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JetStar launches ‘text’ boarding

August 5, 2009
Sample text message from JetStar (image source: The Age, Australia)

Sample text message from JetStar (image source: The Age, Australia)

Boarding a plane will be as simple as receiving a text message from later this year as Jetstar rolls out the mobile phone scanner from a company based in Melbourne. The machine is aimed to reduce waiting times for airline passengers by allowing them to head straight through departure gates with the simple swipe of a phone handset.

Jetstar sends a message to your phone with a special code in it – just a standard SMS message – and as you go up to the boarding gate, you scan your phone and it prints out your boarding pass. The text message just looks like random numbers and letters to a normal person but the computer analyses (the sequence) and prints out the ticket. You can go straight to the boarding gate and go to the plane if you don’t have any baggage. Right now you have to be there half and hour beforehand and you’ve got to wait around.

Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan said the technology was a first for the industry and would reduce waiting times, making flying easier. These new world first technologies will make the Jetstar airport experience more convenient, hassle free and simpler. Importantly, it will also improve service levels from Jetstar Airport Customer Service personnel by freeing them to get on with the job of processing checked-in baggage.

While some US airlines already allow passengers to check in with internet-enabled wireless devices, including phones, Jetstar says the new technology is a world first in allowing the service to work on all mobile phones. Despite concerns over the security of mobile phones – a security conference recently revealed Apple’s highly popular iPhone was vulnerable to cyber attacks via SMS – Mr Hornlimann insists the text ticket is safe.

“It’s as secure as any current message. (At the moment) you can print out your web check-in in PDF and if someone else gets their hands on it and, unless the airline asks for identification at check in, they could board the aircraft. There are validation processes. If you come up and someone else has already boarded with that ticket, a customer service person from Jetstar would ask for identification.”

Earlier this month Jetstar began SMS ticketing, allowing customers to book flights via a text message from their mobile phone. Customers must first register on the Jetstar website. The mobile phone scanner will be live tested at Melbourne’s Avalon Airport in a month’s time and is expected to be rolled out across Australia in November.

Currently there are no plans to extend the scanners into New Zealand or other locations Jetstar services across Asia.



Cheap airline tickets on Twitter

August 4, 2009

JetBlue and United Airlines, two major airline carriers in the US, have started using the service to offer discounted seats on flights that weren’t filled. These types of discounts have been available from airlines for a while, starting with emails in the 90s, but Twitter fills this particular need perfectly.

JetBlue started posting its “Cheeps,” the Twitter-only discounted fares, in July and has since usually published new fares every Monday for flights for the following two weekends. Twitter has to act fast though as the tickets are usually sold out the same day. United Airlines started its program earlier, in May, and the “twares,” as the company calls them, don’t come at a regular interval and can also be available for any flights not just weekends. As expected, these don’t last too long either – sometimes only a few hours.

“By promoting the Cheeps through Twitter, we give the already spontaneous audience of Twitter users a chance to grab great last-minute fares,” Morgan Johnston, JetBlue spokesman, told USA Today. “Twares are all about surprising our customers with low fares for a very, very limited time,” Robin Urbanski, United Airlines spokeswoman, also said. “[They] sell extremely fast because the prices are unbeatable.”

The flights can go for as little as $9 and the two companies have had some success with the programs and, though it’s too early to tell, it’s hard to imagine that the companies aren’t making a profit from the venture as the associated costs are very low.



American Airlines introduces new fare finding app on Facebook

August 3, 2009
AA Facebook Fare Finder App

AA Facebook Fare Finder App

American Airlines has launched a new ‘fare finding‘ feature on its Travel Bag application on social networking website Facebook.

The feature, which does not currently have an official name, allows Facebook users to find the lowest prices American Airlines flights without leaving Facebook to search. If users then wish to book flights they will be taken to American’s website to do so.

The carrier’s Travel Bag application allows users on Facebook to share travel experiences, reviews, comments and photos with friends and other users. The new fare finding feature means that users can now also personalise and plan up to three trips at a time.



