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Treasures of Maharashtra

Hidden treasures of Maharashtra

By | Général, Histoire, Monument, Site à visiter | No Comments

The 2018-2019 season ends quietly and a balance must be established. Here we share our most beautiful discoveries of the hidden treasures of Maharashtra. This year, we have done a lot of research to give you even more unforgettable moments.

The hidden treasures of Maharashtra: Khultabad

Turkey sultan’s tomb

Burj al Khalifa

Burj al Khalifa

It’s been a long time since we were looking for the path to this monument. It took us a whole day to find it. The treasures of Maharashtra are worth it.

Path to Burj al Khalifa

This is the path for going to Burj al Khalifa, one of the treasures of Maharashtra

So one day we decided to go to Khultabad to find the end of the story. We asked a lot of people but no answer shown us to get closer to our goal. We had to go in a little dargah (mosque) and talk to the guard of the place to have a start of the track. He told us the road to get to this beauty. Obviously as in every adventure, nothing is simple. After one kilometre, we had to leave the car because there was no longer good road, it was a dirt road. We decided to continue on foot. We walked along a forest and after 3 kilometres, we saw the object of our quest.

The tomb should have been the grave of a Turkish dignitary but Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Prime Minister at that time did not give a permission for that. The monument has therefore remained abandoned and was never a tomb.
Today, it is a perfect place to have a view of the Ellora Caves.

Some tombs and old monuments

Khuldabad was the center of Sufism in India in the 14th century, and when Aurangabad was the capital of the Mughal empire, many nobles had palaces in this small village. Today, it is difficult to see the past greatness of this village. We discovered new tombs as well as remains of some palaces. Unfortunately, we have not managed to find out more about the history of these monuments.

Tombs in Khuldabad

Tomb

al Bagh

Lal Bagh

Wall of Khuldabad

Ancient wall of the village

Part of Palace

Part of palace

Charthana, the village with 360 temples

We were contacted to visit a village that would like to develop its tourist activity. For now it is a village unknown to tourists. Still, Charthana has great potential. Between the eighth and eleventh centuries, it possessed 360 temples according to historians. Today some temples are still visible. We met the village officials and they showed us the different points of interest of the city.
The Barav (stepwell) were essential for the survival of the village

Temple of Charthana

one of ancient temple

Door of ancient house

The village is quite old and some houses are the prove of that

Baoli in Charthana

In ancient time, Baoli was use for keep the water. Now it’s one of treasures of Maharashtra

Baoli in Charthana

The village needs to make some arrangements to accommodate tourists on a regular basis. However, we decided to include in our 15-days tour of Maharashtra, a Charthana Discovery Day tour.

Two villages that are treasures of Maharashtra

We visited two villages that touched us a lot by the warmth of their inhabitants and the hidden treasures. Unfortunately because of the conditions of access, it was impossible for us to include them in a circuit. They will be hidden for a moment.

Mudgal

Temple inside river

One of the unique Hindu temple inside the river

Statue hindu in temple

One of the statues in Mudgal temple

Detail of temple in river

Front side of the Hindu temple inside the river

This small village is only 44 kilometers from Parbhani. But the access roads are so bad that it takes between 2 hours to 2 hours and a half. When you arrive, your back will hurt you. The village is quite small but it has a treasure that is unique to Maharashtra. It has a temple that was built in the bed of the Godavari River. Because of the water problems affecting Maharashtra we have not been able to enjoy the spectacle of the temple surrounded by water. Nevertheless, we can imagine its beauty. An ingenious system was also built in front of the temple to protect it from the waters.

Potra, new treasures of Maharashtra

Parrots in Burkha

Parrots is one of birds you can see in birds sanctuary

Other bird in Burkha

one of birds in birds wildlife sanctuary in Burkha

Shiva statue

Shiva statue in bird wildlife sanctuary

This story is the one that touched us the most. Imagine, 10 years ago a village decided alone without any help, to create a sanctuary. All the villagers put themselves in it. They decided to reserve the mountain which is at the end of the village. They cleaned it up and planted trees. Thanks to their work, this mountain has become a bird sanctuary.
This shrine is such a success that the state of Maharashtra decided to invest in it. The work that was done in this small village in the middle of nowhere is an example and a breath of hope in a country that suffers from pollution and deforestation.

Historically important towns: treasures of Maharashtra

Paithan and Nanded are two known cities in Maharashtra by locals. By cons, they are completely deserted by tourists.

Nanded, the sacred city of Sikhism

Inside Gurudwara

Gurudwara by night

Gurudwara by night

Nanded is the grave site of the last Sikh guru, Gobind Singh. It has become an important pilgrimage site for the entire community. It is now part of the 4 sacred cities of Sikhs.
We went there to see the potential of the city and find out if it could be offered as a tourist stop. We were more than surprised by the splendor, beauty and grandeur of the Gurindwara temple dedicated to Gobind Singh. The temple is in the middle of a dynamic neighborhood. Further, the banks of the river are extremely pleasant in the morning or evening to walk. There is also a park with a sound and light show every day. The city is really nice to visit by day and evening.

Paithan, first empire capital

Museum in Paithan

These are some of the pieces from the museum in Paithan

Old wooden temple

Old wooden temple

Ghat in Paithan

Ghat in Paithan

Godavari river

Godavari river

Paithan is a small village located at south of Aurangabad. At present, it lives on agriculture and small industries. It is hard to imagine that it was the capital of one of the first empires of the Indian subcontinent. The Satavahana dynasty reigned over half of present India between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD. This city appears in the book The Journey of the Sea Eritrea, a Greek book of the first century AD. From this past, they got the famous Paithani saries, the most luxurious sari of India. There are also many monuments/temples to visit including a ghat.

