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10 of misconceptions about India

10 misconceptions about India

By | Général | No Comments

India is a mystical and enchanting country. There are many misconceptions about this country. After several conversations with our customers, we decided to make a list of 10 misconceptions about India.

One of the most common misconceptions about India: it’s a poor country

Many people say they do not want to come to India because all Indians are poor and country itself is poor. In 2017, India became the top sixth economy in the world. Its GDP exceeds than France and is close to the United Kingdom. In 2015, it was the most dynamic economy in the world that grew more than 8% in a year ahead of its great Chinese rival. To finish with the macroeconomic figures, in 2017 India became the third country with the most billionaires. They were 97 living in India with a cumulative fortune of more than 226 billion dollars.

Nevertheless, India remains the country with the most poor in the world. The poverty rate in India is 13.4%. In absolute terms, this represents more than 170 million poor people (Source: World Bank). The report also notes that the situation is about to undergo a major change in the coming years.

So India is a rich country with a large population of poor people.

Second misconceptions about India: all Indians are Hindu

Hinduism is certainly the most important and majority religion in India but not all Indians are Hindu. 80% of Indians are Hindu, 14.7% are Muslim, 2.3% are Christian, 1.7% are Sikh, 0.7% are Buddhist and 0.6% are Jain. There are even a small communities of Jews in Kochi.

Moreover, not all Hindus are Indian. There are Pakistani, Nepalese, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Indonesian, and even Singaporean Hindus.

All Indians speak Hindi

There are three words that are close but that has different meanings. As we have seen, Hindu refers to a person who practices Hinduism. Indian is the nationality of people born in India. And finally, Hindi means the mostly spoken language of the country. This is certainly not the common language of all Indians. Only 41% of Indians have Hindi as their mother tongue. Each state has its own language and there are 24 official languages ​​in India. This figure represents 10% of the number of languages ​​present in the country. Indeed, there are more than 234 mother tongues in the country of which 122 are considered important.

Always need to carry medicines

It is quite common to see travellers coming to India with their medicines from their country. We are not talking about anyone who has a long-term treatment but basic drugs for all types of ailments. From paracetamol to anti-diarrhoea drugs. Some even have a big box of medicines with them.

It takes space and it is not necessary because there are pharmacies on every street corner in India and medicines are cheap. Also, India is known for having lots of doctors so you can rely on them completely.

Indians are thieves

We were very surprised when a client told us that she had been told to pay attention because in India ´all Indians´ are thieves. She was so convinced of this fact that she asked us if she could leave her shawl in the car. If she had to lock the door of her room (in a home-stay). So as everywhere, there are thieves and you have to pay attention in every public place but India is not full of thieves. Pay attention to your business in the same way as in your country neither more nor less.

All women wear saris

misconceptions about India

This cliche is started by the tourist sector which uses the typical photo of the woman in sari. Sari is not the only garment of women in India. The way of wearing sari depends on many factors. It depends on the region, the caste, the event and states. In a state like Maharashtra, in small city like Aurangabad, Mostly sari is majority wearable attire but in Mumbai, the sari is worn only for special occasions.

All Indians do Yoga

It’s a bit like thinking that all Chinese do Kung Fu. Yoga is not a universal practice in India. Certainly since 2014 and the creation of a Ministry of Yoga, the practice is growing. It is common to see public parks yoga classes early in the morning. Yoga still has a religious connotation and therefore some refuses to practice it.

Marriages are forced

The theme of marriage is a subject of discord between Westerners and Indians. The problem is that for Westerners an arranged marriage is a forced marriage. A marriage is forced when one of the “spouses” is married against his/her will. In India this is not the case in the majority of cases. 75% of Indians prefer to use arranged marriages (source: UNICEF). This choice is dictated by tradition and it is above all the parents’ duty to ensure that their child does not end up alone or end up in a bad family. It is by benevolence that they decide the future of their loved ones. The arranged marriage constitutes 90% of the marriages in India (Now days it is declining compared to few years ago).

Indian cinema only has Bollywood


Bollywood is considered by many to be Indian cinema par excellence. Except that Indian cinema is more than Bollywood. Here are some explanations:

Bollywood is the largest film industry in the world. The majority of the films are produced in Mumbai (former Bombay hence the name). The films are in Hindi, the majority language of the country. Bollywood films are for the most part upset romances between the two main actors. A happy ending is always expected. In recent years, Bollywood movies are modernising and it is common to see beautiful movies. For example Bajirao Mastani (video above), Tumbbad, Neerja, Manikarnika the queen of Jhansi.

Tollywood: It’s the film industry of South India. Movies are usually action movies. Here, there is little concern for the truth of the situation. The main actor is a Marvel type hero who is capable of all the exploits.

Marathi Cinema: This industry is about cinema of authors who address the problems of society in India today. The films come from the state of Maharashtra as Bollywood but they are shot in Marathi. It is the official language of this state. There are Marathi movies that are just masterpieces. Like the great Katyar Kaljat Ghusli (see trailer).

This cinema is the most diversified of India in its themes, the tone used and the differences of types of films.

There are some who got represented in international festivals. Like Dashkriya which was selected at the Cannes Film Festival or the Berlinale, the Berlin Film Festival.

The traffic is chaotic

Well, it’s a bit true. For Western eyes, the circulation in India is chaos. The rules that apply in India are quite different from those in Europe. But we can not say that it is a chaos because the number of accidents is quite limited. We would say, it is a organised chaos which is understandable by lots of people.

Extra: a guide can show all India

India has an area of ​​5 times France. It is impossible for a guide to know everything. In Rajasthan, you will find very good and very competent guides but they will not be able to make you visit Hampi or Kerala. If you decide to take a guided tour in India, always choose local guides. Only they can make you discover hidden treasures of their region.

We are specialised to show offbeat places in Maharashtra and we can make you discover this wonderful state. See our tours here.

What do you think about this list of misconceptions about India? Do you think we forgot something? Tell us on comments

Hotels in Aurangabad

Hotels in Aurangabad: where to sleep and how much ?

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Have you decided to visit Aurangabad and are you looking for some place to sleep? There are many hotels in Aurangabad. How to find the one that suits you? We have a list to help you find your way.

Before revealing our selection of the best hotels in Aurangabad, we give you some tips on choosing your hotel.

How to choose your hotel? Some tips for sleeping well

Aurangabad is not a very budget friendly city to sleep. Since tourism is not very important, hotels are filled with businessmen who come to do business. Rates are not like cheapest place in India. You will not find rooms at less than Rs 500 a night as it is possible in Rajasthan.

1- Choose your location

Choosing the right location for your tour program is essential. Aurangabad is a small city, only 1.5 million people, the city is very extensive. Indeed, there is less infrastructure than 5 floors and residential areas are rather occupied by small houses. In addition, it is necessary to count with the circulation. Like all cities in India, Aurangabad can suffer from traffic jams that increases travel time.

2- Never take a room on the major street side

It may seem obvious but indeed, a hotel room on a main road with a street view can be extremely noisy. In case if you select a hotel that is on a major way, try to request a room with a view of the courtyard. This will allow you to limit the noise coming from outside and you will be able to sleep peacefully

3-Services offered

The same hotel can offer different services for the same room. Evaluate whether the price of the breakfast supplement is worth it. The hotel with a restaurant can also be a plus when you come back from a day of exploration. In any case, the reviews will give you an idea of ​​the quality of hotel services. Do not forget to check them.