JetBlue Airways offers discount on travel fees for pets

August 3, 2009

JetBlue Airways is offering a special discount of 50% off its standard JetPaws pet fee of US$100 each way for PETCO customers.

A special promotional code can be obtained from any of PETCO’s shops in the US or at http://www.petco.com/letsgo. The discount is available for flights booked between 1 and 31 August for travel between 1 and 30 September 2009.

JetPaws is JetBlue’s in-cabin programme for pet owners. The airline accepts up to four small cats or dogs in the cabin of the aircraft on international and domestic flights. The combined weight of the pet and carrier must not be over 20lbs.



Airlines benefiting on cancellation fees

July 30, 2009

Change and cancellation fees amount to an added 3.2% of U.S. airline passenger revenue, totaling $527.6 million for the first quarter. Some airlines now make even more from these fees than they do from the much-maligned checked-baggage fees. Amid high fuel prices last year, several big airlines pushed up the change fee on domestic tickets to $150 from $100 last year. Budget carrier JetBlue recently increared its fee to $100 from a affordable $40.

Airlines say they charge change fees and cancellation penalties to give travelers incentives to purchase full-fare, unrestricted tickets and to limit no-shows for flights, reducing the need to overbook. They also say they make their tickets non-transferable because they don’t want companies buying up inventories of cheap tickets and doling them out for employee business trips or creating a secondary ticket market.

A Southwest spokeswoman says the carrier hasn’t had to rely on penalties to manage overbooking because it takes historical patterns of customer cancellations and changes into account. She says the airlines believes it draws more customers by making it easier to change travel plans if necessary.

Why should we be charged $150 to change a $200 ticket because someone got sick and couldn’t fly that day? A spokesman for American proffers the following advice: “Every traveler should weigh the likelihood they will have to change their itinerary prior to travel when assessing each fare type and price.”

Read more at Wall Street Journal’s article: Your Bad Luck Is a Windfall For Airlines



BestParking finds cheap parking in cities & airports

July 29, 2009
BestParking

BestParking

If you are shopping for best rates to park your car and you’re crunched for time, then BestParking has already crunched the numbers for you and can help you find the best rate.

How much can you save by comparison shopping? In our tests there was a disparity between the highest priced and lowest priced parking area. In the screenshot above, for example, we searched for parking around Los Angeles International Airport for a 7-day period. Among the airport parking garages there was an almost 100% difference between the highest price and the lowest price for parking.

That kind of price gap isn’t a big deal if you’re only parking for a single day and are willing to pay a little surcharge for convenience but if you’re plunking your car in long term parking for a week you could save yourself some serious cash by picking the right lot.

If you didn’t plot out which parking garage to use ahead of time, fire up the browser on your mobile phone and head to the mobile version of BestParking to get a last minute rate check.



American Airlines raises baggage fees by $5

July 27, 2009

Despite lowered fuel prices, American Airlines just can’t seem to figure out how to make money. That’s too bad for you — because you’ll be paying higher bag fees.

DowJones says the airline reported a 21% drop in second-quarter revenue last week. Get your wallet out, travelers.

The fees “will rise to $20 for the first bag and $30 for the second on tickets bought after Aug. 13. The changes will also affect regional affiliate American Eagle and AmericanConnection flights.”



Tips for saving money on rail travel

July 27, 2009

Rail travelers are feeling the pinch due to another wave of fare increases and can beat ‘trainflation’ by smarter online buying.

Some of the train operating companies are using the rail franchise system to rip off passengers by raising fares up to 10% above inflation on some routes – thetrainline.com is keen to help rail passengers get the right ticket at the best price. In the current climate, rail fare increases must be a bitter pill to swallow for passengers feeling the pinch. Statistics show, however, that in spite of year-on year price increases, thetrainline.com actually help people beat ‘trainflation’.

Top tips for saving money:

Be flexible
Find out when you need to travel for the cheapest tickets. It’s ideal for those whose travel date is flexible.

Stay alert
Ticket Alerts offer travellers email alerts of cheap fares on favourite routes as soon as Advance tickets go on sale.

