"Muhammad-bin-Tughluq (The brutal and foolish ruler of Delhi Sultnate, 1325-1351 AD) wanted to make Devagiri second capital so that he might be able to control south India better. Devagiri was named Daulatabad by him later. However, after a couple of years, he decided to abandon Daulatabad largely because he soon found that just as he could not control south India from Delhi, he could not control North from Daulatabad." - All must have read these lines in their school days. This Devagiri is 25km from Aurangabad city of Maharashtra now, was initially capital of Yadava kings but captured by Ala-ud-din Khilji of Delhi. Anyway rather than that, we wanted to visit Aurangabad to see another marvel of our olden days architecture, UNESCO heritage sites, Ajanta and Ellora !! There's one more place, a pilgrimage, a jyotirlinga temple where the lord Grishneshwar resides :)
Aurangabad (meaning - built by the throne) is a district at the center of Maharashtra which has a capital city by the same name. It is one of the industrially developed and fastest growing city of the world. The state government has declared this city from medieval period as the Tourism Capital of Maharashtra. And because of the 52 "gates" it's nicknamed 'City of Gates', but out of which only 13 such gates have survived to the present days.
Mumbai to Aurangabad is around 8-9hrs journey in train. As planned me, karthik, akshay, harsha, sunil and sreejith reached on 24th Sept, 2011 Saturday morning in devgiri express. Just outside the station, our typical dressing as mumbaikars with shorts and t-shirts might have made that cab driver understand correctly as tourists and offered us to show all of the Aurangabad. We liked him, he was sensible enough to understand our places of interests and hence a deal was made with him. Firstly he showed a budget hotel room for 6 to stay just for Rs.600 for a day.
Paithan is another city of Maharastra, 56km south to Aurangabad where a variety of fine silk saris are woven by hand called by the name Paithani Saris, is one of the richest saris of Maharastra. They are characterized by borders of an oblique square design, and a pallu with a peacock design (Haha, don't be amazed at my knowledge regarding a sari, just took help from Wiki to get the words :P :D). But simply to say, even I found it impressive, well-made ones and took one of them to Mom :) Surprisingly, she even liked my choice of color !! :P Sunil also took a sari and a chudi piece for his sister. Another variety of fabric made of silk and cotton called Himroo is also a specialty they have got. Himroo shawls, bed covers are famous for its unique style and design. Harsha had bought one shawl which definitely will come to use in Hassan, esp during winter :)
As mentioned earlier, Devgiri/Daulatabad Fort is 16 km from Aurangabad city. The fort is situated on an isolated cone-shaped hill rising abruptly from the plain to the height of about 190 metres. Quoting from MTDC website regarding its history - "Though the city of Devagiri was founded in 1187 AD by the Yadava king Bhillan V, the fort was constructed during the reign of Singhana II (1210-46 AD). It was captured by Ala-ud-Din Kalji in 12 94 AD, marking the first Muslim invasion of the Deccan. Finally in 1318 AD, Malik Kafur killed last Yadava Raja, Harapal. Then in 1327 AD, Muhammed-bin-Tughluq sought to make it his capital, by transferring the entire population of Delhi and changing the name from Devagiri to Daulatabad. Then it was in the possession of the Bhamanis till 1526 AD. The fort remained in Mughal control till Aurangzeb’s death in 1707 AD., when it passed on to the Nizam of Hyderabad."
Every Jyothirlinga temples have their own legend. They are the place where Lord Shiva himself descended to earth. There are 12 such temples in India. 3 of them in Maharashtra itself. One of them is Grishneshwar Temple 23km from Aurangabad city and 5km from Ellora. Go through the following link for the legend behind the temple. We had started the first day by taking blessing of Lord Grishneshwar and headed towards Ellora Cave temples.
Devgiri hill fort from a distance
What fascinates to see is the fortified walls surrounded by water (may have contained crocs during those times !!). Fort is also designed strategically to defend from enemy attacks with canons and "dark passage" to confuse, scare the intruders (read the description in the pic). The orange colored Chand Minar, about 63 metres in height adds attraction for the visit. Visit in rainy will give a beautiful lush green view from above the fort making you feel relaxed. :)
|Water trench surrounding the fort..|
|The Chand Minar at Devgiri/Daulatabaad|
The next day we wanted to visit 2 places - Bibi Ka Maqbara (aka The Mini Tajmahal) and the famous Ajanta Caves. Bibi Ka Maqbara was built between 1650-57 A.D by Prince Azam Shah (son of Aurangzeb) in the memory for his mother Dilras Banu Begam. But who thought it'll be strikingly similar to the Tajmahal of Agra !!? Yes, it is.. but a smaller version !! Hence also called Taj of the Deccan or Mini Tajmahal. Its too a UNESCO heritage structure with 5Rs per person ticket. Simply remarkable to see the structure with well maintained garden around. As we had reached early opening hours, it was only us which gave us an advantage to enjoy roaming around and have enough photos :P
|Bibi-Ka-Maqbara (The Mini Tajmahal)|
Next we headed towards the magnificent caves of Ajanta which is beauty on its location along with its sculptures and paintings. I think it's better to write on Ellora and Ajanta in a separate post..
Here's my-note-to-consider about Aurangabad: Need 2 days at least to see all the places. Grishneshwar Temple, Bibi-Ka-Maqbara, Devgiri fort, Ellora and Ajanta not to be missed. Remember, here Ellora and Ajanta should be allocated half day for each. If you have an extra day, visit Lonar which is at 160km from Aurangabad. Its a crater believed to have been caused by a meteorite hitting Earth around 52,000 years ago !! Now its world's only salt water lake in basaltic rock and thus geologically interesting. But we couldn't visit the place because of time crunch. And don't forget to visit Paithani silks saree shops which will be found all over the Auragabad. For reference check my map below to plan :)