Aurangabad

"Built by the Throne", named after Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb), is a city in Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, India. The city is a tourist hub, surrounded with many historical monuments, including the Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as Bibi Ka Maqbara. The administrative headquarters of the Aurangabad Division, or Marathwada region. Aurangabad is said to be a 'City of Gates', as one can not miss the strong presence of these as one drives through the city. Aurangabad is famous for Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University.

Bibi-Ka-Maqbara, Aurangabad

The Bibi-Ka-Maqbara is a beautiful mausoleum of Rabia-ul-Daurani alias Dilras Banu Begum, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb (1658-1707 A.D.). This mausoleum is believed to be constructed by Prince Azam Shah in memory of his mother during 1651 to 1661 A.D. An inscription found on the main entrance door mentions that this mausoleum was designed and erected by Ata-ullah, an architect and Hanspat Rai, an engineer. The mausoleum draws its inspiration from the world famous Taj Mahal of Agra (constructed between 1631 and 1648 A.D.) and hence it is rightfully known as the "Taj of Deccan".

The mausoleum stands in the centre of a huge enclosure measuring approximately 458 m. N-S X 275 m. E-W. Baradaris or pillared pavilions are located at the centre of north, east and western part of the enclosure wall. The typical Mughal Char-Bagh pattern adorns the mausoleum thereby increasing its beauty and splendour through its symmetry and excellent garden layout. The high enclosure wall is crenellated with pointed arched recesses and bastions at regular intervals are provided to cut down the monotony. The recesses are divided by pilasters, crowned with small minarets.


The mausoleum is entered through a wooden entrance gate on its south, which has excellent foliage designs on brass plate covering from the exterior. After passing through the entrance a small tank is proved and a low profile screen wall leads to the main structure. The screened pathway has a series of fountains at its centre, which adds to further the serene atmosphere.


The mausoleum is built on a high square platform with four minarets at its corners, which is approached by a flight of steps from the three sides. A mosque is found to the west of the main structure, which was a later addition caused, by Nizam of Hyderabad resulting closure of the entrance. The mausoleum is encased with marble up to the dado level. Above the dado level, it is constructed of basaltic trap up to the base of dome, the latter is again built of marble. A fine plaster covers the basaltic trap and given a fine polished finish and adorned with fine stucco decorations. The mortal remain of Rabia-ul-Daurani is placed below the ground level surrounded by a octagonal marble screen with exquisite designs, which can be approached by a descending flight of steps. The roof of this chamber that corresponds to the ground level of the mausoleum is pierced by an octagonal opening and given a low barricaded marble screen. Thus the tomb can also be viewed from the ground level also by viewing down the octagonal opening. The mausoleum is crowned by a dome pierced with trellis works and accompanying panels decorated with flower designs, which are as delicately executed as that in Taj of Agra.



Panchakki

Also known as the water mill, takes its name from the mill which used to grind grain for the pilgrims. This monument located in Aurangabad, Maharastra, displays the scientific thought process put in medieval Indian architecture. It was designed to generate energy via water brought down form a spring on a mountain.


Malik Ambar himself built it in 1695. It has also the tomb of Baba Shah Muzaffar, a Sufi saint. Dating back to the 17th century, this ingenious water mill was designed to use the energy generated by flowing water from a nearby spring to turn the large grinding stones of the flourmill. In 1624, a Sufi saint who was much revered by Aurangzeb was buried here; the gardens and the fish tanks serve as his memorial. This water mill was used to grind grain for the pilgrims and disciples of saints as well as for the troops of the garrison.A mountain spring, about eight kilometers away, is the water source for the running of the mill; a maze of underground earthen pipes cleverly channeled the water to move the blades of the grinding wheel. The water is made to enter the final reservoir through a series of earthen pipes. It is then raised by a siphon to the top of the rectangular masonry pillar. This channel is called ‘naher’. Underneath the reservoir of Panchakki there are spacious, cool chambers which are used during the summers by pilgrims. The water distribution system is a marvel of hydrology and was the engineering feat of Malik Ambar, then chief architect of Aurangabad city. A huge banyan tree on the southern margin of the reservoir provides shade and adds beauty to the whole scene. In the North-West corner, adjacent to the cistern is the water mill driven entirely by water power. It is said that in the olden days, grain could be ground by zero physical effort.


Panchakki otherwise known as the water mill was built during the early years of the 17th century. The mill used to grind grains for the pilgrims. It was so designed that it generated energy through water which was brought from a spring on a mountain.


These pipes are lined up at particular distances. To allow the water to flow through the pumps masonary pillars are erected. Water through the pipes flows with a force and it rises to a huge raised masonary pillar and from there it falls to make an attractive water fall.


Aurangabad Caves

Aurangabad Caves are artificial caves, dug out of the rather soft rock during the 6th and 7th century. This caves are found on two separate locations, called Western Group Caves (caves 1-5) and Eastern Group Caves (caves 6-10), about 1km from each other. Each group has five caves. The architecture and iconography is influenced by Tantric Hinduism.Cave four of the Western Group Caves is the oldest cave. It is a Hinayana Chaitya with a ridged roof like the Karla Cave near Lonavala. Hinayana (Sanskrit: Lesser Vehicle) is the more orthodox, conservative schools of Buddhism. Chaitya (Sanskrit) is the word for a funeral monument. There is a stupa in front of it, now partially collapsed.


The other four Western caves are viharas, which are an early type of Buddhist monastery consisting of an open court surrounded by open cells accessible through an entrance porch. The viharas in India were originally constructed to shelter the monks. Cave 3, the most fascinating cave of the Western Group, is supported by 12 finely carved columns. They show sculptures portraying scenes from the Jataka tales.


Cave 6 belongs to the Eastern Group Caves, and shows very well preserved sculptures of women, which are notable for their exotic hairstyles and ornamentation. There is also a large Buddha figure and an idol of Ganesh located in this cave.Cave 7 is the most interesting of the Aurangabad caves. Most impressive are the sculptures, figures of women which are scantily clad and ornately bejewelled. They show the rise of Tantric Buddhism during this period. To the left of Cave 7 is a huge Bodhisattva praying for deliverance from the 8 dangers: fire, the sword of the enemy, chains, shipwreck, lions, snakes, mad elephant and demon (representing death).


From here you can also travel for an exclusive excursion to the Ajanta & Ellora Caves.

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