Beat the clock
By specifying your time of travel, tickets requiring you to travel on specific trains (Advance and Off-Peak) tend to be cheaper than Anytime fares

Opt for off-peak
Avoid the more expensive, peak times. Peak times can vary between different train operators but as a rule of thumb off-peak is after 9am weekdays and after the evening rush hour, around 7pm

Stay single
Two single tickets are often cheaper than a return, so be sure to click on the ‘two singles could be cheaper’ banner during the fare selection process.

Carry a card
Having a railcard could save you 1/3 off rail fares.

Be alternative
Some routes are operated by several train companies and quite often the slower, longer journeys will be cheaper than the faster one

Try a different route
You may be able to get a cheaper ticket by going on a different route or using a different departure station. For instance people travelling from Birmingham to London can go from Birmingham New Street to Euston or Birmingham Moor Street to Marylebone using different train operators.



United waives last-minute fees for its frequent-flier members

July 27, 2009

With premium-class air travel down sharply for the year and no sign of recovery, United Airlines on Monday said it would soon waive last-minute fees in its frequent-flier program to attract more business travelers.

The move is the first in the industry among the major carriers, and it’s not likely to be the last. Airlines aren’t expecting any meaningful recovery in business travel this fall, so they need to aggressively court those still flying.

By dumping the fees, Chicago-based United is removing a major irritant for many business people, particularly those from small companies, who often have to make last-minute trips. This will make business travelers, who have kind of disappeared, more friendly towards United. American Airlines may follow the example since the carriers compete through major hubs in Chicago.

United said beginning Thursday it would do way with a $100 fee for award tickets booked within six days of departure and a $75 fee for those booked 20 to seven days before departure. The move builds on last week’s Mileage Plus sale that offered members discounts on redeeming miles and encouraged fall bookings. That sale ended Saturday, but was good for travel from Aug. 18 to Nov. 18.

Though the award miles can be cashed in for either business or leisure travel, most program miles are earned during business trips. And by encouraging award members to cash in, it means more earned revenue for United and it takes a liability off its books since miles for travel owed to customers is considered a debt.

Last minute bookings are typically done at higher mile levels — 50,000 miles or more valued at around $750 — so it doesn’t benefit United to have anything that might discourage those redemptions. Members with 1K and Global Services status are already exempt from last-minute fees.



TripFit offers discount travel coupons

July 27, 2009
TripFit Coupons

TripFit Coupons

TripFit.com, a discount travel website, has been launched that features 400 coupons and deals, and it allows users to search for the lowest rates at more than 60,000 hotels, as well as airlines and car rental companies. With help from its technology partner, HotelsCombined.com, TripFit.com will provide users with competitors’ rates and links to compare and book the best possible hotel deal.

For maximum savings, TripFit.com has partnered with CouponCabin.com, which offers online coupon codes for discounts and deals on hotels, airfares, car rentals and more.



Photos: Mandu, India

July 23, 2009
Mandu, Madhya Pradesh, India

Mandu, Madhya Pradesh, India

Click here to see the photos

Mandu is home to India’s finest examples of Afghan architecture, clinging to the edges of a ravine-riddled 20-sq-km plateau overlooking the hazy plains. With monuments on every corner – from Rupmati’s Pavilion, scene of India’s Romeo and Juliet, to obscure ruins such as the wet nurse’s tomb, and of course the wet nurse’s sister’s tomb – the mountain village has a ‘lost world’ atmosphere.

History
Mandu was founded as a fortress retreat in the 10th century by Raja Bhoj and conquered by the Muslim rulers of Delhi in 1304. When the Mughals captured Delhi in 1401, the Afghan Dilawar Khan, governor of Malwa, set up his own little kingdom and Mandu’s golden age began.

