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Why Aurangabad was renamed as Sambhajinagar and role of Arya Samaj in liberation of Hyderabad state

  • Know about history of name Aurangabad, Why it brings back bitter memories and city now named after Sambhaji. Will change create Hindu Muslim tension? Lastly, discrimination faced under Nizam Rule & role of Arya Samaj in liberation of Hyderabad state.

The MVA government in Maharashtra and the Shinde-BJP government thereafter passed resolutions changing the name of Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar. Since then some learned said it will cause Hindu Muslim tensions while others think it should be named after Swami Ramanandteerth who contributed to the liberation of Marathwada from Nizam of Hyderabad’s rule or freedom-fighter Govind Shroff who also contributed to Aurangabad’s development.


Without undermining the contributions of Swamiji or Govindbhai this article presents a different view. First a background on the city Aurangabad.


Current city was founded in 1610 by Malik Ambar, the Siddi general of the Nizamshahi dynasty of Ahmadnagar. It was first named Khadki, later Fatehpur and when Aurangzeb set up his capital in 1653 he changed the name to Aurangabad.  Aurangzeb died at Ahmadnagar in 1707 but his tomb is situated at Khuldabad in Aurangabad district i.e. on the way to Ellora Caves.


Author Saurabh Lohogaonkar writes, “The original name of Aurangabad can be traced as Raj Tatak/Tadag (Royal Lake) from epigraphical records of early India. Considering that Satvahana had Pratishthan (Paithan-55km from Aurangabad) as their capital and Yadavas Devagiri (renamed Daulatabad-20km) a Royal Lake nearby is certainly a possibility.” (The Iconography of the Buddhist Sculptures of Ellora by R S Gupte Pg.17.)


Why is Aurangzeb so disliked that people want the name of a city named after him changed? Here are some reasons.


1. 1666-67 “Various anti-Hindu decrees were launched, like removal of Hindus from many lower administrative posts, banning Shitala Mata worship, destruction of temples in Delhi, banning rituals associated with the Hindus like Darshan, Rajtilak of Hindu kings etc.” 3

2. “1669 Aurangzeb issued orders to his provincial governors to demolish schools and temple of Hindus. 

3. 1669 Aurangzeb pulled down Kashi Vishwanath Mandir. 

4. 1670 Aurangzeb pulled down Keshab Rai temple at Mathura. 

5. 1679 Aurangzeb re-imposed jizya on Hindus. 

6. 1689 Shivaji son Sambaji, under orders of Aurangzeb, put to a painful and cruel death.” 1

7. Even the loyal State of Jaipur was not spared, 67 temples were razed to the ground at Amber. 1 Pg. 235


Aurangzeb changed names of towns to erase their Hindu past for e.g. Raigad became Islamgad, Mathura to Islamabad, Kashi to Muhammadabad. 3 Appendix 8. 


The last important Mughal king is remembered for his fanaticism, destruction of temples and the painful execution of Sambhaji (son of Shivaji).

Govind Temple Vrindavan originally 7 storey & built by Raja Mansingh in 1590. But destroyed by Aurangzeb.

What is the association between the Bhonsle’s and Sambhajinagar?

Author Saurabh says, “The ancestral jagir (fief) of the Bhonsale family was Verul and nearby villages. Ghrushneshwar (Jyotirlinga near Verul now famous for Ellora), Shikhar Shingnapur Mahadev, and Tulja Bhavani are the kuldevata of the Bhonsale family. Maloji Bhonsale, great-grandfather of Chhatrapati Sambhaji renovated the Ghrushneshwar Jyotirlinga temple in 1599AD. (G.S. Sardesai, Marathi Riayasat-141).”

Shivaji statue, somewhere near Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.

Shivaji visited this temple in Chennai in 1677.  

So why is city named after Sambhaji Raje?

Sambhaji Raje lived from 1657 to 1689. He became Chhatrapati in 1680 i.e. post Shivaji’s death.


