Shirdi - Shani Shinganapur - Aurangabad - Ajanta - Ellora


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No. of Days required for itenery – There is lot to see around Aurangabad. Hence, depending upon number of days you can spare , you will have to plan for your itinery and number of destinations. Ideal Itinery is for 3N4D.

How to Reach?

  • Route 1 (via Ahmadnagar) : Pune - Ranjangaon - Shirur - Ahmadnagar - Rahuri - Belapur - Shirdi - Aurangabad - Shani Shinganapur - Ahmadnagar - Pune

  • Route 2 (via Nasik Highway) : Pune - Kasarwadi - Khed Rajgurunagar - Manchar - Narayangaon - Sangamner - Rahuri - shirdi - Belapur - Padegaon - Sonai - Shani Shinganapur - Nevasa - Aurangabad - Ahmadnagar - Pune

  • Route 3 (Halt at Aurangabad as Central Place and visit other places nearby) : Pune - Ranjangaon - Shirur - Ahmadnagar - Shani Shinganapur - Aurangabad - Shirdi - Pune (Via Nasik or Via Ahmadnagar)

Distances :

  • Circuit 1 : Pune - Ahmadnagar (120 Kms), Ahmadnagar - Rahuri - Shirdi (85 Kms)

  • Circuit 2 : Shirdi - Belapur - Nevasa - Aurangabad (130 Kms) OR Shirdi - Belapur - Padegaon - Sonai - shani Shinganapur (70 KMs), Shani Shinganapur - Ghodegaon - Aurangabad (84 Kms)

  • Circuit 3 : Aurangabad - Ajanta (108 Kms), Ajanta - Phulambri - Ellora (102 Kms), Ellora - Ghrushneshwar (1 KM)

  • Circuit 4 : Aurangabad - Daulatabad - Khultabad - Ellora Caves (14 KMs)

  • Circuit 5 : Aurangabad - Jalna - Sindkhed Raja - Lonar (155 KMs)

  • Circuit 6 : Aurangabad - Paithan (56 Kms), Paithan - Shevgaon - Ahamadnagar (75 Kms), Ahmadnagar - Pune (120 Kms)

  • Circuit 7 : Aurangabad - Nevasa - Shani Shinganapur (84 Kms), Shani Shinganapur - Ahmadnagar (35 Kms), Ahmadnagar - Ranjangaon Ganesh Temple - Pune (120 KMs)

  • Circuit 8 : Shirdi - Rahuri - Sangamner - Narayangaon - Ozar Ganesh Temple - Lenyadri Ganesh Temple - Manchar - Khed Rajgurunagar - kasarwadi - Pune (200+ Kms via Nasik Highway)

The Aurangabad airport is connected to Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur. There are 2 trains from Mumbai to Aurangabad everyday. There are also several state and luxury buses from Mumbai / Pune to Aurangabad. Many star and luxury hotels are available at Aurangabad. Pune Aurangabad is about 225 KM via Shikrapur – Shirur - Ahmednagar – Aurangabad. (4-5 Hrs max). Road is good. (Toll Road till Ahmadnagar). For Mumbaikars travelling by Car, Shirdi can be reached via Nasik quickly where as for Aurangabad, they need not come to pune and can join Ahmadnagar toll road directly from Mumbai-Pune Highway using Chakan-Shikrapur bypass (toll road).

 

Suggested Pit stops / Rest areas -

(With parking facility, open space, good food and clean toilets)

  • “Smile Stone” Food plaza just before entering Ahmadnagar on your left which can be your rest stop with clean toilets & good food, Children's Play Area, Parking lots.

    "Vitthal Kamat" Restaurant at HP Pentrol Pump before Smilestone Plaza 

 

Smilestone Food Plaza on Pune - Nagar Road


Best Time to Visit -

September - October (after the rains) or between Nov – Mar (Winter Season) for Ajanta / Ellora. This entire region could be hot during Summer with dry climate and temperatures reaching over 40 degrees. Shirdi can be visited anytime.

Shirdi

Amongst the places of deep belief and faith in India, falls Shirdi – the Shrine of Saint Sai Baba (Shirdi is 207 km from Pune, 85 Kms from Ahmadnagar & 112 KMs from Nasik).

