Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates

Taj of Deccan - From the front

I left Nagpur around 8 in the night, in a state run bus to Aurangabad (722 INR). 476km long Nagpur – Aurangabad route passing through Amaravati, Jalna etc took the rest of the night. One of the bizarre incident happened during this journey was, a ticket checker woke me up around 3 am in the morning. I am still wondering, what was the need for checking tickets at 3 am, that too after waking up the passengers?
By sunrise, we reached Jalna and our bus stopped there for some time. The famous crater Lake Loni is located just 85km away from Jalna. Earlier Loni was part of my plan, so when I suddenly saw Jalna bus stand, that too unexpectedly, I almost got down there to catch another bus to Loni. But, neither of my legs moved. Finally bus continued her journey to Aurangabad and me to sleep. When I woke up again, we were on the outskirts of Aurangabad city.

Cannon located on the top of Daulatabad Fort

The history of Aurangabad goes back all the way to BC. Pratishthanapura (currently known as Paithan) was the capital of first Satavahana king. According to Puranas, Paithan was built by king Ila. As Satavahana’s power grew Pratishthanapura also grew. This is one of the inland cities mentioned in 1st century AD Greek book, Periplus Maris Erytharaei. This city is also home to famous saint Sant Eknath. Earliest caves in Ajanta were made during the period of Satavahana dynasty.

Yadava Kings established Deogiri (aka Devagiri, current Dulatabad) as their capital. During the sultanate days Devgiri saw much bloodshed. Alaudin Khilji defeated the Yadava kings, later sultanates expedition to Warangal, Dvarasamudra, Madura etc passed through this fort.

When the throne of Delhi came under Mohammad bin Tughluq, he made Daulatabad as his capital and forced population to move here. But the policies were reversed later, because of water problems.
Aurangabad city was founded by Malik Amber, the Prime minister of Ahmednagar, in 1610 AD. With the capture of Daulatabad (earlier known as Devagiri), Aurangabad (known as ‘Fatehnagar’ at that time), fell in to the hands of Mughals. Later, this city came under Nizam shahi dynasty. However, Asaf Jha II ceded Aurangabad to Marathas after the battle of ‘Kharda’ in 1795 AD. As a twist of fate, Auragabad came back to Nizams during second Anglo-Maratha war and remained with them till independence. After independence, this city became a part of Hyderabad state till 1956 then passed to Bombay state. After the bifurcation of Bombay state in 1960, Aurangabad became a part of Maharashtra.

Central Bus Stand

SIDCO Bus stand - Not CBS
After sometime, we reached a bus stand and I got down there. First thing I did was taking a bath in Sulabh bathroom situated next to the waiting room. That bus stand doesn’t fit in to the picture I drawn in mind for Central Bus Stand (CBS) after seeing it in the Google map. Then I realised my mistake, it was not CBS, I got down at a different bus stand called SIDCO!!!

Even though I waited for a long time, I was not able to see any city bus going to CBS/ Railway station. Finally, I hired an auto to Railway station. My idea was to go to railway station, put my luggage in clock room and go to Ajanta Caves first. After talking with that auto driver, I changed my plan and decide to go to Ellora first. He told me a lot about the city, how to reach Ajanta- Ellora caves etc. We even went to a tourist agency for a guided tour to Ajanta caves. I was not in favour of a guided tour still we tried that out. Fortunately, we were late and missed their bus. He offered me to take to Ajanta for 400 INR (transportation charge) in a taxi and join with rest of their team. I was so happy to decline that offer; we continued our journey to central bus stand. In between he offered me to show Ellora for 700 INR!!!

Finally, I reached CBS and started waiting for a bus to Ellora. Many people tried to convince me that, without their help I won’t be able to see the caves properly. One even told me that, “I can’t walk that much distance!!!” Well, I was not convinced.  Finally bus came, and I started my epic journey to Ellora caves (Just 29 INR).

Ellora Caves

Please visit this article to read my Ellora Journey -

Daulatabad (Devagiri) Fort

Fort Entrance - You can see the Iron
spikes as well.

From Ellora, in a shared taxi (20 INR), along with a group of Korean tourists, I reached Devagiri (Daulatabad) fort. After buying the entry tickets, I started climbing the stairs. In her hey days, this was one of the important forts in Deccan and witnessed numerous battles. Army of Delhi sultanates passed through this fort in their expedition to attack and plunder the city of Warangal (capital of Kakatiyas), Dvarasamudra (Capital of Hoysalas), Madhura etc. For a brief period of time, Deogir (Devagiri, Daulatabad) became the capital of Sultanate.

It was a long and tiring walk, hundreds and hundreds of steps to reach the top. But that panoramic view from the top, the majestic hills surrounding the fort, was a generously reward for anyone dare to attempt.
Without telling about an incident my Daulatabad odyssey won’t be complete. In many places I travelled, I saw a tendency among Indians to take photos along with foreigners, no matter whether it is Hyderabad or Aurangabad. This tendency is not limited to men but to women as well. But here on top of this fort, it crossed all the limits.