4- Rates

The tariff is one of the most important criteria when choosing a hotel. This is perfectly normal. But sometimes for 100 rupees more you can completely change your hotel category. It would be a shame not to take advantage of this upgrade. We advise you to always search by having the widest price range possible. If your budget is 1200 rupees, in filter you can put up to 1600 rupees and evaluate if it’s worth it.

Hotels in Aurangabad

The hotels in Aurangabad can be divided into three categories. Those at reasonable prices, middle class hotels and luxurious hotel

Soft-priced hotels

Zostel: the cheapest option for single travellers

Zostel is an Indian chain of cheap hostel. It is opened in Aurangabad few months ago. If you are travelling alone and in pocket friendly way, it will be the best option for you. A bed in a dormitory ranges from 450 to 500 rupees. It is also very well located on the main way of the city which leads to the airport and the Ellora caves road. For more than two people, it becomes unfruitful or expensive if you take a private room.

Hotel Sparkling Pearl: a caring staff

The Sparkling Pearl Hotel is located east of the city. Rooms without AC are very affordable. They are spacious and all the packages are with the included breakfast which can be taken in the room or in the restaurant on the ground floor. The rooms on the street side have double glazing which allows to have absolute calm at night. On our last visit, the cleanliness was not perfect. We reported it and actions were taken.

Tip: booking sites like booking.com offer cheaper rates than the hotel’s website.

Hotel Gurjas

It is the closest to the station. It is located near a busy intersection. All the feedback we got was positive. The staff is friendly. The little more is the newspapers available at the reception. A good way to start the day with the local press. You need to count between 1250 (without air conditioning) and 1450 rupees (with air conditioning). It is in front of one of the best restaurants in the city, Yalla Yalla.

Mid-class hotel

7 Apple

This is one of the new hotels in the city. It has many advantages. The first is the calm of the area where it is located. The second is the presence of a supermarket adjoining the hotel. If you want to buy a bottle of water or an insert, it’s ideal. Finally, it is a chain which guarantees a quality of services and delicious buffet breakfast. The only negative is their Things to Do section … Do not follow their recommendation.

A double room will cost 1800 rupees with breakfast. On their site, they often offer discounts.

Hotel Grand Kailash

This hotel is designed for business trips. The service is worthy of 5 star. Rooms have all the necessary comfort to make your stay a perfect moment of relaxation. It also has a restaurant which is also in our list of the best restaurants in the city. And in the evening if you want to drink a cocktail or a beer, the bar will open its doors.

For a double room, the price starts at 2600 rupees.

Green olive

It is also one of the new hotels in the city. Their service and breakfast are extremely famous in Aurangabad. It is rated 8.7 on booking.com, it had the certificate of excellence on Tripadvisor and Zomato (Indian equivalent of Delivero) qualifies it as fabulous. The rooms are smaller than other hotels in the city. But you will find all the necessary comfort for your stay.

The price for a double room with breakfast is about 2300 rupees.

Hotels in Aurangabad for leisure

Rama International hotel

This hotel often offers cultural events like live music or dance performances. The staff will be friendly to make your stay comfortable. It is located on the main way of the city, reaching from the train station or airport is very easy.

It’s the less expensive of the 5-star hotels in the city. One double room costs 6900 rupees.

Lemon tree

This hotel is on the same way of Rama International. Indeed, these two hotels are 500 meters away from each other. Lemon tree is 4 star but the service rivals 5 star. What we prefer is its pool and cafe beside the pool. It’s the perfect place to relax after a day of sightseeing.

Rates start at 7500 rupees for a double room

Vivanta Taj

It is the most beautiful hotel in the city. The main building is reminiscent of the palaces of Rajasthan. It’s easy to feel in one thousand and one night tale. Everything is subject to wonder in this hotel. It is part of the Taj chain of hotels that has the most beautiful hotels in India. Obviously, this enchantment has a price. The cheapest room cost around 11,300 rupees.

Home stay experience

During your stay in Aurangabad, you also have the opportunity to experience the home stay with a middle-class Indian family. We offer you the opportunity to sleep in the house of a family and share the dinner with them to share cultural exchanges. If you want more information click here.

Hotels in Aurangabad

The golden triangle of Maharashtra

Golden triangle of Maharashtra: Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad

By | Général, Monument, Site à visiter | 2 Comments
Taj Hotel

One of the wonder you will discover in the golden triangle of Maharashtra

The so-called Indian golden triangle is the triangle formed by the cities like Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. These 3 cities are a huge success for the majority of foreign tourism in India. There are three cities in Maharashtra that are equal in beauty level and constitute the golden triangle of Maharashtra. These three cities are Mumbai, Nashik and Aurangabad.

Mumbai: the economic capital of the Maharashtrian golden triangle.

Mumbai is the best city for start discovering the golden triangle of Maharashtra. The economic capital of India has a rich and diverse past. From the 9th century to 1343, the region was under the control of the Silhara dynasty. It then came under the control of the sultans of Gujarat until 1534. Faced with the advance of Portuguese troops, Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat ceded the 7 islands that form the region of Mumbai.

From 1661, the islands were ruled by the British until the independence of India in 1947. Since then, it has been the economic capital of India. It alone produces 5% of the country’s GDP, and its activity accounts for 25% of industrial production, 40% of maritime trade and 70% of capital transactions of the Indian economy. Mumbai ranks among the world’s top 10 financial platforms by the importance of capital flows.

It is also the capital of the largest film industry in the world, called Bollywood.

Mumbai is a particular city in India as it is mostly formed by migrants from all over India. This creates a unique and diverse culture.

´Must see´ places in Mumbai:

The gateway of India and Colaba:

This gate was erected in honour of the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay in December 1911. It was completed and inaugurated only in 1924 due to lack of financial resources. It is now the embarkation point for the Elephanta Caves. Located at the end of Colaba, it is an ideal starting point to visit the district. This district is the meeting point of youth. It keeps its colonial aspect and includes the most beautiful hotels in the city such as Taj hotel. These quiet and shaded streets invite you to stroll, relax and do some shopping.

The Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum (former Prince of Wales Museum):

Created in the early 20th century, this museum is the most beautiful in the city. Divided into several sections, it offers a wonderful introduction to the history and culture of India. The building itself is also an architectural success. Note: if you want to take pictures you have to pay a fee with your entry. Many guards will ask for the proof to let you take pictures.

Jahangir art gallery:

This art gallery next to the Chatrapati Shivaji Museum Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is the perfect place to discover contemporary Indian artists. Composed of several rooms, painting, sculpture and photography have their place. In general, artists are also there so you can chat with them. Admission is free and if you like their work, you can buy their artwork.

Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj terminus:

Since 2004, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is an outstanding example of the meeting of two cultures, with British architects using Indian artisans to integrate the Indian architectural tradition to create a new style unique to Bombay. Its construction dates from 1878.

The Babulnath temple:

It is one of the oldest temples in Mumbai. The first temple was built in the 12th century. Forgotten and destroyed, it was not rebuilt until 18th century but the statue remained there for a longer time. You will need to climb several steps to access the temple (an elevator is available). The statues in the temple are the original statues. The series Sense 8 (on Netflix) shot their scenes at this place in their first season. This is where Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai) comes to pray before her wedding.