It is a small village to visit in a day with places where nature has regained its rights.

The second time we visited this village, we discovered a palace that dates from the time of the Nizams, i.e. the eighteenth century. It is completely abandoned today but one can still imagine its past splendour.

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Lonar lake: the second biggest crater lake in the world

The Lonar village is home to the second largest meteorite crater in the world. The edge of the lake created by the meteor impact is filled with temples and surrounded by unspoiled and abundant nature. This lake is so beautiful and attractive that we often forget to visit the village. It happened to us and we decided to fix this mistake.
This allowed us to discover a quite original temple. Indeed, this temple which must be built between the eighth century and the tenth century. What makes it unique is part of its structure. It is half Hindu architecture and half Nizam architecture.

Hindu statues in Lonar temple

Hindu statues in Lonar temple

Hindu statues in Lonar temple

Hindu statues in Lonar temple

Inside Lonar temple

Inside Lonar temple

Temple in Lonar

Temple in Lonar

Aurangabad, new discovery

Finally, we discovered a palace that was turned into a tomb of Sultan&apos;s Khan. This monument dates from the time when Aurangzeb was vice king of Aurangabad. It is now on the campus of the university. This discovery is recent, we do not have much information on this monument.

Inside palace

Inside palace

Palace

Palace

If you want to discover these new places you can see our tours here, or else you can contact us by mail: info@akvintourism.com

The golden triangle of Maharashtra

Golden triangle of Maharashtra: Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad

By | Général, Monument, Site à visiter | 2 Comments
Taj Hotel

One of the wonder you will discover in the golden triangle of Maharashtra

The so-called Indian golden triangle is the triangle formed by the cities like Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. These 3 cities are a huge success for the majority of foreign tourism in India. There are three cities in Maharashtra that are equal in beauty level and constitute the golden triangle of Maharashtra. These three cities are Mumbai, Nashik and Aurangabad.

Mumbai: the economic capital of the Maharashtrian golden triangle.

Mumbai is the best city for start discovering the golden triangle of Maharashtra. The economic capital of India has a rich and diverse past. From the 9th century to 1343, the region was under the control of the Silhara dynasty. It then came under the control of the sultans of Gujarat until 1534. Faced with the advance of Portuguese troops, Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat ceded the 7 islands that form the region of Mumbai.

From 1661, the islands were ruled by the British until the independence of India in 1947. Since then, it has been the economic capital of India. It alone produces 5% of the country’s GDP, and its activity accounts for 25% of industrial production, 40% of maritime trade and 70% of capital transactions of the Indian economy. Mumbai ranks among the world’s top 10 financial platforms by the importance of capital flows.

It is also the capital of the largest film industry in the world, called Bollywood.

Mumbai is a particular city in India as it is mostly formed by migrants from all over India. This creates a unique and diverse culture.

´Must see´ places in Mumbai:

The gateway of India and Colaba:

This gate was erected in honour of the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay in December 1911. It was completed and inaugurated only in 1924 due to lack of financial resources. It is now the embarkation point for the Elephanta Caves. Located at the end of Colaba, it is an ideal starting point to visit the district. This district is the meeting point of youth. It keeps its colonial aspect and includes the most beautiful hotels in the city such as Taj hotel. These quiet and shaded streets invite you to stroll, relax and do some shopping.

The Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum (former Prince of Wales Museum):

Created in the early 20th century, this museum is the most beautiful in the city. Divided into several sections, it offers a wonderful introduction to the history and culture of India. The building itself is also an architectural success. Note: if you want to take pictures you have to pay a fee with your entry. Many guards will ask for the proof to let you take pictures.

Jahangir art gallery:

This art gallery next to the Chatrapati Shivaji Museum Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is the perfect place to discover contemporary Indian artists. Composed of several rooms, painting, sculpture and photography have their place. In general, artists are also there so you can chat with them. Admission is free and if you like their work, you can buy their artwork.

Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj terminus:

Since 2004, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is an outstanding example of the meeting of two cultures, with British architects using Indian artisans to integrate the Indian architectural tradition to create a new style unique to Bombay. Its construction dates from 1878.

The Babulnath temple:

It is one of the oldest temples in Mumbai. The first temple was built in the 12th century. Forgotten and destroyed, it was not rebuilt until 18th century but the statue remained there for a longer time. You will need to climb several steps to access the temple (an elevator is available). The statues in the temple are the original statues. The series Sense 8 (on Netflix) shot their scenes at this place in their first season. This is where Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai) comes to pray before her wedding.

The Haji Ali Dargah:

It was in 1431 that this dargah was built. It is to honour the memory of the Muslim walker Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari that was erected this monument. He abandoned all his fortune when he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The mosque is 500 meters from the coast in Worli Bay. There is a path to reach. Its structure is of Islamic Indo style. The mixture of religious songs and the sound of waves that clash with the walls gives the place a magical atmosphere.

The Elephanta caves:

To get to the Elephanta Caves, take the boat from the Gateway of India. The ferry takes about 40 minutes. When you arrive you can take a small train to get to the center of the souvenir market. The caves are at the top of the market. It is a set of 4 caves. The first is the most interesting. If you plan to go to Ellora and Ajanta, avoid visiting these caves.

