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A glimpse of the Aurangabad Caves, Bibi ka Maqbara and Daulatabad fort

November 19, 2007

When people think of Aurangabad they think of Ajanta and Ellora. Few tourists see the Aurangabad Caves even though they are of equal historical interest (6th-8th century A.D.) Besides, once you’ve seen Ajanta and Ellora, the caves tend to pale in comparison. Therefore we’re glad we saw the caves before we visited Ajanta and Ellora.

These caves lie on the outskirts of Aurangabad. It’s a long hot climb to the top but well worth it! The caves have been carved out of sheer rock and all with primitive tools. When we visited the caves, we were the only ones there at the time. Except for the lone attendant cutting tickets (Rs 5/- each) at the bottom of the hill, we did not see anyone, except on the way down.

The sculpture above is inside the sanctum (on the side) where Buddha’s statue is. It’s pitch dark in here and at first we did not notice the sculptures. There are many such (different) sculptures deep inside the caves but all are in complete darkness. It is clear that some of them were painted, but the paint has gone now. It’s sad that there are no lights here, unlike the sculptures at the Ajanta and Ellora caves. And there is no attendant either. A strong smell of bats and their dropping pervades all the caves.

The picture below is a Buddha outside the caves and here it would have been so easy to repair the awning without tampering with the statue. In fact there was a huge bee-hive nearby and it made us make a speedy exit from the venue. It’s a pity that we neglect our heritage like this…and the fact that we are a poor nation is not a good enough excuse.

Like the caves, Daulatabad Fort is a long climb up but definitely worth a visit. Again, this is a place that tourists, specially foreign tourists, skip (perhaps and that is why it’s in such a deplorable condition). However the place is crowded with domestic tourists. The fort was originally called Deogiri and in the 12th century it was the capital of the Hindu Kings. It was constructed by Rajabhillamraj of the Yadav dynasty but fell to the Sultans of Delhi in 1308 and 30 years later it became the capital again when Muhammad Tughlak became Emperor. There is an interesting story that goes with this – he ordered the complete population of Delhi to shift to Daulatabad, including the old and the sick! Unfortunately many died on the way. Later he changed his mind and ordered everyone to move back! Inspite of this Daulatabad flourished…

And this is what I meant by deplorable condition: here is a closer look of the ‘water’ in the moat. It looks solid!

There are dark passages inside and on the payment of Rs 50/- (for each group) the attendant lights a flame for you and takes you inside the passages. The ticket to enter the fort is only Rs 5/- however. The journey inside the dark passages was not a pleasant experience, although exciting. Not only was the place reeking of bat droppings, the bats tend to shit on you.

Another historical site is Bibi ka Maqbara, built in the 17th century A.D. It is the tomb of of (Rabia), wife of Emperor Aurangzeb, after whom the town of Aurangabad is named. Aurangzeb imitated the style of the Taj Mahal while building Bibi ka Maqbara (built by his father Emperor Shah Jahan) and in fact this monument is known as the mini-Taj. However it is a poor imitation in the sense that only the dome is made of marble, not the rest of the exterior. The inside is not as beautiful as the Taj.

There is another place in Aurangabad which is for some odd reason is being promoted as a place of tourist interest. True, this place, the Pan Chakki as it is called, is several centuries old but as you can see in the picture on the left, that is all there is to see. It’s interesting to know that it has been worked with water power but while it is an interesting fact to note, there is nothing to see. There is a small garden attached to it and the local people come here to sit in the garden.

Later this week I shall write about the Ajanta and Ellora Caves. Or perhaps early next week.

Note: Foreigners have to pay much more for entering these caves. It is around Rs 100/- (USD 2-3) a ticket.

Related Seeing/Reading: Ajanta caves photo feature
Aurangabad caves, Bibi-ka-maqbara and the Daulatabad Fort – photo feature
Aurangabad in pictures
The cave temples of Ellora
Other travel articles with photos

(All pictures have been taken by me and are strictly copyrighted)

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. wishtobeanon... permalink
    November 19, 2007 10:00 am

    Amazing…our history! Aren’t the caves being maintained? It would be a shame if these beautiful sculptures and monuments were left to perish!
    Thanks for posting the pictures.

