Far from the Rows, a Piece of Aurangzeb History Unearthed in Maharashtra

Of the renewed line on the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi built by him, in the troubled calm around his spare tomb near Aurangabad, Aurangzeb finds himself at the heart of controversy. However, a piece of history involving the Mughal Emperor is slowly coming to life in Maharashtra.

For six months now, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been excavating a 400-year-old hammam located opposite the “Bibi Ka Maqbara” built by Aurangzeb in Aurangabad.

Bibi ka Maqbara had been built by the sixth Mughal emperor in 1660, in memory of his first wife and chief wife Dilras Banu Begum, as a replica of the Taj Mahal, which had been built by his father Shahjehan, for his wife.

The excavations began after the ASI learned of the existence of such a hammam (public bath), forgotten and buried under land located opposite the Bibi Ka Maqbara for more than half a century.

So far, ASI has discovered a 36×36 meter structure and cleared part of the area. ASI officials said the hammam is located exactly opposite the Bibi Ka Maqbara and could have been used just before entering the monument.

Officials said that during Mughal times, such hammams existed in front of monuments such as tombs or mosques or other places of worship.

ASI officials believe the hammam was covered with earth after the 1960s, when a road was laid between it and the protected monument. Over the years it has been forgotten.

An official, who did not want to be named, said: “It only came to ASI’s attention recently when a person whose father worked with ASI and was a monument attendant met officials.”

He informed them that as a child he used to come to the site to deliver tiffin with his father, and would always see the hammam, and that it was now covered in debris. He also showed the exact location to the UPS personnel.

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“He told us that if you dig the site and remove the soil, you will find a door and an entry point. As a result, we got the approvals and started digging. We did indeed find a doorway and, upon further excavation, the remaining structure.

The manager said the process started over a year ago and they hope to complete it as soon as possible.

ASI Aurangabad Circle Superintendent Milan Kumar Chauley said: “We are currently carrying out scientific (soil) cleaning. Once completed, we will restore the structure, preserve it and open it to the public.

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