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Les grottes d'Aurangabad

5 reasons to not visit the Maharashtra

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Are you planning your trip to India? You read a lot and have doubts about which destinations to focus on. Perhaps you will arrive at Mumbai airport and you are wondering about the opportunity to visiting Maharashtra. You are not yet convinced to visit this state. You are rather unfavourable to this idea?

Here is an article to help you in your decision. So here are the 5 reasons why you should NOT visit Maharashtra.

Reason 1: You only travel to see famous landmarks.

If the purpose of your trip is to check the boxes of the list of things to see before dying. If you do not want to discover new monuments, new stories. So Maharashtra is not for you. Indeed, Maharashtra is a little touristic state of India. It’s not so much the centers of interest that are missing. Maharashtra has 3 sacred cities for 3 religions and many very important sites for other religions.
The 3 sacred cities are:
– Nashik: Indian mythological city that appears in the Ramayana.
– Khultabad: second sacred city for Sufis in India.
– Nanded: one of the 4 sacred cities for Sikhs.
Maharashtra also has some exceptional sites:
– Ellora: UNESCO 36 caves cut into the rock with temples of 3 different religions.
– Ajanta: UNESCO 26 Buddhist caves known for their mural unique in the world.
– Grishneshwar temple: the last of the 12 Jyotrilinga (dedicated sacred temples to Shiva)
– Lonar Lake: the world’s third largest meteor crater became a wildlife reserve with temples dating back to the 8th century.
– Konkan: sandy beaches and mesmerizing nature
There is also the city of Aurangabad which is a city full of surprises and discovery. It must not be forgotten that Aurangabad has been 2 times capitals of India throughout the history. From this past, there are still palaces, forts, ramparts, royal gardens etc … Nevertheless, tourist guides do not speak about hidden places. Coming to Aurangabad, you will see many things that nobody knows about.

Reason 2 not to visiting Maharashtra:

If you like crowds, if you can not imagine a wireless trip waiting at the entrance of monuments, restaurants or shops, do not visit Maharashtra. As the area is not very touristy, even the most famous monuments classified as World Heritage by UNESCO is not crowdy. This means you will not wait for long time or hours to visit these monuments. In addition to the this, you will be quiet and have all the time you want to admire. It may even happen that you are alone in some of the monuments to visit.
This allows you to experience the most of the history and culture of this region.

Reason 3: If you like big cities

If the sight of a tree or fields scares you, Aurangabad is not for you.
Good Aurangabad is still a city of 1.5 million inhabitants. But that does not make it a small town for India. Above all, it is surrounded by fields, mountains and forests. Nature is omnipresent and monkeys, cows, horses or peacocks can be seen. The Himayat Bagh is a green lush garden that will make you forget cars and horns.

Reason 4: If you do not like history

If you have bad memories of your history classes or are boring, it would be best not visiting Maharashtra.
Indeed, in addition to being a very spiritual region thanks to its three sacred cities, Maharashtra also has a central history for India.
As we said above, Aurangabad has been twice the capital of India throughout history. This city can offer you incredible stories like that of Malik Ambar or the great History of India with the Mughals. There is also Paithan, capital of the first empire of the region which was quoted in the book “Journey to the Sea of ​​Eritrea” Greek book of the first century.
It was in Nashik that the ashes of Nehru and Indira Gandhi were scattered.
It is in Nagpur that Mahatma Gandhi took the lead of the Congress which led to independence.
So if history is not your thing, it’s going to be difficult in Maharashtra.

Reason 5 to not visiting Maharashtra : If you like marked trails

The adventure is not your forte, you like to follow the steps of tourists before you, so definitely Maharashtra is not for you.
The guide of the backpacker and the lonely planet will not advise you visiting Maharashtra. And for good reason. the state of Maharashtra has not yet invested huge sums to facilitate tourism. It’s not like Rajasthan that saw tourism as its only source of money. Maharashtra is primarily an agricultural and industrial state.
Despite the many tourist attractions in the region, tourism is in its infancy. This allows an authentic and true encounter with the people and culture of Maharashtra. Here nobody will ask you for a backshish in a restaurant or for an information. During your journey in this unknown state, you will meet historical characters who have changed India but also people who take care of you as “our guest is our God”.
In Aurangabad as in Nashik or Nanded, there are few tourist shops. The restaurants are first for locals, they are not made for tourists. We tried to list the best restaurants for Aurangabad but do not expect to see tourists there. Some stores have no one to speak English. The negotiations are done with the calculator.
It can be scary not to follow the marked trails of others before you but it is also the beauty of the trip. If all these reasons did not convince you to not visiting Maharashtra, do not hesitate to contact us so that we can make you discover the region in the best conditions.
Hope you get the sarcasm. 
Yogatra, Yoga and culture

Yogatra retreat

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Namaste from Akvin Tourism, we are committed to offer original products and tours that allows you to discover India in a authentic way. Our tours are always focused on an experience that combines tourist attractions and merging in Indian culture. We created Yogatra to experience peace, explore nature, know about historical things in one trip.

Yogatra: Introduction

The word Yogatra is the contraction of Yoga and Athra which means culture. Our meeting with Manish was the starting point of this adventure.
Manish sees yoga as an art of healing. He is always looking for perfection and he wants to make a yoga session a special moment. His involvement in the search for authentic yoga has given us the desire to create something with him. We have gathered our skills to create this unique yoga retreat in Maharashtra.

A retreat for the body and the mind

We want you to discover Indian culture in depth, that’s why we go in this yoga retreat’s cultural part. It will be on several forms. We will show you historical sites, attend a traditional musical show and see the craft workshops of the region.

The different yoga practiced during the retreat

During this retreat, you will practice several types of yoga:
Hatha yoga:It is the practice of yoga posture (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) to calm the mind and prepare the body for meditation.
Sivananda yoga: it is a classical form of Hatha Yoga, developed by Swami Vishnu-Devananda. A Sivananda Yoga session begins with Pranayama, heats up with Surya-Namaskar followed by a practice of twelve Asanas (yoga postures).
Restorative Yoga: it is a soft, relaxing and passive form of yoga, which promotes relaxation while holding the Asanas (yoga postures) for a long time, using accessories, including bolsters, blocks, straps and blankets.
Yoga therapy: In yoga therapy session, we focus on healing the body and mind. The teacher combines asana, pranayama, mudra, yoga nidra, chanting of mantra and meditation according to the practitioners’ requirement.

Yogatra discover the real india

The Aurangabad region: an important place for the history and spirituality of India

The state of Maharasthra is in the center of India. It has 3 holy cities and different sacred sites. The Aurangabad region has always been a spiritual center. From the 2nd century BC, Buddhist monks came to the region to build magnificent temples in the rock. The Ajanta site is known for paintings and carvings which has excavated out of the rock. The religious emulation around these caves helped to build 29 caves. These have been richly painted.

Interieur grotte Ajanta

From the 5th century, the site of Ellora was built. Also carved on the rock, this site is exceptional because it has temples of three major Indian religions, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. This proves the great religious tolerance that prevailed in this part of India. It has the one and only monolithic temple in India.

Grotte nº10 ellora

Tolerance is found in Khultabad. This city, created in the 14th century, was the center of Sufism in India. It is still considered the second most important city in India for Sufism. Sufis shared their knowledge with Hindus and also learned from them. Some tombs of Sufi saints are still respected by both communities today.
There is finally the Lonar lake. This lake was created by the fall of a meteorite on Earth. It is the third largest crater in the world and has a salt lake in its center known for its medicinal properties. From the 6th century, men came to build temples around this lake which is still visible today. You will be experiencing much more than this once you travel with Akvin. Come and join us for Yogatra!

Planning of Yogatra

Heures Day 1 Day 2 Day 3  Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12
06h00-06h30 06h20: Reach Aurangabad, Welcome and transfer to hotel  Herbal tea Herbal tea Herbal tea Herbal tea Herbal tea Herbal tea Herbal tea Herbal tea
06h30-07h30 Yoga Yoga Trekking in montaine Yoga Yoga at Lonar  Lake Yoga Yoga Yoga
7h-8h Departure  Free time Free time Free time Free time Free time Free time Herbal tea Reach
8h-9h Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast Yoga
9h-10h Installation on hotel and relax time Ajanta Aurangabad Paithan Khulbabad /Daultabad Ellora Visit NGO and silk factory Breakfast
10h-11h Departure ceremonie
11h-12h 11h30: departur to airport
12h-13h Lunch at hotel
13h-14h Flight to Aurangabad
14h-15h Free time
15h-16h
16h-17h
17h-18h Yoga , relaxation Free time Free time Free time Free time Free time Free time
18h-19h Presentation Yoga Yoga Yoga Yoga Yoga Yoga
19h-20h Diner Diner Diner Diner Diner Diner Diner
20h-20h45 Meditation Meditation Meditation Meditation Meditation Diner Meditation Meditation Meditation
20h45-21h45 Night Night Night Night Night Meditation Night Night Night
21h45-22h00 Night
22h00

 

The organisers of Yogatra:

Althéa Travel:

Althéa voyages is found with the collaboration of Séverine, 20 years of experience in tourism and creator of the Houseboat Althéa and Paola, 28 years in tourism, NLP Practitioner and Individual Coach; both passionate about the culture and the Travels!

They share their knowledge and skills, so the most beautiful trip can come in your way.

It is the travel agency that organizes the trip and will be in charge of reservations.

Akvin tourism:

We will be the receptive agency in India. We organise transportation, accommodation and visits.
Akvin tourism was found from the meeting between Akash and Vincent. The agency has developed around the idea of ​​sustainable tourism. This tourism is bringing an economic activity which preserves the cultures, the environment and the will of development of the premises.
If you want to know more click here.

Next departure:
The next Yogatra retreat will be from December 4 to 15, 2019. There are only 10 places available so it is best to book as soon as possible.

 

For the 11 days, the price is 1895 euros.