Although Dilawar Khan established Mandu as an independent kingdom, it was his son, Hoshang Shah, who shifted the capital from Dhar to Mandu and raised it to its greatest splendour. Hoshang’s son Mohammed ruled for just one year before being poisoned by the militaristic Mohammed Khalji, who then ruled for 33 years. Ghiyas-ud-din succeeded Mohammed in 1469 and spent the following 31 years making his father turn in his grave, devoting himself to women and song (but not wine). He was poisoned, aged 80, by his son, Nasiruddin. In 1526, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat conquered Mandu, only to be ousted in 1534 by the Mughal Humayun, who in turn lost the kingdom to Mallu Khan, an officer of the Khalji dynasty. Ten more years of feuds and invasions saw Baz Bahadur eventually emerge in the top spot, but in 1561 he fled Mandu rather than face Akbar’s advancing troops.

After Akbar added Mandu to the Mughal empire, it kept a considerable degree of independence, until taken by the Marathas in 1732. The capital of Malwa was then shifted back to Dhar, and the slide in Mandu’s fortunes that had begun with the absconding of Baz Bahadur became a plummet.

Orientation
Located 100 km southwest of Indore in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Mandu was the capital city of a northern Indian Muslim state between 1401 and 1561. It has lain abandoned for over 400 years and is now the site of a tiny village and an expanse of farmers’ fields.

Coming in from Indore by bus, the first hints of what is to come is the occasional Muslim tombs, square structures with Taj Mahal-like onion domes, in the middle of wheat fields. The ancient city comprised a huge area, the top of a large plateau about 10 km north-to-south and 15 km from east to west. Still-impressive walls encircle the entire plateau, and extra fortifications guard the main approaches below. The views are stunning: the land drops away steeply from the flat tabletop to the plains of the Narmada River 300 metres below, giving the place one of the most perfect settings in India. Within the walls are golden wheat fields dotted with tiny villages and stands of baobab trees, whose fat, stubby, bare branches give the entire scene a very African feel.

Amidst the prosperous-looking countryside, perhaps the most picturesque non-mountainous scenery are clustered several groups of ruins, all in typical northern Indian Muslim architecture. The Royal Enclave is the most complete and most romantic set of buildings, a cluster of palaces and attendant structures built around two artificial lakes.

The Jahaz Mahal, or Ship Palace, attracts all the Indian day-trippers from Indore and justly so: it exudes an Arabian Nights atmosphere, a long, tall, narrow building topped by delicately-shaped kiosks where, legend has it, the king’s harem girls danced every evening. The view from the rooftop of the sun setting over one of the lakes, setting the reddish hues of the sandstone buildings aflame, provides one of the best sunsets to be seen in India.

Around the Jahaz Mahal sprawls a vast expanse of more-or-less well-preserved palaces, mosques and wells that can provide hours of enjoyable exploration.

The three baolis, or step-wells, elaborate underground Escher-like arrangements of steps and chambers and balconies leading downward to a pool of cool water, were the highlights of this area. There is also an unmistakable hammam, or Turkish bath house, and beautiful palaces perched on the lake shores. The rulers of Mandu, descendants of Afghan nobles, spent great efforts in creating a cool, water-filled landscape to remind them of their ancestral homelands.

Other highlights include the massive House and Shop of Gada Shah (a noble who seemed to wield more power than his weak royal overlord Mahmud), which resembles a bombed-out cathedral with its collapsed roof and towering arches, and the Hindola Mahal, which looks like a railway viaduct bridge with its disproportionately large buttresses supporting the walls. The Hindola Mahal was where the king would show himself every day to his subjects to prove that he was still alive.

Further south, the modern village of Mandu huddles around the huge Jama Masjid, or Friday Mosque. Laid out around a vast courtyard, the rows of heavy red sandstone arches around the mihrab are tremendously photogenic. Behind it is the tomb of Hoshang Shah, the first ruler of Mandu, who died in 1435. The white marble mausoleum looks like a dry run for the Taj Mahal, albeit much squatter and less graceful. In fact, Shah Jahan’s architects reportedly came to Mandu to study the tomb before they designed the Taj.

There are dozens of tombs, all square and onion dome-topped but with various architectural details. Plenty of Hindu touches creep into the later buildings, such as window brackets and elaborate shaped columns that contrast with the stark elegance of the purely Islamic style.

