples – plus a few pizzas, ice creams and shakes – in its prim and clean basement premises. Their specialty is their Gujarati thali which is the primary reason we decided to dine here. The variety, top quality and value made this meal a winner.



25th November, 2013 (Day 4)


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This was our last day in Aurangabad so we woke up early once again for an exciting day at the Aurangabad attractions. We had decided to visit Daulatabad Fort located 13 kms from Aurangabad. One last time we caught a red government bus from the Central Bus Station to Daulatabad and was dutifully dropped in front of the fort.

Daulatabad Fort is an attraction straight out of a Tolkien fantasy. Perched on a granite outcrop of the Deccan Plateau, this formidable fort has witnessed some of the greatest carnage in the region. Part of the ascent goes through a pitch black, bat-infested, water-seeping, spiralling tunnel. It was a fascinating place to explore but the climb up to the top was intense and gruelling. From the top, we got some glorious views of the ruins down below as well as stupendous views of the entire Deccan plateau around the fort.


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For lunch we stop at one of the dhaba restaurants outside the fort for a quick bite. The samosas look fresh and tasty so we ordered a dish of those. They were fried in front of us and came with a dahi (yogurt) and sambhar which complemented the samosas really well. This was a simple yet delicious snack in the middle of nowhere.


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We took a government bus back to Central Bus Station and from there an auto rickshaw to Bibi ka Maqbara which is 8 kms from Aurangabad.

Bibi ka Maqbara is a shrine built by Aurangzeb’s son for his mother, Begum Rabia Daurani in the late 17th century A.D. The mausoleum is a smaller replica of the Taj Mahal except that it is not made entirely of marble thereby reducing the costs. The foundation is made of marble however the rest is a cheap basalt and plaster construction.


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We take an auto rickshaw back to our hotel for a short break. After a nap and a hot shower, we headed out for our last dinner in Aurangabad to Tandoor Restaurant.

Tandoor Restaurant is one of the top restaurants in Aurangabad. They specialise in North Indian vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine; they serve some Chinese dishes as well. Their non-vegetarian tandoori dishes are the talk of the town and we enjoyed the tandoori dishes we ordered on the night.


At 10:45 pm we were on a train headed to Hyderabad for our next adventure. Looking back, the three days we had spent in Aurangabad had been fantastic. The Ajanta and Ellora Caves have gone down in our books as one of the top highlights of our ten-week trip around India. The Gujarati thali we had at Swad Restaurant was one of the best meals we had during our entire trip in India. The government bus transport was convenient and affordable which made it so easy for us to get around to all the top attractions. Aurangabad surprised us in a positive way and what a wonderful place it is!