The price includes:

France-Aurangabad return flights
Accommodation in a hotel away from the city
Transportation
Entrance fees of all visiting monuments
Full buffet with vegetarian and vegan option
Yoga/meditation classes
Guided tours

Price does not include:

Visa
Alcoholic drinks
Tips

If you want to know more about Yogatra you can contact:
Althea Travel: pz@althea-voyages.com or 06.03.78.14.38

Akvin tourism: info@akvintourism.com or at 06.14.23.41.31

Chand Minar

Daultabad: history of a capital

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There are places which are hidden by the time and where nature gradually resumes its rights. It is difficult to imagine that these places are steeped in history. This is what happens at Devgiri fort (Daultabad fort)

Devgiri: mythological origins

Before being called Daultabad, this place was named Devagiri, literally means mountain of gods. In Hindu mythology, Shiva came to observe the region from the top of the mountain. From this mythological past, they have remained a temple at the top of Daultabad.
Temple de Shiva au sommet de Daultabad

Temple of Shiva at the top of Daultabad

 A strategic location and the first capital

Although there are traces of occupation of the mountain since 100 BC, it was the Yadava who made Daultabad, a fort. In 1187, Bhillama V, a Yadava prince, established his new capital on Devgiri Mountain.
The Yadavas are an ancient people who think they are descended from Yadu, a king from the mythology cited in the Puranas. Bhillama V comes from the Seuna dynasty, who claim to be from Yadava. They are commonly called the Yadava of Devgiri. Daultabad remained the capital until the fall of their empire in 1313.
During their reign, they endowed their capital with three lines of defence protected by watch towers. They also built a unique entry system to trap their enemies inside the citadel. They also built the dark tunnels that are still difficult to cross to get to the top of the mountain. All these defensive techniques allowed the citadel to be one of the rare strongholds in the world which have been never invaded. Indeed, all the occupants of these places have always surrendered.

The capital of India

A legend tells that the first time Muhammad bin Tughluq saw Devgiri, he fell in love with it and decided to make it his capital. In fact, historians has given strategic reasons for this decision. Muhammad bin Tughluq was a sultan from Delhi from 1325 to 1351. He was the second king of the Tughluq dynasty which was founded by his father, Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq.
carte du sultanat de Delhi

Delhi sultana map

 

During his reign he greatly enlarged his empire. And that is precisely what would have decided to transfer his capital from Delhi to Devgiri.

Daultabad (name given by the Sultan) was central to the territorial evolution of the empire. His changes in capital was a decision of more tactical than love.
In addition, Muhammad bin Tughluq would have wanted to make his new capital a center of Islamic culture on the Indian subcontinent. This would have allowed him to have better control over the Deccan region, by reducing Hindu rebellions. He invited many ulemas for this purpose. This worked rather well since the area is known as the Valley of Saints. Khultabad was a spiritual capital in the 15th century.

A complicated and unsustainable capital change

For the success of the transfer, Muhammad bin Tughluq had to force the inhabitants of Delhi to leave. For this he used force. Ziauddin Barani, a politician of the time, observed: “Without consulting or weighing the pros and cons, he ruined Delhi, which for 170 to 180 years, prospered and rivalled Baghdad and Cairo.The city with its Sarais and its The suburbs and its villages stretched for four or five leagues. Everything was destroyed (in the abandoned sense), there was no longer a cat or a dog.”
The transfer began in 1328 and was completed in 1331. Many people died during the largest population movement in Indian history after the 1945 partition.
Daultabad remained a capital of empire less than 10 years because in 1339, Muhammad bin Tughluq decided to go back to Delhi. For all this, he inherited the nickname of crazy king. The lack of water and the invasions to the north of the empire defeated the will of Muhammad bin Tughluq.
On his death, the Sultanate of Delhi arrived to the foot of Devgiri for the empire of Bahmani in the Deccan. Even if Daultabad was the capital, it never had the prestige it could have been in being the capital of the Indian subcontinent.
This city become a secondary city included with different kingdoms or empire.

Abandoned monument

As often when a place has had a glorious past, it has a duller present. Today, Devgiri Fort is a tourist attraction that attracts more school buses or students than national or international tourists. Located on the highway to the famous caves of Ellora, people usually stops to just take a picture from a far end.

In a future article, we will talk about beauties to discover inside and around the fort.

If you are interested in a guided tour, do not hesitate to contact us.

Challenges for new major

Challenges for the new major of city

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The election results have just published. Aurangabad has a new minister of parliament named Imtiyaz Jaleel. This election gave a hope to Aurangabad. Here are the challenges for the new MP of the city:

Environment protection challenges

Aurangabad has suffered from abandonment for several years. It is urgent to repair damage of the city.

Keeping the city clean

The city does not have a garbage collection system that works effectively. The system is filled with garbage. Several organisations or groups of individuals decided to make clean-up campaigns. It lacks to convince the people to respect their city and use garbage dustbins, sorting out wet and dry waste. From Akvin tourism, we plan to do a neighborhood cleaning campaign of the city.

Preserve water resources like Nehre-e-ambari, one of the biggest challenges

Climate change has terrible consequences in Aurangabad. This year was a year marked by water shortages and drying up of soils. This lack of water has several factors. One of these factors is the disappearance of the city’s natural water reservoirs. Since June 2018, we have been working with NGOs specialized in the regeneration of lakes and rivers.

This is one of our commitment for the development of sustainable tourism in the Aurangabad region. We encourage our new MP to talk about the water conservation projects that we would like to pursue. Avoiding sand mining and planting trees at the Harsul lake will help for water conservation.

Challenges for the development of the city

The city of Aurangabad is more an industrial city than a tourist. For several years, there has been a shortage of work and young people have to go to Pune, Mumbai or even out of Maharashtra. Faced with this, there are several actions to put in place.

Infrastructure

Aurangabad is infamous for having one of the worst road networks in the country. The former municipality has done a bad job, because of this undevelopment network, the city loses important opportunities. We will have to make an inventory of roads in Aurangabad and make a plan to find a road network worthy of the tourist capital of Maharashtra. Nashik city, which is 100 kilometers from Aurangabad and is of same area has well maintained roads including cleanliness.

Tourism development and preservation of historical monuments of the city

Since 2014, Aurangabad is considered the tourist capital of Maharashtra. The sites of Ellora and Ajanta which are classified in UNESCO allow the influx of tourists. But Aurangabad remains under development at the tourist level. It’s history and monuments have never been put forward. Tourists only have time to visit Ellora and Ajanta. The majority leaves without knowing the history of the city and without even having seen the main monuments like Bibi ka maqbara, Aurangabad caves, Panchakki, Soneri mahal and even Khultabad.

The tourist potential of Aurangabad is enormous. This capital of India from the seventeenth century begs to be discovered. If tourists stay a day or two more days in Aurangabad, that’s money that will be injected into the local economy. It will also create jobs. Finally the money provided by the tourism will make campaigns of protection for the monuments of the city.

We would like to be able to talk about all the possibilities of tourism development with the new MP so that it benefits the greatest number.

Our suggestions

Akvin tourism has some suggestions for few problems

1) Rain harvesting can be done in all the colonies by charging every home a minimum amount for making a rain harvesting plant in their area itself.

2) making/protection of gardens can be done by collecting service tax from the particular commercial people from that related area or it can be given to the private companies by those businessmen and can be taken care by them itself so we actually see the outcome.

3) Many people has contributed in Air/train/bus connectivity work so making a team of these people and sorting out the issues at ground level than believing on some other authorities.
Airport extension is in the news since many years but nothing has happened so personally taking an initiative by MP by talking with the airlines might help.

4) Recycling plants for plastic and dry waste is needed. Giving Aurangabadkars one rupee per kg for that particularly needed waste will help in getting outcome and will also sort out the garbage issue problem in Aurangabad.
OR
Giving subsidy in the house tax/water charges if people have made biogas system at homes, that will encourage people to make it successful.

Treasures of Maharashtra

Hidden treasures of Maharashtra

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The 2018-2019 season ends quietly and a balance must be established. Here we share our most beautiful discoveries of the hidden treasures of Maharashtra. This year, we have done a lot of research to give you even more unforgettable moments.

The hidden treasures of Maharashtra: Khultabad

Turkey sultan’s tomb

Burj al Khalifa

Burj al Khalifa

It’s been a long time since we were looking for the path to this monument. It took us a whole day to find it. The treasures of Maharashtra are worth it.

Path to Burj al Khalifa

This is the path for going to Burj al Khalifa, one of the treasures of Maharashtra

So one day we decided to go to Khultabad to find the end of the story. We asked a lot of people but no answer shown us to get closer to our goal. We had to go in a little dargah (mosque) and talk to the guard of the place to have a start of the track. He told us the road to get to this beauty. Obviously as in every adventure, nothing is simple. After one kilometre, we had to leave the car because there was no longer good road, it was a dirt road. We decided to continue on foot. We walked along a forest and after 3 kilometres, we saw the object of our quest.

The tomb should have been the grave of a Turkish dignitary but Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Prime Minister at that time did not give a permission for that. The monument has therefore remained abandoned and was never a tomb.
Today, it is a perfect place to have a view of the Ellora Caves.

Some tombs and old monuments

Khuldabad was the center of Sufism in India in the 14th century, and when Aurangabad was the capital of the Mughal empire, many nobles had palaces in this small village. Today, it is difficult to see the past greatness of this village. We discovered new tombs as well as remains of some palaces. Unfortunately, we have not managed to find out more about the history of these monuments.

Tombs in Khuldabad

Tomb

al Bagh

Lal Bagh

Wall of Khuldabad

Ancient wall of the village

Part of Palace

Part of palace

Charthana, the village with 360 temples

We were contacted to visit a village that would like to develop its tourist activity. For now it is a village unknown to tourists. Still, Charthana has great potential. Between the eighth and eleventh centuries, it possessed 360 temples according to historians. Today some temples are still visible. We met the village officials and they showed us the different points of interest of the city.
The Barav (stepwell) were essential for the survival of the village

Temple of Charthana

one of ancient temple

Door of ancient house

The village is quite old and some houses are the prove of that

Baoli in Charthana

In ancient time, Baoli was use for keep the water. Now it’s one of treasures of Maharashtra

Baoli in Charthana

The village needs to make some arrangements to accommodate tourists on a regular basis. However, we decided to include in our 15-days tour of Maharashtra, a Charthana Discovery Day tour.

Two villages that are treasures of Maharashtra

We visited two villages that touched us a lot by the warmth of their inhabitants and the hidden treasures. Unfortunately because of the conditions of access, it was impossible for us to include them in a circuit. They will be hidden for a moment.