The Haji Ali Dargah:

It was in 1431 that this dargah was built. It is to honour the memory of the Muslim walker Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari that was erected this monument. He abandoned all his fortune when he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The mosque is 500 meters from the coast in Worli Bay. There is a path to reach. Its structure is of Islamic Indo style. The mixture of religious songs and the sound of waves that clash with the walls gives the place a magical atmosphere.

The Elephanta caves:

To get to the Elephanta Caves, take the boat from the Gateway of India. The ferry takes about 40 minutes. When you arrive you can take a small train to get to the center of the souvenir market. The caves are at the top of the market. It is a set of 4 caves. The first is the most interesting. If you plan to go to Ellora and Ajanta, avoid visiting these caves.

Nashik, the small Varanasi of Maharashtra

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Nashik is one of the oldest cities in India. It has legendary origins. Indeed, in the Ramayana, Ram, king of Ayodhya, took up residence in Nashik during his 14 years of exile. It was here that Laxman, on the orders of Ram, cut off the nose of “Shurpnakha” (Sister of devil Ravan) and named this city “Nashik”. This city has been known in the western world since antiquity as a market town. It is quoted in a Ptolemaic book in the 2nd century BC. In this city, every 12 years they celebrate the great Kumbh Mela, Hindu festival that attracts millions of pilgrims. Its wine business gives it the nickname, the capital of Indian wine.

As of today, Nashik attracts many businesses and industries. Sula vineyard, the most famous wine in India is in Nashik.  Bank notes are printed in this city. This city is the most traditional city you can find in the golden triangle of Maharashtra.

Must see places in Nashik:

The approach to the Godavari River:

Nashik is considered the city of Ram, as Varanasi is Shiva’s cemetery. In the historic center, on the banks of the river, you can observe the ritual baths as well as the scenes of everyday life. At the end of these ghats is the Ramkund.

The Ramkund:

Ram and Sita would have bathed in this tank, 27 meters long and 12m wide. Since thousands of pilgrims come every day to take bath. The ash is also poured in to ensure better reincarnation. The ashes of Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi were dumped in this kund. This is also where the pilgrims meet during the Kumbh Mela (the next one in Nashik will be in 2027).

Shri Kalaram Mandir:

Located near the Ramkund, this temple dedicated to Ram dates from 1788. It has a black stone statue representing Ram. This one was found in Godavari river. The founder of the temple, Odhekar, reportedly fished and decided to make a temple in honour of this statue. Its proximity to the Ramkund, makes it a most important religious place in the city.

The Muktidahm Mandir:

This temple is fairly new. It dates from 1971. The white marble of Rajasthan is the main material of this temple. It is therefore the color of purity. It is the seat of different Hindu deities. Mahabharath scenes are carved on the walls.

Pandavleni caves:

It is a set of 24 caves, all Buddhist. Like the Ajanta caves, they were dig between the 2nd century BC and the 5th AD. The most beautiful cave is cave number 10 because it is intact and completed. We advise you to visit the caves in the morning when the sun illuminates the entrances and the interior.

Aurangabad, the pearl of Maharashtra

Kailash temple

Kailash temple is the wonder in the golden triangle of Maharashtra

Aurangabad has been designated as the tourist capital of Maharashtra. And for good reason, it was the capital of India in the 17th century. It is best known for the two World Heritage sites of UNESCO, Ellora and Ajanta.

It’s the best place to finish visiting the golden triangle of Maharashtra.

Since the beginning of our era, the region has always been a place of passage between north and south. Trade, culture and religion have shaped the landscape. The most beautiful example is the Ellora Caves where you can admire how three religions interpenetrate to create a unique cave site in the world.

The city of Aurangabad was created by former slave prime minister Malik Ambar. Rightly called Khadki, which means window. During the reign of Aurangzeb, it became the capital of the most powerful Asian empire of the 17th century.

Must see places in Aurangabad:

The Ajanta Caves:

These caves are all Buddhist. Lost in nature/hills, you have to take a bus to get there from the car park, these caves have almost all the same structure. Here one comes to admire the paintings that describe the life of Buddha or events related to the formation of Buddhism.

The Ellora caves:

This site is exceptional for several reasons. The first is the only cave site in India that brings together three Indian religions, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Next, cave number 16 contains the world’s largest monolithic monument, Kailash Temple.

Khultabad:

This rather peaceful village was the capital of Sufism in the 14th century. Of course, there are important monuments such as the tomb of Malik Ambar, the tomb of Aurangzeb, the garden Bani Begum. To learn more you can read the article here.

Fort Daultabad:

This majestic mountain has always attracted many emperors. The first were the Yadavas in the 12th century. The structure of the fort we know today comes from Muhammad bin Tuglhuq. He fell in love with this fortress and its means of defence. He decided to transfer his capital from Delhi to Daultabad. If you want to know more about the history of this fort, you can read this article here and for places to visit is here.

Aurangabad:

This small village became the town of Malik Ambar in 1610 when he took control of the Nizam empire of Ahmednagar. When the Mughals arrived in the area, Shah Jahan´s son Aurangzeb, was the vice king of the Deccan. The latter decided to turn Khadki into his capital. He renamed it and enlarged it. In 1668, it became the capital of the Mughal empire. From this rich past, there are still many monuments to visit. Discover it here.

We are organising 15 days tour in the golden triangle of Maharashtra. Contact us for booking/information

Trip to Aurangabad: our customer talk about it

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Our customer, Romy has decided to share with us her impressions about Aurangabad. You can find her photos on Instagram and contact her on her website

Our customer’s trip: 5th to 8th of March – Aurangabad

After a month of quite touristic travel I had the feeling to finally get to know the authentic India. And since Aurangabad does not (yet) have any hostels anyway, I decided for the first time to use AirBnB at more European prices to stay with an Indian family, with a large single room and breakfast + dinner included. Sometimes you just have to treat yourself.

Discovery of the family

So I end up with Akash, a twentysomething tour guide and his family (mother, father and sister) in a nice and quiet area of Aurangabad. Before I can even see the room, I am welcomed traditionally in the living room with a glass of water, a lunch snack, interested questions about myself and useful facts about family life here.

prendre un verre

Then I move into the entire attic floor consisting of a 16m² room with shower, a large terrace and an outside toilet.

After a long nap we continue with tea, talks and finally dinner. There are cereals I can’t even name in German, Dal (lentil sauce), Palak Paneer (Indian cheese in spinach, one of my favourite dishes here), various bread and sweet dumplings. So as usual pure carbohydrates, which remind me of my lack of yoga practice in the last weeks. But I finally learn to eat rice with my hands without looking like I have the body control of a two-year-old and everything tastes just amazing. I have become somewhat accustomed to spicy food, since so-called Western or Continental Food is becoming an expensive exception for me and mostly it does not keep what it promises.

Discovery of the area

After dinner Akash takes me to the nearby Hindu temple, which we visit together with his friends. On the way there he whispers to me “People are staring at you. Tourism is not yet common here, there are no foreign women without foreign men. And certainly not with such short hair.” He smiles. And only then I do notice that everyone on the street actually turns around. Three Indian mid-twenties and a slightly older, significantly taller, tattooed woman with pale skin.Must have looked funny, but I’m used to staring now.