The devotees and followers of Sai Baba are spread all over the world and hence the place has attained importance. A small village in Ahmedanagar district Shirdi ,has acquired a lot of fame & followers for Saint Shree Sai Baba. Sai Baba attained samadhi on Dassera day in 1918. Sai Baba preached at Shirdi all his life & renewned people's faith in God.Devotees from every faith throng here all year round to pay their respects to his memory. The place witnesses devotees lining up right from the wee hours in the morning to attain the blessings of Sai Baba. The darshan is available throughout the week, but Thursday is especially considered as holy for the Baba. Nearby is the Dwarkamani mosque, where the Baba is believed to have meditated and slept on alternate nights. Just next to the mosque is a long corridor. Here, the eternal flame burns day and night. Khandoba Mandir,Samadhi of Shree Sai Baba, Dwarkamai mosque, Mhasoba temple all these places are within a periphery of 1km & can be covered on foot.

For more information about the temple log onto: www.shrisaibabasansthan.org

  • Samadhi Mandir : The Mandir is built with stones and Baba's Samadhi is built with white marble stones. A railing is built in marble around the Samadhi and is full of ornamental decorations. In front of the Samadhi are two silver pillars full of decorative designs. Just behind the Samadhi is Sai Baba's marvelous statue made of Italian marble, which shows him seated on a throne.

  • Dwarkamai : Dwarkamai is situated on the right side of the entrance of Samadhi Mandir.

  • Gurusthan : Sai Baba first came to Shidi in the form of Bal Yogi - a child ascetic. He was first spotted seated under a Neem tree. This place came to be known as Gurusthan.

  • Lendi Baug : At some distance from Gurusthan there is the Lendi Baug. This Baug was made and watered daily by Baba himself.

    Where to Stay in Shirdi?

    There are plenty of accomodation options available here, from budget accomodation in Old Bhaktaniwas (200 Rooms), New Bhaktaniwas (500 rooms), to 5 Star properties like Sun-n-Sand, other Private Hotels

    MTDC Pilgrim's Inn Shirdi Hotel
    At Post Shirdi,
    Near Saibaba Shrine
    Shirdi 423 109 - India 

     

    Aurangabad (In and around)

    • Bibi-Ka-Maqbara (5 km away from Aurangabad) : A replica of the Taj Mahal, Bibi-Ka-Maqbara was built in 1678 by Aurangzeb's son as a tribute to his mother Begum Rabia Durani. It is the only specimen of the Mughal architecture of its kind, in the Deccan plateau * Daily 8am-8 pm.

    • Aurangabad Caves (8 KMs from Aurangabad) : Carved out by a steep-sided spur of the Sahyadri Range, directly overlooking Bibi-Ka-Maqbara, Aurangabad's own caves bear no comparison to those in nearby Ellora and Ajanta, but their fine sculpture makes a worthwhile introduction to rock-cut architecture. * Tues-Sun 8.30am-5pm.

    • Panchakki (4 KM from Aurangabad) : Built in the pre Mughal era this enormous water mill was used for grain grinding stones. It’s an example of a 17th century engineering wonder. * Daily Sunrise - 8pm.

    • Himroo Factory: A glimpse of conventional type of Himroo Weaving can be seen at the Himroo factory situated at Aurangabad’s Zaffer gate. You can also buy shawls and saris from this factory. There is another shop from Co-operative society enroute to Ellora Caves where you can shop for Hiimroo Shawl, Paithani & handicrafts of Mughal style.

    • Daulatabad Fort (7 km away from Aurangabad on Ellora Road) : Daulatbad or “the city of fortune” was named by the Delhi Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq. this fort is known to be the oldest existing forts of India and well conserved. Spiked gates to deter elephant attacks, confusing passages and stairways to cut down invaders, forty-foot moats, fire-traps and mighty cannon stand testimony to an age of clashing swords and uncertain thrones, of survival traded for blood. You should not miss the “Bhul Bhulaiyya”, “Mendha” Toph (cannon) & exhibition in the premises. Most of the fort at the foothill of the hills. However, to visit the Balekilla, one needs to climb 300 easy steps.

    • Khuldabad (3km from Ellora) : This town houses the holy tomb of emperor Aurangazeb. You should also visit “Padya Maruti” (Sleeping Hanuman) Temple which is just next to it.

    • Ghrishneshwar Temple (1KM from Ellora Caves) : Ghrishneshwar temple, built by Rani Ahillyabai Holkar is an important Hindu pilgrim place located in the village of Verul, near Ellora caves. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India, where Lord Shiva is worshipped. Half a kilometre from Ellora lies this beautiful temple, built by Rani Ahillyabai Holkar, a Maratha princess. It is the most superb example of medieval temple architecture with beautiful carvings. The temple is made of spotted red sandstone. This Jyotirlinga is said to be self - oriented. It is the last Jyotirlinga without which the journey to the Jyotirlingas is considered incomplete. Queen Ahilyabai Holkar, who ruled Indore from 1765 to 1795, built both the temple and its masonry tank.