Mudgal

Temple inside river

One of the unique Hindu temple inside the river

Statue hindu in temple

One of the statues in Mudgal temple

Detail of temple in river

Front side of the Hindu temple inside the river

This small village is only 44 kilometers from Parbhani. But the access roads are so bad that it takes between 2 hours to 2 hours and a half. When you arrive, your back will hurt you. The village is quite small but it has a treasure that is unique to Maharashtra. It has a temple that was built in the bed of the Godavari River. Because of the water problems affecting Maharashtra we have not been able to enjoy the spectacle of the temple surrounded by water. Nevertheless, we can imagine its beauty. An ingenious system was also built in front of the temple to protect it from the waters.

Potra, new treasures of Maharashtra

Parrots in Burkha

Parrots is one of birds you can see in birds sanctuary

Other bird in Burkha

one of birds in birds wildlife sanctuary in Burkha

Shiva statue

Shiva statue in bird wildlife sanctuary

This story is the one that touched us the most. Imagine, 10 years ago a village decided alone without any help, to create a sanctuary. All the villagers put themselves in it. They decided to reserve the mountain which is at the end of the village. They cleaned it up and planted trees. Thanks to their work, this mountain has become a bird sanctuary.
This shrine is such a success that the state of Maharashtra decided to invest in it. The work that was done in this small village in the middle of nowhere is an example and a breath of hope in a country that suffers from pollution and deforestation.

Historically important towns: treasures of Maharashtra

Paithan and Nanded are two known cities in Maharashtra by locals. By cons, they are completely deserted by tourists.

Nanded, the sacred city of Sikhism

Inside Gurudwara

Gurudwara by night

Gurudwara by night

Nanded is the grave site of the last Sikh guru, Gobind Singh. It has become an important pilgrimage site for the entire community. It is now part of the 4 sacred cities of Sikhs.
We went there to see the potential of the city and find out if it could be offered as a tourist stop. We were more than surprised by the splendor, beauty and grandeur of the Gurindwara temple dedicated to Gobind Singh. The temple is in the middle of a dynamic neighborhood. Further, the banks of the river are extremely pleasant in the morning or evening to walk. There is also a park with a sound and light show every day. The city is really nice to visit by day and evening.

Paithan, first empire capital

Museum in Paithan

These are some of the pieces from the museum in Paithan

Old wooden temple

Old wooden temple

Ghat in Paithan

Ghat in Paithan

Godavari river

Godavari river

Paithan is a small village located at south of Aurangabad. At present, it lives on agriculture and small industries. It is hard to imagine that it was the capital of one of the first empires of the Indian subcontinent. The Satavahana dynasty reigned over half of present India between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD. This city appears in the book The Journey of the Sea Eritrea, a Greek book of the first century AD. From this past, they got the famous Paithani saries, the most luxurious sari of India. There are also many monuments/temples to visit including a ghat.

It is a small village to visit in a day with places where nature has regained its rights.

The second time we visited this village, we discovered a palace that dates from the time of the Nizams, i.e. the eighteenth century. It is completely abandoned today but one can still imagine its past splendour.

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Lonar lake: the second biggest crater lake in the world

The Lonar village is home to the second largest meteorite crater in the world. The edge of the lake created by the meteor impact is filled with temples and surrounded by unspoiled and abundant nature. This lake is so beautiful and attractive that we often forget to visit the village. It happened to us and we decided to fix this mistake.
This allowed us to discover a quite original temple. Indeed, this temple which must be built between the eighth century and the tenth century. What makes it unique is part of its structure. It is half Hindu architecture and half Nizam architecture.

Hindu statues in Lonar temple

Hindu statues in Lonar temple

Hindu statues in Lonar temple

Hindu statues in Lonar temple

Inside Lonar temple

Inside Lonar temple

Temple in Lonar

Temple in Lonar

Aurangabad, new discovery

Finally, we discovered a palace that was turned into a tomb of Sultan&apos;s Khan. This monument dates from the time when Aurangzeb was vice king of Aurangabad. It is now on the campus of the university. This discovery is recent, we do not have much information on this monument.

Inside palace

Inside palace

Palace

Palace

If you want to discover these new places you can see our tours here, or else you can contact us by mail: info@akvintourism.com

Maharashtra State

Maharashtra: Why I love this state so much?

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It is now four years since I discovered the Maharashtra state. This one was unknown to me despite two trips to India. Maharashtra is a south Indian state that has Mumbai (formerly Bombay) as the economical capital. It is half the size of France and has the double population.

During these 4 years, I discovered the culture of this state and I had the best live experiences.

 

How I came to know Maharashtra:

It all started when I met Akash in Taipei on the first of January 2015. He invited me to discover his city, Aurangabad. It has been 4 years since I came to India. Despite the little information I could find on this city I let myself to be tempted.

So I arrived in Aurangabad with Akash in April 2015. I stayed there for a week. During the visit, I discovered monuments that were not mentioned anywhere. Fortifications, palaces, tombs, imposing walls etc. The curiosity for these monuments had just stung me. So I decided to come back to this area the same year. I stayed longer and I gradually fell in love with this city. To know more about my journey and my discovery of Maharashtra you can check this page.

Famous historical characters

When I became interested in Maharashtra, I came across some famous and unknown characters but with remarkable stories..

Malik Ambar: the slave who became a king.

Malik Ambar

Malik Ambar arrived in Maharashtra as a slave but his intelligence and tolerance propelled him to prime the Nizams of Ahmednagar. He built the city of Aurangabad and was the nemesis of the Mughals who never managed to beat him. To know more, you can read this article.

Chatrapati Shivaji Maraj: the most famous of the Maharashtrians

Shivaji was a warrior and a king. he built an early empire in an enclave on the territory of the sinking Bijapur Sultanate. He was crowned king in 1674 in his fort of Raigad. Today he is the most respected historical figure in India.

Anandi Gopal Joshi: first female doctor of India.

Born in a small village in Maharashtra, she was married at very young age by her parents (9 years old). Her advocate husband fought for women’s right forced her to read and learn. It is at the loss of her baby when Anandi got the desire to become a doctor.

Savitribai Phule / Jyotirao Phule: united by the right of women and low castes.

This couple fought all their life for the education of women and low castes. They founded the first women’s school in India in 1848. In 1873, they created an association for the equal rights of low castes. We work with an NGO that helps women through the work that bears the name of Savitribai Phule and her legacy. More information here.

Tarabai Shinde: one of the first feminists in India

She fought all her life against patriarchy and castes in nineteenth-century India. She published a text called “a comparison between women and men” in 1882. This pamphlet is a direct criticism of the patriarchy imposed by high castes. This text is considered the first feminist text of the modern Indian era. At present, the view that Hindu religious texts are the source of women’s oppression continues to shake Indian society.

Mahadev Gobind Ramade / Ramabai Ranade: Politicians and Activists

While Mahadev Gobind Ramade created the Congress Party, Ramabai Ranade was fighting for women’s rights. This couple was united by their struggles for the independence of India and the free access of women to education. Ramabai Ranade created the first girls’ high school following Savitribai Phule’s footsteps

Rukhmabai: from divorce to medicine

Because her husband did not respect his obligations and especially thanks to his will, Rukhmabai gets the divorce. Thanks to this precedent, the law was changed and the age of marriage for girls increased from 10 to 12 years. His fame did not come at his expense. She became the first female doctor to practice medicine.

Madhuri Dixit: the superstar

To finish this non-exhaustive list, a little lightness. Madhuri Dixit is an actress of the very powerful Bollywood film industry. She was one of the most celebrated and best paid in the late 80s and 90s.

She has been awarded 6 filmfare awards (equivalent to the Oscars) and holds the record for the highest number of nominations for the filmfare award for best actress (14 times). In 2008, she received the Padma Shri medal, the fourth highest country award.

Religious tolerance

All the people we have just mentioned have, for the most part, extreme tolerance. This tolerance is one of the cornerstones of Maharashtra culture. The example of this tolerance is the presence of 5 important places for the 5 religions that participated in the history of the country.

Nashik: The sacred Hindu city

In this other article, we have already mentioned the city of Nashik. This mythological city is attached to Ram. During his exile from the kingdom of Ayodhya, he stayed here and his fight against Ravana began here. In the Ramayana, Nashik holds a central place in the epic of Lord Ram, his wife Sita and his brother Laxman..

Khultabad: the center of Sufism in the fourteenth century

During the relocation of the capital of the Delhi, Sultanate from Delhi shifted the capital to Dautlabad, many Sufi saints came to settle in this small village located 4 kilometers from the Ellora Caves. Khultabad thus became an important spiritual center. In fact, it is still considered an important place of Sufism in India. The celebrations in December attract more and more people (between 200,000 and 1 million).

Ellora: 3 religions united in sublimation

The Ellora caves are world famous especially for the number cave 16 which is the largest monolithic monument in the world. In Ellora, there is a rare element: the presence on the same site of 3 religions, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Their cohabitation was peaceful and also allowed creative and artistic emulation. That’s why it’s the most beautiful and rich cave site in all of India.

Nanded: one of the fourth sacred cities for Sikhs

Nanded is a small town, east of Maharashtra. It has the tomb of the tenth and last guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh. This religion was born in Punjab. His last guru was on a trip to meet the new Mughal emperor to come to terms. He waited a long time but in the meantime the new emperor died. Gobind Singh died in Nanded in 1708. Since then it has been a place of pilgrimage for all Sikhs on the planet.

One of the secrets of Maharashtra is its cuisine

The cuisine of Maharashtra is very diverse and everyone can find it. We have little or no spicy dishes like Pav Bhaji. It is a mixture of tomato and aromatic herbs. It is traditionally eaten with a brioche bread.

Breakfast is served with a plate of Poha. It is a flat rice dish mixed with curry, sweet onions, peanuts. There is nothing better to start the day.

Also let yourself be tempted by a Vada Pav. It is a kind of generally spicy vegetable burger made from potatoes. Otherwise you have the Bhelpuri. It’s more consistent with its mix of rice blast of tomato onions and tomato sauce.

You will easily find a dish to your taste.

It is common to offer a “finger bowl” in the restaurants which is a bowl of hot water with lemon to rinse hands after the meal.

