This water-driven flour mill is an excellent example of medieval engineering. The source of the water is about 6 kms away. It is brought to this mill through underground pipes and then made to fall on a fan with bent blades. As each blade moves forward, the next blade of the fan is propelled forward to be hit again by the torrent of water. In this way, an unending circular motion is obtained. This motion drives a huge grinding stone, placed directly above, round and round. When maize is poured between the two stones, ‘atta’(flour) is produced.
This idea closely resembles the fan of an automobile with a fan belt. When the car engine start, the fan rotates and cools the engine. Owing to the fan belt, the armature is rotated which action, in turn, charges the car battery.
This panchakki was built in 1744 in honour of Baba Shah Musafir, a favourite religious teacher of Aurangzeb. A large banyan tree adjacent to the reserviour adds shade, charm and beauty to this ancient engineering marvel. A signboard next to the rotating blades of the fan says that almost 4 maunds of flour were produced each day for the consumption of the fakirs, orphans and devotees of the Baba.
The mosque is to the west of the maqbara and was constructed by the Nizams of Hyderabad. The arches that connect the rows of pillars are very finely carved. The entire floor is divided into squares to hold 377 persons at one time to offer namaz.
After the Taj Mahal of Agra, this ‘poor man’s Taj’ pales into insignificance. The design, the layout, the placement are similar but there the similarity ends. Even the quality of the marble appears to be inadequate. The workmanship also leaves much to be desired. However, it is a unique labour of love by a son, Prince Azam Shyah for his mother, Rabia-ul-Durrani, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, built between 1651-61.
The mosque, the Diwan-i-Am and the Diwan-i-Khas contained beautiful paintings of the Mughal and Nizam period. Remnants of these remain. The grave is as simple as that of her husband near Daulatabad Fort but the marble screens are of marvellous design. Only the main dome and the lower portion of the mausoleum are of marble with intricate designs while the rest of the mausoleum is of plaster and marble finish.
Bibi-qa-Maqbara means The Tomb of the Lady and it is the mausoleum of Rabia -ud-Daurani (Dilras Banu Begum), the wife of the Emperor Aurangazeb. The mausoleum was constructed by her son prince Azam Khan in 1679. He could not use as much money as he wanted to, so the monument, is built in limestone instead of marble as he wanted to. For this it has been called the Poor man’s Taj, and also Mini Taj, as it resembles Taj Mahal in Agra.
The mausoleum stands in the middle of an enclosed garden. In the garden there are ponds, fountains, paths and pavilions and it is a nice and quiet place to walk around in.
Bibi-qa-Maqbara is open every day from early morning to 22.00. Admission for foreigners was Rs 100 (June 2010).
The tomb of the wife of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and mother of Prince Azam Shah, Rabia Durrani, lies in the centre of the lower floor of the mausoleum. Visitors enter through the upper floor, which has an octagonal opening that overlooks the tomb below. Above the opening is the lofty dome of the shrine. Surrounding the tomb in the lower floor is a beautifully carved octagonal screen to separate visitors from the actual tomb, which is covered in a green and red fabric.
Of exquisite beauty, Bibi-ka-Maqbara is the pride of Aurangabad. It was built in 1678 by the son of the great Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, Azam Shah, as the burial place for his mother Rabia Durrani. The domed white mausoleum is frequently - and unfairly - called the "poor man's Taj" or described as a lesser copy of the Taj Mahal in Agra (which, incidentally, was built by Aurangzeb's father). True, it was modelled after the Taj Mahal, but the reality is that it is an impressive monument in its own right. The mere fact that the comparison is made to the world's greatest mausoleum, speaks volumes: Bibi-ka-Maqbara is worthy of a visit! It was also one of the last fine monuments built by the Mughal Empire, which saw a quick decline soon afterwards. The specifics of Bibi-ka-Maqbara are discussed in more detail further down on this page. And for additional detail photos, check out the travelogue: "Bibi-ka-Maqbara".
