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Aurangabad (district)

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South Asia : India : Western India : Maharashtra : Marathwada : Aurangabad
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Cave painting at the Ajanta caves

Aurangabad, the headquarters of the Marathwada division of Maharashtra state, has played several important roles in the country's history, the remnants of which draw many history lovers today.

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Travellers to Aurangabad will find history dating back to the 2nd century BCE, when the Satavahana rulers established their capital in Pratishtanapura, today known as Paithan. It was around this time that the viharas (monasteries) were carved out of caves in what is now Ajanta, and the stunning cave paintings were made, to be lost and rediscovered in the early 19th century. The carvings in the Ellora caves track the changing fortunes of three major religions Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism between the 5th and the 10th century CE.

The Yadava kings established their capital in Devagiri (also spelt Deogiri) and built a fort that stands to this day. The fort was reputed to be impregnable, but Ala-ud-din Khilji of Delhi captured it by laying siege on it and renamed it to Daulatabad. Malik Kafur, his general consolidated his hold on the region. As the Delhi Sultanate was captured by Mohammad bin Tughluq, the fort passed to him. Tughluq is famous for his famously botched plan to move his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad along with the entire population of the city, only to have to return because he had not planned for water supply at his new capital. This fiasco ensured fame for his name, as Indians took to describing the oft-shifting plans of their rulers as "Tughluq policies".

Aurangabad then fell to the local Muslim rulers of Deccan who revolted against the Delhi Sultan. The city of Aurangabad was founded by Malik Ambar, the Prime Minister of one of these rulers, though the name of the city then was Fatehpura. The region kept changing hands till the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan consolidated his hold and appointed his son Aurangzeb as the governor. Aurangzeb established his base here. He returned to the city again in 1681, this time as an emperor, determined to crush the south once and for all. He spent the last two decades of his life battling the Marathas in an ultimately fruitless campaign. He died in 1707 in Khuldabad near Aurangabad city and was buried there — the battles ultimately resulted in the demise of his empire too.

The district is now the headquarters of the backward region of Marathwada, but it is also a manufacturing hub as many Indian companies have their plants here. It also contains the headquarters of Videocon, a fairly large Indian MNC.

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Aurangabad well connected with other cities by Air, Road and Rail.

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