The sight of the domes across the gold and green fields, framed by baobab trees, with the high white dome of Hoshang’s Tomb behind, are beautiful and redolent with the air of bygone centuries. Indeed, in the villages the mud-and-straw huts, and ox-drawn carts seemed little changed since Hoshang Shah’s time.

The southern edge of the plateau holds a couple of interesting structures. The Nil Kanth Palace, once the site of a shrine to Shiva, was converted into a pleasure pavilion by the Moghuls, completed with elaborate bathing pools. It has now been reclaimed as an important pilgrimage point for devotees of Shiva. The views, down to the plains below and across a ravine back to the Jama Masjid rising above the high cliffs, are the most spectacular in Mandu.

The south-facing Rupamati’s Pavilion offers more great views, down to the distant Narmada as it meanders across the plains. Supposedly Baz Bahadur, the last independent ruler of Mandu, built two kiosks atop a defensive bastion so that his beloved singer and concubine Rupamati could look down towards her ancestral home on the Narmada every day. The setting inside the fairytale pavilion is incomparably romantic, but when the Moghul emperor Akbar marched on Mandu in 1561, Baz Bahadur fled and Rupamati poisoned herself, lending an air of poignant tragedy to the site.

One of the nicest aspects of Mandu is the almost total absence of Western tourists. There are plenty of Indian tourists, but they rarely stray far from the Jahaz Mahal. Most sites are left entirely to the individual traveller, especially early in the morning or at sunset; thus you are able to conjure up the ghosts of a past entirely undisturbed by the modern world, an all-too-rare occurrence elsewhere in India.

Getting There
There are four buses to Indore (Rs 50, 3½ hours, 7am, 9am, 9.30am and 3.30pm), from where transport heads to Bhopal. Coming from Indore you must change at Dhar. Maheshwar is tricky by bus – take a taxi (Rs 500, 1¾ hours); for Rs 1200 you can continue to Omkareshwar, though bus is a reasonable option after Maheshwar. The alternative is hiring a car in Indore.

Getting Around
Cycling is best, as the terrain is flat, the air clear and the countryside beautiful. Shops on Main Rd hire out bikes from Rs 20 per day. You can tour the monuments in half a day using a taxi, autorickshaw or moped (from Rs 150)

Accommodation
Hotel Maharaja
Located at: Jahaz Mahal Rd
Rates: single/double Rs 200/300
This budget option is the only disappointment in Mandu’s otherwise good sleeping options.

Hotel Rupmati
Located at: Main Rd
Rates: double Rs 550, with air-cooler/AC Rs 650/1100
Sandwiched between a ruin and a cliff, these colourful bungalows are a little overpriced but you pay for the view – the best offered by any hotel in the state. The management is also open to negotiation.

Malwa Resort
Tel: +91 7292 263235
Located at: Main Rd
Rates: rooms with/without AC Rs 1790/1090
The 20 rooms, including 10 suitelike AC rooms, are in cottages with new furniture and verandas overlooking the lake. It’s the more pleasant of two MP Tourism hotels (the other is Malwa Retreat), and prices include breakfast.



Google maps introduces multiple search

July 22, 2009

Have you ever wished you could see multiple searches in Google Maps, or search for directions and see businesses along the route all at the same time? Now, you can!

Consider a scenario, where you want to meet a friend for dinner on your way to downtown San Francisco. You search for transit directions from where you are on 24th and Valencia to Downtown SF, and then search for two of your favorite restaurants, Bar Jules and Walzwerk. Clicking on the blue bar at the bottom of the left panel reveals both searches for the restaurants as well as your route downtown. You can click on the checkboxes to turn each search on and off.

Google Maps Multiple Search

Google Maps Multiple Search

It looks like Walzwerk is closer to your path, so you decide to tell your friend to meet you there. And if she isn’t completely sold on the convenience of your plan, you can tell her that they have fantastic spätzle and German pilsner.



Photos: London

July 22, 2009
Photos: London

Photos: London

Click here to see the photos



AirBnB finds a cheap accommodation

July 22, 2009

Looking to see the sights but not looking forward to paying high hotel prices? Take advantage of AirBnB to find some nice, usually economical, local accommodations.

