Aurangabad is an old and populous city in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. Known as ‘City of Gates’, it had once fifty-two gates while only thirteen gates are existing now. It is strategically important due to surrounding hills that made it secured from military angle. Now renamed as ‘Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar’, it is a tourist destination with several monuments in and around city area.
Founded in village ‘Khadki’ by Malik Amber of Ahmadnagar Sultanate in 1610 AD, it came under Mughal Empire in 1633 AD. Aurangzeb named it ‘Aurangabad’ when he was Viceroy of Deccan in 1653 AD. The city holds the unique identity due to those old beautiful gates. It is said that the region was once the capital of ‘Satavahana’ and ‘Yadava’ dynasties in 1st-2nd century BC and 9th-14th century AD respectively. Later the region was annexed to Delhi Sultanate, then to Ahmednagar Sultanate, and then to Mughals. With downfall of Mughal Empire, it was recaptured by Marathas, and then under British rule till independence.
Where is it?
It is located near Nagpur-Mumbai Highway – about 450 km, 325 km, 105 km, and 225 km from Nagpur, Mumbai and Shirdi, and Pune respectively. It is well connected with all big cities and towns. One can reach through road, rail or air. A new 6-lane Nagpur-Mumbai expressway passes through it.
In the last week of July 2023, we took a flight from Bhubaneswar to Pune. After two days each at Pune and Shirdi, we moved to Aurangabad from Shirdi in a taxi and reached in about 2.5 hours.
We stayed in a small budget hotel near Mahavir Chowk. A good number of hotels are there. Due to monsoon off-season, we stayed for two days at a discounted rate.
Where Did We Visit?
We picked up an auto-rickshaw to the famous ASI-protected monument ‘Biwi Ka Maqbara’, build by Azam Shah (Aurangzeb’s son) in memory of his mother Dilras Bano Begum. It is a walled site with gates, pavilions, fountains and gardens. Next we visited ‘Panchakki’ ‘Soneri Mahal’ and ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum’. We saw few gates like Bhadkal Gate, Paithani Gate, Kaala Gate, Naubat Gate etc. during city visit.
Biwi ka Maqbara (PC: Kishor Kumar Mishra)
‘Panchakki’ is a water mill that used fountain water to rotate grinding stone. A reservoir, Sufi saint Baba Shah Musafir dargah, mosque, madrassa, kacheri, zananna, small museum, garden etc. are also located there.
‘Soneri Mahal’ is a seventeenth century two-storey palace built by a Bundalkand chief. Paintings in the palace were once painted in gold.
‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum’ displays weapons, articles, photographs etc. belonging to that period. It is worth visiting, but ill-maintained.
We came back to hotel for lunch and rest. In the evening, we visited textile market near Paithani Gate, spent two hours, had dinner and came back to hotel. Time constraint forced us to skip Aurangabad cave, Ganesh temple and few others.
We booked a cab for next day visit.
Ellora Caves (PC: Kishor Kumar Mishra)
We started at 8:00 AM for Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga (30 km away), offered prayers, finished breakfast and proceeded to nearby famous Ellora caves (UNESCO world heritage site). There are 34 caves in all, cave no. 16 is the famous Kailash temple.
Chand Minar (PC: Kishor Kumar Mishra)
Post-lunch, we visited a factory-outlet ‘Paithani-saree’ shop on the way, and then Aurangzeb’s tomb at Khuldabad. Next visit was to Devgiri Fort in Daulatabad. The central fortress is atop a 200-meter high hill with three-line defense from outer gate to hill top. Must visits inside the fort are fortress, Chand-Minar, Chini-Mahal, Gates, cannon displays and gardens. We couldn’t climb 800-900 stairs to the top because of old age.
We had dinner and went to bed. Next morning, we checked out of the hotel.
Aurangabad is an old medieval city with a good number of tourist sites in and around. October to February are the best months to visit, though monsoon is also okay due to scanty rain in this region and discounted hotel rates are cheaper. Auto and taxi fares are moderate. I recommend it as a must-visit place for 2-3 days.
Kishor Kumar Mishra