This was a place which was the abode of Sufi Saints. Also, being the place where almost 1500 of them were buried including the spiritual teachers of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, it is a prominent place with respect to Islamic presence in India. Aurangzeb spent his last days at this place at the dargah of Zar Zari Zar Baksh and Shaikh Burhaniddhin Garib Chishti.
Khuldabad had a well defended fort wall with gateways which stand till date. The tombs of the Sufi saints are found at various places, some small constructions and some plain tombstones.
Just before entering Khuldabad, is the Nagarkhana Gate. This fortified wall was built by Sultan Muzzam Shah, the son of Aurangzeb during 1698-1710 AD. This gate was an auspicious entrance for the emperor and the nobility. On occasions like Id or any celebration of victory, the entry of the Sultan was marked by drum beat called Nagaras from the top of this gate.
It is generally accepted that Aurangzeb was a cruel ruler who imprisoned his father Shah Jahan, killed his brothers Murad and Dara Shukoh and ascended the throne. The other side of him was that he was extremely spiritual and claimed that he had to kill his brother Dara as he was turning towards other religions. During his last days he was at this place sewing caps. Some excerpts from his will (hand-written by himself at the age of 86) are listed below in which he calls himself a shameless creature.
1. Four Rupees and two Annas, out of the price of the caps sewn are to be used for his last rites. Take the remaining money from prince Alijah who is the nearest heir among his sons.
2. Bury Aurangzeb with his head bare and cover the grave stone with nothing but a white cloth. There should not be any processions for his cremation.
3. Help the servants who served Aurangzeb.
As requested in his will, his tomb is kept absolutely simple till to this day. There is no large building and dome like a typical Mohammedan tomb. Although Aurangzeb died in Ahmednagar, he was taken here for his burial. His grave is near the Roza of his spiritual Guru, Sayyad Zainoddin rShirazi. His grave stone does not have any shade and is open to the skies above. His grave is just covered with a white cloth. Lord Curzon, one of the viceroys of British India had the place covered with marble as it is seen today. His tombstone accounts for the various titles he held during his reign. It reads….
-> Abul Muzaffar Muhiu ‘d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir
-> Al-Sultan al-Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram Hazrat Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Bahadur Alamgir-I-Badshah Ghazi
-> Shahanshah-e-Sultanat-ul-Hindiya Wal Mughaliya
In the same complex lie two other humble graves, of Azam Shan (son of Aurangzeb) and his wife.
Along with Aurangzeb this place has also been the solace of two other important personalities, one of them is the first Nizam of Hyderabad, Qamaruddin Khan, Asaf Jah 1. He was awarded the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk by one of Aurangzeb’s sons. He was in fact named after his birth by Aurangzeb himself.
Also lies the tomb of the last Qutub Shahi Sultan, Abu Hassan Tanah Shah. We all know Tana Shah as the creator of Hyderabad, which was named Bhagyanagar and dedicated to his lady love Baghmati. He was imprisoned by Aurangzeb and kept in Daulatabad till his death. He was then buried here in Khuldabad. Today no one can identify his grave by themselves. People take you to the place, only if enquired. It is a pity that rulers of such importance have such modest end.
One of the most important tombs here is the one of Malik Ambar, the Prime Minister of the ruler of Ahmednagar, Nizam Shah and the founder of the city of Aurangabad (called Fathehpur earlier). His tomb is a larger one with grandeur. Malik Ambar was known for his planning for the water system in the entire Aurangabad area which till today stands unique. As a messiah of the people, he always had been acclaimed as one of the greatest administrators of India.
As we leave Khuldabad, we embark on a marvelous journey to a place which is a classic example of mixtures of cultures and traditions and is one of the best examples of the excellence in Indian art and architecture. It is ELLORA.