Similar to previously mentioned iStopOver, AirBnB lets you search for accommodations in your city of choice. People with a spare room put up listings complete with photographs, amenities, and ratings from other AirBnB users. You can currently find a room in 77 countries and 1102 cities. Mix in a little flexibility on your part and you’ll be hard pressed to find metropolitan areas short a room or two.

Accommodations range from something as simple as a spare room to even guest houses and cabins.



Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad, India

July 21, 2009
Bibi Ka Maqbara (Source: Wikipedia)

Bibi Ka Maqbara (Source: Wikipedia)

Built in 1679 as a mausoleum for Aurangzeb’s wife, Rabia-ud-Daurani, the Bibi-qa-Maqbara (Tel: +91 240 2400620; Indian/foreigner Rs 5/US$2; dawn-10pm) is known as the ‘Poor mans Taj’. This is a slightly ironic comparison considering it was Aurangzeb’s father who built the original shortly before being overthrown and imprisoned by his son on account of his extravagance! The comparison is also a little unfair because, despite the obvious weathering, it’s still a damn sight more impressive than the average gravestone.

The monument’s name translates literally to ‘Tomb of the Lady’, but has earned the nickname ‘poor man’s Taj’ because it was made to rival the Taj Mahal. It is situated in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. The tomb in itself represents the transition from the ostentatious architecture of Akbar and Shah Jahan to the simple architecture of the later Mughals. The comparison to the Taj Mahal has resulted in a general ignorance of the monument. This Monument is also called as Dakkhani Taj.

The Maqbara is erected beyond a locality called Begumpura. The Mausoleum stands within an enclosed area, 500 yards long and 300 yards broad. The surrounding high wall is crenellated with pointed arched recesses on the outside. There are bastions at intervals, and the recesses are divided by pilasters crowned with little minarets. The centre of the southern wall is occupied by a handsome portal entrance closed by folding doors which are covered with a running foliage pattern in brass. The structure is in the form of an hexagon and angles are ornamented with minarets.

Other sites in Aurangabad
Aurangabad Caves
With goats more numerous than tourists, the Aurangabad caves (Indian/foreigner Rs 5/US$2; dawn-dusk) might not be a patch on Ellora or Ajanta, but they are very quiet and peaceful. Carved out of the hillside in the 6th or 7th century AD, the 10 caves – consisting of two groups 1km apart (retain your ticket for entry into both sets) – are all Buddhist. Cave 7 with its sculptures of scantily clad lovers in suggestive positions is everyone’s favourite. A rickshaw from the Bibi-qa-Maqbara shouldn’t cost more than Rs 100 including waiting time.

Also see: Photos: Ajanta & Ellora Caves

Accommodation in Aurangabad
Budget
YHA Hostel
Tel: +91 240 2334892
Located at: Station Rd West
Price: dorm/double Rs 60/160
The woman who runs this decrepit old hostel is a real gem, but you really do have to be counting your pennies to stay here. Breakfast is available for Rs 17 and a thali dinner costs Rs 25.

Tourist’s Home
Tel: +91 240 2337212
Located at :Station Rd West
Price: single Rs 150; double Rs 200
As basic as basic gets and with a truly memorable aroma (think long-dead roadkill), but at least it’s cheap and the staff are cool.

Hotel Shree Maya
Tel: +91 240 2333093
Email: shrimaya_agd@sancharnet.in
Located at: Bharuka Complex
Price: double with/without AC Rs 495/345
Presentable and welcoming budget accommodation close to the train station. The plain rooms have TVs and hot showers in the morning, but the real plus is the outdoor terrace where breakfast and other meals are
served. It’s a good spot to tap into the travellers’ grapevine.

Mid-range
MTDC Holiday Resort
Tel: +91 240 2331513
Located at: Station Rd East
Price: double low/high season Rs 650/750, with AC Rs 800/900
Set in its own shady grounds, this slightly disorganised (in the nicest possible way) hotel is one of the better MTDC operations, offering spruce, spacious rooms. Some rooms suffer a bit from road noise. A restaurant, bar and travel agency are on site.