Tourism in Maharashtra

With its impressive and diverse history, Maharashtra is the ideal state to discover the greatest variety of culture in the country. You can visit forts, palaces, beaches, museums, temples, mosques, holy places. You can do eco tourism, trips to nature reserves. Or if you wish you can relax on the sandy beaches of the south. All this is possible in one state. Moreover, you will not come across much tourism, not at all for some places. Maharashtra is a forgotten state of tourism.

If you want to discover this state that capsized my heart, do not hesitate to contact us so that we can give you all the necessary information.

10 of misconceptions about India

10 misconceptions about India

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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 at what price

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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

The golden triangle of Maharashtra

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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

Bibi ka Maqbara

Bibi ka Maqbara vs Taj Mahal: 5 differences

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The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous monument in the world. Every year, millions of people come to India to see this monument. The Bibi ka Maqbara does not have this success. Oftenly described as the Taj of Deccan or the Mini Taj for marketing reasons, the Bibi ka Maqbara is very different from the Agra monument.

This article will give you an idea to know the differences between these two monuments.

1- The Taj Mahal and the Bibi-ka-Maqbara: a very different story

The Taj Mahal was built between 1631 and 1654 in Agra. Shah Jahan wanted to give one last home worthy of the name to his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal as a symbol of love.

While finishing that in Agra, in 1651 the construction of Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad began. This is the mausoleum of Rabia-ul-Daurani, wife of Aurangzeb. It´s construction lasted for 10 years.

Bibi ka Maqbara

Bibi ka Maqbara

If the Taj Mahal can´t go away from controversy over its construction and it´s use (see below), the Bibi ka Maqbara is at the centre of a controversy. Indeed, the dates of construction of the Deccan of Taj are from 1651 to 1661. The official sources says Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb built it for his mother but the latter is born in 1653. Other sources dated the construction of the monument in 1668 to validate the mystery that Azam Shah was the supervisor of the construction.

In a book called “Aurangzeb, the man and the myth“, by Audrey Truschke says its constructed by the order of Aurangzeb. It is actually more likely that Aurangzeb built the Bibi ka Maqbara.

The controversy comes from the fact that Aurangzeb is the most hatred person in India hence nothing good has been done by him and no heritage belongs to him.

2-Each monument is a symbol of something different

The Taj Mahal is the universal symbol of eternal love. Indeed, Shah Jahan wanted through this mausoleum to pay tribute to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. When she died, the emperor was devastated. He called on the greatest architects and craftsmen to create the most beautiful proof of love. Even today, thousands of couples come to the mausoleum to get their picture there. Newlyweds come to capture their love at the entrance of this marvel.

The Bibi ka Maqbara does not belong to this symbol. And for a good reason, it is not love that has driven its construction but ambition. Indeed, Aurangazeb was the governor of Deccan when he began the construction of the mausoleum. In the Mughal tradition, it is not the first son or child who inherits the throne but the one who shows his aptitudes. At each death of an emperor, a war of succession is fought between the heirs.

The construction of the Bibi ka Maqbara was a way for Aurangzeb to show his ambitions to want to become emperor over his two brothers. This is why the realisation of the book was not as tidy as the Taj Mahal. Indeed, in 1658, Aurangzeb will become emperor.

3- The materials used make a big difference on the final result

For Shah Jahan, nothing was too good to prove his love to his late wife. So he spent lavishly and used the best materials possible. The mausoleum is totally in marble with inlaid precious stones. The result is an immaculate monument that changes colours during the day. This makes the place even more magical.

Marble and plaster are the main materials of Bibi ka Maqbara. Plaster does not have the brilliance of marble and the feel. It is also more friable and less resistant to rain. This makes the building more fragile.

4- Two monuments with very different shapes

When we look at the photos of the two monuments, we immediately realise their difference in shape.

The Taj Mahal is octagonal while the Bibi ka Maqbara is square.

The octagonal shape is a classic among the Mughals. For them, the number 8 is an auspicious number and brings good luck. That is why we find its evocation in the Mughal constructions: 8 platforms in the gardens of Bibi ka Maqbara, octagonal form of the tomb at the Bani Begum garden of Khultabad, etc …

If the octagonal shape is respected in the walls of the mausoleum in Aurangabad, the exterior is square. It makes the building more rectilinear and gives another perspective to the work.

5- Different perspective for the monuments

As we have said, the Taj Mahal is the most visited monument of India. It is so successful that the government has just increased the entrance fees for Indians and foreigners to reduce the number of visitors. Many restoration plans have been undertaken. The gardens are very well maintained and the irrigation system is in good working order.

Unfortunately, it is suffering from a renewed interest in his destruction. Indeed, Hindu extremists argue that the Taj Mahal is actually a temple of Shiva and that Shah Jahan has made it modified. P.N Oak, chairman of the Indian revisionist institute, asked the Supreme Court in 2000 to search the graves of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan for the original Nigam. This request was rejected since all the experts agree that this monument belongs to the Mughal era. Last year, a new request was made to pray Shiva on Monday inside the mosques that are on the side. Again, this request was rejected but recently a group of extremists came to do a puja (worshipping the Hindu god)

The Bibi ka Maqbara suffers from its comparison with the monument of Agra. Few visitors come to see it and many tourists do not even know about it. Controversies over its past and the lack of interest of visitors make the monument deteriorate. No sustainable restoration plan is planned.

6- Why visiting the Bibi ka Maqbara?

This is probably the question you ask yourself after reading this article. There are several reasons why visiting the Bibi ka Maqbara is interesting.

The first is that it is an element of the Mughal capital of the seventeenth century. Not visiting the Maqbara is passing the splendour of the past. It’s also missing to not understand Aurangzeb’s ambitions.

It is also a proof of the decadence of the empire. Indeed, under Aurangzeb, the empire reached its territorial apogee. But the time of splendour was over. More participation in the first arts, more music at the court, more philanthropy towards the artists and especially finished the big architectural projects.

There is an undeniable charm when you arrive at the monument. It is majestic and there is a nostalgic side. You will definitely not have the same emotions watching it as in Agra. But you will feel something we can guarantee you.

In order, the last reason is more altruistic. Visit the Bibi ka Maqbara to finance its restoration and also its protection. The protection of history is a new thing in India and is still very selective. To protect the Bibi ka Maqbara is to protect part of the history that some nationalists would like to make disappear.

In order to make you discover this monument, we have created bike tours and also a tour on Aurangabad, the Mughal capital

Les grottes d'Aurangabad

Aurangabad caves, introduction to the art of caves

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The caves, a deeply cultivated art in Maharashtra:

Aurangabad caves are a good introduction of the art of caves. From the 60 caves in India, there are 28 in the state of Maharashtra, including Ellora and Ajanta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These caves contain temples, monasteries and other functions. The particularity of its caves is that they were carved from top to bottom. Ajanta and Ellora are the most famous caves. The caves of Aurangabad are less numerous and less impressive than those of Ellora or Ajanta but are a good introduction about this unique art.

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta caves

Ellora cqves

Ellora caves

 

Aurangabad caves:

The caves of Aurangabad are divided into two groups which are separated by 1 kilometre. The first group dates from the 5th century and the second from the 7th and 8th century. All the caves are Mahayana Buddhist caves except cave 5 which is Hinayana and cave 6 which is Hindu.

In the first group of caves, the most impressive is cave number 3. It is a temple that represents the most spectacular picture with bundle of gods statues. The door frame of the temple consists of loving figures in small panels and nagas Of guards. The square pillars are beautifully carved with foliage and geometric designs.

DSC07861.JPG

Pillars in cave number 3

 

For the second group of caves, cave 7 is the most majestic cave. It is a temple. In the Garbhagriha (room where the main deity resides in the Hindu temples), there is an image of Maitreya whose sun touches the feet every morning. On the left, we can admire the scene of a dancer accompanied by 6 other dancers.

This statue represents Amrapali, a royal courtesan of incredible beauty. She vowed to serve food to the Buddha. Despite the reluctance of the latter, he went to her house. After this meeting, Amrapali renounced his position and followed the Buddhist path. In the next room, one can admire the life of Tara. The ceiling is decorated with a semi circular frieze.

On the left of cave 7 is an enormous bodhisattva praying for the deliverance of the eight dangers: fire, sword of the enemy, chains, wrecks, serpent lions, crazy elephant and a demon (representing death).

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.

 

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…

Yogatra discover the real india

First trip in India: 10 things you must do

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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.

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.

 

Daultabad fort

Visit Daultabad fort

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In a previous article, we discussed the history of Daultabad fort. In this one, we will discuss the different monuments that are to be visited in the fort.

How to get to Daultabad fort?

The fort is located on the highway between Aurangabad and the Ellora Caves.
It is very easy to get there from Aurangabad by taking a taxi, a rickshaw or a bus.
It takes between 30 minutes to 45 minutes to reach the fort, depends on the traffic. Choose to visit it in the early morning when weather is still cool because there are only few shaded areas in the fort.

How is the fort?

The fortress had 4 lines of defense which divide it into 4 distinct zones. Ambarkot which is outside the fortress. This area has never been declared a protected archaeological site. Mahakot which is the second line of defense of the fortress. Kalakot with its impressive wall and sumptuous palaces and finally Balakot named after the colony where the palace is located. What is currently known as Daultabad is Mahakot, Kalakot and Balakot.

Strategically the fort had only one entry to divert the enemies. What they meant is that you will come home and will go out from the same entrance.

First part of the visit: Mahakot
After purchasing your tickets, you will pass control of the tickets under the first big gate of Mahakot then a court where they exhibited different cannons. The prettiest cannon of the fort is not found in this court but higher up in the fort.

You will then pass another tall door. The doors are very tall because in India, the wars were happening with the help of elephants. You will admire Daultabad’s first defense system, which consisted of building off-set gates. There were two functions to that. The first allowed to control the flow of people returning to the fort. And in case of attack, it slowed down the enemy.

Passing the second door, you will be in the street of the bazaar.

The street of the bazaar:
This is the main access to other parts of the fort. It must be remembered that the fort was actually a fortified city and an empire capital.
You will admire some kinds of vaulted rooms. This was the place where they had market stalls.
A little higher on the left, take the stairs to see Hathi haud.

 

The elephant reservoir (Hathi haud):
It is about 38 meters on each side and more than 6 meters deep. The name literally means Elephant’s bathhouse, although the narrow steps that lead to it, and the width of the walkway around, do not support such a tale! Simple and solid without any decoration, the tank is an example of utilitarian construction. Most likely, it served as an internal reservoir for the Mahakot, providing enough water to support a large population and maintain the garden and orchards. It could also have been used as an ablution tank for visitors to the nearby Great Mosque.