    Ellora (Verul) Caves

    14 KMs from Aurangabad. Take Daulatabad - Ellora - Dhulia road from Nagar Naka. Ellora caves dating back to the 5th century A.D. are dedicated to three different religions i.e. Hinduism. Buddhism and Jainism. Ellora depicts the finest specimens of cave temple architecture with elaborately ornamented facades and exquisitely adorned interiors, along with sculptural composition. Ellora caves & Kailash temple are worth visiting than the Ajanta Caves. Open from Sunrise till 7:00 PM.

    Ellora caves faces West. So best time to visit the caves is in the afternoon or in the evening. The caves facades receives wonderful sunlights and interiors of the caves become well illuminated. There is no external source of light in Ellora caves.

    The entrance and huge parking lot is in front of Cave 16, known as Kailash Temple. This is the greatest marvel in Indian art where huge temple has been carved from single monolithic stone over the decades. You will want to spend most of your time here. There are 34 caves in Ellora and divided into 3 groups -

    • Buddhist Caves (Caves 1 - 12 at the sourthern end. Dated 5th - 7th Century AD)
    • Hindu Caves (cave 13-29 in the middle. Dated 8th - 10th Century AD)
    • Jain Caves (Cave 30-34 at the northern end. Dated 9th - 11th century AD) 

  • Following are the important ones you should visit -

  • ELLORA CAVE # 5

    This is called as Maharvada, which is a vihara (monastery). The most striking feature of this monastery is two long and low stone benches placed at the centre and stretches throughout its length, flanked by row of 24 pillars, 12 on each side. The monastery has a shrine for Buddha at the rear end and twenty cells for the monks. This cave could have been a place of preaching and learning of the Buddhist principles and teaching, the stone benches being the seats for the mendicant disciples.

    Ellora CAVE # 10

    The cave is popularly known as Visvakarma (the celestial architect) cave. The cave is entered through a gate, cut in the natural rock, into a courtyard open to the sky, with cells to the right and left arranged in two storeys. Through the courtyard, one reaches the chapel of Lord Buddha, a typical chaityagriha. The hall is divided into a nave with side aisles by 28 octagonal pillar.

    The lay visitor is filled with awe at the sight of Lord Buddha seated in dharmacakra pravartanamudra, visible by the natural light entering through the entrance door and chaitya window in the balcony. Here, the Buddha image is placed on the front part of a large stupa, nearly 30 feet in height.

    A flight of the steps in the verandah leads to upper gallery. A large figure of Budhdha in teaching position has been carved on the front of the central stupa. The roof is a huge arch with imitations of wooden ribs neatly reproduced in stone. The flat portion in between the pillars and the bottom of the stone ribs, known as triforium, is decorated with a series of seated Buddha images flanked by attendant figures.

    ELLORA CAVE # 12 (TEEN THAL)

    This is the largest monastic complex at Ellora, or even in the entire Maharashtra. The complex is in three storeys, hence called as Teen Thal locally. The huge complex is entered through a huge entrance carved out of natural rock, which leads into a large courtyard. A step on the right leads to the first storey which has a shrine at the middle of the rear end. There are 9 cells arranged on the side walls of the first storey. Various sculptural representations of Buddha and subsidiary deities adorn the walls.

    A stair leads to the second storey which is a huge hall. The hall is divided into three aisles by rows of eight square pillars. This floor has 13 cells pierced on the end of halls and on the back wall. The shrine at the eastern side of the storey has a huge Buddha image in bhumisparsa mudra. In front of the Buddha image is Sujata offering payasa, the episode reminding the events just before the enlightenment of Siddhartha before he became Buddha. On each side of the seated Buddha image is a row of five Bodhisattvas.

    The top floor is reached by a flight of steps on the north. The top storey is a huge hall with a shrine and a huge antechamber on the east. The back wall of the hall contains fourteen representations of Buddha, seven on the north and seven on the south. The seven images on the north are in bhumisparsa mudra and are of Vipasyi, Sikhi, Vishvabahu, Krakuchhanda, Kanakamuni, Kashyapa and Sakyasimha, all are manusi Buddhas. The seven on the south are representations of divine Buddhas. The side walls of the antechamber are adorned by three images of female deities, three on each side. The shrine is adorned by a colossal image of Lord Buddha flanked by Padmapani and Vajrapani.