Nashik, the small Varanasi of Maharashtra

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Nashik is one of the oldest cities in India. It has legendary origins. Indeed, in the Ramayana, Ram, king of Ayodhya, took up residence in Nashik during his 14 years of exile. It was here that Laxman, on the orders of Ram, cut off the nose of “Shurpnakha” (Sister of devil Ravan) and named this city “Nashik”. This city has been known in the western world since antiquity as a market town. It is quoted in a Ptolemaic book in the 2nd century BC. In this city, every 12 years they celebrate the great Kumbh Mela, Hindu festival that attracts millions of pilgrims. Its wine business gives it the nickname, the capital of Indian wine.

As of today, Nashik attracts many businesses and industries. Sula vineyard, the most famous wine in India is in Nashik.  Bank notes are printed in this city. This city is the most traditional city you can find in the golden triangle of Maharashtra.

Must see places in Nashik:

The approach to the Godavari River:

Nashik is considered the city of Ram, as Varanasi is Shiva’s cemetery. In the historic center, on the banks of the river, you can observe the ritual baths as well as the scenes of everyday life. At the end of these ghats is the Ramkund.

The Ramkund:

Ram and Sita would have bathed in this tank, 27 meters long and 12m wide. Since thousands of pilgrims come every day to take bath. The ash is also poured in to ensure better reincarnation. The ashes of Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi were dumped in this kund. This is also where the pilgrims meet during the Kumbh Mela (the next one in Nashik will be in 2027).

Shri Kalaram Mandir:

Located near the Ramkund, this temple dedicated to Ram dates from 1788. It has a black stone statue representing Ram. This one was found in Godavari river. The founder of the temple, Odhekar, reportedly fished and decided to make a temple in honour of this statue. Its proximity to the Ramkund, makes it a most important religious place in the city.

The Muktidahm Mandir:

This temple is fairly new. It dates from 1971. The white marble of Rajasthan is the main material of this temple. It is therefore the color of purity. It is the seat of different Hindu deities. Mahabharath scenes are carved on the walls.

Pandavleni caves:

It is a set of 24 caves, all Buddhist. Like the Ajanta caves, they were dig between the 2nd century BC and the 5th AD. The most beautiful cave is cave number 10 because it is intact and completed. We advise you to visit the caves in the morning when the sun illuminates the entrances and the interior.

Aurangabad, the pearl of Maharashtra

Kailash temple

Kailash temple is the wonder in the golden triangle of Maharashtra

Aurangabad has been designated as the tourist capital of Maharashtra. And for good reason, it was the capital of India in the 17th century. It is best known for the two World Heritage sites of UNESCO, Ellora and Ajanta.

It’s the best place to finish visiting the golden triangle of Maharashtra.

Since the beginning of our era, the region has always been a place of passage between north and south. Trade, culture and religion have shaped the landscape. The most beautiful example is the Ellora Caves where you can admire how three religions interpenetrate to create a unique cave site in the world.

The city of Aurangabad was created by former slave prime minister Malik Ambar. Rightly called Khadki, which means window. During the reign of Aurangzeb, it became the capital of the most powerful Asian empire of the 17th century.

Must see places in Aurangabad:

The Ajanta Caves:

These caves are all Buddhist. Lost in nature/hills, you have to take a bus to get there from the car park, these caves have almost all the same structure. Here one comes to admire the paintings that describe the life of Buddha or events related to the formation of Buddhism.

The Ellora caves:

This site is exceptional for several reasons. The first is the only cave site in India that brings together three Indian religions, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Next, cave number 16 contains the world’s largest monolithic monument, Kailash Temple.

Khultabad:

This rather peaceful village was the capital of Sufism in the 14th century. Of course, there are important monuments such as the tomb of Malik Ambar, the tomb of Aurangzeb, the garden Bani Begum. To learn more you can read the article here.

Fort Daultabad:

This majestic mountain has always attracted many emperors. The first were the Yadavas in the 12th century. The structure of the fort we know today comes from Muhammad bin Tuglhuq. He fell in love with this fortress and its means of defence. He decided to transfer his capital from Delhi to Daultabad. If you want to know more about the history of this fort, you can read this article here and for places to visit is here.

Aurangabad:

This small village became the town of Malik Ambar in 1610 when he took control of the Nizam empire of Ahmednagar. When the Mughals arrived in the area, Shah Jahan´s son Aurangzeb, was the vice king of the Deccan. The latter decided to turn Khadki into his capital. He renamed it and enlarged it. In 1668, it became the capital of the Mughal empire. From this rich past, there are still many monuments to visit. Discover it here.

We are organising 15 days tour in the golden triangle of Maharashtra. Contact us for booking/information

Bibi ka Maqbara

Taj Mahal vs Bibi ka Maqbara: 5 differences between these 2 monuments

By | Histoire, Monument | One Comment

The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous monument in the world. Every year, millions of people come to India to see this monument. The Bibi ka Maqbara does not have this success. Oftenly described as the Taj of Deccan or the Mini Taj for marketing reasons, the Bibi ka Maqbara is very different from the Agra monument.

This article will give you an idea to know the differences between these two monuments.

1- The Taj Mahal and the Bibi-ka-Maqbara: a very different story

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, one of the most famous monument in the world

The Taj Mahal was built between 1631 and 1654 in Agra. Shah Jahan wanted to give one last home worthy of the name to his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal as a symbol of love.

