The simple resting place of the last strong Mughal Emperor - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Friday, April 03, 2020

The simple resting place of the last strong Mughal Emperor

Aurangzeb's unmarked tomb at Khuldabad

He was the last of the strong Mughal Emperors who ruled over almost the entire Indian subcontinent for a period of 49 years. He was an accomplished military leader who has also been described as the most controversial ruler in Indian history. He was given the title of Alamgir or conqueror of the world. And the world knows him by his popular name ‘Aurangzeb’, which translates to ‘Ornament of the Throne’ in Persian. But, in spite of his titles, regal status and rich legacy, his final resting place is a simple and unmarked one.

Dargah of Sheikh Zainuddin, Khuldabad

Why is Aurangzeb’s tomb a simple one when his predecessors had grand mausoleums built; some of which are large monuments of Mughal architecture? Be it Babur’s tomb in Babur garden, Afghanistan,  Humayun’s tomb in Delhi, Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra, Jehangir’s tomb at Shahdara Bagh, Pakistan or Shah Jahan’s tomb at Taj Mahal in Agra along with his wife Mumtaz Mahal, all of them symbolize the magnificence and architecture of Mughal architecture. While all of Aurangzeb’s forefathers had grand resting places, Aurangzeb chose a bare minimum one and even opted to pay for it from his own pocket. Why did he chose to do that?

Is it because he did not care for any artistic or creative expression? I believe he changed at the final stages of his life, something similar to how King Ashoka changed after the battle of Kalinga and how he embraced Buddhism after that. May be, Aurangzeb too was tired of all the wars, bloodshed, conquering and materialistic life. May be, he found his spiritual calling after believing in the teachings of Sheikh Zainuddin, a sufi saint, who was also his spiritual and religious teacher. May be, that was why he wanted to be buried near the dargah of his spiritual guru in Khuldabad.

A moment from the dargah of Sheikh Zainuddin, Khuldabad

The initial grave was just a simple platform made of red stone, but Lord Curzon later covered the site with marble and jaali work. The tomb is open to the sky and is located in the south eastern corner of the dargah. The tomb is definitely a simple one, but the dargah has its own charm. Be it the smell of incense, the smile on the faces of the people here, the peaceful ambience or the colorful shops selling books, incense and flowers, the dargah of Sheikh Zainuddin is a lovely place to visit. It is the kind of place that treats to the simple joys of life and tells you that it is never too late to understand that. The mighty Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb understood that here. May be, you too can find your true calling here.

Flower and incense shop in front of Dargah of Sheikh Zainuddin, Khuldabad

How to reach there:

The nearest airport would be Aurangabad international airport. Connectivity might not be the best at this point in time, but it at least has a few daily flights to most destinations. The airport is just about 12 kms from the city. An autorickshaw, a taxi or an uber can take you to the city in less than 30 minutes.

From Aurangabad, one can either opt for a taxi, a local bus or autorickshaw to go to Khuldabad, which is 28 kms away.

The nearest railway station is Aurangabad railway station and it has decent connectivity with most parts of the country, though you might have change at least once if you are traveling from far away.

Khuldabad is well connected by road with most of India. The ghat roads can get blocked during the monsoons owing to landslides or floods, but otherwise, they are open all year around.

Offering prayers inside the dargah of Sheikh Zainuddin, Khuldabad

Where to stay:

The best stay option would be Aurangabad city, about 28 kms away. One can opt from homestays, guest houses, Airbnbs, budget hotels to luxury hotels here.

Book store opposite Aurangzeb's tomb at Khuldabad

Where to eat:

While you can get a basic bite with tea and coffee at Khuldabad, better restaurants are available in front of Ellora Caves, just about 5 kilometers away.

For something fancier, head to Aurangabad city about 28 kms away.

Rose petals just outside Dargah of Sheikh Zainuddin, Khuldabad

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) The heritage gem called Ellora Caves

2) Daulatabad Fort, one of the strongest forts of India

3) Bibi Ka Maqbara, a Taj Mahal lookalike

4) Panchakki, a medieval era water mill

5) The 2200 year old rock cave wonder called Ajanta Caves

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