In fact the history of this region begins with the Satavahana dynasty. Their rule witnessed the era of peace and prosperity and hence the district of Aurangabad, then centered around Pratishthan the capital of the Satvahanas for centuries together, became the hub of socio-cultural activities of the Deccan. The Satvahanas gave incentive to trade and commerce and monopolised the Greco-Roman markets as far as textile goods were concerned. These include Paithani, the high-class silken sarees of Paithan. Besides textiles, they established hegemony in the trade of spice, ivory etc. out of which they accrued huge profits which is evident in the material remains of their period. There kingdom lay scattered all over Western India including Maharashtra as they were the lords of the territory between the Narmada River and the Kaveri River.
In the intervening years the region began to flourish as it was situated on the caravan routes introduced by the Satvahanas ages ago. The capital Prastishan was linked with the above routes, along with ports and harbours on the one hand and land-emporia like Sarsvati, Pataliputra, Avanti, Takshila etc on the other. During the early centuries of the Christian era, the commercial regions were in the hands of the Buddhist community. Therefore, due to their stronghold here, a large number of Buddhist caves were excavated along these trade routes. Later on Jain and Brahmanical caves were also excavated along with the Buddhist caves. The caves have served a very important purpose down the ages in the maintenance of historical records. Not only did they provide residence to the roaming ascetics during the rainy season, but they also promoted the cause of their faith. They served as educational centres devoted to the cause of cultural synthesis. The caves are mainly of two types-Chaityas i.e. prayer halls and Viharas i.e. residential units. They are known to have been functioning till the end of 13th century A.D.
The district further prospered under the rule of the Yadavas of Devagiri. The set up their capital at Devagiri and also established a huge fort here which is still a popular tourist destination. The fall of this dynasty was unexpected and untimely. The invasion of Ala-ud-din Khilji changed the face of the Deccan. Following this, the district was exposed to a long succession of Muslim rulers. Prominent among them were the Tughlaqs, the Nizams of Ahmednagar, the rulers of the Mughal dynasty and the Nizams of Hyderabad. Muhammad bin Tughluq tried to shift his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. For this purpose, he tried to improve the infrastructure of Daulatabad. However he changed his decision due to some geographical constraints and the fate of Daulatabad was sealed forever. Malik-Ambar also tried to defend the old hamlet of Aurangabad against the mighty Mughal rule but his enterprise proved unsuccessful. In the last phase of the 18th century Aurangzeb tried to develop Aurangabad along the lines of Delhi, and even perfected the defence apparatus in and around Aurangabad. After his demise Chinkiliza khan, the Nizam became the next ruler of this territory. He made the city of Aurangabad his first capital. However, he migrated from Aurangabad to Hyderabad after a few decades.
The district of Aurangabad, since the earliest times, has played a vital role in shaping the history and culture of the region. It was the centre of intense socio-political activities, the seat of learning as well as of religious movements. During its long and undeterred course of history it has contributed in the fields of art, architecture, sculpture, paintings, dress and ornaments, food dishes and language etc. Centres like Paithan, Devagiri, Aurangabad, Ajanta caves and Ellora caves attracted large number of saints, poets, literary figures and artisans from all over the country. Hence, it remained a meeting place of different life-styles, including faith, and it still retains its ancient and medieval charms.
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