We enter the temple barefoot and touch a black marble turtle, which is embedded in front of the first step, on the head with our right hand, that should bring us luck. Then we ring a bell hanging above the entrance to symbolize the goddess that we are there. And then off to the shrine in front of us. There one does not bow too deeply with the hands in the greeting gesture before the forehead and speaks silently his prayer, wishes or also simply nothing, as I do at this moment, because the impressions are too overwhelming for me to think of anything. Then we touch the shrine again with our right hand and walk through the temple clockwise, thus also again to the right. At the end we exit the building backwards, because you never turn your back to a god here.

And then we just hang out at the temple grounds, I ask 100 questions about gods and cows and the guys answer every question patiently and seem to be happy about my interest. I already knew of the 3 main gods of Hinduism, Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. But not of their means of transport or seating. Vishnu is sitting on a snake. Brahma on a lotus. And Shiva rides a cow. “Aha. So that’s why they’re sacred?!” “Not only. In Hinduism we also believe that there are altogether approx. 32 billion [short pause for confirming thought] yes correctly, billion gods. And for us they live in cows.

This may sound crazy to you, but that’s why it’s forbidden to inflict any kind of suffering on a cow here. Otherwise you can be sent to prison. And, of course, this also leads to conflicts with Muslims, Christians and the other religions that think differently, but everyone must abide by it, that has been in the law for years”.

Wow. That’s a lot of information for the first night here. As the mosquitoes bother us too much after a while, we go back to the house.

From breakfast to Ajanta caves

On my first morning there is a typical Indian breakfast served at half past seven, which I didn’t know yet: Poha, some kind of flat yellow rice with spices, fresh coriander and roasted peanuts. Super tasty, but for breakfast quite spicy which is still not exactly in my comfort zone to be honest.

Afterwards we drive to the Ajanta Caves together with Akash’s uncle. The caves are actually Buddhist temples, which were probably hew in lava stone in the 2nd century B.C. and developed further over the following centuries. For such a unique destination I skip the famous temples in Hampi, which every backpacker, who holds something on himself, visits his trip to India.

And I’m already being rewarded for this decision at the point where the two of them drop me off: A viewpoint about 20 minutes walking distance from the entrance, from where you stroll along the volcanic crater to the ticket counter and have a great view of the cave complex at all times. From here on I am on my own for a few hours, which doesn’t bother me at all, because extensive explanations would lead to a total overload of impressions at this time. I let the barren, hot area, which waits longingly for the monsoon season, work on me, make my way in all peace and fantasise, what the area looks like after downpours. What a nice idea.

At the ticket counter I can hardly believe my eyes: Locals don’t pay more than 30 rupees, while foreigners pay a whopping amount of 500 rupees. Cheeky! But I’m going to find out that this is a common thing around here. Anyway, India is only once a year, right?!

So I step directly into cave no. 9, from there to cave no. 1 and then all the way to cave 26 without leaving one out. I admire ancient wall paintings, carvings, huge sculptures, columns, statues and so on. In one of the biggest caves I hold my breath when I hear a dozen women and children chanting their prayers on the floor in front of the Buddha statue. How fortunate to be here at this very moment. In another, longer cave reminiscent of the interior of a ship’s hull, a tour guide shows his singing skills in order to demonstrate the special acoustics of this room. Here my tears are almost rising in my closed eyes. I don’t know why these tones touch me so much, but I certainly won’t forget them too soon.

After 4 hours Akash and the uncle pick me up again and I tell them enthusiastically about my impressions over a glass of fresh sugar cane juice at the roadside on the way back. Both agree that I will not be less impressed by the goals of the next day.

Khuldabad and Ellora caves

Grotte nº10 ellora

Ellora caves

In the morning we drive to Khuldabad, a village that is exclusively inhabited by Sufis and where you find Tombs and mosques to marvel at. Here Akash explains to me again a few principles of Islam and Hinduism and thus also of their mixed form, Sufism. We visit Mughal tombs, where I learn a lot about the history of India, then we go to the Sufi community where a man in a white robe blesses us with a peacock feather frond and tells us even more about the history of the Sufi.

So the whole super informative morning continues until I am dropped off around noon at the Ellora Caves, which are -like the Ajanta Caves- UNESCO world cultural heritage. But unlike the day before, besides numerous Buddhist caves, also Hindu and Jaina temples await me here. All carved into the same crater and resembling the Lost City from the Jungle Book.

And again: WOW! Not only the spectacular scenery impresses me on this day, but also the fact that I visit places for prayer of 5 religions in only one day, which are all built almost directly next to each other. And all of them are perfectly preserved according to the weather conditions and that radiate peace. For me it symbolizes what I have felt almost everywhere on my journey so far: India is filled with religion, there are almost no atheists here and if there are, they are at my age or younger and live in big cities, but all live side by side with each other. At least on the whole. Of course, one can feel clear differences in mentalities, but the tolerance threshold seems to be very high.

Last day in Aurangabad

Bibi ka Maqbara

Bibi ka Maqbara

All this has to be processed first, so I don’t do much on the third and last day before I take the night bus to Mumbai in the evening. But what I can’t miss is the ultimate foretaste of the Taj Mahal, the Bibi Ka Maqbara, which is known as “Mini Taj” or “poor man’s Taj”, because it resembles the world-famous building very strongly, but is much smaller. The story is controversial, but what is certain is that the construction must have cost a tiny fraction of the tourist magnet in Agra. It’s not really busy at lunchtime which is nice. I am hardly asked for selfies and can take some nice snapshots. Actually, no wonder at 38°C. Hopefully Mumbai, or Bombay as it used to be called, will be a little more pleasant in terms of weather…

Yoga à l'Himayat bagh, Aurangabad

First trip in India: 10 things you must do

By | Général | One Comment

A first trip in India is always something special. Indeed, this country is so unique that the first trip to the Indian subcontinent will forever mark your memory. Today, we have a list of things which are must to do, we think. It’s not a list of  monuments to visit but only ideas to try to feel the Indian spirit and culture.

1-Travelling by train: mandatory during your first trip in India

We know that for a short trip (less than 3 weeks), transportation by train can be difficult. Indeed, trains are long and very often not on time. Despite this, travelling by train and especially travelling overnight is a unique experience.

The train is not only a transportation system, it is a place of life, exchange and meeting. It is also the place where you learn to enjoy the moment. When you talk with people on the train, you only have the time to get to know them, share, exchange. When you reach your destination, you say goodbye and it’s over.

Another thing that is extraordinary in the train is the quantity of street vendors. One will offer you chai (black tea spices with milk), samosas, candies and also jewellery, toys for children etc … It is a shopping centre at your seat.

If you can spend a night on the train, do it. From 8 pm, a ballet is put in place, the seats are converted to bed, the passengers prepare to go to sleep, there are two more benches on the top also. A show to see before sleeping. An amazing memory for your first trip in India.

2-Drink chai: a rediscovery in each region

The chai is the national drink in India. Whether you are invited to a house, whether you are in a shop, you will always be offered a cup of this spicy black tea with milk. I remember one of our guests who made friends with the neighbourhood kids. Everyone invited her to visit their house. When she came back, she told us that she had drunk 5 or 6 chai and had to refuse many more. The chai is a social thing in India.

