Think Aurangabad and Ajanta and Ellora immediately spring to mind. But this fast-growing industrial city has a few more jewels to offer in its vicinity. Lonar, Daulatabad and Khuldabad are some must-visit day-trips.
A few hours drive from Aurangabad is one of nature's awesome wonders. Lonar crater is over 50 million years old and at 1.83 kilometres in length, it is the world's largest, high-impact, basalt crater lake in the world. There are over 20 abandoned temples within the crater, most of them dating back to the 2nd century BC. One of the temples is even reputed to have been visited by Lord Rama before he went into exile. Beautiful migratory birds, a dense forest cover and mangroves, surround this sulphuric lake, which has a very unique marine eco-system.
On the outskirts of Aurangabad is a city with a machiavellian history. From Shah Jahan to the Yadavas, Daulatabad has been coveted by many a ruler, the most disreputable of whom was the mad Emperor Tughlaq, who tried to establish his capital here with disastrous consequences. Deogiri fort still rules at the pinnacle of Daulatabad hill, with it's moats, labyrinthine passageways, cannons, towers and 5 kilometre citadel walls. This fort is a must-see for history buffs, trekkers and for those who love a good story.
A short distance away is Khuldabad, the final resting place of Emperor Aurangzeb. It is also known as the Valley of Saints after the numerous sufi saints and Mughals of repute buried here. But its most valuable resident is Prophet Muhammed's robe which is brought out once every year for the benefit of thousands of pilgrims that visit this shrine.