Weekend Getaway – Aurangabad
Gautala Wildlife Sanctuary
Spread over 26,000 hectares, the Gautala Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a wealth of biodiversity, including those famed indigenous species of the Indian subcontinent. The wild boar, nilgai, jungle cat, barking deer and grey langur are all found roaming these woods. The forests are also famous for its rock-cut cave temples, known as the Pitalkhora caves, some of the most important archaeological treasures of India.
Distance from Aurangabad: 68km
Weather: Warm and temperate
Best time to visit: November to March
Ajanta and Ellora Caves
Did you know that the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world is the Kailasha temple, found in the Ellora caves? The Ajanta and Ellora caves are all too familiar to us from history textbooks. The caves, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, have cave paintings and sculptures, along with Hindu Jain and Buddhist monuments. Much of the caves’ past is shrouded in mystery; what is understood is that they served as a monastery for Buddhist monks, as well as a rest stop for pilgrims.
Distance from Aurangabad: 102.3km (to Ajanta), 23km (to Ellora)
Weather: Mostly warm
Best time to visit: June to March
For a quiet, peaceful weekend in the mountains, Mahableshwar is the perfect destination. There are a number of points here which offer stunning views of the forest and the city. The Elephant’s Head point is a photographer’s dream, while the Lingmala Waterfalls makes a good picnic spot. You can go boating in the Venna Lake or trek to the majestic Pratapgarh Fort. Simply being there and inhaling the pure mountain air is also enough.
Distance from Aurangabad: 345km
Weather: Mostly cool
Best time to visit: October to June
Mhaismal’s lush greenery and rich foliage has awarded it the title of ‘botanical workshop.’ This sleepy little hill station lies in the east end of the mighty Sahyadri. There is little sightseeing to do here, apart from the ancient Girijamata temple. Mhaismal is all about its peaceful ambience, away from clamour of the city. The place is good for long walks and there are ample spots for picnicking, especially for large groups and families.
Distance from Aurangabad: 37.6km
Weather: Mostly cold
Best time to visit: October to March