 

Chand Minar:
More than 30 meters high, with a diameter of 3 meters at the base, the Chand Minar completely dominates the landscape around Daulatabad and which is built by Bahmanis. Conceived as a victory tower on the conquest of the Deccan at the end of the 13th century. Three circular balconies, at somewhat regular intervals, cantilevered, form the circular tree of the tower, supported by radiant consoles.
A spiral staircase inside the tower, now closed to visitors. At the base of the Chand Minar, there is a small cubic building with fluted roundings, typical features of Bahmani architecture.

Chand Minar

Chand minar

The palaces of Daultabad fort: Balakot

 

Tower of defense:
The most notable Mughal additions to this part of Daulatabad is the huge cannon known as Mendha Toph mounted on a circular rider built in the west of Chini Mahal, opposite to the Bahmani Palace. Built in massive masonry, the rider supports a large pistol with a curious ram’s point.
The mounting mechanism on the jumper indicates that this gun could be rotated both horizontally and vertically in 180 degrees, allowing more accuracy on a long-range lens. A Persian inscription engraved on its handle names the Quila’Shikan gun (destroyer of the fortification).

Tour de défense

Tower of defence

Chini Mahal:
The Chini Mahal (Chinese palace) takes its name from the blue ceramics designs that adorn its facade. In an extremely fragmentary state, partly undiscovered and largely ruined, the Chini Mahal presents a mystery, since its original function remains unknown. Today, the building consists of a portal that leads into a longitudinal hall, with a raised platform flanking one side of the interior.
The Chini Mahal was originally part of the complex of palaces, pavilions, gardens and elaborate royal quarters. After taking control of Daulatabad, the Mughals converted this area into a stage for defensive works. Bastions and riders have been added and the Chini Mahal has been refitted as a prison. The last sultans of Bijapur and Golconda, namely Sikandar Shah and Abul Hasan Qutb Shah, who died here in 1686 and 1699 respectively.

Chini Mahal

Chini Mahal

Brahmani Palace:
This palace is in restoration, has a central dome-shaped room, while the side rooms are covered with pyramidal vaults, the latter being a typical feature of Bahmani architecture.

 

The impregnable mountain: Balakot

Crossing the bridge to access the last part of Daultabad Fort, you can admire the moat artificially create. You will also see how the mountain was cut to separate it from the rest of the fort. The defense tower in just opposite, allowed for greater control of the entrances and exits of the fort. The artificial moat was filled with piranhas and crocodiles according to historians.

After the first dark passage, you will arrive at the entrance to the citadel. It is a wandering tunnel which, in time of siege, becomes impassable by an ingenious device. This underground passage is indeed mysterious and despite the attempts of several individuals, all its mysteries are still unknown.

The long ascending tunnel rises rapidly and tortuously through a set of steps, unequal in width and height, difficult to climb in the absence of light. Turns and twists lead to a window, now covered with railings, but which was originally a trap for enemy intruders, who, as they entered, fell down a slope into a watery pit. The stairs in the courtyard were built in 1952 for the convenience of tourists.
After the dark passage, a long ascent begins until Mughal Baradari.

 

Mughal Baradari:
The pavilion was commissioned by Shah Jahan after he captured the fort in 1636. Formed of basalt blocks and partially plastered, the pavilion has an inner courtyard that gives access to a series of rooms including one with an octagonal facade with balcony to Arcades that offers great views of the entire site. Baradari has also been used by Aurangzeb.

Vue du Mughal Baradari

View from Mughal Baradari

On the right, there is a path to access the cannon at the top of the mountain.

If you want to visit the Daultabad fort, do not hesitate to contact us.

Wine tasting and vineyard tour

Wine tasting and vineyard visiting tour

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Wine tour experience

Last week, one of our director went to try the wine tasting and vineyard visiting tour.

This is what he feel about this experience :

“Whatever I saw in there was super exciting. I went to vineyard for the very first time in my life and this experience turned out to be one of the best one. Vineyard people welcomed us warmly which made me feel so comfortable. Usually I used to think vineyard place must be full of manners, etiquettes and all but honestly, staff was so friendly that I blend in such way very easily.

We were enjoying the music with our normal glass of water and their guide proposed us this wine tour. I wasn’t sure as I have never tried it but then I blend in and said yes. We started the tour by going to vineyard to see types of grapes which one need for making different types of wine. Our guide was so knowledgeable; he was telling us each and every fact of grapes like black grape skin is the ingredient to get dark black or pink colour to the wine. If wine colour is so dark that means it has strong alcohol and aged for long time. Port wine is made out of green grapes and the colour they get to it is from the skin of grapes.

Wine tasting and vineyard visiting tour

Vineyard

Trying it for the first time made it so beautiful like when we entered to the wine bar, our guide taught us the manner of tasting the wine. There are some etiquettes before trying it out like you check the impurity of wine by holding glass in a bit tilt way, shacking it a bit to see if those alcohol drops are dropping it down quickly or slowly, sniffing all the ingredients to get the real aroma of wine and then don´t just drink. You have to spread it across in your mouth to get sweet, sour and bitter taste of wine, have to do this for the 5 times for 5 wines. I know it sounds complicated but trust me, it´s an amazing experience.

The wine bar atmosphere was so western with full of Hollywood songs which made me feel dance on the floor. Afternoon time, this place is so peaceful that you hear the bird sounds and even wind sounds. They also serve lot of different types of wine, they have bar where you can also buy bottle of wine for your dear ones for 10% discount. Now, the most interesting and lovely part of this vineyard is….. This vineyard is just next to water dam, so to get the real amazing experience of tasting wine is seeing that nature. So, this vineyard offers you that as well. Their wine bar is fully open to get that mesmerising view of dam. Tasting a wine around the water dam, in the middle of nature…What else you need? This was just overwhelming experience.”

View form bar

View from bar

Bar for tasting wine

Bar for tasting wine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you interested in this wine tasting and vineyard visiting tour?

Because we loved this experience, we decide to organize this tour. Just for you !

We will go to Nashik as per below mentioned dates:

Group 1: April 7th– 8th

Group 2: April 14th– 15th

 

“The wine culture is not just about the drinking wine or western culture until unless you think like it”

“We AKVIN will make it more unique and desi”

 

Delicious Nashik:                                                                                                                               

Travel plan:

Day 1          

We will start the journey at 6AM from Aurangabad bus station by AC mini bus, will hit the road towards Nashik. We will reach our beautiful resort stay by the morning. Take a walk around the resort, get fresh then we will start journey towards Vineyard.

We will start the wine tasting and production house tour by 12:30PM.

Let´s have some fun or dance on the floor by holding a glass of wine. Our guide will teach you the steps of drinking wine in a proper manner.

After finishing this tour, we will proceed back to the resort to have delicious lunch and then rest for some time.

In the evening, we all can have our own liquors or high tea at the resort which is just next to the water dam. Then some Desi games will be played there, which will make everyone feel like a kid 😉

Dinner will start by the 8PM and then back to our rooms.

 

Day 2 (8th April)

At 7:00AM, we will start going for Yoga/meditation class by the water dam to make ourselves feel fresh. Early morning Yoga exercise is good for health 😉

At 8:30AM, will have breakfast at the resort.

We will start our journey to our pavilion by 10:00AM.

Inclusions:

(1 night/ 2 days)

  • Accommodation on double or triple sharing basis in luxurious resort by the water dam.
  • Wine tasting (5 wines) and production house tour
  • All meals (Lunch, high tea, dinner, 2 breakfast)
  • All transportation and toll fees
  • Our Desi games
  • An experienced English/Hindi/Marathi speaking tour guide
  • Lots of memories to take back home!

Exclusion:

  • Shopping or any personal expenses
  • Your own liquor at the resort
  • Tips to drivers, guide etc.
  • Any extra meal
  • Anything not mentioned specifically in inclusions

Cost:Rs. 3150 rupees

Last date of booking:
Group 1: 2nd April
Group 2: 10th April

For more information or for booking, you can call 7875377569 or send a mail at info@akvintourism.com

tours in Aurangabad

When to come in Aurangabad?

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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.

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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

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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

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

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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:

 

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

Tours in Aurangabad

Lonar lake, third biggest crater in the world

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The Lonar Lake is a salt-soda lake located in Lonar in Buldhana district, Maharashtra, India, created by a meteor impact during the Pleistocene epoch. It is the third largest crater in the world and the only one in India. It is the only known crater of hypervelocity basaltic rock on Earth. The Lonar Lake has an average diameter of 1.2 kilometres and is about 137 meters below the edge of the crater. This meteor crater is about 1.8 kilometres in diameter.

The temple of Daitya Sudan

Lonar lake temple

Many temples surround the lake. Most are in ruins today. Only the Daitya Sudan Temple in the center of Lonar Village, which was built in honor of Vishnu’s victory over the giant Lonasur, is in good condition. You can take a ritual bath or just sit and watch the pilgrims prayed. It is a beautiful example of primitive Hindu architecture. When you descend along the lake you can admire the temples dedicated to Vishnumandir, Wagh Mahadev, Mora Mahadev, Munglyacha Mandir and the goddess Kamalaja Devia.

Tours in Aurangabad

Nature is abundant. There are 5 live leopards in the vicinity of the lake, peacocks, ducks of different species and many species of birds. And as often in India, there are curious monkeys who will be happy to ask you for food.

Advise for visit Lonar lake

How to get there:

From Aurangabad, you have to count the day to go back and forth.

By bus: buses travel frequently. You will need to make a change to Jalna. It takes between 250 to 300 rupees. It takes 3-4 hours to reach Lonar Lake.
By car: it is so far the simplest and the fastest option. It takes 2.5 hours to drive to Lonar Lake.

Where to sleep:

This area is not yet a tourist spot and most tourists only spend the day there. The hotel offering is therefore very limited. There is only one hotel for now.

Lonar lake MTDC resort: It offers dorms for 1600 rupees a night or a deluxe room for 1800 rupees. It is right in front of the entrance to go down to the lake.

If you want to discover this beautiful place you can see our tour here.

Malik Ambar tomb

Khultabad, the spiritual capital of 15th century

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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.

