Saturday, 12 November 2011

Aurangabad – A Marvel of Indian History - Part I - The Teaser

Ajanta & Ellora – the names have magic within themselves. And this magic appeals to the tourists for ever and from everywhere to visit these places at least once in a lifetime. I am also not an exception. I had been reading about these caves since my childhood, and thereby, I did form a keen interest on leaving my footprints on these much explored destinations. The opportunity never came during those days, but – better late than never!! Finally, I moved to Pune and it presented in front of me a chance to venture into my childhood dreams.

IndiaMike was the first place to ask queries and clarifications for the initial research. 

After much R&D, we fixed the date on a November long weekend.

We booked an AC sleeper night bus which ply regularly from Pune, through makemytrip. The start was perfect – the weather was soothing and the bus comfortable and only 15 minutes late to arrive. No sooner than we were on board, we were fast asleep. The scheduled time for the bus was at 5 am to reach Aurangabad and it reached on time. We alighted at Baba Petrol Pump stoppage. Our hotel (Hotel Panchavati) was very nearby this stop – just 2 minutes walk. We were specifically advised by the Hotel Manager, not to take an auto rickshaw to reach the hotel from this stop. So we set foot on Aurangabad’s soil and started walking as per the direction. The morning breeze gently touched our faces. Within 5 minutes we are at the hotel. We were guided to our rooms. The room was clean and very spacious and so was the toilet. It was furnished with a TV and an AC. We were really satisfied. A small balcony and an antechamber with a dresser were really beyond our imagination. We freshened up and took some rest for a couple of hours before we embarked on our quest to Ellora.

The hotel does have a restaurant and there is a travel agency run by the same hotel owner and at the same premises – Ashoka Travels. The hotel and this travel agency were written up in Lonely Planet (check the 30th Anniversary edition on India) with some very positive comments. As per my own experiences, every word of it is deservingly bestowed.

We had our breakfast before we set out. The food was good and well cooked. It was a life saver indeed after a night’s journey.

We started our adventure around 9.30 am and without more ado headed straight towards Ellora.

When we were driving through the city, naturally I was trying to recollect some of the fascinating history what I read about this ancient city earlier.

The city was founded by Malik Ambar in 1610 AD around a village called Khirki (meaning ‘Window’). He built this city as his capital and within the next few years the tiny village grew to be a happening and bustling town so much that even after his death in 1626, his son Fateh Khan continued to maintain this city as the capital – though he changed the name to Fatehnagar. In 1633, when the Daultabad was captured by the Mughals, they conquered and took the prized possession of Fatehnagar. Later Fatehnagar rose to its biggest glory, when in 1653, Mughal Prince Aurangazeb declared it to be the capital of India. Again the name was changed – it now became ‘Aurangabad’ (aptly meaning ‘built by the throne’).

The ancient name Khirki means window or entrance. One of the many things which makes Aurangabad a unique city amongst the other medieval cities in India, was the 52 gates (or entrances) which were built around the city. Only a handful of people are aware of the fact that Aurangabad is also called as the ‘City of Gates’. Unfortunately due to bad or lack of preservation only 9 of these gates are still standing.

I will post each day’s experience in different posts.

The couple of pictures below are to be considered to be the teaser - Ellora's Kailas, the outer view.


Sources:
For this post, I acknowledge -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurangabad,_Maharashtra

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