Many travellers regard AURANGABAD as a convenient, though largely uninteresting, place to kill time en route to Ellora and Ajanta. Given a little effort, however,northern Maharashtra's largest city can compensate for its architectural shortcomings. Scattered around its ragged fringes, the remains of fortifications, gateways, domes and minarets – including those of the most ambitious Mughal tomb garden in western India, the Bibi-ka-Maqbara – bear witness to an illustrious imperial past; the small but fascinating crop of rock-cut Buddhist caves, huddled along the flanks of the flat-topped, sandy yellow hills to the north, are remnants of even more ancient occupation.
With a population approaching 900,000, modern Aurangabad is one of India's fastest growing commercial and industrial centres, specializing in car, soft drink and beer production. It's a decidedly upbeat place, boasting plenty of restaurants, bars and interesting shops in the old city, and communal tensions with the large Muslim minority seem to be a thing of the past. Easy day-trips from Aurangabad include the dramatic fort of Daulatabad.
The old walled city, laid out on a grid in the sixteenth century, still forms the core of Aurangabad's large bazaar area. It's best approached via Gulmandi Square to the south, along any of several streets lined with colourful shops and stalls. The bazaar lacks the character and intensity of those in larger Indian cities, but has a pleasant, workaday feel, and you'll not be approached by too many zealous salesmen.