You will be surprised during your first trip in India, because when you change the region the chai, like the thali, changes its taste. Each region has its own preparation. It will have more cardamom in one area, more ginger in another, more milk in a third. That’s why drinking chai in every region is an experience to live.

Let us know in comment, your opinion on each chai and which region is the best.

Drink chai

Drink chai is one of the 10 things you must do during your first trip in India

3- Visit temples

India is a spiritual country. It is the birth place of 4 religions( Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism) and almost all are present in the country these days.

Visiting temples is an important part of a trip in India. Each religion has its own ceremonial and access conditions. In a Sikh temple for example, men have to cover their heads with turban.

Some temples are forbidden to non-practitioners.

If you decide to visit temples, there are some rules to follow.

Dress required: it is rare that you are forbidden entry to a temple because of your outfit. On the other hand, if you wear a tank top and shorts (for men or for women), you risk getting the reproaching looks of the people. In addition, some parts of the temple may be prohibited to you including that where the statue of the god resides.

Respect the places: do not forget that you are in a spiritual place. Be discreet and respect the written or unspoken rules. If you do not know, it’s the best to ask.

Watch out for photos: visitors are often reminded that taking photos of people without their consent is prohibited and punishable by law. In general, validated the fact of taking photos by a manager.

Temple sikh de Gwalior

Sikh temple in Gwalior

4- Try a home stay

Sleeping at the home of an Indian family, many dreams but the reality is sometimes different. Before wanting to sleep at home of someone´s else, it’s good to know what you want from this experience to bring you there.

When we created this accommodation, we wanted to create an interaction between the host family and the traveller. That’s why we offer the evening meal served in the living room at the same time as the family.

If you want to be independent for the evening meal, at home it will be complicated compared to our concept.

This is why it is best to determine the limits or your needs to fully enjoy the experience.

5-Negotiate prices

For that, we do not worry too much for you. From the moment you go to buy something you will be forced to negotiate.

Here are some simple rules to negotiate well in India:

Trade: In India, as in other countries, there is a difference in market practices. A good or a product has no fixed price but a fluctuating price compared to the buyer. This is why an object can be announced at several prices.

An Indian price: it’s the rate that a native will be able to buy a product or a service. You can come closer to this rate but don’t expect to reach it. But it can serve as a basis for negotiations.

The obligation to buy: there is never any obligation to buy even if you have negotiated the price for one hour. If you can not agree, leave without remorse.

Remain courteous: it’s a golden rule. If you want a good price, you have to negotiate with a smile. Make jokes, laugh are the best weapons to have a good price.

The price: before starting to negotiate, evaluate the object and especially fix your maximum purchase price. If you do not arrive at the desired price, you have two possibilities. Either you do not buy the object either if you really like it you take it without regret.

6- The Indian wedding: an unforgettable moment

It is not easy to be invited to an Indian wedding. It’s more of luck and chance. Indian marriages are quite different from western marriages. First, because it is the demonstration of family wealth so you must invite as many people as possible. The biggest weddings have reached an impressive number of guests.

If you are invited to an Indian wedding, it is fashionable to come well dressed. If possible in a traditional way. That is kurta for men and sari for women. Do not be surprised if you are invited to enjoy the buffet several times. Food is one of the criteria for a successful wedding. All guests must eat to their fullest even more.

7- Live shows: one of the greatest wealth of India

Everyone knows about Bollywood movies and their dance. This tradition is very old and each region has its style and its scenic art.

Indian dancer

First trip in India, the 10 things to do

Originally, dances were a religious act. In the tradition, it is said that it was Shiva and his wife Parvati who invented the dances of India.

At present, it has become a living spectacle in its own right.

More than a long speech, we prefer to show you some examples:

8-Participate in a yoga class in a public park

It is easier to find outdoor yoga classes in small towns than in big cities.

If you want to attend one of these courses, you will have to get up early. Indeed, these courses are practised at 5-6 o’clock in the morning. They are usually free and open to everyone. Provide ample and comfortable clothes to be able to do all the positions. A yoga mat or a simple towel for floor/comfort for your back.  Look at other participants to see what movements you need to make. Do not force it if it’s your first yoga class.

Yoga à l'Himayat bagh, Aurangabad

9-Learn to wear a sari

It’s something that only women can do. Wearing a sari may seem simple because every day, we can see women doing a thousand activities in sari. But undeceive yourself, wearing a sari is an art and it takes an initiation to be able to wear it properly and comfortably. The best thing is to know an Indian who can teach you. If you go through Aurangabad, we organise sari workshops for free.

Course de sari à Aurangabad

10-Go to the cinema to watch a Bollywood movie

Attention: for the better experience, you must go to small neighbourhood cinemas. Indeed, in these cinemas, the show is as much in the room as on the screen. The Indians over-react to the plot, scream when a big star appears, boo the villain.

Before each filming, the national anthem is played. It is imperative to get up and not move. We have already seen confusion between foreigners and Indians because the first had not respected the hymn.

Finally, if you’re a film buff, you have to watch Marathi movies. Those are usually auteur films with a rather complex story that speaks about the problems of India and with a very fair acting. Very often, these films are subtitled in English. Very far from Bollywood productions.

If you want to experience some of the things we mentioned, we would be happy to help to organise your first trip in India. Do not hesitate to contact us here.

Enjoy your first trip in India, and tell us in comment what is your experience so far.

tours in Aurangabad

When to come in Aurangabad?

By | Général | 3 Comments

One of the most frequently asked questions is: when is the best time to come in Aurangabad?
In the tourism sector, there are three periods. The high season, the low season and the off season. Each has disadvantages and advantages. We will talk in detail about it in the second part. First, we will make a geographical presentation of the region.

Aurangabad: the evolutionary desert.

The Aurangabad region is full of contradiction. When you visit the area, you will think that you are in a desert area or in an oasis of greenery, it all depends on season. This contradiction is due to the geographical location and the particular climatic conditions.

The geographical location of the Mughal capital

Aurangabad is 250 kilometers from Mumbai. It is surrounded by mountains, western ghats or valleys.

Les montagnes autour de Aurangabad

Les montagnes autour de Aurangabad

Because of the mountains around, Aurangabad  never get flooded with water but it is always very hot in summer time, which is dry heat.

Unlike Kerala, a region that remains green all year round despite extreme heat. Aurangabad region sees its landscape evolve according to weather conditions.

Climatic conditions are responsible for changing landscape.

The magical moment in Aurangabad is at the end of June or beginning of July. In first week of monsoon, the heavy rains bring freshness and the water that has missed so much during the last months. During this week, all the surrounding area changes its color from yellow to green. The monsoon is a very important weather phenomenon in India and even more so in Maharashtra. In two months, it rains the quantities of water needed for the whole year. Low or no monsoons result in increased mortality, reduced harvests or draught issues..

The climate in Aurangabad

High season: from October to March

High season starts in October and ends in March. During this period, everything becomes busy days than others. This is the time when there are the most tourists. It is also the time when there are the most touristic offers comes in hand.
Temperature: Between 24 and 33 degrees
Weather: sunny

Recommended activities: It is the best season to visit the city and its surroundings. The Ellora and Ajanta caves will offer cool and dry spaces to the people from the heat. If you visit  Daultabad fort, the best time is before 11 am, especially if you decide to climb to the top of the fortress.