I was eager to take my photo from the top of the fort. A number of elderly people were sitting there; they declined my request to take my photo as they were not comfortable in operating that camera. Finally, I asked two Korean girls sitting there to take my photo. One of them woke up and took my photo. She was about to return the camera, suddenly from somewhere one guy jumped in and sat next to her friend sitting there; and asked her to take photo. After a moment of confusion, when she was about to click the photo he put his hand around her shoulder. She was obviously disturbed by his behaviour; after taking the photo he disappeared as fast as he came in – not even waited to see his picture!!! I don’t why people are so obsessed with foreigners and want to touch them.

From the top of Daulatabad (aka Deogiri, Devagiri) Fort
From Daulatabad fort, I got another shared auto to Central Bus Stand (CBS). On one side, a few kilometres away, a chain of mountains were standing under the afternoon sun, as if to protect the city. However, this chain is practically naked - deprived of any trees.

Frequent buses are there to Pune from CBS. I booked one Volvo (500 INR to Pune, private ac buses are available at much lower cost starting from probably 350) starting from CBS at 10.30pm next day.

City of Gates

Aurangabad is also known as City of Gates. It is believed that, there were around 52 gates in the city, out of that you can still see around 10+. The famous among them are Bhadkal Gate (Victory Gate - built by Malik Ambar in memory of victory against Mughals in 1612), Delhi Gate (built by Aurangzeb, facing Delhi), Paithan Gate, Mecca Gate (facing Mecca, to the west), Khas or Jalna Gate, Kaala Darwaza, Roshanara Gate etc.

Bibi Ka Maqbara

Maqbara from distance
My Next destination was Bibi-ka-Baqbara. One may not get a bus to this place from CBS.

As usual auto drivers asked me “Sir, Kahan jana he?” (where you want to go?)
“Bibi Ka Maqbara”
”Aayiye, hum chod denge” (come, we will drop you)
“aapp ka charge?” (What is the charge to reach there?)
“aabi abhi to ek aadmi ne bola ka, bibi ka magbara tak auto charge 50 he” (Just now one person told me that, auto charge is 50 rs for reaching Bibi ka maqbara) - Inside bus stand one person indeed told me that auto charge is 50 INR only).

Finally we settled for 60.

Taj of Deccan - Closer view
Bibi Ka Maqbara, also known as Taj of Deccan, was believed to have been constructed by Aurangazeb’s son – Price Azam Shah - in memory of his mother Rabia-ud-Durani, in between 1651-61. This mausoleum stands within an enclosed area measuring 458 * 275m approx. Built at the centre of a high platform, with 4 minarets at its corners, this mausoleum’s lower body and dome are made up of pure marble and are decorated with beautiful carvings. Middle part is basaltic covered with fine plaster and have marble finish. One can see garden and remains of a water fountain system inside the complex.
Bibi Ka Maqbara - Taj of Deccan

It’s indeed a beautiful building – a gift from son to his mother...

It was almost night and visitor’s time was about to over. I slowly moved out and jumped in to auto going to CBS.

Night at Aurangabad

That auto driver proved very much interesting. He started educating me about the difficulties faced by auto drivers -how locals are arguing with him and troubling him. At first I didn’t say anything; but he is not at all going to stop; finally I had to oppose him on every point. Locals might know the exact amount they have to pay for travelling from one place to another; then why should they shell out extra?

At first my plan was to spend the night in CBS. The main problem in that case was the drainage channel running close to it. Finally, we went to a hotel. Double room was available there for 500 INR/night. Unfortunately, last one was occupied just before we came in. So he informed us about a hotel ran by his brother, down the line. We went there and saw the room. For the exact same room, further from CBS he asked 900 INR. Well, it was a clear no. Why should I spend 400 INR extra?

But the driver was not ready to forget his commission. So he asked him to call his brother. Finally he us that, the room I selected was a deluxe one. He can’t give it to me for 500. So he gave another double room for 500 INR/day. However, I was not able to make out any difference between the one I selected and the one he allocated to me!!!


Please visit this article to read my Ajanta Journey -

Aurangabad city

After coming back from Ajanta caves, I had nothing much to do. Visiting Paithon was not part of my plan. So I thought of roaming around the city on foot. Even though this city is famous for tourism because of nearby sites like Ajanta, Ellora, Devgiri fort, Paithon etc, I was not able to find enough ATMs in the city.  Another problem was local transport, it was easy to go to Pune, Ellora, Ajanta, Paithon etc but intercity bus service was not good.

After having Kashmiri pulav for dinner, I went back to CBS. Finally It was 10.30, time to say good-bye to Aurangabad....


Inside the fort

From the top of the fort, you can see the side of cannon in left side

An inside gate

Bibi Ka Maqbara - An Inner View

Bibi Ka Magbara Entrance

For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland

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