While finishing that in Agra, in 1651 the construction of Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad began. This is the mausoleum of Rabia-ul-Daurani, wife of Aurangzeb. It´s construction lasted for 10 years.

Bibi ka Maqbara

Bibi ka Maqbara

If the Taj Mahal can´t go away from controversy over its construction and it´s use (see below), the Bibi ka Maqbara is at the centre of a controversy. Indeed, the dates of construction of the Deccan of Taj are from 1651 to 1661. The official sources says Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb built it for his mother but the latter is born in 1653. Other sources dated the construction of the monument in 1668 to validate the mystery that Azam Shah was the supervisor of the construction.

In a book called “Aurangzeb, the man and the myth“, by Audrey Truschke says its constructed by the order of Aurangzeb. It is actually more likely that Aurangzeb built the Bibi ka Maqbara.

The controversy comes from the fact that Aurangzeb is the most hatred person in India hence nothing good has been done by him and no heritage belongs to him.

2-Each monument is a symbol of something different

The Taj Mahal is the universal symbol of eternal love. Indeed, Shah Jahan wanted through this mausoleum to pay tribute to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. When she died, the emperor was devastated. He called on the greatest architects and craftsmen to create the most beautiful proof of love. Even today, thousands of couples come to the mausoleum to get their picture there. Newlyweds come to capture their love at the entrance of this marvel.

The Bibi ka Maqbara does not belong to this symbol. And for a good reason, it is not love that has driven its construction but ambition. Indeed, Aurangazeb was the governor of Deccan when he began the construction of the mausoleum. In the Mughal tradition, it is not the first son or child who inherits the throne but the one who shows his aptitudes. At each death of an emperor, a war of succession is fought between the heirs.

The construction of the Bibi ka Maqbara was a way for Aurangzeb to show his ambitions to want to become emperor over his two brothers. This is why the realisation of the book was not as tidy as the Taj Mahal. Indeed, in 1658, Aurangzeb will become emperor.

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, the symbol of love

3- The materials used make a big difference on the final result

For Shah Jahan, nothing was too good to prove his love to his late wife. So he spent lavishly and used the best materials possible. The mausoleum is totally in marble with inlaid precious stones. The result is an immaculate monument that changes colours during the day. This makes the place even more magical.

Marble and plaster are the main materials of Bibi ka Maqbara. Plaster does not have the brilliance of marble and the feel. It is also more friable and less resistant to rain. This makes the building more fragile.

4- Two monuments with very different shapes

When we look at the photos of the two monuments, we immediately realise their difference in shape.

The Taj Mahal is octagonal while the Bibi ka Maqbara is square.

The octagonal shape is a classic among the Mughals. For them, the number 8 is an auspicious number and brings good luck. That is why we find its evocation in the Mughal constructions: 8 platforms in the gardens of Bibi ka Maqbara, octagonal form of the tomb at the Bani Begum garden of Khultabad, etc …

If the octagonal shape is respected in the walls of the mausoleum in Aurangabad, the exterior is square. It makes the building more rectilinear and gives another perspective to the work.

5- Different perspective for the monuments

As we have said, the Taj Mahal is the most visited monument of India. It is so successful that the government has just increased the entrance fees for Indians and foreigners to reduce the number of visitors. Many restoration plans have been undertaken. The gardens are very well maintained and the irrigation system is in good working order.

Unfortunately, it is suffering from a renewed interest in his destruction. Indeed, Hindu extremists argue that the Taj Mahal is actually a temple of Shiva and that Shah Jahan has made it modified. P.N Oak, chairman of the Indian revisionist institute, asked the Supreme Court in 2000 to search the graves of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan for the original Nigam. This request was rejected since all the experts agree that this monument belongs to the Mughal era. Last year, a new request was made to pray Shiva on Monday inside the mosques that are on the side. Again, this request was rejected but recently a group of extremists came to do a puja (worshipping the Hindu god)

The Bibi ka Maqbara suffers from its comparison with the monument of Agra. Few visitors come to see it and many tourists do not even know about it. Controversies over its past and the lack of interest of visitors make the monument deteriorate. No sustainable restoration plan is planned.

6- Why visiting the Bibi ka Maqbara?

This is probably the question you ask yourself after reading this article. There are several reasons why visiting the Bibi ka Maqbara is interesting.

The first is that it is an element of the Mughal capital of the seventeenth century. Not visiting the Maqbara is passing the splendour of the past. It’s also missing to not understand Aurangzeb’s ambitions.

It is also a proof of the decadence of the empire. Indeed, under Aurangzeb, the empire reached its territorial apogee. But the time of splendour was over. More participation in the first arts, more music at the court, more philanthropy towards the artists and especially finished the big architectural projects.

There is an undeniable charm when you arrive at the monument. It is majestic and there is a nostalgic side. You will definitely not have the same emotions watching it as in Agra. But you will feel something we can guarantee you.

In order, the last reason is more altruistic. Visit the Bibi ka Maqbara to finance its restoration and also its protection. The protection of history is a new thing in India and is still very selective. To protect the Bibi ka Maqbara is to protect part of the history that some nationalists would like to make disappear.

In order to make you discover this monument, we have created bike tours and also a tour on Aurangabad, the Mughal capital

Daultabad fort

Visit to Daultabad fort

By | Monument, Site à visiter | 2 Comments

In a previous article, we discussed the history of Daultabad fort. In this one, we will discuss the different monuments that are to be visited in the fort.

How to get to Daultabad fort?

