Royal Feast

Dining are of resort cum restaurant between Aurangabad and Khuldabad
Dining area of resort cum restaurant between Aurangabad and Khuldabad

Khuldabad is where the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb was buried in a modest tomb. Khuldabad is also famous for the Bhadra Maruti temple. It also houses the tombs of the first three Nizams and a handful of Muslim saints. The town is only a few kilometers from Ellora and can be covered in the same trip from Aurangabad.

On the way back to Aurangabad, we stopped over at a resort with a Rajasthani theme for lunch.

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Chand Minar, Daulatabad

Chand Minar 15 C.C.E Daulatabad
Chand Minar 15 C.C.E Daulatabad

Daulatabad or Devagiri was established in the 12th Century CE by the Yadavas. The present fort was built in 13-14 C.CE. It is 16 Km from the present day Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

The Chand Minar stands tall inside the Daulatabad Fort. It is 210 feet high and is about 70′ in diameter at the base. It was built in 1445 by Alauddin Bahmani to commemorate his conquest of the fort. Originally it was covered with Blue Persian tiles.

 

Pachisi- the Game Emperors Play

Do you want to feel like royalty, playing an ancient Indian Game?

A game for which emperor Akbar built a huge courtyard in his palace at Fatehpur Sikri to depict the squares of the board. Akbar is believed to have used women from his harem as game pieces.

Pachisi Courtyard at Fatehpur Sikri
Pachisi Courtyard at Fatehpur Sikri
Chaupad squares at Fatehpur Sikri
Chaupad squares at Fatehpur Sikri
Chaupad squares at Fatehpur Sikri in front of Panch mahal
Chaupad squares at Fatehpur Sikri

I have also seen the board carved on granite floors of ancient temples and monuments.

Yes, I am referring to Pachisi. The game that is also known as Dayakattam, Chokkattam, Chaupad, Chaupar etc. The Western versions of this game, go by many names like Parchisi, Ludo, The Game of India etc.

Now you can buy an authentic version of this game online at Amazon and Flipkart. The game board is made of hand embroidered cotton and comes with cowrie shells, wooden pieces, cotton pouch, instructions etc.

For Amazon click here.

For Flipkart click here.

Ludo made out of recycled elephant dung is available at www.golisodastore.com

Pachisi Indian Board game
Pachisi authentic Hand embroidered game board

Taj – an optical illusion

View of Taj from Agra Fort
View of Taj from Agra Fort

This is the view of Diwan-e-Khas and the Taj Mahal from the Meena bazaar side in Agra Fort. To me somehow the Taj appeared to be bigger than what it looked from the Diwane Khas. Our guide confirmed that it is an illusion created by the clever architecture of the Taj.

I had the same feeling when I viewed the Taj from Mehtab Bagh across the Yamuna.

View of Taj from Mehtab Bagh
Northern View of Taj from Mehtab Bagh across the Yamuna.

Badami

On the way to Shivalaya temple, Badami
On the way to Shivalaya Temple, Badami

On the way to the Shivalaya group of temples Badami, Karnataka.

Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, is a town in  Karnataka, India. It was the capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for its rock rock-cut structural temples. See wikipedia for more….

Amma Veedu

Amma veedu seen form another amma veedu

Amma veedu seen from another amma veedu

Amma veedus are the palatial houses where the minor queens or the consorts of the Travancore king used to stay. There are still a few  amma veedus in the West Fort area of Trivandrum. One of these has been tastefully converted into a fine dining restaurant.

The house in the image is opposite that restaurant, taken from its second-floor window.

Surprising find in heart of Delhi

A historical town like Delhi can throw up surprises. One such surprise to me was the Agrasen ki Baoli. It is situated on Hailey lane a kilometer from CP but still under the shadows of its multi-storey buildings.

Agrasen ki Baoli
Agrasen ki Baoli

This was believed to have been built by king Ugrasen of the Mahabharat era but rebuilt by the Agrawal community in the14th century. It is about 60 m long and 15 M wide. It has about 100 steps.

The main well shaft opens out to the sky and there was no water when I visited. The rubble and stone masonry is well preserved (probably recently renovated).

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Unlike the step wells of Gujarat,this  has no sculptures.

Agrasen ki Baoli
Agrasen ki Baoli

There were hardly any tourists when I visited but many young students and couples. The monument became more popular thanks to a controversial Hindi movie.

Agrasen ki Baoli
100 + steps

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Frugal resting place of a mighty emperor

Most of us know Aurangazeb as a tyrannical and bigoted emperor who tortured and killed his family members, suppressed non-Muslims,fought many unnecessary wars which drained the exchequer. He is also known as the one who paved the way for the decline of the Mughal Empire.

But how many of us know the ‘softer’ side of this emperor? I have read in my school history book that Aurangazeb used to stitch caps and transcribe by hand copies of the Koran to sell anonymously to earn money for his burial and tomb.

The remains of the mighty emperor who lorded over the sub-continent for about five decades lie in a modest tomb in a non-descript town of Khuldabad, about 30 kilometers from Aurangabad.

Aurangzeb died in Ahmednagar(1707 C.E.),  but he had a desire to be interred near the tomb of his Islamic guru, Sayyad Zainuddin Shirazi at Khuldabad.

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Entrance to the complex

Originally, his tomb was open and on all sides. Lord Curzon directed the then Nizam to put up marble panels all around. The top is still open to the sky.

A blind caretaker Sheikh Hakim was at the site when I visited and was most helpful.

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Sheik Hakim -the helpful caretaker

_DSC5063Aurangazeb’s son and his wife are also buried near the emperor’s tomb and Zainuddin Shirazi’s dargah is just behind. Behind the dargah there is a small room which is believed to house the robes of the prophet.

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tomb’s of Aurangzeb’s son, his wife and another woman
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The enclusre with the sacred robe and Md Altaf

Across the narrow and busy street is the dargah of Sayyad Burhanuddin another notable teacher. The tomb of the first Nizam is also in this complex.

The whole complex is devoid of any visual or architectural attraction but it stands as a testimony to the frugality of a mighty emperor who hailed from a dynasty which took pride in building grandiose monuments and tombs.