Aurangabad is a
historical city located in the west central part of Maharashtra
State , on the banks of Kham River. Aurangabad is located 630m above
sea level and is also the district headquarters of Aurangabad
district. The Sahyadri (Western Ghat) Mountains dominate its
physiography. This is the largest city in the Northern Maharashtra
region extending over an area of 158.9-sq-kms. A Travellers'
to see why many travellers regard Aurangabad as little more than a
convenient place to kill time on the way to Ellora and Ajanta caves.
First impressions seem to confirm its reputation as an industrial
metropolis yet, given a little effort, this northern Maharashtrian
city can yield compensations for its architectural shortcomings.
Scattered around its
ragged fringes, the dilapidated remains of fortifications, gateways,
domes and minerals - including those of the most ambitious Mughal
tomb garden in western India. The Bibi-Ka-Maqbara - bear witness to
an illustrious imperial past; the small but fascinating crop of
rock-cut Buddhist caves, huddled along the flanks of the
flat-topped. Sandy yellow hills to the north are remnants of even
more ancient occupation.
The city, originally
called Khadke, or "Big Rock", was founded in the early
16th century by Malik Amber, an ex-Abhyssinian slave and prime
minister of the independent Muslim kingdom of the Nizam Shahis,
based at Ahmadnagar, 112-km southwest. It was a perfect spot for a
provincial capital: on the banks of the River Khan, in a broad
valley separating the then-forested Sahyadri Range to the north form
the Satharas to the south, and at a cross roads of the regions key
trade routes, Many of the mosques and places erected by Malik Amber
still endure, albeit in ruins.
In 1629, Shah Jahan's
redoubtable army swept south across the Deccan to usher in Mughal
rule. As Fatehnagar, Aurangabad became the centre of operations for
their protracted military campaign. It really rose to prominence,
how ever towards the end of the 17th century, when Aurangazeb
decamped here from Delhi to supervise the subjugation of his
troublesome enemies in the region.
At his behest, the
impressive city walls and hates were raised in 1682 to withstand the
persistent Maratha attacks that bedeviled his later years. Following
his death in 1707, the city was renamed in his honour as it changed
hands once again. The new rulers, the Nizam of Hyderabad, somehow
staved off the Marathas for the greater part of 250 years, until the
city finally merged with Maharashtra in 1956.
has always been a prominent region on the Deccan plateau and has a
long artistic and cultural history, to which several dynasties have
made major contributions over the years. The cuisine of Auguranbad
has been highly influenced by the North Indian method of cooking, as
a result of the long Mughal rule in the region. It has retained much
of its Islamic feel, although in the present day both Hindu and
Muslim population lives in perfect harmony. Principal languages
spoken over here are Marathi, Urdu, Hindi and English.
A Cosmopolitan Hub
Today Aurangabad is
one of India's fastest growing commercial and industrial centres
manufacturing anything from pharmaceuticals to auto-rickshaws for a
voracious Mumbai market. It's a decidedly upbeat kind of place -
with plenty of interesting shops in the old city, restaurants and
bars - and a peaceful one.
Easy day-trips from
Aurangabad include the dramatic fort of Daulatabad, a veritable
warren of secret passages and strategic architecture that was
briefly the 14th century capital of Mughal India. Just a little
further along the Ellora road is the Muslim village of Khuldabad,
where the tomb of Emperor Aurangzeb lies under a carpet of rose
petals and in the neighboring courtyard, a ragged curtain in drawn
back to reveal a trunk containing the sacred "Robe of the