  2. November 19, 2007 10:43 am

    wishtobeanon, shame it is! even though the caves are under the archaeological society of india they lie neglected. i did see some work going on there in a far corner (they were making a better access road as far as I could see) but there are no lights and no attendants near the caves.

  3. November 19, 2007 1:44 pm

    Hey Nita,
    Have a lot of posts of urs to catch up on i see. Was out for a vacation. And a great one we had.
    As of aurangabad, as u mentioned very few people even know of those caves. I for one, visited it and was never even told about it.
    Sad it is but we can hardly maintain a few of the many heritage sites that we have.
    And those lovers “sakina loves(with an arrow across the heart) ajay” who want to immortalize themselves just by chalking something on ancient monuments truly annoy me.
    And somehow they are there just about everywhere.
    Well, they are a very small problem of the big issue but i just can’t help think about how careless can people be with their own heritage.

  4. November 19, 2007 4:25 pm

    i was short of time and had to give a miss but wanted to visit the unkept unattended aurangabad caves
    heard that the caves were behind the panchaki somwhere and quite extensive and large

  5. November 19, 2007 4:26 pm

    ps the muck at daulatabad fort is still there and thickened i see things dont really change that much in india

  6. Bharath permalink
    November 19, 2007 5:30 pm

    This is one of the most historical heritage place that contributes to make India an incredible place of many wonders.. Surely, we can treat our heritage better.

    Thank you for sharing your visit.. 🙂

  7. November 19, 2007 6:35 pm

    i have seen the mini taj mahal 🙂 but none of the others in Aurangabad…not even the fort…it became to dark and well after ajantha and ellora in the same day in the middle of May it seriously looked impossible 🙂

  8. November 19, 2007 8:10 pm

    Bharath is right we should treat our heritage better. sometimes I wonder do we actually deserve it?

  9. November 19, 2007 8:52 pm

    Minal, Prax, Bharath, Vishesh and Prerna, thanks.
    Looks like you desis have been to ajanta and ellora but not to the caves. 🙂 so I’m glad I posted these pictures.
    That area was so deserted that it was actually scary and now I know why. No one goes there!
    Prerna, we do deserve it…in the sense we come from the same stock. but alas we don’t have good leaders…! without good leaders, whether spiritual or political a nation can achieve nothing. today religion is in the hands of goons and politicians.
    Minal, I hope you had a good vacation. 🙂
    I have a tooth ache and am finding it difficult to concentrate any further…it’s to the dentist tomorrow and luckily I have already a written a post for tomorrow!

  10. November 20, 2007 1:39 am

    The structures built into the cliffs are breathtaking. What a climb you had, but it was well worth it, even the guano. Yikes! That is pretty brave of you to risk that. You would make an excellect tour guide with all your knowledge of history as well as modern life.

  11. November 20, 2007 2:22 pm


    thanks christine. I am not really all that knowledgeable though. I generally have superficial knowledge only, but yes lots of passion!

  12. November 20, 2007 2:56 pm

    Hey Nita
    Ohh Yes had a LOVELY vacation.
    N thanks for ur comments. Trust me do go rafting.
    And for all those who do not know what I m talking of, its ok. Just remember, GO RAFTING anytime you can. Its fun!
    n if u need more details check out my blog. Won’t trouble Nita’s serious blog with my rafting vacation details.

  13. rafique aziz permalink
    March 1, 2008 5:45 pm


    I am a journalist working with a local english daily. I appreciate ur efforts to explore the monuments which had fallen victim to the apathy of custodian. Indeed ur comments will help the visitors in future.

    With regards.

  14. SANJAY permalink
    June 15, 2009 4:46 pm

    just go for it the best place thouches to your heart the daulatabad fort

  15. October 1, 2010 11:37 am

    Wonderfully informative post.
    I plan to see these places in this December.


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