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The palatial Taj Residency is in many respects light-years ahead of the competition -- thanks to a new wing and a full-blown decision to upgrade the entire hotel, it's made most other hotels in town look positively old-fashioned. One exception is the Lemon Tree -- part of a midrange chain that is steadily closing the gap between luxury and budget digs in key locations around the country -- that was carefully crafted from the old bones of the former President Park. A further option you may wish to consider -- and one which has long tried to match the Taj -- is the Rama International (www.welcomhotelrama.com). Attractive interiors and perky modern rooms (starting at Rs 4,900 double) are the stand out feature here, but service and facilities don't quite match those at its main rival. Particularly disappointing is the pool: It's too darn small.

If you want ultracheap and functional and intend to eat out, then by all means endure a night or two at the government-run MTDC Holiday Resort (Station Rd., Aurangabad 431 001; tel. 0240/233-1513), which offers relatively clean rooms in a central location (near restaurants, the taxi hub, and travel agencies) but little else (and you'll need to check out at 9am). Insist on an air-conditioned unit that costs Rs 1,100 double; family rooms are Rs 1,200. You may also wish to ask about rooms at the MTDC's hotel at Fardapur (tel. 02438/24-4230), some 5km (3 miles) from the Ajanta Caves; deluxe air-conditioned doubles go for Rs 900, but there are no restaurants to escape to, so you'll have to put up with the dull in-house option.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.