Located at the centre of the garden, the central mausoleum stands on a raised platform with four oversized decorative minarets, one at each corner. The actual shrine is square and is crowned by a large onion-shaped dome, which is surrounded by four smaller ones and a small minaret at each corner. Each façade contains a large central iwan flanked by two smaller arched porticoes. The structure was built using marble and basalt, both beautifully decorated with floral patterns. The marble utilised in its construction was transported to Aurangabad from Jaipur, but it is said that when funds for the project declined, the architect substituted marble with basalt to complete the construction. Still, this did not take away the splendour of the final work. For a more detailed look at the carved marble and stucco patterns, check out the travelogue: "Bibi-ka-Maqbara - Architectural Details."
As was typical in imperial mausoleums of the Mughal period, the entrance of Bibi-ka-Maqbara consists of a monumental gateway located in the centre of the wall facing the main façade of the mausoleum. To emphasise symmetry, the gateway is mirrored by three other pavilions (baradaris) on each side of the rectangular enclosure. The monumental gateway of Bibi-ka-Maqbara is located on the south side and is designed in the same exquisite style as the actual mausoleum (see attached photos). It is a polygonal structure built with carved marble and stucco and lavishly decorated. Its façades contain iwans (porticoes) with pointed arches and topped by small minarets, whereas the interior is crowned by an inner dome and decorated with colourful floral motifs.
The mausoleum, Bibi-ka-Maqbara, stands in the middle of a typical Mughal-period garden with a charbagh layout. Paved walkways, with a long pond and flower beds, radiate from each of the four façades of the central mausoleum to reach the southern gateway and the three baradaris (pavilions) on the northern, western and eastern walls of the gardens, thus creating an atmosphere of tranquility, harmony and symmetry. Each of the four quadrants created by the paths is planted with grass, trees and flowers. However, during the dry season of my visit, only the section south of the mausoleum, linking it to the main entrance, was lush green. The other sides were scorched dry and their ponds empty, probably to save on the cost of year-round maintenance. Still, whichever side one may choose, the gardens of Bibi-ka-Maqbara offer a peaceful respite from the busy streets of Aurangabad.
If I owned a palace, I would like it to have a copy of this beautifully carved brass door. It is part of the monumental gateway that leads into Bibi-ka-Maqbara. However, until I could afford a grand palace with such a door, I will contend myself with using this photo as the home photo on my iPhone. I unlock it every time I use the phone!
Despite being a relatively small and provincial town, Aurangabad has a surprisingly visible Christian presence. While driving around town, I came across a number of churches. They were probably built during the late period of the British occupation. Attached are a couple of examples.
Since its founding, Aurangabad has been an active market town. Many of the streets of downtown are bustling with shoppers buying everyday items from the numerous shops and food stands. Aurangabad is historically known for a certain weave called himroo which is used as scarves and saris. This may be the only thing of interest for a tourist. Attached are some photos from the busy streets of Aurangabad.
In its heyday, that is in the 17th and 18th centuries, Aurangabad must have had plenty of beautiful architecture. It seems that much of it has been destroyed, badly renovated, or left to decay. In the downtown area, some of the traditional architecture can still be seen. These old buildings typically have two floors and an upper floor veranda, and use carved wood for the windows and balconies. Attached are some examples I've encountered.
Nicknamed "City of Gates", Aurangabad once had 52 gates through its fortified wall. Most of them were built by the great Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, in the 17th century when the walls of his capital city were erected. Of the original 52, only 13 have survived, of which a few stand still intact or beautifully restored, but others are crumbling ruins. The grandest among them, the Delhi Darwaza (darwaza = "gate"), captured in the main attached photo, is located on the northern side of the old city and leads directly to Delhi. The other photos show Naubat, Paithan, Bhadkal and Rangeen Gates. For more photos, please check out the travelogue: "City of Gates."
Aurangabad has an important Hindu population (naturally) so the town is dotted with numerous Hindu temples. The architecture is quite fascinating and very ornate. Most of these temples have the "wedding cake" gopura tower above the entrance (see photos for examples).