Aurangabad - A Tete a Tete with the city
Originally called : Khadke
Location : Western India, West Central Maharashtra
Founded by : Malik Ambar
Best time to visit : October and March
Local Transport : Taxis, autorickshaws, rental cars.
Souvenir : Paithani saris, intricate silver inlay craft of Bidri ware Silk fabrics, himroo and mushroom shawls.
Places to See : Aurangabad caves, Bibi Ka Maqbara, Bani Begum Gardens, Daulatabad, Pan Chakki
Aurangabad - The Tale of the City
Aurangabad was originally called Khadke or the “Big Rock”. Founded in the 16th century by Malik Amber, this was the provincial capital. Malik Amber was an ex- Abyssinian slave and also the prime minister of the independent Muslim kingdom of the Nizam Shahis. They were based at Ahmadnagar. Aurangabad lies on the banks of the River Khan, in between the Satpudas in the north and the Satara to the south. This valley of Aurangabad was then the main route to trade. Malik Amber built many mosques and palaces but they are all in ruins now.
History has it that in 1629, Shah Jahan’s army conquered the Deccan and brought about the Mughal rule. Aurangabad, the Big Rock City was then the centre of military operations. At the end of the 17th century, Aurangzeb halted here and supervised the havoc he had created after his attacks. Aurangzeb then got high walls built in this city so that it could withstand the Maratha attacks. In 1707, the city was renamed as Aurangabad in honor of Aurangzeb.
Aurangabad - Down the Ages
After Aurangzeb’s death, the new rulers of Aurangabad were the Nizams of Hyderabad. They kept the Marathas away for the next 2 centuries and the city finally took shape as the present day city in the year 1956 when it was merged with Maharashtra. Down the Ages has seen Aurangabad growing into a successful commercial industrial centre. It manufactures almost everything from pharmaceuticals to auto- rickshaws. It also has important medical and educational centers.
Aurangabad - Travel Kitty
This district of Aurangabad has been an important area on the plateau of Deccan. With its glorious past and its artistic and cultural history, and with the contribution of so many dynasties, which have contributed to its development, the city of Aurangabad, the Paithani city has slowly made its way to the top. The cusine, the ambience, the atmosphere all add to the traveler’s kitty and it is a pleasure for a tourist coming here as he gets a lot to fill his travel kitty. The elegance of the Paithani silk saris and the lovely intricate craftwork of Bidri ware is a very famous shopper’s ecstasy here. The fine artistic silk fabrics and the ancient art of weaving also produces some of the world’s best shawls of himroo and mushroom. Thus, Aurangabad is a traveler’s haven and a tourist’s paradise.
Aurangabad - Joie de vivre in the city
With its rich Islamic feels and the importance of being a prominent part of the Deccan plateau, this city with its rich culture and arts still has its bit of contribution to Indian culture. Still having retained its Islamic feel, the city has the unique achievement of bringing about a co-existence of Hindu and Muslim population living in perfect harmony. This is a place where one would get to see the following:
Aurangabad Caves : Located outside Aurangabad, the city of caves, the caves were found between the 2nd and the 6th century AD. These caves were carved out of a hill; this magnificent piece of architecture has amazing pieces of carvings. The caves, the ambience, the atmosphere and the glorious past make this place mind blowing and phenomenal. There are 12 caves out of which the major portion is the Viharas.The Caves 3 and caves 7 are magnificent ones. The caves 1 to 5 are in the Western group and the caves 6 to 10 are in the eastern group. The iconography and the architecture in the caves show many Tantric influences.
Ajanta and Ellora Caves : The Ajanta and Ellora group of caves is a charming destination that any tourist would love to visit. These caves are responsible for putting the city of Aurangabad on the tourist map. The worlds’ most famous caves situated 108 kms northeast of Aurangabad, lie inside the Sahyadri hills. They are beautiful, magnificent and exclusive in their appearance and are thus considered one of the most beautiful expressions of the Middle Ages. They are now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rock-hewn temples and monasteries of the Ellora caves are some of the odd 30 shrines that have been chiseled by hand from a single big rock. It has a gateway, courtyard, vestibule and a tower also.
Pitalkhora Caves : These are located near Aurangabad. These are dated from the 2nd century BC to the 1st Century AD. These are comprised mainly of viharas.They are cut into the side of a deep ravine. This place has many wonderful sculptures and figures. It is worth a tourist’s visit.
Bibi-Ka-Maqbara : This is situated 5 km from Aurangabad. Built in 1678 by Prince Azam Shah, the son of Aurangzeb, this monument was built in memory of his mother Begum Rabia Durani. This magnificent piece of construction is known as the “Taj of South India.” This is supposed to be built as a replica of the Taj Mahal. Yet it is not as magical as The Taj Mahal. However, the structural elegance and the phenomenal ambience lend beauty to the traveler’s eye and the tourist goes back with many memories of this stupendous structural beauty.
These lie just outside the city of Aurangabad. The tomb of Bani Begum is in the centre of Bani Begum. The serene calm and radiant atmosphere of the gardens of Bani Begum gives the place its beautiful look. Bani Begum was the wife of Aurangzeb’s son. The gardens have fluted pillars, elegant domes and lovely fountains that are built in various styles.
Daulatabad fort : This fort was known as “Devgiri”. This 12th century fortress is found on top of a hill. This is one of the most magnificent constructions in the earlier days. This rises around 600ft above the Deccan plain. The Daulatabad fort was the headquarters of the powerful Yadavas. Mohammed Bin Tughluq, the Sultan of Delhi renamed the place Devgiri as Daulatabad in the 13th century. Thus, Daulatabad or the City of Fortune as it means, came into being.
Pan Chakki : This unusual watermill is known as “Pan Chakki”. It was built by Malik Ambar in 1695. The water came from a spring on a hill, which was far away. This was used to run the flourmill and grind the grain for the pilgrims. This Dargah of Baba Shah Muzaffar is located on the bank of the River Kham near Begampura Bridge. It has a mosque, a modest tomb and lot of gardens.
Ghrishneshwar Temple :
This temple located around half a kilometer from the Ellora Caves is one among the 12 holy shrines of India. Many people also know this by the names of “Kusumeswara Jyotirlinga” “Gushmeswara Jyotirlinga” and “Grishneswara Jyotirlinga”.
This is also known as the Abode of Eternity. It is a walled town, which is just 3 km from Ellora. The Muslims consider it as their holy shrine and it contains the tomb of the last Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. This place is also important because the tomb of Moinuddin Chisti is inside this complex. Moinuddin Chisti is the spiritual guide of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. This is where the tomb of Emperor Aurangzeb lies. It is under a carpet of rose petals. There is curtain, which covers a trunk there, which contains the sacred “Robe of the Prophet.”
This ancient city and the centre of Pilgrimage is situated on the banks of the river Godavari. This lies 51 kms away from the city of Aurangabad. The Paithan caves are situated here. The village of Paithan was built on a settlement of mound that was known as “Pratisthan”. This was the ancient capital of the Satvahanas from the 2nd century BC. It is an important excavation site also. This place is also famous because the famous Marathi poet and saint Eknath lived here.
In this way, Aurangabad with its unique architectural elegance and its imperial historical background exudes a lot of pride of past and a glorious feeling overall. A traveler coming here would be pleased to smell the aroma of the simmering victorious feel in the atmosphere. As we leave the place, we think, “Too many caves will not spoil the broth of culture in a city.”