Aurangabad

Whether you are coming from Mumbai or Pune, Aurangabad is the most convenient headquarters for a trip to Ajanta and Ellora. This, in a way, is unfortunate for the renown of this city (named after Aurangzeb, of course) which has a number of points of interest. Amazing Maharashtra strongly advises you to see them before setting out for the caves. After Ajanta and Ellora, anything is an anti-climax.

Panchakki, Image Source Wikipedia
Panchakki
To start with, there is the Panchakki Water Mill which serves as the tomb of a Moslem saint buried there in 1624. He lies in a simple grave surrounded by gardens, fountains, basins and an artificial waterfall, making for a very peaceful setting. A far more grandiose affair is the Bibi-Ka-Maqbara, six miles from Aurangabad, the mausoleum built in 1660 by Aurangzeb for his wife, Rabia-ud-Daurani. It is rather pale limitation of the Taj Mahal, the masterpiece of his father , Shahajahan, but it’s impressive if you haven’t seen the Taj. The exterior lacks symmetry and balance and its interior decoration has nothing comparable with the wonder at Agra. Yet, comparisons apart, this royal resting place has its own splendor and grace. Aurangazeb himself is buried 17 miles out, at Khuldabad on the road to the Ellora Caves, but not in a mausoleum. His tomb is the simple grave covered with earth, for the Grand Moghul had ordered it to be built only with the money he had earned by sewing cloth!

The conscientious tourist probably won’t leave Aurangabad until he had seen Daulatabad and the Aurangabad Caves. Daulatabad is a medieval fortress on a pyramid shaped hill nine miles from the city and it was originally known as Devagiri, the “Hill of the Gods”. During the 14th Century, it was renamed to Daulatabad, the “City of Fortune”, by the Sultan of Delhi, Muhammad Tughlaq, who decided to move his capital there, 700 miles away. He moved the whole population of Delhi , too, a decision so mad that, after thousand died on this forced march, he ordered them to walk back to Delhi. But Daulatabad remained, ruling a province from its mountain fort. The fort is surrounded by three miles of walls and a visit here means a climb to the top of the rock, 600 feet high. When you get there, you are greeted by a huge seven-inch cannon twenty feet long which, somehow, got there before you in the 17th Century. One feature of the climb through the citadel is a spiraling tunnel 150 feet long near the top. Its upper entrance is crowned by an iron lid where defenders lighted a fire of hot coals to scorch besiegers in the tunnel. The Chand Minar pillar at the base of the fort was built as a Victory Column.

Daulatabad Fort Image Source Wikipedia
Daulatabad Fort
Finally, there are the Aurangabad Caves with some good sculpture. Unfortunately , visiting them is a rather athletic proposition. It’s a tough climb up to the site itself and the group of caves are separated by a mile of the hills. If you decide to see them, make the trip before heading for Ajanta and Ellora.

In Aurangabad, as at the other two sites, the caves reproduce two forms of religious structures: the place of worship or Chaitya and the monastery or Vihara. In general, the Aurangabad caves are later formed in Mahayana Style, carved out during the 7th Century. This can be seen readily in such temples as Cave 1, with a Buddha on a lotus seat supported by snake-hooded demi-gods, or Cave 2 where a huge Buddha sits with his feet on a lotus, or Cave 3 with twelve carved pillars, and another seated Buddha in front of his shrine. In the second group of temples a mile away, the most interesting is Cave 7 with a huge figure of Bodhisattva Padmapani (a Bodhisattva is a near-Buddha and one of the forms through which Buddha passed before he achieved Enlightenment; Padmapani means “Lotus –in-Hand”). He is praying for deliverance from the eight fears which are illustrated here dramatically in stone: fire, the enemy’s sword, the chains of slavery, shipwreck, attack by a lion, snakes and a mad elephant, and death, portrayed as a demon.

Ajanta Cave Image Source Wikipedia
Ajanta Cave
Stern going though it may be , this climb to Aurangabad’s caves will put you in the proper mood for a visit to Ellora where this art of Buddhist sculpture reached its highest pitch.

1 comments:


Very Well written post, thoroughly enjoyed it. Photos are amazing. Panchakki Aurangabad is really amassing place. You can also check my post at Panchakki Aurangabad at http://www.touristsafari.com/fountains/panchakki-aurangabad

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