Also called the City of Gates – Aurangabad is a city in the Indian state of Maharashtra was recently declared as the ‘tourist hub’ of the state. The city completed 400 years of its existence in 2010 and is still counting. With a booming industrial background, Aurangabad is one of those cities in India in which a travel enthusiast would lose himself. A city with a heritage of 400 years is bound to have some marks of history and culture upon it – and Aurangabad knows how to flaunt all of it. Aurangabad the 4th largest and smartest city in Maharashtra has been given the title of Tourism Capital of the state.
Aurangabad through the Ages :-
At the time of its inception the city was called ‘Khadki’ and was just a village which shot to fame when it became the capital city by Malik Amber, who at that time was working under the patronage of Murtaza Nizam, the Shah of Ahmednagar. The city after a decade became one of the prominent cities of the kingdom under Murtaza. When Malik Amber died in 1626 the throne was succeeded by his son Fateh Khan and the city of Khadki was given the name of Fatehnagar. As the Mughals entered India and captured Daulatabad, the city along with all the Nizami possessions came under the rule of the Mughal dynasty. The beginning of 1653 marked one other landmark event in the history of Aurangabad. The Mughal ruler Aurangzeb was chosen as the viceroy of Deccan (he was given this title for the second time) the city was again renamed and from now on was called Aurangabad – as it is known today. The ‘Aurang’ city which literally translates as ‘Built by the Throne’ is also referred to as Khujista Bunyad by some of the chroniclers of the time of Aurangzeb.
As the power of Mughals started diminishing in the year of 1724, Asif jah, who was a Turk working as the general and Nizam-al-Mulk of the Mughals in the Deccan, decided to establish his own dynasty and made Aurangabad his capital. Then as the capital shifted, the city came under the rule of the Marathas in 1795 as they won the battle of Kharda. The Marathas ruled here for eight years in the city and then it again fell into the hands of the Nizams of Hyderabad. With the excursion of British within the territory of India, the Nizams shook hands with the British power and then fought the Second Anglo-Maratha war, in which the British side won.The last phase of the historic ups and downs within the city came to an end as the city was annexed as the part of Union of India from the princely state of Hyderabad.
Culture And Cuisine :
The culture of Aurangabad is quite similar to Hyderabad owing to the history the two cities share. Retaining its old world charm of the Mughals the city is in its language to cuisine to dressing up is influenced by the Muslim culture of Hyderabadi origin. While the language that is of widely spoken in Aurangabad is that of Marathi and Urdu, the dialect is Dakhni – a Hyderabadi Urdu Dialect. Aurangabad is quite famous for its contribution in Urdu literature and boasts of poets like Wali Dakhni, Shah hatem, Shah Abro, Mir Taqi Mir, Zauq and Sauda. The cuisine of Aurangabad is very much similar to the Mughalai cuisine of Hyderabad. The scrumptious Biryani, the pulao and the specials of meat created with the tinge of aromatic spices is what makes the cuisine of Aurangabad very memorable and deliciously mouth watering. The cuisine takes its shape from the Mughal Hyderabadi and Marathwada which is one of the best examples of cross culture outcrop. A dish called the Naan Qalia is one dish endemic to Aurangabad in India. A mutton dish with various herbs and spices is served with Naan (a type of bread) and Qalia which is mutton, marinated. The dish has a history of its origins. The dish was first invented in the army camp of Mohammad bin Tughlaq and was then used in the army camps of the Mughals as they captured the city. The soldiers who settled in Aurangabad made this dish as a part of their routine which is continued till date. One another specials of Aurangabad is the Tahri or Tahari and is very close to pulao- Birayani, which is famous in Aurangabad and Maratha culture. The Aurangabadi, Marathwada and the Dakhni cuisine, the three names given to the cuisine of Aurangabad is a perfect amalgamation of Puneri and Hyderabadi cuisine which is the blend of South Indian ingredients like the curry leaves and tamarind in the traditional culinary practices of the Hyderabad, which gives it a distinct flavor and edge to the cuisine of Aurangabad.