Himayat bagh

Himayat Baugh, the royal garden

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Aurangabad was the last Mughal capital during the reign of Aurangzeb. Like any Mughal capital, it had a palace and gardens, Himayat Baugh. It is difficult today to imagine the splendour of the city of 17th century, as the city grew and transformed.

There are still some places where one can glimpse this historical past. One of these places is Himayat Baugh. This green lung in the middle of Aurangabad was the personal garden of Aurangzeb.

Located next to the gate of Delhi, this Mughal garden has become a nursery and a plant research centre. It is also a ideal place to escape from heat and noise of the city while staying in it.

What to see in Himayat Baugh

The front door:

The entrance door, which is erected at the end of a small road, used to be a beauty of this place but remained as shadow only.  Still you may have an idea of ​​how it was in the 17th century.

The irrigation system and the summer palace

Water system

Water system

Summer palace

Inside the summer palace

Summer palace ( outside view)

Summer palace ( outside view)

Irrigation system

Irrigation system

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like any Mughal garden, the Himayat Baugh has an irrigation system and hydraulic canals. Even today, you can admire two of its canals that are arranged on each side of the summer palace. This arrangement made it possible to pass water through the summer palace, which refreshed the building.

Mosque

Small mosque

Small mosque

Bibi ka Maqbara

View from Himayat bagh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving a little further from the nursery, you will come across a small mosque that is on top of small mountain. The building itself is not the most interesting but it allows access to a superb view of the Bibi ka Maqbara and the caves of Aurangabad.

To reach the garden:

From Delhi gate, there is a gate on left accessible only by two wheeler or on foot. One more way is in 500 meters, you will see barriers on the right to access the irrigation system and the summer palace. If you continue straight you will arrive at the small mosque.

For discover this garden and more about Aurangabad history, we created a bicycle tour. More information here.

Le fort d'Antur

Antur fort

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There are places that have remained frozen in the past. This is the case of Antur fort which is left to abandonment by the authorities.

This fort is located on the border, that separated the empire of Nizam of Ahmadnagar and the great Mughal empire from 15th century.

The Mughal Emperor, Jahangir and then Shah Jahan, was more and more interested in the south of India and mainly the Deccan sultanates, which were five big places: Berar (or Barar), Bijapur, Golconda, Bidar And Ahmednagar.

Deccan sultanates in 15th century

Deccan sultanates in 15th century

To face this threat, the Sultanate of Ahmednagar decided to build several forts on their northern border.

Antur fort is one of those forts, which has been abandoned by the authorities although it is possible to visit.

It is located at north side of Aurangabad, 2-hours drive away. There is a small village before the fort is called Kholapur. It is at the distance of two kilometers from the fort. The road is more pleasant to walk.

In addition, you can admire an ancient sign board indicating the fort at one kilometre that dates from the 15th century.

An ancient sign board indicating direction of fort, dating from the 15th century.

An ancient sign board indicating direction of fort, dating from the 15th century.

An ancient sign board indicating direction of fort, dating from the 15th century.

 

The Entrance of the fort is impressive. The view between the fort and the mountains is breathtaking.

Fort View

Fort View

Access to the fort is via a tree-lined paved path. It is the only entrance to the fort.

Antur fort main gate

Antur fort main gate

The fort lost its splendour because only few monuments are still present; most of them are destroyed by the time. There is a water tank with some buildings around.

Go around the ramparts to admire the breathtaking view of the valley which is 900 meters below. As the fort is located on a ridge of the mountain, it is the best place to observe the surroundings at 360 degrees.

View from wall

View from wall

Finally, the part that was to be reserved for the palace of the commander is transformed today into tomb of a Sufi saint.

Sufi saint tomb in top of the fort

Sufi saint tomb in top of the fort

Even if access is difficult, this fort is worth visiting for its strategic position and its environment. It is a great place for small picnic and to spend a weekend.

If you want to visit the Antur fort, you can contact us here.[:fr]

Aurangzeb aurangabad

The palace and mosque of Aurangzeb

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Aurangabad, capital of Empire

There is a place in Aurangabad that has been completely forgotten by the inhabitants of the city and of course by the tourists, it is the citadel of Aurangzeb.

It is very difficult today to see the beauty and grandeur of the citadel.

 

 

In these two photos, we can see the size of the palace and its gardens.

In 1681, Aurangzeb decided to make Aurangabad capital of Mughal empire. To do this, he built an enclosing wall 10 kilometers in circumference with 52 entrance gates. He reserves part of the city which is a little elevated to make its citadel called Quil’a Ark.

The royal gate that allowed access to his palace still exists today is called Rangeen Gate.

 

rangeen darwaza

 

History of this citadel

The palace is very important. It was the government of the empire and all government legal things was decide within it,  also wars and peace with neighbouring kingdoms. It is not of a special structure, simplicity that will rhythm the life of Aurangzeb. We can see that the gardens respect the Mughal tradition with the water canals and the luxuriance of the trees and the plants.

Aurangzeb palace and mosque today

The mosque is the emperor’s personal mosque. Built in the second half of the 17th century, it bears the title of Emperor, Alamgir.

The building itself is not a particularly important structure, but it has three oversized domes that overcome the prayer hall, leaving no doubt as to its meaning. The Alamgir mosque conforms to other royal mosques with three-part prayer halls triple domes, such as those to be seen in Agra and Delhi.

 

La mosquée d'Alamgir

Only the Emperor’s personal mosque and the women’s mosque are still in good condition.

La mosquée des femmes

Unfortunately the palace is in an advanced state of decomposition which makes its visit impossible. The gardens have disappeared because of the ways for a government school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can visit these place during the tour All about Aurangabad

Soneri Mahal

Soneri Mahal

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Soneri Mahal

The Soneri Mahal is the last palace, still in good condition in Aurangabad. The palace is located within the walls of the university.

It is immured in a garden with a massive rectangular door. This gate is called Hathikhana which means the place of the elephants.
The door is made of Islamic style arches.

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Soneri Mahal means the Golden Palace (Mahal= palace) (Soneri= gold). That name comes from the original color of pure gold that adorned the interior.

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This palace was built as a thought between 1651 and 1653, by a chief bundelkhan (region of India between Uttar Pradesh and Madya Pradesh).
We only have a few references on Paharsingh and his brother, Juzarsingh. What we know also is that the latter was sent to Shah Jahan in the Deccan Valley to accompany Aurangzeb, the governor of the region. We know that the Soneri Mahal was the home of Paharsingh and his family. Paharsingh died in 1653.

Soneri Mahal: museum in Aurangabad

The palace passed from hand to hand before becoming a regional museum in the 70s. Many changes were made to transform the palace into a museum and little remains of the original structure.
The first modification that can be seen and the creation of the basin which occurred in 2001 with the aim of harmonizing the places with surroundings. One can see the will of the conservative to make this garden a little more Mughal.

In the 70’s when the palace became a museum, the arches were closed with bricks and plaster. In the second room, one can admire the remains of the paintings that adorned the whole palace.

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The museum tour ends in a room with stone statues depicting the various gods of Hinduism or Jainism. There is this room a wooden altar with a statue of Ganesh with three heads.

 

During the tour All about Aurangabad, you can discover the Soneri Mahal[:fr]

When I became aware of the ecology, I decided to stop traveling. Some misconceptions about tourism and sustainable tourism

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When we turn on the TV, we constantly hear that the weather situation is dramatic, the planet is in very bad condition, and we must take drastic measures decisions to stop the production of greenhouse gases.

After watching so many bad news, I often hear people telling me that going to the other side of your country is not very ecological and we should stop flying because it is harmful for Earth.

How to defend sustainable tourism while travelling anywhere in the world? Here are some answers:

If flying somewhere pollutes the air, then things to stop are:

Yes!!! You read that right…airplane does pollutes the air.

But this air pollution is only 11% of greenhouse gas emissions. As per survey of transferring passengers and transferring goods, we should actually stop buying imported products from other countries like China, Argentina, Bangladesh, Thailand rather than number of planes flying or instead of we fly every year.

Moreover in France, half of the CO2 produced by transport is caused by passenger cars (51%) and only 2% by aircraft. (source)

In the fight against greenhouse gases, the daily actions are more important to avoid than the occasional events. Reducing meat consumption, eating locally or more vegetarian meal, using public transport are more effective than avoiding flying once a year.

 

Tourism is a source of environmental destruction:

Obviously when we talk about tourism and the environment, some might think of Thailand, the Costa Brava or Cancun. So yes, tourism especially mass tourism destroys the environment. Hotels doesn´t take any environmental precautions, they waste lot of food, uses lot of tissue papers which is harmful for environment. And also the people do not care about taking bath in rivers or just put their feet in water.

But there are also destinations who have managed to preserve themselves. Some has limited tourism, such as the Bhutan that allows tourists for 10-day trip and not more. It cost 200 dollars per day all inclusive. Others have decided to integrate tourism into their sustainable development plan like Costa Rica (source). And then, there are also other examples of tourism development, such as the Medes Islands in Spain where the creation of a marine park has transformed a highly polluted coast into the first dive spot in Europe, thanks for a drastic protection of the environment. (source)

Tourism and the environment go hand in hand, but it is up to the consumers, the tourists, to make their choice of plans.

 

There is no more authentic tourist area:

When I was sworn to defend the license of pro tourism and solidarity economy to the University of Avignon, I realized the important facts of authentic tourism and respectful tourism.

Tourism cannot be authentic because the action of visiting a country is not an authentic act, witnessed a traditional dance performance is not authentic. When we create tourism products, we use reality to support an economic activity. When you go to sleep with the locals it is not authentic because these same people would not do it if you were not a tourist and there was not a financial transaction. It’s not bad if it’s not authentic. The word authentic has no meaning when it comes to tourism.

Most of the time when a tourist company (travel agency, tour operator, hotels, restaurants etc …) uses this word is to sell an activity that caricatures a culture or tradition. For example, if you visit Istanbul and go to the Galata Tower, you will see that there is a traditional Turkish dance show. The problem is that it has been added by belly dance shows (non-Turkish Arabic tradition) to attract more spectators. They sold this show as authentic but it is a tourist product with no lasting value.

