A small town in Maharashtra, Devagiri is located approximately 20 kilometres from Aurangabad on the Aurangabad-Ellora Highway. It’s rich and vibrant past makes it an important heritage site for tourists to revel in the marvels of numerous dynasties that ruled here over the ages. In 14th century AD, This city was renovated and heavily fortified by Muhammad-bin-Tuglag, who was the emperor of India during that period. He led an exodus from Delhi to Devagiri, shifting the entire population and means of livelihood, thus establishing his new capitol which he preferred to call Daulatabad. In the present day, Daulatabad or Devagiri is visited by tourists by the thousands to bask in its marvellous infrastructure and sky scraping heights. It is preferable to visit during the winters between the months of October to March. Connectivity to the fort is well established with railway and airline facilities available in Aurangabad. Listed below are places for tourists to visit while in Devagiri.
1. Daulatabad Fort
A highly fortified structure that is nothing short of an architectural wonder, the Daulatabad Fort has been called the Unbeatable Fort. It was built by the Yadava clan and situated on a conical hill 200 metres above the ground level. Large pieces of the hill have been cut away, making it nearly impossible to climb, except by a single narrow path. Thus, this Fort has to be accessed only after braving major hazards, such as crossing a narrow bridge and climbing through the steep mountainside. Wartime relics such as a cave meant to confuse invaders, a hidden hearth, the remains of ancient cannons etc. can be found along the way. Interestingly, the rest of the low-lying city of Devagiri was also highly fortified, surrounded by a wall and three lines of defences, which were meant to protect the Fort from invasion.
2. Ajanta Caves
A short and pleasant drive from Daulatabad lays the famous Ajanta Caves. These are a collection of 30 manmade Buddhist caves, built by the Satavahana Dynasty in the 2nd century BCE and considered one of the marvels that India has contributed to the world of archaeology. These massive caves are covered with beautiful Buddhist carvings that have stood the test of time, as well as carvings from other scriptures like our beloved Jataka tales. In the teaching spirit of the Buddhist religion, the area is surrounded by small monasteries and many speculate that these caves were originally meant for teaching. Besides this, it is also a natural beauty, with its lush green hills and the river flowing below.
3. Ellora Caves
The Ellora Caves are slightly different from Ajanta in that these were originally Jain caves dating back to the Satavahana dynasty but have been added upon by their successors and now house various Hindu and Buddhist caves and temples as well. The Hindu and Buddhist temples are believed to have been built around the 7th century by the Rashtrakuta Dynasty. Like the Ajanta caves, Ellora has been cut into the face of the vertical mountain Charanandri. It houses 17 Hindu caves, 12 Buddhist caves and 5 ancient Jain caves. The Ellora caves are a fascinating venture for any history or mythology enthusiast, as the cave walls are covered with inscriptions telling tales from the scriptures of three different religions. They also tell the tales of conquers and battles of the famous rulers of the surrounding region.
4. Chini Mahal
An old palace within the Fort, one is sure to pass the ruins of the Chini Mahal on their way to the main Fort. The Chini Fort (China Fort) is so named because of the china clay tiles that one finds here. Not only is this Palace famous for its beautiful architecture inspired from Persian and Mughal styles but is also considered a formidable location since it used to be the royal prison. It is here that the last ruler of the Qtub Shahi dynasty of Golconda, Abul Hassan Tana Shah was captured and held by the ruthless Aurangzeb.
5. Chand Minar
Located within the Daulatabad Fort, the Chand Minar is a 64 metre high and 21 metre wide pillar which used to be covered in Persian glazed tiles. It is said that Ala-Ud-Din-Bahmani built this Minar on the occasion of his capture of the Daulatabad Fort in the year 1445.
Devagiri has, somewhere in the history of India, lost its prosperity and status as a flourishing city. However, it has many hidden wonders that are a treat for history buffs, lone travellers or vacationers. One must visit this area so as to go beyond the mundane and discover something new.
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