On 25th March, 1966, movie diva of Indian film industry Ms. Meena Kumari came to unveil statue of Late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in the cantonment region of the historic city of Aurangabad. She came along with the honorable leaders of those times; The Hon. President of India Late Shri Sarvapalli Radhkrishnan, Late Shri Yeshwantrao Chavan, Defense Minister, and Chief Minister of Maharashtra State Late Shri Vasantrao Naik. The vintage tragedy queen had shown her love for Aurangabad by presenting the statue of Pandit Nehru to our city. The legacy of her continues to adorn our city’s heritage region of cantonment. Her bonding evolved with Aurangabad when she came for the shooting for her well known movie ‘Pakeezah’, from times of early sixties she gained tremendous love of people of Aurangabad. This association of Aurangabad and magical cinema of India and world continues to enthrall viewers and visitors of ‘City of Gates’. Legends of Indian cinema per se Meena Kumari, Dilip Kumar, Rajkumar, Ashok Kumar, Kamaal Amrohi and our very own Bashar Nawaz the renowned poet who belonged to Aurangabad fell deeply in love with our city, its heritage and dreamlike monuments. Dilip Kumar remains the thespian actor who brought classics like ‘Udan-Khatola’, Dillagi, ‘Ganga-Jamuna’, ‘Nayadaur’ and many more and till today they are known as the best classics of Indian cinema. Dilip Kumar was fond of spending his leisurely times in Asafjahi guest house of Khuldabad. Similarly Kamaal Amrohi the well known director of bollywood who directed movies like ‘Pakeezah’, ‘Razia Sultan’ and ‘Love and God’ had fascination for Aurangabad because of which locations of his movies happened to be in city and sub-urbans areas of Aurangabad. . It was love of Kamaal Amrohi of Aurangabad which connected the doyens like Ashok Kumar and Rajkumar of Indian cinema with Aurangabad. Once introduced these stalwarts showered their love and presented to people of the heritage city with their art works and aesthetic verses.
The cinematic eyes of Indian and Marathi film industry along with the regional Kannada and Telugu cinema has captured the beauty and heritage of our city in many of its visuals. The enchanting paintings of Ajantaand the many hidden stories from Jataka have enamored artists and scholars from all parts of the world. The cave temples of Ellora express historicity of Buddhist, Hinduism and Jainism and through the enigmatic Kailash-Ellora temples, and the passage way caves of Ghatotkacha, Bhokardhan continue to connect us with the rich heritage of our nation and region. The Dakshina Kashi-Pratishthan ‘Paithan’ town with its royal Satvahana legacy and Bhakti traditions on the banks of river Godavari, kept the art-literature and lovers of aesthetics engaged in these parts of Aurangabad.
In the alleys of Verul village one could relive the ancestral past of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and their legacy accrued through Maratha Sardar, Peshwa and Devi Ahilyabai Holkar in the havelis, shrines and the Ghrishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple.
The hardest ever fort to be slained remains one of the gem of Maharashtrathe historic ‘Devgiri’ or ‘Daulatabad’ fort, which enshrines in it histories and mysteries of more than thousand years. Daulatabad remains even today matter of interest for global and national art makers and travelers.
The mystical Khuldabad located on the stunning landscape between Ellora and Khuldabad houses meditating Sufi shrines which continue to remain abode of more than fourteen hundred Sufi saints of about sixteen Sufi silsila. The mysticism of Sufism has engaged scholars and pilgrims from all parts of the world and annually these spiritual hermitages congregate urs (spiritual fair) in respect to their saints and humble shrine of Aurangzeb. In the neighboring village of Suli-Bhanjan we have the pilgrimage centers of Lord Dattatreya on a hill overlooking Devgiri fort. Within the town of Khuldabad is the beautiful memory of a lovestory of one king and his queen; ‘Bani Begum ka Bagh’ a perfect combination of Rajputana and Deccani architecture, this monument silently speaks about glory of its times. In and around these Khuldabad-Aurangabad periphery are the hill resorts of Asafjahiera and the meandering rivers of Dudhna, Waghor and Girija which nurture in them the forests and lush green valleys of Gautala sanctuary safeguarded by the historic Betalwadi and Antur forts, which is the perfect combination of heritage, history and nature makes one spellbound. Last but not the least the living diurnal Maratha-Nizamshahi and Mughal heritage are in the Aurangabad city that have been alluring the travelers, merchants, and touristic explorer since ages. The city which in its large umbrella protects and nurtures the exemplary monuments of Ajanta, Ellora, Khuldabad, Daulatabad, Paithan, within its fortified walls encompasses the Bibi-ka-Maqbara and often less explored yet one of the contemporaries of Ellora the Aurangabad Caves. The Aurangabad hills from ‘Gogababa temple’ to ‘Aurangabad caves’speak volumes about the historic journey of Aurangabad city, the city which evolved as a trading town of ‘Rajtadag’ to become heritage junction of Deccan-Maharashtra in twenty-first century. City heritage in its memory owns the Kham River passing through its heartland and nurturing its many gardens, palaces, Sarai, Khanqahand adorned bridges flanking through Mahmud Gate, Barapulla Gate, Makai Gate, Palaces of Qila-I-Ark, Soneri Mahal, Naukhanda palace, Gulshan Mahal, Himayat Bagh and many of the lost gardens and havelis in Sarafa Bazar, Shahgunj, Begumpura and so on.The living legacy and heritage of Aurangabad has histories of more than two thousand years which seek more sharing and caring, which unfortunately suffers and often sighs with destruction of and demolition of many of its monuments. The present affairs of monuments could best be stated in the Ghazal (lyric) of our very own poet Bashar Nawaz:
bāzār-e-zindagī meiñ jame kaise apnā rang,
haiñ mushtarī ke taur na byopārīyoñ ke Dhañg
muddat se phir rahā huuñ ḳhud apnī talāsh meiñ
har lamha lad rahā huuñ khud apne khilāf jañg
ik naam lauh-e-zehn se mittā nahīñ hai kyuuñ
kyuuñ ākhir is pe vaqt chadhātā nahīñ hai rañg
‘In the market of life, how will I sustain my zest,
Neither I am like a buyer, nor like a seller;
Since time immemorial I am searching within,
And fighting against my own self;
Why one name cant to be wiped from thoughts of my iron will,
Why the changes of time are not coloring my mind’