    ELLORA CAVE # 15 (DASAVATARA OR TEN INCARNATIONS OF VISNU)

    Probably for the first time at Ellora, the architects had gained enough expertise; they experimented by carving out a monolith structure out of the solid rock mass. This led to the finishing of the front mandapa of this cave which is two storeyed. This mandapa has also has a historical record of the Rashtrakuta king Dantidurga, which is mentioned above.

    The first storey is reached by a flight of steps, which has eleven sunken compartments in which huge bas-reliefs of various gods and goddesses are carved. They are Ganapati, Parvati, Surya, Siva and Parvati, Mahisasuramardini, Ardhanarisvara, Bhavani or Durga, Ganapati, Uma in penance attitude, Ardhanarisvara and Kali.

    The second storey has shrine of linga and an antechamber. The side walls of the front chamber have deep recesses adorned with huge sculptural reliefs. The sculptural representations are of Gajasamharamurti, Nataraja, Bhavani or Durga, Siva and Parvati playing the game of chausar, Kalyanasundara murti, Ravanugraha murti on the north wall. The back wall has Markandeya anugraha murti, Gangadhara murti, Ganapati, Parvati, Gajalakshmi, Vishnu, Lingodhbhava Siva and Tripurantaka murti. The south wall has the representations of Govardhanadhari Vishnu, Sheshasayi Vishnu, Vishnu on garuda, Varaha, the boar incarnation of Vishnu, Vamana Trivikrama avatara of Vishnu, Narasimha avatara of Vishnu.

    ELLORA CAVE # 16 (KAILASA Temple)

    The culmination of the rock-cut architecture is undoubtedly the magnificent Kailasa (Cave 16) which is the largest cave excavation in India, and probably in the entire world. This marks the departure from all the earlier conventions in which a huge mass of rock was made free of the parent rock formation first and then it was sculpted and carved into a huge temple. Three deep trenches were sunk in the parent rock mass which left a huge monolithic structure.

    The Kailasa may be broadly classified into four parts, namely, the entrance gateway, the body of the temple, an intermediate nandi shrine, and the cloisters surrounding the courtyard.

    The front wall of the Kailasa is in the form of a fortification wall with an entrance gopura of the Dravidian style at the centre. The wall is adorned with sculptural representations of Siva and Vishnu and Ashtadigpalas (guardian gods of eight directions). The representations of Urdhvadandava Siva, Brahma, Vishnu, Lingodhbhava Siva, Harihara, Ashtadigpalas, Vamana Trivikrama, Narasimha, Nataraja, etc., are seen on the front wall. A huge sub-terranean cistern is also seen to the south of this wall.

    The entrance gopura is double-storeyed, the entrance being flanked by images of Ganga and Yamuna, the symbolical purification of the worshippers by these sacred rivers. A huge sculpture of Gajalakshmi greets the visitors after passing the entrance, and the huge court of the temple can be reached from here by either turning left or right.

    The most prominent feature of the court is two huge monolithic elephants and pillars on each side. The pillars, square in shape rise to a height of 45 feet and is crowned by a huge trisula. The pillars are decorated with sculptural as well as moulding decorations.

    The rear portion of the front wall is also decorated with various sculptures. Some of the important ones are Mahisasuramardini, Vishnu on garuda, Kama, the god of Love, Tripurantaka Siva, etc. Towards the northern portion of the court is a sunken shrine into the natural rock, with images of Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati. This may be the symbolical representation of unison of these three rivers at Prayaga, the most sacred spot of the Brahmanical faith. A lay worshipper is purified here by offering his prayers at this spot, just before proceeding further into the temple.

    The main body of the temple is a huge parallelogram with the principal shrine excavated at the first floor level. The level corresponding to the lower storey consists of a series of mouldings executed one upon other. Episodes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Krishna’s life are also sculpted on the walls of the plinth giving a running account of the great Epics. The interior of the shrine consists of a pillared mandapa, an antarala (antechamber) and a garbha griha (shrine). Remnants of paintings are to be seen on the ceilings of the portico immediately after one land on the first floor by right angled steps. The original paintings have survived at very less places. The paintings belong to two different periods, the first one of the period of Rashtrakutas while the second exactly superimposing the original one belong to the period of Holkars when the entire structure was given a lime wash and painted with ochre coloured paintings during the period of Ahalya Bai Holker.

