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GRAND HERITAGE

Aurangabad — of historic significance

A. SRIVATHSAN

Fathepur was renamed in 1653 when Aurangazeb was the Viceroy of the Deccan.



STRIKINGLY FAMILIAR: The Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad

The comparison is unmistakeable. Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad, a tomb dedicated to Rabiya Durani, wife of Aurangazeb, not only mimics but also undoubtedly resembles the Taj Mahal in Agra. Ata Allah, son of Ustad Ahmad architect of the Taj Mahal, designed it. Fifteen years separate the two monuments as also the sheen, glamour and perfection. Coming as it did, at the end of the great Mughal rule, the monument was understandably not as grand. There is another monument nearby and that too does not exhibit the familiar flourish of Mughal architecture. But the reason in this case is very different.

In the small town of Khuldabad, inside the shrine of saint Khwaja Zainuddin Shirazi is a humble open-to-sky tomb. Unless one reads the signboard or is otherwise informed, one would never realise its historic significance. There is no grand structure or garden to announce its importance. Here lies the great Mughal king Aurangazeb, in a manner he wished — simple and bare. While Aurangazeb chose Khuldabad for himself because it was religiously important, he chose Aurangabad for his wife since it was the royal city.

Impressive fort

Aurangabad was earlier known as Fathepur and was founded by Malik Amber in 1610. It was renamed as Aurangabad in 1653 — when Aurangazeb was the Viceroy of the Deccan and the city served as his capital. However, the history of the place goes beyond the 17th century. Daulatabad, 20 miles from Aurangabad, was a flourishing city from the 12th century. It was made famous by Muhammad bin Tughlaq in the 14th century when he decided to shift the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. The fort here is considered one of the most impressive and impregnable. The Ajanta and Ellora caves near Aurangabad also attest to the antiquity of this place. The caves are dated between the first century B.C and eighth century A.D.

Aurangabad is part of the Marathwada region, which was earlier with the state of Hyderabad but later transferred to Maharasthra when the states were reorganised.

Paithani Sari


Paithan is to Maharashtra and west India what Varanasi is to the north and Kancheepuram to south India. Paithan is an old village near Aurangabad and is known for silk sari weaving. The Paithani sari is one of the most ornate, rich and beautifully embroidered textiles in India. This weaving uses no jacquards or other mechanical means but relies on spindles or tillis to produce a rich pattern. It takes anywhere between two months to a year to make a sari and some of them can cost as much as Rs. 5,00,000.

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