Last year December my parents dropped by to meet my toddler son. After my marriage, my parents behave as if I am an intruder and my husband, Mr. Fabulous is their long-lost son. And for the last 2 years, my doting parents have converted to doting grandparents. Duh! Not an unexpected turn of events you see. So, while my parents visited us, we planned to have a two-day weekend getaway to AURANGABAD.
I made a long of places to visit, things to pack and a quick lodging. In my list, I had to accommodate my Maa’s expectation of religious spots, my Bapa’s desire to explore historic sites and Mr. Fabulous who is always want to see the best. Of course, the plan must be toddler-friendly too.
We started early morning from Pune to Aurangabad in our own car, it was approximately over 5 hours drive with two pit-stops.
Our first stop was roadside dhaba just before Ahmednagar for poha and chai. And our second stop was my Maa’s most requested. We stopped at Shani Shingnapur Temple.
About 40 kilometers far from Ahmednagar lies the small yet legendary village. Temples dedicated solely to Shani dev across the globe are few. Here, the deity of Shri Shaneshwara has appeared as Swaymbhoo (self-evolved form) and has no shade over it.
Another interesting thing about the place is that no house in the village has a door frame or a lock to guard. God protects them all.
After taking the blessing of Shri Shaneshwara and spending some time in the village we continued our drive.
Our next stop was our accommodation, which was a big flop. Somehow, Mr. Fabulous and I miscommunicated and booked in haste. The result, we had booked the rooms which were almost 20 kilometers away from Aurangabad. Aha! We badly goofed up. Moving on, we relaxed a bit there after lunch. Penguin, my son was sleepy too. Deciding not to get disheartened. We planned to see at least one that day. We headed for Daulatabad fort.
The historic fort dates back to the twelfth century, it was the capital of Deogiri. It came into prominence in history when Muhammad bin Tughluq of Delhi Sultanate transfer his capital here and renamed it as Daulatabad. The fort is said to be invincible and the ruler of the fort can only be defeated if the enemy had planted any insider earlier.
The hill fortress had strong ramparts. Cannons mounted at strategic points and the three-tier defense system. The then European travelers have often described it as “one of the most powerful forts in India”. We could not climb to the top of the fort with our toddler but the view from the top must be amazing. I could not stop myself after being hypnotic by its history, planning, and architecture and here is my tribute to the fort.
It was almost sunset when we had to choose our next stop. We had Khuldabad and Bibi-ka-Maqbara in options and we choose later.
Dakkani Taj (Taj of Deccan) or Bibi-ka-Maqbara is the mausoleum of Aurangzeb’s wife. Constructed by Prince Azam Sham under orders of Aurangzeb, it resembles strongly with the Taj Mahal in Agra built by Shah Jahan. However, it is a poor imitation of the iconic structure. It lacks exterior symmetry, walls are made up of plasters, not marbles and interiors are nothing stunning when compared to the original. No doubt, it is called the poor man’s Taj.
Yet, it has a beauty, grace, and splendor of its own. Under the moonlight, we were in awe of the beautiful edifice. Though our cameras in smartphone did no justice to the beauty. We had a bunch of memories but not a single unblurred or good picture.
We called it a day after heartful dhaba dinner. Somehow, our meals during the entire trip were always on a dhaba and we totally enjoyed it.
Next day we again on road early morning because we wanted to have a good less crowded darshan at Ghrishneswar temple.
It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. It was built in the 7th century. However, the temple was destroyed by the Delhi Sultanate during the Hindu-Muslim wars of 13th and 14th-century. The temple went through several rounds of rebuilding followed by re-destruction during the Mughal-Maratha conflict. It was rebuilt in the current form in the 18th century under the sponsorship of a Hindu queen Rani Ahalyabai Holkar and her mother-in-law Gautama Bai. Anyone can enter the temple premises, but to enter the inner chambers or Garba-gruha men are expected to go bare-chested as per customs.
As we reached pretty early, we avoided the rush. My Maa was delighted pretty much like a toddler when she took her own sweet time to finish her puja and no one urged her to fasten up. We also bowed down to the red stone Dusavatar roop of Shri Vishnu, marbled idol Mata Parvati and Nandi, the bull. Cameras are not allowed inside the temple premises. So, again no pictures. However, you can find ample photographers outside who can photoshop your image and give you a good printed copy. You can practice your bargaining skills here. Our next stop was Ellora, which is just a kilometer away.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves
#XploreBharat travelers have already read about the magnificent caves, you can re-read that in Preeti’s travelogue. Ajanta is 100 kilometers away from Ellora. So, if you want to visit both do plan accordingly. Our plan was dynamic and situation dependent. We were having his highness 2 years old Penguin. Moving on, Ajanta is Buddhist rock-hewn caves, while the cave temples of Ellora are the product of Buddhism, Brahmanism, and Jainism.
We started with the Cave 16 that is celebrated as the Kailasa. Here, the rock-cut architecture was at its peak in 8th and early 9th century. It is a double storeyed structure. The architects had started with the cliff top to the rectangular trench. The spacious court, victory pillar and sculptures of various Gods and Goddess are splendid.
We spent over 2 hours in just one cave and it exhausted our toddler. Next stop was Bhadra Maruti darshan (I was accompanying my sleeping Penguin in the car). We had to drive back to Pune and reach by night. We made peace with the situation and after a late lunch, we were back on the highway to home. Maybe, these caves were indicating to visit them with ample time in hand. Next time, it will be so. Fingers crossed.
There are still more places to explore in Aurangabad and the Pune-Aurangabad route.
- Ahmednagar fort
- 52 Gates in the city
Have you been to the city and explore something new there? Do share your experience.
The next stop of this #XploreBharatBlogTrain is Goa with Saba.
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