    The pillars of the mandapa are exquisitely carved with sculptural as well as geometrical motifs. The central piece of attraction is a huge nataraja image executed on the ceiling of the mandapa. One has only to marvel the pains taken to execute the sculpture, as the artist has to lie down on his back over scaffolding while preventing the dust and stone particles from his eye, illumined just with an oil lamp! The ceiling at many places contain murals, most of which have lost their luster due to soot and carbon deposition resulted by lighting of oil lamps in the past.

    The main shrine is entered from the mandapa through an antechamber which have on its sidewalls, huge sculptures of Umamahesvara and Annapurna (the goddess of food). Once again the devotee is purified by the presence of Ganga and Yamuna depicted here with their respective vehicles, the crocodile and tortoise respectively. The sanctum contains a huge monolithic linga over a huge yonipitha, the ceiling is decorated with an enormous lotus. The devotee is conjured by the mystique in which the linga the iconic representation of Lord Siva is placed in the sanctum and tenders his obeisance and requests for the blessing from Almighty!

    After coming out from the sanctum, one can have a huge circumambulation around the main shrine from an exit from the mandapa. On the circumambulatory passage are five independent shrines, two at the corners and three at the centers, with another two shrines just at the entrance and exit. These shrines are empty now; however, these could have been the shrines of parivara devatas of Lord Siva and other deities of Brahmanical faith. These shrines, seven in number, if added to the main shrine makes it an ashtayathana concept of a temple complex with eight shrines. The wall portion of the main shrine along with the subsidiary shrines are sculpted in detail with various representations of Lord Siva.

    The visitor after completing the circumambulation again enters the mandapa and exits through the main entrance. In front of it is the nandimandpa, the vehicle of Lord Siva. It is a huge monolith, the style and execution indicates that it was sculpted somewhere else and placed here later. The interior of the nandimandapa is exquisitely painted with various episodes from the Ramayana, with votive inscriptions in the characters of the Rashtrakuta times. After passing through the nandimandapa, the visitor can reach the upper storey of the entrance gopura, and through a window can have a glimpse of the exterior of the cave complex. Two exits branch off from the upper storey of the gopura to an elevated platform, from where one can have a fuller view of the entire Kailasa temple complex. This elevated platform is an added attraction for most of the tourists for photography.

    The visitor again retraces his way back and comes down through the nandimandapa and reaches the ground floor through the southern steps. After alighting, one can take a turn toward north below the bridge connecting the main shrine and nandimandapa. The portion below the bridge has two enormous sculptures of Siva, one as gajasamhara murti and other as dakshina murti (Siva in meditating attitude). After passing through this passage, the visitor again enters the courtyard, from where he can take a turn toward the east and reach the sculptured corridor filled with various sculptures.

    The sculptured corridor is reached by a flight of steps on the northern wall of the live rock. The corridor is located just below the huge overhand of the live rock mass. One can only see to believe the understanding of cantilever principles mastered during ancient times and executed here. Marvellous representations of various sculptures of Lord Siva, Parvati, Vishnu, Brahma, etc., are depicted here. The majority of the sculptures belong to episodes and deeds connected with Lord Siva.

    After completing the circuit, the visitor reaches a point at the ground floor just below the southern portion of the main shrine. Originally there was a stone bride connecting the southern balcony of the main shrine to the shrines on the parent rock mass. Now the bridge has fallen down and one can see the remnants of support pillars and masonry steps executed during the time of Nizams of Hyderabad. Below this bridge and on the southern wall of the main shrine is a very huge image of Ravananugraha murti (Ravana shaking mount Kailasa).

    The visit is not complete without a visit to another huge shrine on the parent rock mass to the north of the main shrine. This shrine seems to be of a later addition. It is also dedicated to Lord Siva and exquisitely carved.

    ELLORA CAVE # 21 (RAMESVARA CAVE)

    This cave is located midway between Cave 16 and 29 and is supposed to be the earliest among the Hinduism caves. This cave is famous for the sculptural representations and its unique beauty.

    This is also dedicated to Lord Siva who was worshipped in the form of linga. A nandi is placed just in front of the cave over a raised platform. The cave consists of a rectangular mandapa and the sanctum. The mandapa is provided with a dwarf wall which is fully sculpted on the exterior in vertical and horizontal bands. The entrance to the mandapa is flanked by sculptures of Ganga and Yamuna. Pillars emerge at regular intervals from the dwarf wall with very beautiful and elegant salabhanjikas (female figures clinging to creepers).