Another example, if you visit Dharamsala in India, place of exile Tibetans in India, you will meet many people who will tell you that it is not authentic because the young monks are on their cell phone and they listen rap. Except if you take the time to exchange cultures, you will see a living culture that combines the modern acts and the tradition.

On the other hand, tourism can be a source of enrichment and learning of a culture, a way of life. If tourism is respectful towards cultures, economic and social environment of the region where it is established, then the tourist experience will be optimal. Traditional dance shows can be created if you respect artists and their art. It will not be authentic but it will be a unique sharing experience.

In conclusion, the authentic word is a marketing concept that is not based on anything. By cons the word sustainable tourism which has a protective guarantee of a respectful approach.

 

Sustainable tourism: Definition and practices:

Definition:

To define sustainable tourism, we must first define what sustainable development is.

The first definition of sustainable development appears in 1987 in the Brundtland report published by the World Commission on Environment and Development:

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations”

If we apply it to tourism, we can say that sustainable tourism is the one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.

In the context of tourism, the needs are those of the inhabitants and of the tourists. We must add the notion of respect for culture and history to have a complete definition of sustainable tourism.

 

Things to do for sustainable tourism:

Informative travel with plans

Being cautious about all the activities we offer you

Bring back hazardous waste that will not be recycled (batteries, phones etc …)

You can offset your carbon emissions.

Try to contact providers who have a sustainability approach.

Privilege public transport over taxis (wherever possible)

Exchange cultural activity or meeting with local people

 

Hope this article makes your travel more environmental friendly.

Enjoy the trip

Pierre Loti

Aurangabad in the literature

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Aurangabad in the literature

How is Aurangabad in the literature? Aurangabad is known mainly for the caves of Ellora and Ajanta, day by day we forget its glorious past and its importance in the history of India.

In this article, we will describe some of books and authors. Explorers, writers, philosophers who have spoken about this city in their works.

We will follow the chronological order for this description.

Travel of Mr de Thévenot

Author: Jean de Thévenot

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Date of publication: 1664

About the author: Jean de Thévenot, born in Paris on June 16, 1633 and died in Mianeh on November 28, 1667, was a French traveller, known for his travel stories in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and India. He introduced the coffee bean to Paris in 1657 after the merchant Jean de la Rocque, returning from Constantinople, introduced beans to Marseille in 1644.

About the book: This book is about travelling experiences of this man who has crossed several continents. It is a testimony of India under Aurangzeb rule during the emperor’s lifetime.

Passage over Aurangabad: from page 218 to 226, Jean de Thévenot came to Aurangabad to see the caves of Ellora. He explains that from Ahmedabad, he heard about the beauty of these caves. After arriving at Aurangabad, he organised his trip to Ellora. Having no interpreter, he visited caves with servants. This lack of interpreter prevented him from understanding the things he saw on the way. He described the fort of Daultabad and also the valley of saints and Rauza (which became Khultabad in 1707).

Around the world in 80 days

Author: Jules Vernes

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Date of publication: 1872

About the author: Jules Verne, born on 8th February 1828 in Nantes and died on 24th March 1905 in Amiens, was a French writer whose work was for the most part made up of novels of adventures using scientific advances in the 19th century.

About the book: The novel tells the race around the world of an English gentleman, Phileas Fogg, who made the bet to achieve it in eighty days. He was accompanied by Jean Passepartout, his French servant.

Passage over Aurangabad: The passage is short (less than half a page, page 72). It just says crossing of the territory of Aurangabad and Ellora.

India

Author: Pierre Loti

How Pierre loti talk about Aurangabad in literature

Date of publication: 1903

About the author: Louis Marie Julien Viaud dit Pierre Loti, born on January 14, 1850 in Rochefort and died on June 10, 1923 in Hendaye, was a French writer and naval officer. A member of the French Academy, he was buried in Saint-Pierre-d’Oléron on the island of Oléron in the garden of a house that belonged to his family after a national funeral. His house in Rochefort became a museum.

About the book: It is the trip narrative of Pierre Loti in India. The itinerary in the novel has been reworked in relation to the original itinerary of the author.

Passage over Aurangabad: From page 204 to 217, as in the book of Jean de Thévenot, Pierre Loti describes his journey between Aurangabad and the caves of Ellora. He passed Daultabad, whose fortress mountain impressed him. He then crossed Khuldabad. So he made a long description of his discovery with the caves of night and alone. Quasi-mystical experience.

A big thank you to Sebastien Leboucher for his time and help in the discovery of the work of Pierre Loti.

 

For discover some monuments and Aurangabad in the literature, you can see our tour here

carte de l'empire moghol

The Mughal empire

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The Mughal empire designates the empire created by Babur in 1526 and was disappeared with the colonization of India by the British in 1858.

The word Mughal is derived from the name Mongolian, Babur always said to be inherited by mughal powers because his mother was part of Genghis Khan’s family and his father was from Turkish Chaghatai community.

Before the creation of the  Mughal empire:

Babur is the descendant of Tamerlane who reigns over Central Asia, Tamerlane created Timurid empire and whose Samarkand was the capital. Empire of Tamerlane was maintained itself willy nilly. It wasn’t strong empire. On the death of Tamerlane, his empire was divided between his grandchildren who was grandfather of Babur inherits the region of Ferghana. When he ascends the throne, Babur was only 12 years old and has to face a revolt of the aristocracy. Babur assures his throne by crushing the revolt. In 1497 and 1514, it was time of war against the Uzbeks and Babur lost all its territories. He went to Kabul where he settled his capital. From 1521, he harassed the Sultan of Delhi, Ibrahim Lodi. It was April 21, 1526. By winning the battle of Panipat Babur became master of northern India and became the first great emperor of the Mughal empire.

 

Babur (14 February 1483 – 26 December 1530):

babur

After defeating to Sultan of Delhi, Babur proclaimed himself emperor of India and seized Agra. In 1527, he won the victory against Rana Sangha and became the undisputed master of Northern India.

He spent the rest of his life organizing his empire.

The legend says that when Humayun, his beloved son fell ill, he begged God to take him in his stead. Babur died on 26 December 1530 and was buried in Kabul.

 

Humayun (March 17, 1508 – January 27, 1556):

humayun

He spent most of his reign fighting, was stuck in the war of south and east, he was obliged to flee in 1540 to Persia. Thanks to the Shah Tahmasp I (king of a persia) who gave him an army to regain his throne, he again settled.

To conquer India in 1544, After a bitter battle with his brother for control of Kandahar, he set out for Northern India. In July 1555, he returned triumphantly to Delhi after 15 years of exile.

From his exile in Persia, Humayun brought back Persia as the official language of the kingdom and a taste for Persian culture that was found in Mughal art.

On his death, his wife Hamida built a mausoleum for him in Delhi, It was the first place with a garden, which marks the beginning of the golden age of Mughal art.

 

Akbar (October 14, 1542 – October 27, 1605): the Greatest Mughal emperor

akbar

Considered as the greatest empire of the Mughal emperors, Akbar (greatest in Arabic) brought stability to his empire and an original organization. He was only 14 when he succeeded for his father. He freed himself from the regency of his tutor Bairam Khan after 4 years. From his reign, one can retain a territorial enlargement as well as a great religious tolerance. He refuses forced conversions of all religions, bring Hindus, Muslims and Jesuits to debate religion before him.

Akbar as a great builder, built Fathelpur Sikri as mughal empire’s new capital. We also owe him the strong red of Agra.

The end of his reign is marked by a war against his son Salim, the future emperor Jahangir eager to be on the throne.

Jahangir (September 9, 1569 – October 28, 1627)

jahangir

During his reign, the empire remained in a state of permanent war in order to increase its territory. He found himself confronting formidable opponents like Malik Ambar in the Deccan to whom he dedicated a miniature. The head cut on a peak, Malik Ambar receives the arrows of Jahangir.

During his reign, art, literature and architecture prospered. He was responsible for the gardens of Shalimar in Srinagar.

Shah Jahan (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666)

shahjahan

Surely the most famous Mughal emperor in the West. His love for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, caused him to built the Taj Mahal, the most beautiful monument in the world and a symbol of the country. He also built Jama Masjid of Delhi, the largest mosque in India as well as the fort and gardens of Lahore.

During his reign the empire grows towards south, thanks to his son Aurangzeb who took Daulatabad in 1633 to grow his empire.

Under Shah Jahan, Mughal architecture reached its peak. His reign is also marked by a hardening towards non-Muslims.

Aurangzeb imprisoned his father at the red fort of Agra, to punish him for supporting his brother for the succession of throne.

Aurangzeb (3 November 1618 – 3 March 1707)

aurangzeb

He is the last great Mughal emperor. The empire reaches its territorial apogee spanning virtually all of present-day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and parts of northern Burma.

He was a warlord throughout his reign. He has opened many conflicts with minorities such as Sikhs in the Punjab or Marathas in the Deccan. He transferred his capital to Aurangabad to control the advance of his troops in southern India. He led a simple life, he banned music and the arts at court. He is often described as a despot, religious intolerant and cruel. Audrey Truschke’s book tries to restore the reality of Aurangzeb’s reign.

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

 

The end of the Mughal empire (1707 – 1858):

Most of Mughal emperors after Aurangzeb had no greatness reigning for less than 10 years. In the year 1719, six emperors were there to reign Mughal Capital. The last of the Mughal emperors, Muhammad Bahadur Shah, was dethroned by the British and exiled to Rangoon.

Bibi ka Maqbara, The best exemple of Mughal architecture in Aurangabad

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Bibi ka Maqbara: the mini Taj Mahal

The Bibi ka Maqbara is a mausoleum dedicated to Rabia Ul Durrani, the first wife of Aurangzeb. It was built between 1651 and 1661. It is the work of Aurangzeb for his beloved wife. His resemblance to the Taj Mahal of Agra (1631-1653) gave it a name that Taj of Deccan or mini Taj Mahal. It was designed by Ata-Ulla, an architect and Hanspat Rai, an engineer. It is the finest example of the Mughal style in the Deccan Valley. Aurangzeb oversaw his construction as proof of his imperial ambitions.

The monument is typical Mughal style with its garden enclosed around 4 walls.

The Mughal Gardens:

Theses gardens were influenced by the Persian gardens. This type of garden is identifiable by its very important use of rectilinear lines in a walled enclosure. Typical features associated with Mughal gardens are small water tanks, fountains and canals.