Most enjoyable months: December and January
Essential things to have: sunscreen, hat or cap, light weight full pants to enter the sacred places.

The off season: from April to June

This season is called off season because few tourists decide to come to Aurangabad. And due to the temperature is high and it makes the visit of the sites extremely painful.

Temperature: Between 38 and 45 degrees

Weather: Sunny and very dry
Recommended Activities: If you decide to come to Aurangabad during the off season, take precautions. For outdoor visits such as Daultabad Fort or Khultabad, it is best to do them in the mornings between 7am to 11am. Ellora caves must also be visited early because the distance between each cave is important (the site is more than 4 kilometers long). The Ajanta caves can be visited at any time of the day but the morning is the best time.
Most enjoyable months: April, because there are only few tourists.
Essential things to have: sunscreen, hat or cap, light pants to enter the sacred places, a bottle of water (at least 1 and half ltr per person)

The low season: from July to September

Even though the temperature is pleasant during this period but coming to Aurangabad result more complicated because of the monsoon. It is necessary to have stops due to the precipitations.
Temperature: Between 29 and 34 degrees
Weather: rain, rain and thunderstorms
Recommended activities: Come during the low season to see Aurangabad from a different angle. The fields and mountains are super green, the trees gets the life back and the vegetation is lush. The disadvantage is getting the rain in between only. The month of July is the best month of the period because the rains are sporadic, it rains a lot but not long.
Most enjoyable months: July
Essential things to have: clothes that protects from the rain but light weight or keep umbrella with you all the time. For cameras or laptops, consider taking a waterproof cover.
If you need some help to organise your trip in Aurangabad, you can contact us: info@akvintourism.fr
Que faire à Aurangabad?

Things to do in Aurangabad: the top 10 must do things.

By | Général | No Comments

What are the things to do in Aurangabad? When you arrive in a new city, and more in a city like Aurangabad, you always have this moment when you say what can I do here. Aurangabad is not a city that is easily revealed. Here are some tips to make your stay in Aurangabad an unforgettable one.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things to do in Aurangabad.

1- Explore the city and its history, the most important things to do in Aurangabad

Of course, when you come to visit Aurangabad it is for very famous caves of Ellora and Ajanta, most tourists come only for that. These UNESCO World Heritage monuments are must-see. Nevertheless, Aurangabad has also been the capital of two great empires throughout the centuries. From this glorious past, there are still many monuments to discover. On our blog, we talk about some of these monuments. If you want to have time to see the caves and the rest of the monuments, plan between 3 to 5 days in Aurangabad. You can contact us for organise your trip in Aurangabad

Bibi ka Maqbara

Things to do in Aurangabad: visit Bibi ka Maqbara

2- Take a glass of sugar cane juice.

The sugar cane juice will be made in front of you. You can ask for it with or without an ice cube. Ideal when you are thirsty and need to regain energy. As you drink it fresh you will enjoy its virtues. And there are many. It is a natural source of vitamin B1, B2, B3 and vitamin C. It is especially good to drink when you have sunstroke issues. Our favourite is the one in front of Daultabad fort because in addition to the juice, you can enjoy the view. Add this to your list of things to do in Aurangabad.

3- Eat cucumber with masala.

Masala is a blend of Indian spices that are usually spicy. In India, many of the products we are used to eating are embellished with this blend. Crisps, rusks, cookies. The most surprising thing I found is dried bananas with masala. We expect to eat something sweet and in fact we finish with fire in mouth. There is however a use of masala in Aurangabad which is very good. It’s cucumber with masala. You can buy some at the entrance of the Ellora caves, in front of the Daultabad fort or in front of the Bibi ka Maqbara. Ask them to cut the cucumber before you eat to be sure of its freshness.

4- Physical exercise at Himayat Bagh

It is good for health. Every morning, the people of Aurangabad go to the parks to do sports. Enjoy the morning freshness to get to Himayat Bagh. This ancient royal garden is very popular with morning walkers. You will come across groups of women who does walking, young people jogging, men doing yoga. In addition, you will admire the remains of its grandeur or the view of the Bibi ka Maqbara at the end of Baugh. For optimal pleasure, it is best to go between 6 and 8 am. At this time, you will have the chance to see peacocks.

Himayat Bagh

Himayat Bagh

5- Go to the cinema.

Watching movies at theatre is one of the most likeable things of Indians. The Bollywood industry is the largest in terms of annual production. Coming to India and not going to the cinema is losing a unique experience. There are lots of cinemas in Aurangabad. In the Prozone shopping centre, there is a cinema called INOX. It is convenient because the employees speak English. My favorite is the INOX Tapadia. This one very often offers Marathi films. Far from Bollywood, full of dances and songs, with not very risky scenarios, Marathi films are generally better themed and address complex societal themes. In addition, they are usually with subtitles in English.

6- Play cricket with children

Cricket is like the national sport in India. It is like one of the religious act. On the day of match, businesses are idling. And when it’s international matches against Pakistan, you hear the fervour in every street in the city. It is very common to see children playing cricket on the street or in the parks. Do not hesitate to approach and ask them to participate. They will love playing with you.

Cricket with kids

Customer playing cricket

7- Shopping in the old town.

It’s called the old city, the city that was inside the ramparts. By deformation, we call this part of the city, the Muslim part because the majority of its inhabitants are Muslim. There are also more mosques than temples. In any case, it is the best place to do business. A sari, jewels, fabrics, spices, they almost got everything. Stroll through these narrow streets and you will capture the unstoppable atmosphere of Indian bazaars. The little extra thing, you can drink a sugar cane juice or eat ice cream to regain strength.

8- Yoga with Manish

Manish has been a yoga teacher for many years. He studied engineering but his discovery with yoga was a revelation. He visited the major ashrams from India to perfect his learning. Manish graduated in Yoga Therapy, E-RYT500 and Naturopathic and Yogic Massage. Now, he is teaching holistically so that your yoga practice is most relevant to you, your body and your mind. You can contact Manish on his Facebook or by phone at +919986313907.

Yoga with Manish

Yoga with Manish it’s things to do in Aurangabad.

9- Have a drink at Keys

As we have already discussed in a previous post. Keys bar has an extremely pleasant terrace for a drink. The menu is big enough to find everything you want, non-alcoholic cocktails, beer, wine, whiskey, etc … Young and old alike gather on this terrace to enjoy the fresh evening air . If you are hungry, they got tasty biryanis. With drinks, they usually offers appetisers. One of them is fresh cucumber, carrot with masala.

10-Enjoy a good massage

This is the most relaxing things to do in Aurangabad. Ayurveda is an ancient medicine that has always accompanied India in its evolution. In Aurangabad, we are fortunate to have good massage institutes. The best of them is at the MGM college. You have to call them to make an appointment. You will first see an Ayurvedic doctor who will establish the massage you need. Then you will enjoy the expertise of the masseurs who will make you feel relaxed. All for 1500 rupees. Do not hesitate to contact them during your stay at +91 2406541446.