    The walls of the mandapa and two cells one each on the north and south have massive sculptural representations. The cell on the south has representations of saptamatrikas on its southern wall, nataraja on eastern wall and Kali and Kala on western wall. The cell on the north has representations of the marriage of Siva and Parvati on its northern wall, Subrahmanya on its western wall and mahisasura mardini on its eastern wall.

    On either side of the entrance to the shrine are two huge depictions, Ravananugraha murti to its north and Siva and Parvati playing the game of chausar to its south. The entrance doorway of the shrine is very elaborate, divided into different segments, and profusely carved. The entrance is guarded by two dvarapalas, one on each side. The sanctum contains a linga. A circumambulatory passage is scooped out of the live rock for pradakshana.

    ELLORA CAVE # 32 (INDRA SABHA)

    The Cave 32 known as Indra Sabha is actually a series of shrines dedicated to Mahavira and other Jaina divinities aesthetically arranged in double storeys. The main entrance of Cave 32 is on the south, the gate in the form of a Dravidian gopura. The entrance leads into a small court at the center of which is a monolithic shrine on a high pedestal. A huge monolithic pillar known as manastambha is to its right and a colossal monolithic elephant to its left. The manastambha is crowned by four seated images facing the cardinal directions. The monolithic elephant reminds one of the elephants sculpted in the court of Kailasa, but, here it is more elegant and well preserved.

    The monolithic shrine at the center is reached by a flight of steps on the south and north, and with provisions of entrance on east and west but without steps. At the center of the shrine is the Sarvatobhadra, a concept in Jainism of worshipping the four important tirthankaras, viz., Adinatha or Rshibhanatha (1st), Parsvanatha (22nd), Neminatha (23rd) and Mahavira (24th). The images of these tirthankaras are depicted on the cardinal directions. The superstructure of the shrine is in Dravidian order with local variations.

    The court leads to multiple shrines, two on the west, one on the north and one on the east. All these shrines are primarily dedicated to Mahavira, flanked by his attendant deities, Indra on elephant and Ambika on lion. The side walls of the shrines usually depict the images of Gomateshwara (the son of Rishabhanatha, in penance), Parsvanatha with the snake hood and subsidiary deities.

    A flight of steps leads us to the first storey through the bigger shrine at the north of the court. The steps lead into a large shrine on the first floor, with side entrances on the east and west leading to smaller shrines. Invariably these shrines are also dedicated to Mahavira. Here one can see the remains of murals executed on the ceilings and the wall portion of the caves.

    The exit on the west leads to two smaller shrines dedicated to Mahavira. A small exit on the southwest corner of this shrine takes us to a huge shrine of Mahavira. The pillars, wall portions are exquisitely decorated with sculptures. The pillars are elaborate and depart well with the earlier period traditions. The doorway of the shrine is also elaborately carved with multiple bands of sculptures.

      Ajanta Caves

      108 KMs from Aurangabad on Jalgaon Road. These caves are regarded as a world heritage site and were carved out from the 2nd century BC to 6th century AD. These are caves that the followers of Lord Buddha, embellished with architectural details and with paintings of intricate beauty and infinite charm. It is located 108 km from Aurangabad on Aurangabad - Jalgaon Road. From Ellora, there is another road which joins Aurangabad - Ajantha Road at Phulambri (28 Km from Aurangabad) and one need not go to Aurangabad. Distance is almost same 105 KMs. They are placed in a horseshoe shape about 3.5 Km away from the village. The river Wagura, a mountain stream flows along the bottom of the ravine. This river falls from a height of 200 ft, thus making a series of waterfalls. One needs to go till Ajanta T junction where there is huge parking lot with lots of other facilities such as restaurants, rest rooms, shopping centers etc. From here, non-polluting airconditioned coaches of MTDC / MSRTC will take you to Ajanta (protected area) which is 4 Kms away. This is non vehicle-non-polluting zone being world heritage site and it could damage the paitings. Even you need to take off your shoes while entering few caves.

      There are around 30 caves. The world famous paintings at Ajanta are in Caves # 1, 2, 16 & 17. At the time of discovery (1817), these paintings were in a better condition than now. They are now faded and needs preservation.