Art Craft and Clothes of Aurangabad :
The city of Aurangabad is famous for its Mushru and Himroo fabrics. These fabrics which are made of cotton and silk have the shine of satin. “Himru” is the style of weaving in the craft which in reality is called as the Kum Khuab. Himroo is one fabric which was started in Persia and was introduced to the Indian sub-continent during the times of Mohammad Bin Tughlaq, in the 14th century. With the incoming of various ruling classes in the city of Aurangabad, such as the Aurangazeb and the Nizams, the industry of this waving craft kept flourishing from the medieval to the modern times. The style of Himroo weaving is quite famous in Aurangabad and the shawls and fabrics made out of it are in much demand throughout the country. Aurangabad also boasts a distinct art form within itself. The Bidriware is a form of art prevailing in the city which uses gold and silver inlays on copper and is derived from the preserved traditions of Persia. This ancient art form is still used in modern times in making things like cufflinks, nameplates and others such as plates, bowls, ashtrays, vases and huqqa. One amongst the interesting facts of Aurangabad is related to a place called Kaghzipura. The place is said to have produced the first handmade paper of India as the technology was brought in by Mongols. Some historians also state that it was the first paper mill to be developed in all of Asia.
Touristy Aurangabad : What to See?
Ajanta Caves :
A UNESCO World Heritage Site of India, the Ajanta Caves is one of the most ancient cave sites of the world. These caves have the history which dates back to 2nd and 6th century AD and are protected by the Archaeological survey of India. These caves are home and origins of the Indian Classical art. It was in 1819 that Jon Smith accidentally chanced upon a horse shoe shaped rock who was hunting in the vicinity at that time and crossed the river Waghora to reach the caves, thus the caves of Ajanta was discovered. The caves are richly inscribed with pillars and beautiful carvings upon the stupas which give it a palatial look. Studies found out that there are 30 caves in the whole complex, were developed during the period of the Satvahans, the others were developed during the Vakataka dynasty. In the ancient times the caves were known as Chaitya-Grihas. As the ruling time of Harisena ended, the caves were forgotten within the forest of the vicinity. The Ajanta caves are heavily adorned with paintings of Lord Buddha and his sculptures. The paintings at Ajanta also depict stories from Jataka Tales and scenes from the royal court. At the entrance of the cave is a giant statue of lord Buddha and the pillars are adorned by paintings of the Bodhisattvas Padamapani and Vajrapani. The caves are almost 2000 years and the statues of Buddhas were added later dating back to 600 years.
Ellora Caves :
The complex consists of 34 caves, which are dedicated to Jain, Hindu and Buddhist religion. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cave was built in the 18th century and was developed by the Rashtrakuta rulers. The first 12 Buddhist caves built between the 5th-7th centuries have carvings of Buddha, Bidhisattas and saints. The Chaitya hall amongst the 12 Buddhist caves has a statue of Buddha which is 3.0m high in teaching position with Bodhi tree carved behind him. The Hindu caves of the complex were built in 6th to 8th century. The important caves amongst the Hindu complex are the Kailashnatha (The 16th Cave) and the Dashavatar cave. The cave is numbered at 15th and has an open court mandapa. Other famous caves are Rameshvara (cave 21), Dhamur Lena (cave 29) and the Ravan Ki khai. These are famous for the distinct sculptures and architecture they have. The Jain caves at the Ellora date back to 9th and 10th century and belong to the Digambara sect. The most important cave site of Ellora includes the Chhota Kailash (cave 30), the Indra Sabha (cave 32) and the Jagannth Sabha (cave 33). The ‘Indra Sabha’ is so named because it houses the sculpture of Yaksha and Matang on an elephant. These caves constitute the best of Aurangabad tourism and attract tourists from worldwide.
