Aurangabad city, the tourism capital of Maharashtra is widely known for the rich cultural history, monuments, handicrafts, and religious diversity. The city is guarded by 52 gates thus known as the ‘City of Gates’. The city was founded by Malik Amber, the Prime Minister of Nizam Shah, in the year 1610. The city back then was known as Kharki. In 1653 Aurangazeb was made viceroy of Deccan and made Kharki as the capital and called it Aurangabad. The monuments in Aurangabad show an interesting amalgamation of architectural features and marvelous creations admired worldwide.
Here are 15 historical as well as the recent structures of the city, worth visiting for architects:
Structures for architectural exploration:
1. Lahuji salve Arogya Kendra
It is a training center and hospital for consulting catering to the slum dwellers in Aurangabad. The design emphasizes on displaying the strong personality of great freedom fighter Lahuji Salve having monument character. The structure is designed by Ajay Kulkarni, a renowned architect of the city. Beton brut meaning beauty in brutality is brought into existence by the use of exposed bricks for the form of the building. The project was shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for the final jury.
2. Ramkrishna Meditation Temple
Ramakrishna Meditation Temple is spread across 18,000 sq feet and is the second-largest temple in the country associated with Ramkrishna Mission. The architecture of the temple shows influences from Rajput and Islamic styles. The temple was commissioned by Ramakrishna mission which forms a worldwide spiritual movement allowing devotees to congregate.
3. Amigos Kitchen
The multi-cuisine restaurant is well known in the city for its amazing interior and ambiance. The restaurant won the platinum award for FOAID 2018. The interiors are done by the renowned architect of the city, Amruta Daulatabadkar. The project of 1835sq ft shows extensive use of vitrified flooring, veneer, wire cut bricks, bajra glass, MS sheets.
4. Town Hall
The Townhall was built 400 years ago by Malik Amber. Since then the hall was used for various purposes over time. In the Chitakhana/Pandit khana religious leaders used to discuss social and religious matters. There also used to be a library here. Aurangazeb converted this place to ‘Mahipas Khana’ a place to stay for travelers. The octagonal structure today houses the municipal town hall.
5. Bani Begam Bagh
The garden is named after Bani Begam, daughter-in-law of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The garden displays serenity and royalty and is located 25km from Aurangabad. The garden is divided into four parts by the central water channel. The heart of the garden consists of the tomb of Bani Begam. There are three ‘baradaris’ in the garden.
A baradari is a typical feature of Mughal Architecture. The word baradari can be translated into English as 12 doors. Thus it is a structure comprising 12 doors. The landscaped garden, beautiful fountains, decorated pillars, bangla domes, and other peculiar features of Mughal Architecture makes the place a must-visit.
6. Navkhanda Palace
The palace was built in the year 1616 by Malik Amber.The huge portal gateway Barkal leads to the palace. The palace has 5 janan khanas,Diwan I aam ,diwan i khas,shahi hamam gruh(hot bathtub),a mosque, a kacheri, and gardens. The walls of the valuable part of the Devankhana, and the hamam attached to the building honestly represent kingdom preservation. The wooden-paintings and the stucco plaster do not exist any longer.
7. Shahi Masjid
The Shahi Masjid is the personal mosque of Aurangazeb. It is also known as Alamgir mosque,built in 1693. The mosque was a part of the royal palace complex located towards the north of the city called Qille Ark.The prayer hall here has three bays and has onion-shaped domes. The domes have ornamental ribs and are crowned by lotus finials. Above the central bay is the “Bangla roof” , another typical feature of Mughal architecture.
Popular structures of tourist attraction:
8. Ajanta Caves
The Ajanta Caves consist of 30 Buddhist caves carved in a horseshoe-shaped rock. The caves display the finest paintings and sculptures thus considered to be an outstanding example of ancient world architecture. These caves date back to the 2nd century and are a UNESCO world heritage site. From the shape and form of the caves, it is evident that the caves were used by ancient Buddhist monks as places of living, studying, and worship.
9. Ellora caves
The Ellora caves came into existence between the 4th and 9th century displaying harmony between Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains from their religious buildings. There are 34 caves,of which 12 are Buddhist, 17 are Hindu, and 5 are Jain. Among all these -cave number 10-Vishwakarma, cave number 15- Dashavatara, cave number 16 -Kailasanatha Temple, are the most prominent. The chain of caves was built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty and Yadav dynasty.
10. Bibi Ka Maqbara
The mausoleum of Rabia-Ul-Durrani, wife of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb was constructed in 1660. The monument is inspired by the Taj Mahal, thus also known as the Taj of Deccan. The Maqbara was designed by Attaullah the son of Ahmad Lahauri the architect of the Taj Mahal. It stands in the middle of the formally planned Charbagh Mughal garden. The main entrance of this complex is towards the south while the northern end has twelve doored Baradari. Aina Mahal lies to the east of the site.
The white dome(with floral designs), jalis, arches display typical Mughal architecture. The structure surrounded by axial ponds, fountains, water channels, broad pathways, attracts tourists from around the world.
11. Daulatabad Fort/Devgiri Killa
Daulatabad fort, considered to be one of the most powerful fortresses of the medieval period is located 15kms away from the main city. The fort is also hailed as one of the seven wonders of Maharashtra. The fort is known to be built by the Yadava dynasty in the 12th century(initially named as Devgiri). Muhammad Tughlaq renamed the fort as Daulatabad. It is well known for its strategic location and has four distinct lines of walls with 54 bastions. The walls here are 6 to 9 feet thick and a height of 18 to 27 feet.
The chand minar (30m high) built with a religious and defensive purpose was built with 3 circular balconies. The Chini Mahal and baradari are other important structures within the fort.
12. Ghrishneshwar temple
Ghrushneshwar temple or Dhrushmeshwar temple is located in Ellora and is among the 12 jyotirlingas in India.It is a pious destination for Hindu devotees. The temple architecture follows South Indian style. The 5 tiered shikhara is intricately carved and constructed. The temple was rebuilt several times, the current form of the temple was built by Ahilya bai Holkar in the 18th century.
Khuldabad is a small town located a short distance from the city center.During the 14th century several Sufi saints resided in the city. Khuldabad is also known as the “valley of saints”.This is the place where Aurangazeb spent his last days. Monuments like Aurangzeb’s Tomb, Dargah of Zar Zari Zar Baksh, Malik Amber’s tomb,Shaikh Burhan ud-din Gharib Chisti, and Shaikh Zain-ud-din Shirazi exist here. Khuldabad is also famous for Bhadra Maruti temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
14. Soneri Mahal
About 6 Km away from the city, the Soneri Mahal was built during 1651-53 AD .The mahal today is one of the last remaining palaces in the city. The palace is believed to have its name from the golden paintings existing during the past era. The palace is a two-storied building having Rajput architecture style. Today the palace has a museum within which exhibits ancient pottery, antique household items, etc.
The Panchakki (water mill) was built in the 17th century by Baba Shah Musafir.The place is also known as Naher -e-Panchakki. The water mill is popular for regulating water flow from mountains 8km away through the underground water channel. The water channel was made of earthen pipes lined up at appropriate distances. The water rises to a huge elevated masonry opening.The purpose of this panchakki was to generate energy through which grains were grinded for pilgrims who visited the dargah in the same vicinity.
The author was born and brought up in the Aurangabad city and is fascinated by the diversity this place holds. The city holds the potential to put forward the glories of the past in the most interesting way. The unfolding of history, culture, and religion happens as you look around closely. The city is worth a visit for architecture professionals and individuals outside the profession as well.