The fort is located on the highway between Aurangabad and the Ellora Caves.
It is very easy to get there from Aurangabad by taking a taxi, a rickshaw or a bus.
It takes between 30 minutes to 45 minutes to reach the fort, depends on the traffic. Choose to visit it in the early morning when weather is still cool because there are only few shaded areas in the fort.

How is the fort?

The fortress had 4 lines of defense which divide it into 4 distinct zones. Ambarkot which is outside the fortress. This area has never been declared a protected archaeological site. Mahakot which is the second line of defense of the fortress. Kalakot with its impressive wall and sumptuous palaces and finally Balakot named after the colony where the palace is located. What is currently known as Daultabad is Mahakot, Kalakot and Balakot.

Strategically the fort had only one entry to divert the enemies. What they meant is that you will come home and will go out from the same entrance.

First part of the visit: Mahakot
After purchasing your tickets, you will pass control of the tickets under the first big gate of Mahakot then a court where they exhibited different cannons. The prettiest cannon of the fort is not found in this court but higher up in the fort.

You will then pass another tall door. The doors are very tall because in India, the wars were happening with the help of elephants. You will admire Daultabad’s first defense system, which consisted of building off-set gates. There were two functions to that. The first allowed to control the flow of people returning to the fort. And in case of attack, it slowed down the enemy.

Passing the second door, you will be in the street of the bazaar.

The street of the bazaar:
This is the main access to other parts of the fort. It must be remembered that the fort was actually a fortified city and an empire capital.
You will admire some kinds of vaulted rooms. This was the place where they had market stalls.
A little higher on the left, take the stairs to see Hathi haud.

The elephant reservoir (Hathi haud):
It is about 38 meters on each side and more than 6 meters deep. The name literally means Elephant’s bathhouse, although the narrow steps that lead to it, and the width of the walkway around, do not support such a tale! Simple and solid without any decoration, the tank is an example of utilitarian construction. Most likely, it served as an internal reservoir for the Mahakot, providing enough water to support a large population and maintain the garden and orchards. It could also have been used as an ablution tank for visitors to the nearby Great Mosque.

Chand Minar:
More than 30 meters high, with a diameter of 3 meters at the base, the Chand Minar completely dominates the landscape around Daulatabad and which is built by Bahmanis. Conceived as a victory tower on the conquest of the Deccan at the end of the 13th century. Three circular balconies, at somewhat regular intervals, cantilevered, form the circular tree of the tower, supported by radiant consoles.
A spiral staircase inside the tower, now closed to visitors. At the base of the Chand Minar, there is a small cubic building with fluted roundings, typical features of Bahmani architecture.

Chand Minar

Chand minar

The palaces of Daultabad fort: Balakot

Tower of defense:
The most notable Mughal additions to this part of Daulatabad is the huge cannon known as Mendha Toph mounted on a circular rider built in the west of Chini Mahal, opposite to the Bahmani Palace. Built in massive masonry, the rider supports a large pistol with a curious ram’s point.
The mounting mechanism on the jumper indicates that this gun could be rotated both horizontally and vertically in 180 degrees, allowing more accuracy on a long-range lens. A Persian inscription engraved on its handle names the Quila’Shikan gun (destroyer of the fortification).

Tour de défense

Tower of defence

Chini Mahal:
The Chini Mahal (Chinese palace) takes its name from the blue ceramics designs that adorn its facade. In an extremely fragmentary state, partly undiscovered and largely ruined, the Chini Mahal presents a mystery, since its original function remains unknown. Today, the building consists of a portal that leads into a longitudinal hall, with a raised platform flanking one side of the interior.
The Chini Mahal was originally part of the complex of palaces, pavilions, gardens and elaborate royal quarters. After taking control of Daulatabad, the Mughals converted this area into a stage for defensive works. Bastions and riders have been added and the Chini Mahal has been refitted as a prison. The last sultans of Bijapur and Golconda, namely Sikandar Shah and Abul Hasan Qutb Shah, who died here in 1686 and 1699 respectively.

Chini Mahal

Chini Mahal

Brahmani Palace:
This palace is in restoration, has a central dome-shaped room, while the side rooms are covered with pyramidal vaults, the latter being a typical feature of Bahmani architecture.

The impregnable mountain: Balakot

Crossing the bridge to access the last part of Daultabad Fort, you can admire the moat artificially create. You will also see how the mountain was cut to separate it from the rest of the fort. The defense tower in just opposite, allowed for greater control of the entrances and exits of the fort. The artificial moat was filled with piranhas and crocodiles according to historians.

After the first dark passage, you will arrive at the entrance to the citadel. It is a wandering tunnel which, in time of siege, becomes impassable by an ingenious device. This underground passage is indeed mysterious and despite the attempts of several individuals, all its mysteries are still unknown.

The long ascending tunnel rises rapidly and tortuously through a set of steps, unequal in width and height, difficult to climb in the absence of light. Turns and twists lead to a window, now covered with railings, but which was originally a trap for enemy intruders, who, as they entered, fell down a slope into a watery pit. The stairs in the courtyard were built in 1952 for the convenience of tourists.
After the dark passage, a long ascent begins until Mughal Baradari.

Mughal Baradari:
The pavilion was commissioned by Shah Jahan after he captured the fort in 1636. Formed of basalt blocks and partially plastered, the pavilion has an inner courtyard that gives access to a series of rooms including one with an octagonal facade with balcony to Arcades that offers great views of the entire site. Baradari has also been used by Aurangzeb.