Grishneshwar Shiv Temple And Jyotirlinga :
The Jyotirlinga of Shiva is the most popular term that is attributed to the Lord of Kailash. The Jyotirlingam is one of the most revered forms of Shiva which is worshipped amongst Hindus. A Jyotirlingam is the sign (phallus symbol) of The Almighty. There 12 most important Jyotirlinga all over the India. The legend has it that the Lord Shiva incarnated on Earth on the night of the Aridra Nakshatra, and thus the Jyotirlinga form of Shiva is the most revered of all. It is believed that if you have enlightened yourself enough, the Jyotirlinga would appear as columns piercing the earth in the form of fire. The Lingam is considered as the beginning and end of the Stambh pillar of the never ending nature of Shiva.
Bibi Ka Maqbara :
Bibi ka Maqbara, literally translated as the ‘Tomb of the Lady’, was constructed by Prince Azam in the fond memory of his mother Rabia-ul-Durrani, who was the wife of Aurangzeb. The Bibi ka Maqbara is the only eloquent monument he had in his credit. Bibi ka Maqbara is generally compared with the Taj Mahal, Agra because of its striking similarity. It is also called as the Dakkhani Taj (Taj of the Deccan) had Ata-ullah khan as its principal engineer. The Maqbara, which stands tall in the city of Aurangabad is situated in the middle of an articulately architected Mughal Gardens with axial ponds, water channels, pavilions, fountains and broad pathways.
Panchakki (Water Mill)
The Panchakki, was an ancient mill which was given such name from the mill which were used as to grind grains for the pilgrims who used to traverse to religious places. The Panchakki also called the Water Mill is the best example of the Indian scientific architecture in the medieval period. The mill was used to generate electricity from the water which was brought down from a spring on the mountain. The building is attached to the Dargah complex of Baba Shah Musafir who was a Sufi saint. The Dargah was erected in 1695 AD along with the water mill attached to it.
Gates In Aurangabad :
Aurangabad got its sobriquet of ‘City of Gates’ because the city is adorned with 52 gates which are associated to some famous personality or historical event. The four important gates in the city are situated at the 4 cardinal points of the city. The Delhi Gate is present in the North; the Jalna Gate is located at the eastern side, the Paithan Gate in the southern side and the Mecca Gate in the west.
Naukhanda Palace :
The palace built in 1616 was commissioned by Malik Amber is a massive structure built upon a risen ground. The palace was built with nine apartments, with separate chambers for wome, the Zananas, a Diwan-i-Aam, a Divan-i-Khas along with a central portion which was called the Devankhana, which had a hammam, or a hot bath attached to it.
Himayat Bagh Aurangabad
The Himayat Bagh is as old as 17th century is now a Fruit Research Station and Nusery, is located near Delhi Gate in Rauza Bagh. The complex also houses The Barra Darri, which was erected by Ivaz Khan. The structure has complex also had aqua-ducts that supported several fountains. The Barra Dari had an inbuilt underground water chamber, which made a natural air-conditioner, keeping the entire area cool despite of the high temperature of the weather. The complex is now made into the office of Fruit research centre.
Salim Ali Lake And Bird Sanctuary :
The lake situated near the Delhi Gate opposite the Himayat Bagh is popularly known as the Salim Ali sarovar or Salim Ali Talab. It was during the Mughal period that it was called the Khizri talab. After independence the talab (lake) was renamed and was called the Salim Ali Talab, christened after the ornithologist and a naturalist Salim Ali. The lake and the adjacent area around is now protected as a sanctuary and is maintained by the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation.
One of the few monuments built by Aurangzeb, the Qila-e-Ark was called the Killa Arrak. The Citadel covers nearly all the area that comes between the West Mecca gate and the Delhi gate in the north. The citadel has five gateways and also houses a nagarkhana for musicians. The grandeur of the structure is famous in the whole of Aurangabad.