Since the beginning of the Mughal empire, the construction of gardens was one of the favourite pastimes of the emperors. Babur, the founder of the empire built gardens in Lahore and Dhopur. Although Humayun did not have much time to build gardens, he is known to have spent a lot of time in his father’s garden. Jahangir, grandson of Humayun is known for his love for flowers.

His son, Shah Jahan, marked the apogee of Mughal gardens including the construction of the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort in Delhi which contains the Mahtab Bagh, a night garden that was filled with brilliant flowers and at night it smells like jasmine.

The design of the Mughal gardens came from medieval Islamic garden mainly, although there are influences from the Turkish-Mongolian ancestry of the Mughal.

Its essential features include water circuits and a pond to reflect the beauties of the sky and garden, trees of different species, some to provide shade and others to produce fruits, colourful and fragrant flowers, Birds to fill the garden with peaceful sound. The numbers eight and nine were considered auspicious by the Mughals and can in fact to be found in the number of terraces or garden architecture, such as the use of the octagon.

The garden of Bibi ka Maqbara contains eight platforms and the minarets are octagonal in shape. One of the big difference between the Mughal and French garden is that among the Mughals, symmetry is created by non-living elements while the French create symmetry is with living elements (trees, shrubs, plants).

Mini Taj mahal: Bibi ka Maqbara

Mughal architecture:

Symmetry is one of the main rule of Mughal architecture. This symmetry was broken by the construction of a mosque. It was built by the Nizam of Hyderabad between the 18th and the 19th centuries. It is completely arched and could accommodate up to 377 people. The material used to build it are basalt and plaster. We have no indication of the reasons for building a mosque near to tomb since the site already has two mosques to the east and west.

The mausoleum is on a platform accessible by two symmetrical stairs. Aurangzeb was the last of the six great Mughal emperors. Son of Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal, he was not meant to govern being the 4th boy. The mausoleum was built when in Agra the Taj Mahal was finished.

The biggest difference between Taj mahal and the Bibi ka Maqbara is the material used. In the first one only the marble was used, the second is essentially made of plaster of paris and main base of tomb made in marble. It is not merely a detail, but a sign of the decline of the empire. Indeed, with Aurangzeb the empire reached its peak territorial and after him no emperor could restore its greatness to the empire.

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The mausoleum is called the Bibi ka Maqbara. Bibi means wife and Maqbara means tomb. It is constituted at its marble base and the rest is plaster. Mausoleum made in octagonal shape from inside. We admire the tomb from the top and the devotees throw money to make a wish. The tomb is covered with a green cloth, the colour of Islam. The building is decorated with windows of Islamic type that allow to see without being seen.

Today the Bibi ka Maqbara remain as the living testimony of a lost art, that of the Mughals and it became the symbol of Aurangabad.

 

You want to visit this monument with a professional guide who will give you all information? See our tour here 

Delhi Gate

History of Aurangabad

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History of Aurangabad: from its creation to its apogee.

The history of Aurangabad begins well before the creation of the city. Between the 5th and 8th century AD, Rashtrakutas came to build Buddhist caves in the area.

In 1610, Malik Ambar decided to create the city of Khadki. This former Ethiopian slave was a great strategist and a skilful administrator. He built a revolutionary irrigation system that uses only gravitational force to function. This system is still visible today in Panchakki.

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In 1653, Aurangzeb conquered the city and decided to make it capital. At times, he was only Viceroy of Deccan. When he took power in 1658, he undertook to enlarge the city. He built 51 gates and a surrounding wall about 10 kilometres in circumference. With the door built by Malik Ambar (Bhadkal Gate), Aurangabad became the 52-door city, which represents the 52 weeks of the year. Aurangabad was the capital of the empire during the governance of Aurangzeb.

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After the death of Aurangzeb and the decline of the Moghul empire, Aurangabad left with different empires (Nizam of Hyderabad, Marathi).

Today it is an industrial city of medium importance.

 

Maharashtra Touristic Capital:

Recently Maharashtra declared as touristic capital for its proximity to the sites of Ellora and Ajanta, both declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, the city suffers from a lack of consideration for its own heritage.

The history of the city left many monuments, heritage of a glorious past. If you decide to come to Aurangabad, do not miss the monuments like the Bibi Ka Maqbara, the Panchakki, the Soneri Mahal, the Aurangabad caves or the gates that show the importance of Aurangabad in history. Few kilometres away, you can also admire the fort of Daulatabad and the valley of the saints named Khultabad.

Bibi Ka Maqbara: Nickname is the mini Taj Mahal, it is the best example of Mughal architecture.

Aurangabad

Aurangabad

Panchakki: Literally the watermill is a visible illustration of the genius Malik Ambar and his irrigation system.

Soneri Mahal: This is the last palace in Aurangabad. That name comes from the painting in pure gold that adorned the walls.

The caves of Aurangabad: This is a beautiful introduction to the sites of Ellora and Ajanta. They are almost exclusively Buddhist and cave no. 3 & 7 are precisely decorated.

Amapali cave number 7

Amapali

The doors: there are only 13 doors out of the 52 that counted the city now. They are all Mughal style except Bhadkal Gate which is of Indo-Muslim style.

Daultabad: This fort was the capital of many empires (Yadava, Bahmanis, Nizam Shahs of Ahmadnagar). This was captured by Shah Jan and from there, Mughal rule got start over the Deccan region.

Khultabad: This small fortified town has tomb of Aurangzeb, the last great Mughal emperor, tomb of the great Malik Ambar and tomb of several Sufism saints.[:fr]

La tombe de Malik Ambar

The great Malik Ambar

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Malik Ambar is one of the least known character in the history of Maharashtra and therefore India. But he made so much for this state and even for India. He challenged the great Mughal empire, which would give him a hatred as great as admiration for this exceptional warlord.

From birth to slavery:

It must be remembered that in the 16th century, long before the establishment of triangular trade, there was a slave trade on the east coast of Africa that supplied the Middle East and India. It is in this context that Malik Ambar was born under the name of Shambu in 1548, in Harar, a province of Ethiopia. He was the last of many siblings, which forced his parents to sell him to slave traders. We know that he has been sold 3 times in total. The first time as we said it was by his parents, then he was sold to a rich man from Mecca and then one last time to India.

 

Portrait de Malik Ambar

His years in Mecca:

When he arrived in Mecca, he was fortunate enough to serve an influential man in the city. He saw in Shambu a man endowed with reason and a man of trust. He decided to take him to his personal service and taught him everything he knew about politics, the administration of property and people. His master convinced him to convert to Islam (he was born Christian), which he did and took the name of Malik. He should have been freed but his master died too soon and his son, jealous of his father’s affection for the slave, decided to entrust him to slave traders for resale in India.

His early years in India:

It is believed that Malik arrived in India around 1570. He was sold to Chengiz Khan, who was the prime minister of Ahmadnagar’s Nizam empire. He continued his training in administration and state affairs, diplomacy and the art of war. Taking him under his wing, Chengiz Khan considered him as his son and gave him more and more responsibility. Upon the death of Chengiz Khan, his wife freed Malik, in 1594.

Malik Ambar, mercenary against the Mughals:

Once he got free, Malik started choosing a last name. He chooses the name, Ambar. He chooses this name because it refers to a flower of Mecca when it hatches includes all other fragrance. Then from 1595, he formed an army with ex-slaves like him, called Habshis. With his troops, he harassed the Mughal enemy lines using the guerrilla techniques he had learned from the Goa Portuguese.

In 1599, he helped Chand Bibi, the regent of the sultanates of Bijapur and Ahmadnagar, against the advance of the troops of Akbar, the great Mughal. Despite all his efforts, the Mughal army encircled Ahmadnagar Fort, where Chand Bibi was cut off. Then, he negotiated with the Mughals. He managed to keep the independence of the Ahmadnagar Sultanate against the recognition of suzerainty to the empire. Chand Bibi was either murdered or she committed suicide (the sources diverge) after this surrender.

Malik Ambar, Prime Minister:

Malik Ambar was therefore designated as the prime minister of the sultanate. After the intrigues of Murtaza Nizam Shah II, who murdered Malik Ambar’s daughter to try to reduce his influence in the kingdom, this one took revenge and had him assassinated to put on the throne Burhan Nizam Shah II. He took the opportunity to claim all the powers of management. He transferred the capital to Aurangabad (Khardki at the time). At the same time, he refused the suzerainty to Jahangir, son of Akbar, and declared the Ahmadnagar Nizam Sultanate independent of the Mughal Empire. A new war against the Mughals began. Jahangir, the great Mughal, gave him such a ferocious hatred that he asked an artist to paint him throwing arrows into Malik Ambar’s decapitated head.

malik-ambar-3

This fantasy never happened. Until the death of Malik Ambar, the Mughals failed to gain control of the Deccan. On May 14, 1628, Malik Ambar died at the honourable age of 80 years. He was buried in Khultabad near Aurangabad.

The legacy of Malik Ambar:

The political legacy: Malik Ambar was the first to gather behind the same flag, Muslims, Hindus and Christians (the Habshis). Thanks to his diplomatic skills and his tolerance, he managed to support different communities in his capital Khadki (Aurangabad today). He finally taught the guerrilla methods to the Marathas who applied it with Shivaji in the following century against the Mughals.

The architectural heritage:

Malik Ambar used his skills as a trustee during the formation of his capital, Khadki. He provided it with an irrigation system that brought water to the city. This 8-kilometer system between the source and the city works only by the force of gravity and is still running at the moment. This system can be seen by visiting Panchakki.

Panchakki

Irrigation system by Malik Ambar at Panchakki

He had built Town Hall. This monument was used by the Christian community for its meetings and celebrations. In the city, there was the same thing for Hindus and Muslims unfortunately these places have disappeared.

 

Town Hall à Aurangabad en Inde

Town hall built by Malik Ambar

The Bhadkal Gate, built as a triumphal arch by Malik Ambar, is the most massive gateway in Aurangabad.

Bhadkal Gate

Triumphal arch celebrating the victory of Malik Ambar over the Mughals

Finally remains the majestic door of his Naukhanda palace and the reception room. The rest was destroyed to build a school.

La porte du palais Naukhanda

The access door to Malik Ambar Palace

During the tour the 3 capitals, we will discover more about Malik Ambar and his legacy.