For decades this central Indian city was vintage old India: crumbling Mughal-era ruins and ancient Buddhist caves surrounded by endless parched acres from which farmers coaxed cotton.
But this month Aurangabad became an emblem of an altogether different India: the booming, increasingly urbanized economic powerhouse filled with ambition and a new desire to flaunt its wealth.
A group of more than 150 local businessmen decided to buy, en masse, a Mercedes-Benz car each, spending nearly $15 million in a single day and putting this small but thriving city on the map. Frustrated that the usual Chamber of Commerce brochures were slow to attract new investment, the businessmen decided to buy the cars as a stunt intended to stimulate investment in Aurangabad, one of several largely unknown but thriving urban centers across India’s more prosperous states.
“In and around Aurangabad there are companies worth a thousand crores,” an amount of Indian rupees equivalent to about $225 million, said Sachin Nagouri, 40, a hyperkinetic local real estate mogul who came up with the idea. “But Aurangabad is not known even in this state. There is plenty of money here. We just need to show it.”