Pune -> Sinhgad -> Pune -> Lavasa -> Ajanta -> Ellora -> Aurangabad ->Mumbai
Continued from here
The next day was one I was excited about. We had a list of places in Aurangabad we’d decided to visit. After some haggling with a cab driver, the contact of whom had been shared by a friend, we hired him for the day for Rs.1400.
First on our list was the Daulatabad fort. We severely underestimated its vastness when we started. It was huge, imposing and hot.
I could imagine it being even more beautiful in the rains. It was apparently, the only undefeated fort in history. And supposedly only ever won over by bribery or corruption much like the Great Wall of China.
I guess no amount of preparation could beat that, then or now. The fort had 4 concentric walls each with entrances not aligned to each other. The moat was the first one I’d seen in a fort with actual water and we spotted a water snake in it too. We found interesting the temple with a huge hall of ‘Bharath Mata’ in its premises.
The most intriguing part of the fort, however, was its bhool-bhulaiiyya/andheri/labyrinth. It had confusing passages with strategic locations to place one’s own soldiers so they could attack the enemy that tried to penetrate the fort with boiling oil, poisonous gases or the classic beheading amongst other charming methods.
There were quite a few squirrels around and we had an entertaining few minutes at the top feeding them chikkis and watching them eat. The climb up and down easily takes half a day and we then headed off to a nearby eatery for lunch and next to ‘Panchakki’ which I thought was a dam as I hadn’t done any reading on it.
We had just enough time for a short nap in the car and we reached the place. It was a calm, cool oasis in the hot surroundings. We hired a young lad who offered to guide us around the place for a tiny sum and it was worth it. Panchakki itself was formed with pani+chakki = water+grinding stone. It was essentially a turbine system which caused a grinding stone to continually grind away.
The speciality being the water itself came from 8kms away in the mountains via pipes made of mud. Quite a feat in the 12th century AD. The saint of the place was someone called Baba Shah Musafir who was supposedly from Russia and who brought this in place to be able to grind flour in huge amounts to feed the poor and needy. Using a syphoning method, later, they have managed to make a waterfall of sorts falling back into a small pond in the premises.
- My very first dargah , one of Baba Shah Musafir, which sadly ladies weren’t allowed to enter 😦 However I did get a blessing with a bunch of peacock feathers so it’s a start.
- They had a small ‘museum’ of the Baba’s clothes and utensils.
- There was a resting area for the poor/travellers below the pond, which meant that the place below it would be pleasantly cooled by the water overhead.
- Inside the spaces are now being used by different officials of the Wakf board; quite a scenic place to have an office.
Next on our wish list was Bibi ka Maqbara, the tomb of Rabbia-Durani, the wife of Aurangazeb; built by her son Prince Azam Shah. I loved it instantly. It was a calm, white structure that had beautiful art across its surfaces.
Inside the actual area with the tomb ,there was appropriately not much adornment. The tomb itself was housed below ground level within it. Despite a notice not to, people had thrown in money there. We sat a while under a tree in its sprawling lawns and then headed back.
Last on our wish list was a factory tour of Himroo and Pathani saris that we’d heard of online. It was quite a let-down though 😦 It was essentially 2 looms and an older gentleman attempting to use the loom with most of it left to the imagination. In my quest for local saris I, however, did buy one as a souvenir, though not completely convinced of it being a good deal.
Up next: Mumbai’s cityscapes