Vue du Mughal Baradari

View from Mughal Baradari

On the right, there is a path to access the cannon at the top of the mountain.

If you want to visit the Daultabad fort, do not hesitate to contact us.

Malik Ambar tomb

Khultabad, the spiritual capital of 15th century

By | Général, Monument | 3 Comments

Khultabad, some history behind the small village

The town was known before under the name of Rauzaa, ‘the garden of paradise’. After the death of Aurangzeb, this city is renamed “Khultabad”. Khulad means heaven and Abad means community or society, so it means the community of heaven. It is the central point for the valley of saints because in the 14th century several Sufi saints elected Khultabad as residence. It is said that no less than 1,400 saints are buried in this valley such as Rajaramdev, Badshah Khilji and Mo. Tuglak. They taught people that Hindus and Muslims must keep peace and unity among themselves. Many kings, devotees, saints came to this place to see their wish fulfilled. Because it is the capital of Sufism, so many kings and Mughal emperors built fascinating gardens, small houses. There were also many attractive palaces of emperors including that of Aurangzeb.

Khultabad

Khultabad

The city was fortified during the reign of Aurangzeb at the end of the 17th century. The wall had a protective function against bandits and brigands but could not serve as defence against an army.

This city has religious as well as historical importance because it contains the tomb of Malik Ambar and Aurangzeb.

 

The Tomb of Malik Ambar:

Malik Ambar tomb

Malik Ambar tomb

For now about Malik Ambar, you can read this article.

Malik Ambar’s tomb is a tomb of classical Indo Islamic architecture. The finely finished mausoleum, built in pink basalt and raised on a pedestal, has a double facade, each floor sheltered by an overhang on protruding brackets. The windows on each side are finely worked, they are formed of geometric screens called jali. It is enclosed to show the importance of the person buried. Opposite is a rather dilapidated guest house. It is built in a vaguely Italian style with windows of Gothic style which was very popular in Hyderabad at the beginning of the 20th century. It allowed people to pay tribute to Malik Ambar to rest. Despite the importance of Malik Ambar for the Deccan valley, his tomb is currently abandoned.

The tomb of Aurangzeb:

Aurangzeb (3 November 1618 – 3 March 1707)

Portrait of Aurangzeb

Portrait of Aurangzeb

From his name Abu Muzaffar Muhiuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb Âlamgir known as Aurangzeb (ornament of the throne in Persian) or as Alamgir 1st. He is the last great Mughal emperor. He is the third son of Shah Jahan, he was governor of the Deccan from 1636 to 1644 with some success. In 1657, Shah Jahan felt ill and a succession war broke out between three brothers.

On July 31, 1658, Aurangzeb got the victory and sat on the throne of the peacock, the symbol of Mughal power. He imprisoned his father in the red fort of Agra for supporting his brother. Under his reign, the empire reached its territorial apogee covering virtually all of India today.

He is the most hated person in India. Most of the history around him was written by British for colonise India easily. If you want to know more about Aurangzeb, you can see this video.

He made Aurangabad as capital city of mughal emperor to be able extend his empire on the south of India.

He is buried in Khultabad in a simplicity desired by himself.

His reign marks the end of the empire that disappeared 101 years after him.

The tomb:

Mosque in Aurangzeb's tomb

Mosque in Aurangzeb’s tomb

Aurangzeb died in 1707 in Ahmednagar. His body was then transported to Khultabad after the arrival of his son Azam Shah and his daughter Zinat-un-Nissa. There is a platform on the tomb made of red stone, less than three meters in length. The tomb was covered with soil on which grass growes. After his funeral, he received the posthumous title of “Khuld-makan” (the one whose dwelling is in eternity). The marble jali screen was added in 1921 by the Nizam of Hyderabad with the encouragement of the British viceroy Lord Curzon. Now the tomb is covered by “the vault of heaven” means there is no roof and you can see the sky from there. The footbridge and the domed porch were added in 1760.

It is said that Aurangzeb paid for his burial place by sewing hats during his last years and that it cost only 14 rupees and 12 annas. The tomb is “remarkably simple in accordance with Aurangzeb’s own wishes”. The full name of Aurangzeb is written on a marble plaque in one of the corners of the tomb.

Aurangzeb asked to be buried next to a great Sufi saint Zainuddin Shirazi.

He is a holy Mahometan highly revered by the Muslims. On the east side there are a number of verses inscribed in the Quran and the date of the saint’s death, 771 H. (1370 AD). Sheikh Zain-ud-din was born in Shiraz, in H. 701 (1300) and came to Delhi by Mecca. He studied under Maulana Kamal ud din of Samana and accompanied him to Daulatabad.

He occupied the Kazi office at Daulatabad, and in H. 737 (1336) he was invested with the mantle of the caliphate, but did not really succeed until after the death of Burhan-ud-din in H. 741 (1340). The sayings of Zain-ud-din were recorded by Shaikh Husain in his Hidayatu-l-Kabul. The mausoleum was erected by his disciples much later. It is surrounded by a large quadrangular courtyard, and the enclosure has two doors chased with silver and brass. The courtyard has two mosques, one on a higher one and the other on a lower level, a sloping pavement leading to the first.