      The paintings were executed after elaborate preparation of the rock surface initially. The rock surface was left with chisel marks and grooves so that the layer applied over it can be held in an effective manner. The ground layer consists of a rough layer of ferruginous earth mixed with rock-grit or sand, vegetable fibres, paddy husk, grass and other fibrous material of organic origin on the rough surface of walls and ceilings. A second coat of mud and ferruginous earth mixed with fine rock-powder or sand and fine fibrous vegetable material was applied over the ground surface. Then the surface was finally finished with a thin coat of lime wash. Over this surface, outlines are drawn boldly, then the spaces are filled with requisite colours in different shades and tones to achieve the effect of rounded and plastic volumes. The colours and shades utilised also vary from red and yellow ochre, terra verte, to lime, kaolin, gypsum, lamp black and lapis lazuli. The chief binding material used here was glue.


      Following are the important caves you should visit -


      AJANTA CAVE # 1

      world fame painted depiction of Padmapani and Vajrapani. Besides it depicts Sibi, Samkhapala, Mahajanaka, Maha-ummagga, Champeyya Jatakas and the scene depicting temptation of Mara

      AJANTA CAVE # 2

      Extensively painted cave is famous for the ceiling paintings. The Jatakas painted here are Vidhurapandita & Ruru and miracle of Sravasti; Ashtabhaya Avalokitesvara; the dream of Maya.

      AJANTA CAVE # 16

      The important painted themes depicted are the conversion of Nanda; Miracle of Sravasti; Maya’s dream; and certain incidents from the life of Buddha. The Jataka stories depicted are Hasti, Maha-ummagga, Maha-sutasoma. Painted inscriptions can also be noted inside the caves.

      AJANTA CAVE # 17

      The cave houses some of the well preserved paintings of the Vakataka age that includes Vessantara Jataka (right of door), a huge and gigantic wheel representing the ‘Wheel of Life’; flying apsara (to left of door), subjugation of Nalagiri (a wild elephant) by Buddha at Rajagriha, Buddha preaching to a congregation. The Jatakas depicted here are Chhaddanta, Mahakapi (in two versions), Hasti, Hamsa, Vessantara, Maha-Sutasoma, Sarabha-miga, Machchha, Mati-posaka, Sama, Mahisa, Valahass, Sibi, Ruru and Nigrodhamiga.

      Ajanta Caves are Open from 9:00 AM till sunset and are closed on Mondays. Since Ajanta caves are facing EAST, best time to visit is in the morning.


      Paithan (56km South of Aurangabad)

      The ancient city of Pratishtan, now known Paithan, was the seat of the Satvahana dynasty that ruled from 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD. Situated on the banks of the sacred river Godavari, the little town is famous for its Shrine of 'Sant Eknath' where people flock every year during the time of 'Paithan Yatra'. Paithan, which was once an important seat of learning, is also famous for its beautiful silk saris which sport intricately embroidered gold or silver borders called 'Paithani'. Famous Nathsagar Dam and Garden (replica of Vrindavan Garden Mysore with musical fountains, lights etc.) are worth visiting in the evening between 5:30 - 7:30 PM

       

       

       Jayakwadi Dam and Gardens

      Lonar Crater(150 KMs)

      This is not exactly tourist destination but members of scientific community and people with interest in geology and nature should visit this spot. Situated on the outskirts of Lonar town in Buldhana District, the crater is distinguished by being the world's third largest crater. It has its genesis nearly 50,000 years ago, when a 2 million-ton meteorite impacted the earth to create a depression 1.83 kilometers in diameter and 150 meters deep.

      Since that cataclysmic event, Lonar has evolved into an idyllic expanse of sky blue water amidst a sprawling emerald forest. Mineral deposits (probably from the meteorite) make the lake water very salty while freshwater springs abound at the crater's edge. A unique ecosystem has evolved in the crater. The crater is home to hundreds of peafowl, chinkara and gazelles, which browse amongst the shrubs and bushes ringing the lake. Other residents include egrets, moor hens, herons, coots, white-necked storks, lapwings, grey wagtails, grebes, black droungos, green bee-eaters, tailorbirds, magpies and robins as well as numerous species of migratory birds like flamingos that often visit the place.

      Its added attractions include lake shore temples dedicated to demons, built between the 12th and 13th centuries. MTDC has a small resort here to take care of your accommodation and food needs.


      Where to stay in Aurangabad?

