After successfully checking into our hotel we took an auto rickshaw through Aurangabad to visit Bibi Ka Maqbara, otherwise known as ‘The Poor Man’s Taj Mahal’. This was my first auto rickshaw experience and it turned out to be a very interesting journey!
The city is named after the Mughal Muslim Emperor Aurangzeb. Over three hundred years after his reign the Islamic influence in Aurangabad remains and can be seen, in the architecture and the people. Aurangabad is different Nagpur, even though they share a state and are of a similar size.
On my journey to Bibi Ka Maqbara there were no temples to be seen, there were instead hundreds beautifully ornate green mosques. Women wore burqas instead of bindis, as I passed them I could see their smiles even though their their faces were covered, I could see it in their eyes. Children smiled at waved at me, dressed in their school uniforms, the little girls looking adorable wearing their white hijabs. On those streets in Aurangubad there were no holy cows sleeping in the middle of the road to negotiate, only playful goats bounding along together. There were no stalls selling marigolds and garlands, instead cockerels and chickens were waiting to be bought and the mystical call to prayer replaced the ringing of the temple bells.
We rumbled through the streets, some onlookers shook their heads at us. I first thought they were shaking their heads at me (India has made me quite self-conscious it seems) but I soon realised why when someone shouted ‘CHAR!‘, the number four in Hindi. This auto rickshaw only had three seats but we had managed to squeeze four of us in there. After seeing a family of five precariously perched on a single motorbike in Nagpur, I was surprised how road safety conscious they were in Islamic Aurangabad!
The bumpy ride resulted in bruises but it was such a lovely way to see a new city, seeing it without windows.