Classic Hotel
Tel: +91 240 5624314
Website: www.aurangabadhotel.com
Located at: Railway Station Rd
Price: single/double from Rs 1000/1200
Internet available. This sparkling new hotel next to the Goldie Cinema has very clean rooms, but is let down by pushy staff.

Hotel Amarpreet
Tel: +91 240 6621133
Website: www.amarpreethotel.com
Located at: Jalna Rd
Price: single/double from Rs 1410/2100
A chintzy, glitzy lobby leads to slightly less impressive rooms, but it’s much cleaner and more professional than any other hotel in its class.

Premium
President Park
Tel: +91 240 2486201
Website: www.presidenthotels.com
Located at: R-7/2, Chikalthana, Airport Rd
Price: single/double from Rs 2300/2800
Internet, swimming pool. On the road to the airport, this classy hotel needs a bit of a polish but the setting around the half-moon pool makes this a good top-end option. Nonguests can use the pool for Rs 175 per hour.

Taj Residency
Tel: +91 240 2381106
Website: www.tajhotels.com
Located at: Ajanta Rd
Price: single/double from US$75/85
Internet, swimming pool. Set in 2 hectares of pleasantly landscaped gardens, the Taj is an oasis of well-appointed rooms on the northern fringes of Aurangabad. Most rooms have romantic Mughal-style swings on the balconies.

Getting There & Away
Air
The Chikalthana Airport (IATA Code: IXU) equipped with all modern facilities is 10km east of town. En route you’ll find the offices of Indian Airlines and Jet Airways. Indian Airlines has daily flights to Mumbai (US$54, 45 minutes) and Delhi (US$129, 3½ hours). Jet Airways flies daily to Mumbai (US$116, 45 minutes). Air Deccan offers dirt-cheap daily flights to Mumbai.

Bus
Local buses head half-hourly to Ellora (Rs 17, 45 minutes) and hourly to Jalgaon (Rs 90, four hours) via Fardapur (Rs 74, two hours). The T-junction near Fardapur is the drop-off point for Ajanta. Buses leave regularly from the MSRTC bus stand located at Station Rd West to Pune (Rs 140, five hours) and Nasik (Rs 110, five hours). For longer-distance journeys, private luxury buses are more comfortable and better value.

The private bus agents congregate around the corner where Dr Rajendra Prasad Marg becomes Court Rd, and a few sit closer to the bus stand on Station Rd West. Deluxe overnight bus destinations include Mumbai (Rs 180, with AC Rs 250, sleeper Rs 550, eight hours), Ahmedabad (Rs 350, 15 hours) and Nagpur (Rs 320, 12 hours).

Train
On the southern edge of town is Aurangabad train station. It’s not on a main line, but two direct trains daily (often heavily booked) run to/from Mumbai. The 2.30pm Tapovan Express (2nd class/chair Rs 94/344, eight hours), from Mumbai, leaves at 6.10am, and there’s also the 11.25pm Devagiri Express (sleeper/2AC Rs 158/641, nine hours). To Hyderabad (Secunderabad), the Manmad Express departs daily at 7.20pm (sleeper/
2AC Rs 236/954, 10 hours). To reach northern or eastern India by train, take a bus up to Jalgaon and board one of the major trains from there.

Distances from major Cities in Maharashtra and the places of Tourist interest:
Mumbai – Aurangabad: 400 Km.
Pune – Aurangabad: 237 Km.
Nasik – Aurangabad: 190 Km.
Shirdi – Aurangabad: 144 Km.
Ajanta – Aurangabad: 107 Km.
Ellora – Aurangabad: 29 Km.
Daulatabad – Aurangabad: 14 Km.

Getting Around
Autorickshaws are as common as mosquitoes in a summer swamp. The taxi stand is next to the bus stand; share jeeps also depart from here for destinations around Aurangabad, including Ellora and Daulatabad.
Hiring a bicycle from a stall near the train station (Rs 4 per hour) is an option for a pollution-filled day’s sightseeing around the city.


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