Aurangzeb's tomb complex

Aurangzeb’s tomb complex

There are open buildings on all sides, and a nagarkhana or music room at the eastern end. The western end is used as a school where the Quran is taught. Sanctuary’s door are inlaid with silver plates and the stage below is embellished with a number of stones curiously cut and polished. The interior of the burial is covered with richly embroidered rosewood, and has the usual chain of ostrich eggs hanging on it. It is said that a small room in a corner of the courtyard wall contains the prophet’s robe, which is exhibited once a year on the 12th Rabi-ul-awal. The relics of the parahan and taj given to Burhan-ud-din in succession to the caliphate we carefully preserved in a wooden box placed in one of the apartments of Zain-ud, dargah of din.

The dargah also houses the tomb of the first Nizam, Asaf Jah I, his son Nasir Jung, and those of the son of Aurangzeb Azam Shah and his wife.

Garden of Jahan Banu Begum:

Jahan Banu Begum Garden

Jahan Banu Begum Garden

The only garden, in Khultabad is Bani Begum Garden. Bani Begum was the wife of Aurangzeb’s son, Azam Shah. The tomb of Bani Begam is at the centre of a large quadrangular garden. It is surrounded by a beautiful wall with arched cavities inside. An elegant kiosk at each corner and is surmounted by an indo-buckwheat dome, grooved on the outside.

The main entrance is in the centre of the north wall and a mosque is in the south direction. While a corresponding open horn is in each of the remaining walls. The ground in the interior is arranged in the usual form of a garden and contains cisterns and fountains, which are no longer in working order. The tomb of the Begum is inside another walled fence in the middle of the garden and has four small minarets around it. A pretty summer house in the centre of each wall in this enclosure of the wound, has sixteen slender but elegant pillars, supporting a dome-shaped roof in the curious form belonging to the style of Bengal.

Tomb of Jahan Banu Begum

Tomb of Jahan Banu Begum

If you want to discover Khultabad, you can book the tour the 3 capitals. More information about this tour here.

Himayat bagh

Himayat Baugh, the royal garden

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Aurangabad was the last Mughal capital during the reign of Aurangzeb. Like any Mughal capital, it had a palace and gardens, Himayat Baugh. It is difficult today to imagine the splendour of the city of 17th century, as the city grew and transformed.

There are still some places where one can glimpse this historical past. One of these places is Himayat Baugh. This green lung in the middle of Aurangabad was the personal garden of Aurangzeb.

Located next to the gate of Delhi, this Mughal garden has become a nursery and a plant research centre. It is also a ideal place to escape from heat and noise of the city while staying in it.

What to see in Himayat Baugh

The front door:

The entrance door, which is erected at the end of a small road, used to be a beauty of this place but remained as shadow only.  Still you may have an idea of ​​how it was in the 17th century.

The irrigation system and the summer palace

Water system

Water system

Summer palace

Inside the summer palace

Summer palace ( outside view)

Summer palace ( outside view)

Irrigation system

Irrigation system

Like any Mughal garden, the Himayat Baugh has an irrigation system and hydraulic canals. Even today, you can admire two of its canals that are arranged on each side of the summer palace. This arrangement made it possible to pass water through the summer palace, which refreshed the building.

Mosque

Small mosque

Small mosque

Bibi ka Maqbara

View from Himayat bagh

Moving a little further from the nursery, you will come across a small mosque that is on top of small mountain. The building itself is not the most interesting but it allows access to a superb view of the Bibi ka Maqbara and the caves of Aurangabad.

To reach the garden:

From Delhi gate, there is a gate on left accessible only by two wheeler or on foot. One more way is in 500 meters, you will see barriers on the right to access the irrigation system and the summer palace. If you continue straight you will arrive at the small mosque.

For discover this garden and more about Aurangabad history, we created a bicycle tour. More information here.

Les grottes d'Aurangabad

Aurangabad caves, introduction to the art of caves

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The caves, a deeply cultivated art in Maharashtra:

Aurangabad caves are a good introduction of the art of caves. From the 60 caves in India, there are 28 in the state of Maharashtra, including Ellora and Ajanta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These caves contain temples, monasteries and other functions. The particularity of its caves is that they were carved from top to bottom. Ajanta and Ellora are the most famous caves. The caves of Aurangabad are less numerous and less impressive than those of Ellora or Ajanta but are a good introduction about this unique art.

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Ajanta caves

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Ellora caves

Aurangabad caves:

The caves of Aurangabad are divided into two groups which are separated by 1 kilometre. The first group dates from the 5th century and the second from the 7th and 8th century. All the caves are Mahayana Buddhist caves except cave 5 which is Hinayana and cave 6 which is Hindu.

In the first group of caves, the most impressive is cave number 3. It is a temple that represents the most spectacular picture with bundle of gods statues. The door frame of the temple consists of loving figures in small panels and nagas Of guards. The square pillars are beautifully carved with foliage and geometric designs.

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Pillars in cave number 3

For the second group of caves, cave 7 is the most majestic cave. It is a temple. In the Garbhagriha (room where the main deity resides in the Hindu temples), there is an image of Maitreya whose sun touches the feet every morning. On the left, we can admire the scene of a dancer accompanied by 6 other dancers.

This statue represents Amrapali, a royal courtesan of incredible beauty. She vowed to serve food to the Buddha. Despite the reluctance of the latter, he went to her house. After this meeting, Amrapali renounced his position and followed the Buddhist path. In the next room, one can admire the life of Tara. The ceiling is decorated with a semi circular frieze.

On the left of cave 7 is an enormous bodhisattva praying for the deliverance of the eight dangers: fire, sword of the enemy, chains, wrecks, serpent lions, crazy elephant and a demon (representing death).

