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.
It's easy 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
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
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.
Aurangabad district 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.
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 Prophet".