The word "khana" in Indian Khana Made Easy means food. So come on, let's explore and cook some easy Indian food together including Gluten Free dishes.

May 28, 2020

Reflections on Our Travel to the Motherland - A Bat Cave, Mini Taj and more

Last November, my husband and I traveled to Aurangabad to see the Ajanta and Ellora Caves and ended up seeing more than we imagined. 

Our driver (booked through Rajjas Travels and Tours Ltd) is local to the area and made our trip to this city and surrounding towns memorable in more than one way. He drove us to all the sights and to the best places to eat. 

We ate this 4-foot Paper Masala Dosa with potato curry and chutneys for breakfast at a roadside dhaba on the way to the caves. It was wonderful and filling. 

There are many such dhabas (roadside canteens) on the way and we recommend that you definitely dine at one of them. 


We also enjoyed tropical fruits that were in season, such as these sitaphal or custard apples below. 

A basket of Hanuman custard apples
A basket full of delectable Hanuman phal (a variety of custard apples)


What the inside of a custard apple looks like
When you break open a ripened custard apple, eat the fleshy part and take out the black seeds.


Don't they look so mouth-watering? Our driver took us to his family's roadside stall where they were selling these fruits and we got a great deal. We also bought some fruit at the stalls outside of Daulatabad Fort. 


The Daulatabad Fort is about 9 miles northwest of Aurangabad in a town called Daulatabad. It was once known as the invincible fort because of its impressive defenses and strategic traps laid throughout the fort. 



Entrance gate to Daulatabad Fort
Look at the spikes on this gate!


Just look at him grinning, standing next to the massive entrance gate. Before gunpowder, intoxicated elephants were used as a battering ram to break open the gates. The presence of spikes ensured that the elephants died of the injury. 


Those poor elephants. Where was P.E.T.A.?


As we walked through the entrance gate, we saw canons like the one below lined up against one side of the fort wall. 




I wonder if that is the "curb" appeal for the adventure buffs like my husband. He couldn't wait to go inside and explore the fort.


Below is a picture of Chand Minar or the Tower of the Moon. Chand Minar was inspired by Qutub Minar in Delhi. A small mosque sits at the base of the tower. You can see the tower from every corner of the fort. 


Chand Minar in the distant

The tower was closed so we couldn't peek inside. :( We moved onwards into the fort. It was a long walk up the fort with twists and turns and many, many steps. You must wear good walking shoes or sneakers for this trek. 


Michael on top of the Daulatabad Fort


Michael climbed on top of the fort's wall to get a better look at the view. He didn't say anything but I knew he was thinking, "I'm on top of the world." 



The view of Chand Minar from the top of Daulatabad Fort
You can see Chand Minar from every corner and touch it as well! hehe



Hello, honey. How's the view from up there?


There is a narrow set of steps that lead visitors up to the tippy top of this fort. Of course, my husband had to check it out. I, on the other hand, wanted to live to see the next day, so I decided to let him go up and took a picture of his great feat from below. 

The best and only part my husband seems to remember from our trip to the fort is what happened after we came up the stairs in the picture below:


About midway in the fort, there is an entrance into the cave...the Bat Cave to be precise. This cave was meant to confuse enemies. I'm sure it did precisely that...it confused the hell out of me. It seemed to go on forever and reeked of bat guano. We were crawling through the cave because if you dared to look up, there were thousands of BATSSSS!!! 

I was hanging onto my husband for dear life and hoping nothing touched me. After what felt like an hour but it was really 5 to 10 minutes (depending on how slowly you are walking/crawling through the cave), we climbed up the stairs and into the open air. 

FREEDOM!!! I had never been so happy to breathe in my life. By the way, I'm sorry there aren't any pictures from inside the Bat cave. I really didn't want to die. 

If this is how I felt, can you imagine how the enemies felt back then? There must have been mass confusion. Not to mention that there was a massive moat around this fort. One wrong step and down you go into the moat filled with monstrous creatures. 


Another view of Chand Minar!


We had fun exploring this fort and learned more about its importance. Another gem in Aurangabad that is worth visiting is Bibi ka Maqbara:


Doesn't it remind you of the Taj Mahal? 

Although not as well known as the Taj Mahal, Bibi ka Maqbara ("Mini Taj") is important in its own right. It was commissioned in 1660 by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in memory of his first and chief wife, Dilras Banu Begum. 

As we walked along the path, it seemed like we were walking towards the Taj Mahal because of how it was constructed. The Taj Mahal is actually the "final resting place" or mausoleum of Aurangzeb's mother, Mumtaz Mahal. 

Michael and I enjoyed our 2.5 days stay in Aurangabad and explored as much as we could. We also indulged in the cuisine and seasonal fruits such as the many varieties of custard apples (regular, Hanuman phal, and chocolate), and pink guavas. We definitely recommend to all to visit Aurangabad and discover the historical gems in and around this city. 

Come back and visit our blog again as we will be sharing more stories from our trip to India last November, from Aurangabad we headed south to Hyderabad and Bangalore. 

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