19-AUG-2011: It had been some time we had travelled to some far locations, the last I think was Mahabaleshwar (though it’s not really a far place, it’s in apana Satara :)) . Independence day weekend was coming and so was a good time to plan for a 3 day trip to some good location. I and G started by thinking about various locations like Kerala, Goa, Konkan etc., but either 3 days were too less to do justice to these places or it was not the right time to visit them. So after doing lot of chintan for may be over a month, we finally zeroed in on Aurangabad.
The reason for selecting this place was that we had heard about it a lot and recently it had been named as the tourism capital of Maharashtra. This is not surprising as it has the 2 world famous World Heritage Sites, many famous archaeological monuments, forts, famous temples, gardens, hills etc. either in the city or in the periphery. Anyways we had heard and read about Aurangabad and places near it from school days and so were anxious to visit (will write on the history of the city in some other post).
Once the location was finalized, came the job of selecting the mode of transport and place to stay. Now for any travel, I prefer to keep it less tiring and so the mode of transport has to be such that you don’t get fatigued much and place to stay has to be good and conveniently located. As dad had been there last year, and he liked the hotel he stayed in, so we picked the Aurangabad Gymkhana Club Hotel. Anyways the discount we got because of him, helped the decision :). We rented a car from the guy through whom my cousin had visited Aurangabad few weeks back.
So we were all set to go and the day arrived. I wanted to leave very early, but G wanted to start late, so we compromised on 6:30 am (though you always know that the actual time = planned + 30 mins :)). The distance from Aurangabad to Pune is around 240 kms and it takes around 4-4:30 hours to reach. But our driver was driving his Indica like a ghoda gadi and it took us 6+ hours to reach. Sometimes his driving speed was getting into our head, but it’s better to go slow than fast. So we were ok. The Pune-Aurangabad super highway is a newly constructed 4 lane and a good road. The most irritating part of the journey on this highway are the toll booths, which are around 6 :(. I don’t understand why the commuters can’t pay just once for the farthest location they are going to travel , rather than pay at each booth. I agree that each section is maintained by different contractors, but they are all under NHAI, right, so they can work out the breakup maths… anyways..
The road is good though, the weather was also perfect … i.e. cloudy but not raining(Though this is not G’s kind of weather and she cheered up only after seeing some rays of sun :)). There are not many hills and greenery compared to let’s say Pune-Mumbai or Pune – Satara highways etc. I have heard that this region is kind of draught prone and receives less rainfalls. G was worried about if there would be ghats on the way, but only ghats we encountered were smaller than the one we have at Taljai hill, Pune, where we live :). We were recommended to try food at some good restaurants along the way, but G was very hungry, so we pulled up next to some Veg hotel. We had idli and chai. Nothing much to talk about the food there, except that we didn’t even think of going there on return journey ;).
When we had decided on going to Aurangabad, I was excited about the tourist places there, but was not expecting much about the city of Aurangabad. We thought that it would be a typical tier II city, with uneven – spread, small roads, no signals, no traffic rules, less facilities etc. But when we started entering the city first we observed many company plants like Bajaj, Crompton etc.. and when we got on the Airport road (where our hotel was), the road had many malls and multiplexes, five star hotels on either sides. It was quite surprising about how deep the Indian growth story(topic for some other post) has reached. Were surprised to know that the city has 2-3 well know (Mirchi, Red etc.) FM stations 🙂 .. This happens when you don’t go out of your city too often.. 🙂
Finally after noon and long journey we reached the hotel. We were quite tired, but didn’t had much time to rest as we had to have lunch and proceed for site-seeing as we had a reasonable itinerary planned for next 3 days. Our itinerary included: Ellora, Dualatabad fort, some temples on day 1 , Ajanta on day 2, Bibi ka Makbara and other remaining places on last day + some shopping and city seeing. But then if planning = execution all the time then what’s the fun.. 🙂 right… So we set out from the Hotel @ 2:30 pm ….
(…to be continued)