Radhika Rastogi, Principal Secretary, Tourism Department, Government of Maharashtra, explains how infrastructure has improved in Aurangabad in recent years, but there is a need for air connectivity to increase tourist footfall.
Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar or Aurangabad is centrally and strategically located. It is a gateway to many important places. For example, Shirdi is a few hours away from Aurangabad; Bhandardara, a paradise for adventure lovers, is just 3 hours away, and Parbhani Village, home to 50 uniquely designed step walls, is located at a distance of 3 kms.
Aurangabad, known as the ‘Cultural Capital of Maharashtra’ due to its diverse culture, hosted the recent IATO Annual Convention. Radhika Rastogi, Principal Secretary, Tourism Department, Government of Maharashtra, when asked about how the convention will change tourism scenario in Aurangabad, said: “It (Aurangabad) is not only home to Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves, but also has Bibi Ka Maqbara, Panchmarhi, and several Buddhist caves, which are yet to be fully explored. Aurangabad will definitely get tourists and travellers after the IATO Convention.” She added, “If you like to visit historic forts, engage in water sports, wander in forests, or relax in beaches, coming to Aurangabad and Maharashtra is the best option.”
Rastogi said, “Such conventions bring all tourism stakeholders under one roof. Constant discussions and dialogues have ironed out so many issues and challenges, which need to be addressed on a priority basis. Also, tour operators and travel agents will explore the place and include in their itineraries. IATO Convention benefits the region no matter how small or big the place is.”
Rastogi explained how the hotel accommodation in the region is improving. “The place has big 5-star brands like Taj, ITC, Airbnb, and local homestays in and around Ajanta and Ellora Caves. Aurangabad has enough hotels and accommodation options to handle influx of tourists,” she informed. Another important aspect of tourism is connectivity. “In terms of connectivity, there is still one major gap which exists, the flight connectivity. The flight timings from Mumbai are not that convenient and direct flights from places like Udaipur have been stopped. We are in talks with government and related authorities to restart flights. Leaving flight connectivity, we do have excellent road and rail network from Nagpur, Pune and Mumbai,” he said. If you have seen Aurangabad, the place speaks for itself. Bibi Ka Maqbara, or replica of Taj Mahal, is a beautiful attraction which has not been fully explored as of yet. “A tourist can enjoy peace, solitude and diverse experience and at the same time avoid Taj Mahal rush,” she said.