Aurangabad is a historical city located in the west central part of Maharashtra State, on the banks of Kham River. Aurangabad is located 630m above sea level and is also the district headquarters of Aurangabad district. The Sahyadri (Western Ghat) Mountains dominate its physiography. This is the largest city in the Northern Maharashtra region extending over an area of 158.9-sq-kms.
Location: West Central Maharashtra
Originally called As: Khadke (Big rock)
Founded By: Malik Ambar
Best Time To Visit: October and March
It's easy to see why many travelers regard Aurangabad as little more than a convenient place to kill time on the way to Ellora and Ajanta caves. First impressions seem to confirm its reputation as an industrial metropolis yet, given a little effort, this northern Maharashtrian City can yield compensations for its architectural shortcomings. Scattered around its ragged fringes, the dilapidated remains of fortifications, gateways, domes and minerals - including those of the most ambitious Mughal tomb garden in western India. The Bibi-Ka-Maqbara - bear witness to an illustrious imperial past; the small but fascinating crop of rock-cut Buddhist caves, huddled along the flanks of the flat-topped. Sandy yellow hills to the north are remnants of even more ancient occupation.
The city, originally called Khadke, or "Big Rock", was founded in the early 16th century by Malik Amber, an ex-Abhyssinian slave and prime minister of the independent Muslim kingdom of the Nizam Shahis, based at Ahmadnagar, 112-km southwest. It was a perfect spot for a provincial capital: on the banks of the River Khan, in a broad valley separating the then-forested Sahyadri Range to the north form the Satharas to the south, and at a cross roads of the regions key trade routes, Many of the mosques and places erected by Malik Amber still endure, albeit in ruins. In 1629, Shah Jahan's redoubtable army swept south across the Deccan to usher in Mughal rule. As Fatehnagar, Aurangabad became the center of operations for their protracted military campaign. It really rose to prominence, however towards the end of the 17th century, when Aurangazeb decamped here from Delhi to supervise the subjugation of his troublesome enemies in the region. At his behest, the impressive city walls and hates were raised in 1682 to withstand the persistent Maratha attacks that bedeviled his later years. Following his death in 1707, the city was renamed in his honour as it changed hands once again. The new rulers, the Nizam of Hyderabad, somehow staved off the Marathas for the greater part of 250 years, until the city finally merged with Maharashtra in 1956.
Aurangabad district has always been a prominent region on the Deccan plateau and has a long artistic and cultural history, to which several dynasties have made major contributions over the years. The cuisine of Auguranbad has been highly influenced by the North Indian method of cooking, as a result of the long Mughal rule in the region. It has retained much of its Islamic feel, although in the present day both Hindu and Muslim population lives in perfect harmony. Principal languages spoken over here are Marathi, Urdu, Hindi and English.
A Cosmopolitan Hub
Today Aurangabad is one of India's fastest growing commercial and industrial centers manufacturing anything from pharmaceuticals to auto-rickshaws for a voracious Mumbai market. It's a decidedly upbeat kind of place - with plenty of interesting shops in the old city, restaurants and bars - and a peaceful one.
Easy day-trips from Aurangabad include the dramatic fort of Daulatabad, a veritable warren of secret passages and strategic architecture that was briefly the 14th century capital of Mughal India. Just a little further along the Ellora road is the Muslim village of Khuldabad, where the tomb of Emperor Aurangzeb lies under a carpet of rose petals and in the neighboring courtyard, a ragged curtain in drawn back to reveal a trunk containing the sacred "Robe of the Prophet".