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Indian cuisine: The best restaurants in Aurangabad

By | Général | One Comment

Maharashtra is a state with various culinary cultures. Some restaurants in Aurangabad are must try places to discover local specialities or to have a memorable taste experience.

First of all, there are some details of Indian gastronomy which are must follow:

Non vegetarian, vegetarian, pure vegetarian restaurants:

When you travel to India, you see at least one of these titles on all restaurants. What does that mean?

Non vegetarian restaurant: These types of restaurants serve meat, fish and eggs which are common everywhere around India. Not a country of Vegetarian anymore.

Vegetarian restaurant: In Hindu culture, eating fish, meat and eggs is considered impure. However, many do not follow the dietary restrictions. Some vegetarian restaurants serve eggs.

Pure vegetarian restaurant: this means the most enigmatic for travellers because it exists only in India. Many believe that a pure vegetarian restaurant is a vegan restaurant but it´s not at all. Indeed, still in Hindu culture, milk is considered sacred because it comes from the cow that is Shiva’s ride. Shiva being the god of the most respected and prayed Hindu pantheon. So milk is considered vegetarian by the majority of Indians as a basic element of their diet. So a pure vegetarian restaurant is a vegetarian restaurant that does not serve eggs but milk. Some of them serves Jain food which is another religion in India who do not eat particular type of food like onion or garlic mixed food.

Thali:

Thali is not a dish but a set of different curry food with rice and chapatis. When you ask for a thali in a restaurant, you will have rice, lentils and several ramekins filled with vegetable or meat preparations. These preparations are called curries. Traditionally, you can ask to be served for free curry many times. Nowadays, many restaurants no longer offer this service.

Chai :

Tea is a real ritual in India. If you are invited to a house or if you go into long negotiations in a shop, you will be offered tea. The Chai has tea powder, sugar (a lot), milk and spices. Each region has its own recipe for making Chai. This is why you will never taste two chai that have the same taste when you change state. Black chai is Dikashin (Hindi word) without milk.

The best restaurants in Aurangabad.

Number 5: Tandoor restaurant

Price: between 200 and 500 rupees per person.

Things to know: the restaurant is little cozy with a simple interior including air conditioning and Egyptian masks, this small restaurant does not make a good impression at first but it has the advantage of being just in front of the station. It’s a non vegetarian restaurant where vegetarians will not find so much. It offers Indian and Chinese cuisine.

Number 4: Keys the Aures

Price: between 500 and 1000 rupees per person with drinks

Things to know: this is the restaurant of 3 star hotel. You can eat on the ground floor or else at the bar on the first floor (unless you want to enjoy the buffet on the ground floor). It is one of the best places to relax and have a drink. Interior is little modern with some music at the bar. Quantities are important so do not order too much at once. Perfect and attentive service. This restaurant combines relaxation and flavor.

Number 3: Yalla Yalla

Price: between 150 and 350 rupees per person.

Things to know: This is one of the most popular restaurants in Aurangabad which is known for non vegetarian food. You will have to wait for a place. Eat outside than inside the hallway because the room is small and very noisy. A blend of Indian and Middle Eastern flavors will make you have a good time. They also offer non-alcoholic cocktails but this is not their speciality. They received the TripAdvisor Award of Excellence in 2017.

Number 2: Kailash restaurant

Price: between 100 and 300 rupees per person

Things to know: We do not recommend coming to Kailash for its decoration or for its atmosphere. We come here for tasty dishes of traditional South Indian and Chinese cuisine. The dosas are the best in town as well as the manchurians. The service is fast and efficient. It is the best value for money in the city. Located not far from the city, it is a good place to eat which is a km away from the train station or on the way to the train station.

Number 1: Mejwani thali restaurant

Meiwani thali restaurant

Meiwani thali restaurant

Price: 250 rupees per person.

Things to know: this restaurant is undoubtedly the best restaurant in the city. Everything is perfect. It is a traditional restaurant (pure vegetarian) of thali. The decoration is a mixture of traditional Indian art (sculpture, painting ) with a touch of modernity in the lighting which can make you feel to eat more and relax.

Feel free to comment, your impressions of these restaurants.

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happy new year 2018 akvintourism

Balance sheet 2017

By | Général | No Comments

From Akvin tourism,

Hello dear partners, we wish a happy new year 2018. We hope that this year 2018 will bring you all the happiness you want. This year, we are coming up with new exciting projects. We are so grateful for your support and would like to share our assessment of 2017 and tell you what will come in 2018.

Balance sheet of 2017

We started the guided tour agency by Akvin tourism in January 2017, in order to discover the hidden treasures of Aurangabad and its region.

Our services:

We have 6 different types of tours. We added a new tour and two new services in it. We created a tour around Aurangzeb, the last great Mughal emperor. For two hours, we explore the monuments left by this contested personality of the history of India. This tour allows you to discover the fortifications of the city, the palace and the private mosque of Aurangzeb and finally, the Bibi ka Maqbara. We also offer a taxi service to go to the classified cave sites of UNESCO, Ellora and Ajanta. We started offering these services on the requests of our beloved guests. During this year, we also hosted two big groups, one of 12 people and the other of 8 people. That’s why we will develop a more comprehensive offer for 2018 to meet the better expectations of groups.

Our clients:

We wish to continue to develop the quality of our services.

These are the reviews of our customers:

  • Varun : “For them it seems to be as much a passion to see others discover the beauty of Aurangabad, as it is a business” July 2017
  • Joe: “I enjoyed my time there, wish I could have stayed longer, two days was not enough to see everything.” July 2017
  • Abril: “Akash and Vince are extraordinary tourists guides. Thank you for everything guys!” February 2017
  • Adrienne:”Akash is an outstanding host and a very charismatic, knowledgeable tour guide who speaks excellent English.” December 2017

We would like to continue to improve this quality to bring a unique experience to all our guests.

Our aim:

From the beginning, we decided to engage in sustainable tourism. For this, we are committed to an NGO that has made the integration of women through work. This NGO has several things as activity. We work with the best people to get these amazing bags which are completely handmade by the women of NGO.

Sac pour les courses

Sac pour les courses

We also participate in heritage walks to support the initiative of the Aurangabad history society which aims to spread the knowledge of this historical city to the people of Aurangabad.

Heritage walks in Aurangabad

Finally, we are committed to have a fleet of small, comfortable vehicles. This reduces the carbon gases and does not harm the environment.

Our partnerships:

In February, we received Astrid who works for the Petit Futé. She discovered the treasures of the last Mughal capital. She was very impressed by the monuments she had seen. Suddenly, the guide of the Petit futé of South India has enriched several new pages and especially new description for Aurangabad, Khultabad and Daultabad. We are very proud to be able to work with this guide book which helps tourists discover the region.

What’s new in 2018:

We are integrating the many sites and monuments that we discovered last year in our tours. One of them is particularly special to us is the Antur Fort. This fort dating from the 15th century, is on the crest of a mountain. This makes visit a grandiose and wonderful.

We are also coming up with bicycle tours in Aurangabad to discover places where you cannot go by car like Himayat Bagh and also, to see the old city.

Petite mosquée

Small mosque in Himayat Bagh

We will take advantage of the off-season to become a partner with local artisans to create a network that will provide local crafts or interesting facts to tourists. We will create welcome packs with local handicrafts for all our customers.

