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Side Trips :
An interesting thing about touring places close to Aurangabad is the variety of caves found in the region. Needless to say, the Ajanta and Ellora caves are the ones that attract the maximum tourist attention!

The Ajanta Caves
The world-famous Buddhist caves at Ajanta, a World Heritage site, lies about 107 Kms northeast of Aurangabad. Located in the Sahyadri hills, the rock cut caves of Ajanta lie
 
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in the form of a gigantic horseshoe. There are 30 rock cut caves that date back to 2nd century B.C. These caves are among the finest examples of some of the earliest Buddhist architecture, cave paintings and sculptures. The caves comprise Chaitya Halls, or shrines dedicated to Lord Buddha. The paintings that adorn the walls and ceilings of the caves depict incidents from the life of Buddha and various Buddhist divinities. Among the more interesting paintings are the Jataka tales, illustrating diverse stories relating to the previous incarnations of the Buddha as Bodhisattva ( a saintly being destined to become Buddha).
Occupied for almost 700 years, the caves seem to have been abandoned rather abruptly. They remained masked in darkness until a group of British officers chanced upon them while on a hunting expedition in 1819.
Ajanta has been designated as a World Heritage Site, to be preserved as an artistic legacy.
 
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The Ellora Caves
 The cave temples and monasteries at Ellora, excavated out of the vertical face of an escarpment are 30 Kms north of Aurangabad. Extending in a linear arrangement, the 34 caves contain Buddhist Chaityas, or halls of worship, and Viharas, (monasteries) Hindu and Jain temples. Spanning a period of about 600 years between the 5th and the 11th century A.D., the earliest excavation is the Dhumar Lena (cave 29). The most imposing excavation is, without doubt, that of the magnificent Kailasa Temple (cave 16). This is the single largest monolithic structure in the World.
Interestingly, Ellora, unlike the Ajanta caves never needed to be rediscovered. Known as Verul in ancient times, it has continuously attracted pilgrims through the centuries. Ellora, too, has been designated a World Heritage Site.

Pithalkora
At a distance of  78 Kms, at Pithalkora, are 13 cave sanctuaries dating back to the 2nd century B.C. The most attractive feature about these caves is the relief work, which is rich, elaborate and the carving truly precise.

Lonar Craters
At a distance of 122 Kms from Aurangabad, at Lonar, you will find one of the world’s 5 largest craters, formed by the impact of a meteorite nearly 50,000 years ago. The surface diameter of the crater is nearly 1.75 Kms, and its depth is nearly 132 mts. At its base has formed a beautiful lake, formed over thousands of years by the perennial streams flowing into the crater. A unique ecosystem has evolved in the crater attracting numerous birds like flamingos, moorhen, coot, peacocks and dabchicks. On the shores of the lake are temples built in the 12th – 13th century. Their exquisite carvings are remnants of their glorious past.

Pariyon ka Talab
Located 60 Kms from the city, Pariyon ka talab literally means ‘Fairies’ Lake.’ It is a large lake with steps all along its western shore and a stage-like platform which bears resemblance to the ancient roman amphitheatre. On the banks is also a temple of Shiva with its own rich history.
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