Le fort d'Antur

Antur fort

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There are places that have remained frozen in the past. This is the case of Antur fort which is left to abandonment by the authorities.

This fort is located on the border, that separated the empire of Nizam of Ahmadnagar and the great Mughal empire from 15th century.

The Mughal Emperor, Jahangir and then Shah Jahan, was more and more interested in the south of India and mainly the Deccan sultanates, which were five big places: Berar (or Barar), Bijapur, Golconda, Bidar And Ahmednagar.

Deccan sultanates in 15th century

Deccan sultanates in 15th century

To face this threat, the Sultanate of Ahmednagar decided to build several forts on their northern border.

Antur fort is one of those forts, which has been abandoned by the authorities although it is possible to visit.

It is located at north side of Aurangabad, 2-hours drive away. There is a small village before the fort is called Kholapur. It is at the distance of two kilometers from the fort. The road is more pleasant to walk.

In addition, you can admire an ancient sign board indicating the fort at one kilometre that dates from the 15th century.

An ancient sign board indicating direction of fort, dating from the 15th century.

An ancient sign board indicating direction of fort, dating from the 15th century.

An ancient sign board indicating direction of fort, dating from the 15th century.

The Entrance of the fort is impressive. The view between the fort and the mountains is breathtaking.

Fort View

Fort View

Access to the fort is via a tree-lined paved path. It is the only entrance to the fort.

Antur fort main gate

Antur fort main gate

The fort lost its splendour because only few monuments are still present; most of them are destroyed by the time. There is a water tank with some buildings around.

Go around the ramparts to admire the breathtaking view of the valley which is 900 meters below. As the fort is located on a ridge of the mountain, it is the best place to observe the surroundings at 360 degrees.

View from wall

View from wall

Finally, the part that was to be reserved for the palace of the commander is transformed today into tomb of a Sufi saint.

Sufi saint tomb in top of the fort

Sufi saint tomb in top of the fort

Even if access is difficult, this fort is worth visiting for its strategic position and its environment. It is a great place for small picnic and to spend a weekend.

If you want to visit the Antur fort, you can contact us here.

Aurangzeb aurangabad

The palace and mosque of Aurangzeb

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Aurangabad, capital of Empire

There is a place in Aurangabad that has been completely forgotten by the inhabitants of the city and of course by the tourists, it is the citadel of Aurangzeb.

It is very difficult today to see the beauty and grandeur of the citadel.

In these two photos, we can see the size of the palace and its gardens.

In 1681, Aurangzeb decided to make Aurangabad capital of Mughal empire. To do this, he built an enclosing wall 10 kilometers in circumference with 52 entrance gates. He reserves part of the city which is a little elevated to make its citadel called Quil’a Ark.

The royal gate that allowed access to his palace still exists today is called Rangeen Gate.

rangeen darwaza

History of this citadel

The palace is very important. It was the government of the empire and all government legal things was decide within it,  also wars and peace with neighbouring kingdoms. It is not of a special structure, simplicity that will rhythm the life of Aurangzeb. We can see that the gardens respect the Mughal tradition with the water canals and the luxuriance of the trees and the plants.

Aurangzeb palace and mosque today

The mosque is the emperor’s personal mosque. Built in the second half of the 17th century, it bears the title of Emperor, Alamgir.

The building itself is not a particularly important structure, but it has three oversized domes that overcome the prayer hall, leaving no doubt as to its meaning. The Alamgir mosque conforms to other royal mosques with three-part prayer halls triple domes, such as those to be seen in Agra and Delhi.

La mosquée d'Alamgir

Only the Emperor’s personal mosque and the women’s mosque are still in good condition.

La mosquée des femmes

Unfortunately the palace is in an advanced state of decomposition which makes its visit impossible. The gardens have disappeared because of the ways for a government school.

You can visit these place during the tour All about Aurangabad

Soneri Mahal

Soneri Mahal

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Soneri Mahal

The Soneri Mahal is the last palace, still in good condition in Aurangabad. The palace is located within the walls of the university.

It is immured in a garden with a massive rectangular door. This gate is called Hathikhana which means the place of the elephants.
The door is made of Islamic style arches.

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Soneri Mahal means the Golden Palace (Mahal) (Soneri). That name comes from the original color of pure gold that adorned the interior.

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This palace was built as a thought between 1651 and 1653, by a chief bundelkhan (region of India between Uttar Pradesh and Madya Pradesh).
We only have a few references on Paharsingh and his brother, Juzarsingh. What we know also is that the latter was sent to Shah Jahan in the Deccan Valley to accompany Aurangzeb, the governor of the region. We know that the Soneri Mahal was the home of Paharsingh and his family. Paharsingh died in 1653.

Soneri Mahal: museum in Aurangabad

The palace passed from hand to hand before becoming a regional museum in the 70s. Many changes were made to transform the palace into a museum and little remains of the original structure.
The first modification that can be seen and the creation of the basin which occurred in 2001 with the aim of harmonizing the places with surroundings. One can see the will of the conservative to make this garden a little more Mughal.

In the 70’s when the palace became a museum, the arches were closed with bricks and plaster. In the second room, one can admire the remains of the paintings that adorned the whole palace.

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The museum tour ends in a room with stone statues depicting the various gods of Hinduism or Jainism. There is this room a wooden altar with a statue of Ganesh with three heads.

During the tour All about Aurangabad, you can discover the Soneri Mahal