And finally, our most important project is the creation of tours in all of Maharashtra. These tours will be of several days to provide a longer, worth experience and a deeper immersion to our customers.

If you wish to follow our projects or be the first to discover new places in Aurangabad, you can subscribe to our newsletter:

 

Wish you all again a very happy new year!!!

Malik Ambar tomb

Khultabad, the spiritual capital of 15th century

By | Général, Monument | 3 Comments

Khultabad, some history behind the small village

The town was known before under the name of Rauzaa, ‘the garden of paradise’. After the death of Aurangzeb, this city is renamed “Khultabad”. Khulad means heaven and Abad means community or society, so it means the community of heaven. It is the central point for the valley of saints because in the 14th century several Sufi saints elected Khultabad as residence. It is said that no less than 1,400 saints are buried in this valley such as Rajaramdev, Badshah Khilji and Mo. Tuglak. They taught people that Hindus and Muslims must keep peace and unity among themselves. Many kings, devotees, saints came to this place to see their wish fulfilled. Because it is the capital of Sufism, so many kings and Mughal emperors built fascinating gardens, small houses. There were also many attractive palaces of emperors including that of Aurangzeb.

Khultabad

Khultabad

The city was fortified during the reign of Aurangzeb at the end of the 17th century. The wall had a protective function against bandits and brigands but could not serve as defence against an army.

This city has religious as well as historical importance because it contains the tomb of Malik Ambar and Aurangzeb.

 

The Tomb of Malik Ambar:

Malik Ambar tomb

Malik Ambar tomb

For now about Malik Ambar, you can read this article.

Malik Ambar’s tomb is a tomb of classical Indo Islamic architecture. The finely finished mausoleum, built in pink basalt and raised on a pedestal, has a double facade, each floor sheltered by an overhang on protruding brackets. The windows on each side are finely worked, they are formed of geometric screens called jali. It is enclosed to show the importance of the person buried. Opposite is a rather dilapidated guest house. It is built in a vaguely Italian style with windows of Gothic style which was very popular in Hyderabad at the beginning of the 20th century. It allowed people to pay tribute to Malik Ambar to rest. Despite the importance of Malik Ambar for the Deccan valley, his tomb is currently abandoned.

The tomb of Aurangzeb:

Aurangzeb (3 November 1618 – 3 March 1707)

Portrait of Aurangzeb

Portrait of Aurangzeb

From his name Abu Muzaffar Muhiuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb Âlamgir known as Aurangzeb (ornament of the throne in Persian) or as Alamgir 1st. He is the last great Mughal emperor. He is the third son of Shah Jahan, he was governor of the Deccan from 1636 to 1644 with some success. In 1657, Shah Jahan felt ill and a succession war broke out between three brothers.

On July 31, 1658, Aurangzeb got the victory and sat on the throne of the peacock, the symbol of Mughal power. He imprisoned his father in the red fort of Agra for supporting his brother. Under his reign, the empire reached its territorial apogee covering virtually all of India today.

He is the most hated person in India. Most of the history around him was written by British for colonise India easily. If you want to know more about Aurangzeb, you can see this video.

He made Aurangabad as capital city of mughal emperor to be able extend his empire on the south of India.

He is buried in Khultabad in a simplicity desired by himself.

His reign marks the end of the empire that disappeared 101 years after him.

The tomb:

Mosque in Aurangzeb's tomb

Mosque in Aurangzeb’s tomb

Aurangzeb died in 1707 in Ahmednagar. His body was then transported to Khultabad after the arrival of his son Azam Shah and his daughter Zinat-un-Nissa. There is a platform on the tomb made of red stone, less than three meters in length. The tomb was covered with soil on which grass growes. After his funeral, he received the posthumous title of “Khuld-makan” (the one whose dwelling is in eternity). The marble jali screen was added in 1921 by the Nizam of Hyderabad with the encouragement of the British viceroy Lord Curzon. Now the tomb is covered by “the vault of heaven” means there is no roof and you can see the sky from there. The footbridge and the domed porch were added in 1760.

It is said that Aurangzeb paid for his burial place by sewing hats during his last years and that it cost only 14 rupees and 12 annas. The tomb is “remarkably simple in accordance with Aurangzeb’s own wishes”. The full name of Aurangzeb is written on a marble plaque in one of the corners of the tomb.

Aurangzeb asked to be buried next to a great Sufi saint Zainuddin Shirazi.

He is a holy Mahometan highly revered by the Muslims. On the east side there are a number of verses inscribed in the Quran and the date of the saint’s death, 771 H. (1370 AD). Sheikh Zain-ud-din was born in Shiraz, in H. 701 (1300) and came to Delhi by Mecca. He studied under Maulana Kamal ud din of Samana and accompanied him to Daulatabad.

He occupied the Kazi office at Daulatabad, and in H. 737 (1336) he was invested with the mantle of the caliphate, but did not really succeed until after the death of Burhan-ud-din in H. 741 (1340). The sayings of Zain-ud-din were recorded by Shaikh Husain in his Hidayatu-l-Kabul. The mausoleum was erected by his disciples much later. It is surrounded by a large quadrangular courtyard, and the enclosure has two doors chased with silver and brass. The courtyard has two mosques, one on a higher one and the other on a lower level, a sloping pavement leading to the first.

Aurangzeb's tomb complex

Aurangzeb’s tomb complex

There are open buildings on all sides, and a nagarkhana or music room at the eastern end. The western end is used as a school where the Quran is taught. Sanctuary’s door are inlaid with silver plates and the stage below is embellished with a number of stones curiously cut and polished. The interior of the burial is covered with richly embroidered rosewood, and has the usual chain of ostrich eggs hanging on it. It is said that a small room in a corner of the courtyard wall contains the prophet’s robe, which is exhibited once a year on the 12th Rabi-ul-awal. The relics of the parahan and taj given to Burhan-ud-din in succession to the caliphate we carefully preserved in a wooden box placed in one of the apartments of Zain-ud, dargah of din.

The dargah also houses the tomb of the first Nizam, Asaf Jah I, his son Nasir Jung, and those of the son of Aurangzeb Azam Shah and his wife.

Garden of Jahan Banu Begum:

Jahan Banu Begum Garden

Jahan Banu Begum Garden

The only garden, in Khultabad is Bani Begum Garden. Bani Begum was the wife of Aurangzeb’s son, Azam Shah. The tomb of Bani Begam is at the centre of a large quadrangular garden. It is surrounded by a beautiful wall with arched cavities inside. An elegant kiosk at each corner and is surmounted by an indo-buckwheat dome, grooved on the outside.

The main entrance is in the centre of the north wall and a mosque is in the south direction. While a corresponding open horn is in each of the remaining walls. The ground in the interior is arranged in the usual form of a garden and contains cisterns and fountains, which are no longer in working order. The tomb of the Begum is inside another walled fence in the middle of the garden and has four small minarets around it. A pretty summer house in the centre of each wall in this enclosure of the wound, has sixteen slender but elegant pillars, supporting a dome-shaped roof in the curious form belonging to the style of Bengal.

Tomb of Jahan Banu Begum

Tomb of Jahan Banu Begum

If you want to discover Khultabad, you can book the tour the 3 capitals. More information about this tour here.