The literal translation of the word Daulatabad means ‘the City of Prosperity’, this place was once famously called the ‘Deogiri’ was the capital of Tughlaq Dynasty and then later was abandoned. Daulatabad is famous for its fort which is a hill-fortree of Devgiri. The fort also has a long gallery with an upward slop and a narrow bridge passage which leads to the top. You can also visit the Chand Minar here and enjoy the lush green surroundings.
The place is also famous with the name Khultabad and is famous for the religious connection it always had. The place is home to various shrines of Sufi saints who settled here. The famous Dargah are of Zar Zari Zar baksh, Shaikh Burhan ud-din Gharib Chisti and Shaikh Zain-Ud-Din Shrazi. The tomb of Mughal emperor is also present here. The place is also famous for the Bhadra Maruti Temple.
Pitalkhora Caves :
The Satamala range of the Western Ghats of Maharashtra houses these caves. These caves are dedicated to Buddhism and the site consists of 14 rock-cut cave monuments. The caves belong to Hinayan sect of the Buddhism. The site consists of a Gajalakshmi symbol and an ancient rainwater harvesting system.
Gautala Sanctuary :
The sanctuary was established as a protected area in the year 1986 and is located on a height of 700 feet. The wildlife populations include Chinkara, bat, jungle cat, white boar, and sloth bears. Cranes and spoonbills also find their home here. The sanctuary is situated within the hill ranges of Shahyadri and has diverse flora and fauna.
Kali Masjid & Jama Masjid :
These two mosques are quite famous worship place of the Muslims in Aurangabad. Built by Malik Ambar, these are quite grand when it comes to architecture. The kali Masjid is a six-pillared stone building having 27 equal compartments, standing on lofty pillars arranged in rows.
Shahganj Masjid :
Shahganj Masjid is one of the Mosques which were built by Malik Amber. The mosque is famous for the grand edifice which was built in 1720AD. The reservoir was set up to fulfill the water demands of the general mass in summers.
Pir Ismail Mausoleum :
Pir Ismail Mausoleum is located just outside the Delhi gate on the Harsul Road. The mausoleum is of Mughal style in architecture and contains several gardens with green swathes of land. The mausoleum is square shaped and in the corners carries little domes. Sonehri Mahal or the Golden palace is situated at the out skirts of Aurangabad city is situated inside the campus of B.R. Ambedkar Marathwada University.
Sunehri Mahal :
A chief of Aurangzeb who accompanied him into Deccan had made this Palace in stone and lime and has a high plinth. The palace is said to have gold paintings and thus the name.
How to Reach?
The city being the cultural hub of India is one of the most sought after destinations by tourists. Thus, it is well connected by every method of transport possible. Have a look :
By Flight :
There are continuous flights from Aurangabad to Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur and Udaipur. Aurangabad is air-linked to all the major cities of India and the airport is at comfortable and within reach distance of 10Kms.
By Train :
Two trains connect Aurangabad to Mumbai. The Devgiri Express which takes you through an overnight journey to Mumbai and the Tapovan express which is a day train.
By Road :
As the tourism sector is at boom in Aurangabad, several luxury and state run busses also take you to and fro from Aurangabad to Mumbai. Cities like Delhi and Mumbai have international airports from which one can board flights to any part of the world.
Local Transport :
Getting around within Aurangabad is quite easy as there are many modes of transport which will take you to your destination. There is plethora of local busses and also private rickshaws and auto-rickshaws, which are the most available and in abundance. Private cars and taxis are also available to move about.
Best Time to Visit Aurangabad
The best time to visit Aurangabad is in winters which last from December to February. The temperature in this part of the year varies from 10 to 25°C and the weather of aurnagabad is dry. The cool breeze flowing all through the region would make your trip a memorable one. However, the winter season is the most crowded season in Aurangabad, to avoid the rush visit Aurangabad in summers, which are fairly warm. The ideal time in summers would be April to July.