Aurangabad

In the early 19th century, a group of British officers were out on a tiger hunt in the Sahyadri Hills of Maharashtra. While following one big cat, Captain John Smith noticed an unnatural rock formation near the meandering Waghora River. After passing through thick vegetation and a dangerous ravine, he found himself inside old caves, the walls of which had paintings that told stories of the Buddha. He didn’t know it then, but he had rediscovered one of the world’s older Buddhist treasures, the Ajanta Caves. These, along with the Ellora Caves are now UNESCO World Heritage sites and a big draw to the city of Aurangabad. Many of these rock-carved wonders have survived nearly 2,000 years of rain and sunshine.

The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb spent a lot of time in Aurangabad, which is why it was named after him. The biggest reminder of the Mughal influence here is the stunning replica of the Taj Mahal in the city. It is called Bibi kaMaqbara and was built in memory of Aurangzeb’s first wife.

The Mughals left behind another treasure too-a delicious cuisine. Food is always cooking in this city, be it is restaurants everywhere or the stalls of Buddi Galli, a food street on the outskirts of the city. Beef and mutton curries are slow-cooked all day to be served for dinner at night, trotter soup is cooked all night to be served for breakfast the next day. Cotton soft kebabs, freshly baked naan ,and sweet smelling malpuas are on offer too. The smells, the sights, and the hospitality might tempt you to spend some extra time in this city that enjoys its slow pace as much as its fast development.

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