      Best way to visit all the places is to stay at Aurangabad and then visit Shirdi-Shani Shinganapur in One day and Ajanta - Ellora in second day. Third day could be for local sightseeing and Paithan and Ahmadnagar can be visit enroute to Pune. aurangabad - has over 50 hotels and lodges, some of which are listed here. During summer, off- season discounts are available. and an aircon room is near-vital. While you can stay at top-end hotels like the Taj Residency (0240-2381110) or Aurangabad Ashok (0240-2329591) if you have the means, your best bet is a good mid-range place. Meghdoot (0240-2352310) on crowded Tilak Road. On the nearer Station Road (which has shopping malls, ATMs and a cinema hall), the sprawling MTDC hotel (0240-2331513), Great Punjab (0240-2336482) and Rajdhani (0240-2326103). For a bit more, there's plush Amarpreet (0240-2332522) on Jalna Road.

      • Click here for list of Hotels in Aurangabad and for Online bookings
      • There are MTDC hotels available at Aurangabad and at Ajanta Caves (Ajanta T Junction & Fardapur).
      • Hotel Kailas at Ellora is also a good choice to stay away from City crowd.

    • Ahamadnagar (In and Around)
    • Chandbibi Mahal / Salabath Khan's Tomb (10 KMs from Ahmadnagar) - Six miles from the City on a hill called Shah Dongar, stands the tomb of Salabat khan also known as Chandbibi ka Mahal, visible for miles across the plains which spread 900 feet below the monument. The sepulchral monument is octagonal in shape. There is tar road which goes straight on the hill.

      Faria Bagh Palace - A palace built for Burhan Shah,the second Nizam Stands in ruins, two miles south-east of the city. The Fariabagh Palace rises from lake. It is octagonal structure with a flat- roofed upper story, over a domed central hall. The structure is rough stone, plastered with stucco. Here noblemen played chess & in gardens that once surrounded the lake. Burhan Shah died in 1553 at the age of fifty four & was buried at Karbala.

      Ahmadnagar Fort
      - The third Nizam Shah, Hussain, who ascended the throne in 1553 AD, found himself constantly at war with his neighbours. Six years after his ascension, he was besieged by Ram Raja, the king of Vijaynagar. He decided to strengthen the mud edifice created by his grandfather, which he had been using as a fort. A team of Portuguese engineers was commissioned, and they created what is seen of the Ahmednagar fort today. Over a mile in circumference, it was built from rock hewn out of the moat, almost 200 feet wide and twenty feet deep. The duke of Wellington, who captured the fort in 1803, considered it one of the strongest forts he had ever seen. In 1942 Pandit Nehru and other Indian leaders were incarcerated within the walls of the fort. Pandit Nehru wrote famous book ‘Discovery of India’ during this period. 

      Shani Shinganapur

    • Shani Shinganapur is 6 KMs off from Ghodegaon on Ahmadnagar - Aurangabad Road, 35 Km from Ahmadnagar.

      Shani (Saturn) is considered one of the dreaded planets of astrology. But its temples are very rare. And the one here is considered to be of special stature. There is neither any image of Shani (an off spring of the Sun God) nor deity nor any temple. Only a stone pillar which is supposed to embody the image is worshipped with deep respect & reverence.

      It is commonly believed that many miseries in life are caused due to the displeasure of Shanidev. Unlike other pilgrimage centres, devotees here can perform puja or abhishek or other religious rituals themselves. One of the unique aspects of the village Shiganapur is that houses here have no door- frames or locks on them for safety. They are in fact not needed. The people here believe that it is the benediction of the god that no crime ever occurs in this village. 

      Additional tips -

      • Other than summer & Monsoon season any month is fine. September / October would be the best as it will be lush green every where.

      • Ajanta and Ellora itself will take one full day. Please note that the caves are closed after sun set. Hence, earlier you start better you will be able to cover them.

      • Carry powerful Torch with you inside caves. Flash Photography is prohibited in Ajanta caves. They are allowed in Ellora caves though.

      • There are 100s of caves and you don’t have to visit all of them. Hence buy some book or take help from local tourist guides only to visit important places.

      • Ellora is the place where you would like to spend more time. Its full of caves and giant sculptures, stone carvings etc. Where as Ajanta is famous for its paintings which are now faded

      • You should visit Bibi-Ka-Maqbara in the evening during Sunset and Daulatababad Fort in the morning .

      • Take guided tour in "Bhul Bhulaiyya" at Daulatabad Fort. Its good. Guide will charge you some 50 Rs.

      • You need to take-off your shoes at few of the Ajanta caves.

      • Enjoy "Hurda - Party" on the way between January & February months