Aurangabad – city of gates

Aurangabad, the tourist’s hub, is located in the Maharashtra state of India. The city was named after the Mughal emperor, Aurangazeb (son of Akbar). It is the administrative headquarters of Marathwada district. The name literally means “built by throne”. Mumbai, the state capital is 340 km away from Aurangabad.

The history of this city dates back to the 16th century. The place where the city stands now was once a small village called Khadki. According to some historians, Aurangabad was founded by Ambar, the Prime Minister of Nizam Shah II of Ahmednagar. The credit goes to him, as the city got its prominence under his rule.

The city was originally named as Fatehpura (means “city of victory”). After 1634, Aurangazeb took over the city. He used the place as a base from which he conquered the rest of the Deccan region. After his death in 1707, the British captured the city. Now a most famous tourist destination, Aurangabad is packed with enormous monuments, parks and forts.

Bibika Maqbara:
This tomb was built in remembrance of Aurangazeb’s first wife, named Rabia- ud- Durrani. It is a replica of the world famous “Taj Mahal” and is also termed as the poor man’s Taj Mahal. Tourists can also visit the archaeological museum which is located just behind this mausoleum.

Built by a Persian architect, the tomb has intricate lattice carvings of flowers and creepers. The tomb has its own richness and grace. Little minarets add to the marble domed and beautiful tomb. It is just five km from the city.

Aurangabad Caves:
There are nearly 12 caves, which date back to the 6th century. They are located on the outskirts of Aurangabad. All these caves have a strong influence of the Tantric cult in their architecture and iconography. Among these, caves 3 and 7 are awesome. Tourists can see beautiful and intricate carvings of Bodhisattvas, Viharas, etc., carved out of the rocky sides here.

This most impressive fortress is perched at a height of 600 ft above the Deccan plain atop a pyramid shaped hill. According to some historians, the fort was originally a Buddhist monastery. The place was named by Mohammad- bin – Tuglaq as “Daulatabad” (meaning the city of fortune). The fort is renowned for its various tricky defence works and secret escape routes.

With 6 km outer walls, the architecture of the fort is of Deccan military engineering style. Tourists will be awed by its defence system fortified with double and triple walls. It is located 13 km away from Aurangabad.

Pan Chakki:
Literally meaning “Water Wheels”, this is nothing but a flour mill. This flour mill functions by using the water energy from a spring gushing down from a mountain. In 1695, Ambar Malik built this mill by himself, to provide ground wheat flour to pilgrims. Tourists can also come across cool chambers beneath the mill.

This is an important religious center for Muslims. It is the place where the tomb of great Mughal emperor Aurangazeb is situated. The tomb stands on a high platform amidst marble flooring.

Ajanta and Ellora Caves:
This world heritage center is located 99 km away from Aurangabad. The caves are famous for the 2nd century rock cut temples and statues. Statues belonging to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism can be seen here. This is a must visit place near Aurangabad.

Gates of Aurangabad:
When the city was under Mughal empire, it possessed nearly four main gates and nine sub-gates along its periphery. The most famous and oldest among them is Bhadkal gate.  This gate with unique architecture was built by Malik Ambar in honour of the victorious Mughals in 1612. Thus it is also termed as “Victory Gate”.

Aurangabad is well equipped with airport, railhead and motorways, linking it with major parts of India.