The name Sambhajinagar is to undo the pain caused by his painful death by Aurangzeb. It also symbolises the huge amount of respect that the people of India and Maharashtra in particular have for the lineage of Chhatrapati. Such pain would not be overcome if the city was named after Swami Ramanand Teerth (who fought for the liberation from Nizam’s rule) or the respected Govindbhai Shroff


Why should name change create Hindu Muslim tension?

Aurangzeb and his ancestors starting with Babur were invaders who had come from outside India. They were not Indians, so why should Indians be concerned about changing the name of a city named after a foreigner?

About Shivaji Maharaj in Tawang. 

Arya Samaj and protests against during Nizam rule

Hyderabad State was ruled by the Nizams (Asif Jahi Dynasty, 1724 to 1948). The Nizam ruled over three linguistic areas that are part of modern day Telangana, Maharashtra (Marathwada) and Karnataka.


The Arya Samaj played a role in the liberation of Marathwada including Hyderabad state.


Smt H Geeta, Associate Prof in B.J.R. Government Degree College, Hyderabad wrote in Role of Arya Samaj in the Liberation of Hyderabad State, “During the reign of VII Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan the last ruler, political awakening and Public Opinion began among the people, this took place mainly because of the activities of Arya Samaj. Several restrictions were imposed on the activities of Arya Samaj like the holding Nagar Kirtans, hoisting Om flags and so on. When Nizam Government offered education only in Urdu Medium attempt were made to start ‘Raastriya’ School. Under the president ship of Pandit Rao Koratkar in 1932 branches of Arya Samaj were established throughout state and education spread through libraries and schools in Marathwada. The students of Intermediate College Aurangabad, under the guidance of G.M.Shroff started The Vande Mataram Movement in 1938 and Shroff resigned as teacher and helped organise it.” 7


Sri Ram Sharma wrote in A History of the Arya Samaj, “The Arya Samaj launched a successful Satyagraha against the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1939 and delivered such a shattering blow to his prestige that he was never able to recover his former status, atleast in the eyes of his subjects.” Pg. 203


Also, a quote from the DAV College Solapur site, “Dayanand Anglo Vedic (DAV) College Trust and Management Society, New Delhi established Damani Bhairuratan Fatehchand Dayanand College of Arts and Science, Solapur on 17th June 1940 in memory of the victory of Satyagraha launched by Arya Samaj against the Nizam of Hyderabad as a part of `Marathwada Mukti Sangram’.”


Not much is known about the discrimination against Hindus during Nizam rule.

Dr Satish K Kapoor, Local Secretary of Dayananda institutions, Solapur (2008 to 2012) and former British Council Scholar says that Arya Samajis were not allowed to perform havan in their homes. They countered repressive policies with courage and conviction, and  brought about a Vedic resurgence through education and social reform.


Dr Gautam Pingle, Dean of Studies & Head, Centre for Telangana Studies, MCR-HRD Institute of Telangana wrote about the land tax in The Formation and History of Telangana: A Collection of Nine Critical Essays, “The Hindu canonical land tax was fixed by Bhishma in his instruction to Yudhishthira in the Mahabharata to take “a sixth part, upon fair calculation, of the yield of the soil as his tribute.” (Ganguli 2003 Volume VIII:156).This was the famous shadbaga and applied over time. Even Akbar’s minister Abul Fazl attested to the continuity of the one-sixth rate: “Throughout the whole extent of Hindustan where at all times so many enlightened monarchs have reigned, one-sixth of the produce was exacted.” (Abul Fazl Allami, 1891:55). The Mohammedan Kings, however, following Islamic law made a distinction between believers and non-believers. The Islamic canonical land tax as per sharia was fixed at 50% for non-Muslims and 10% for Muslims. The British reduced the levels of taxation on rational principles. High tax rates in Muslim-ruled Telangana stunted the growth of its society and economy of the region, as compared to British-ruled Andhra.” 


This name change shall help the people of India overcome bitter memories associated with discriminations faced during Aurangzeb and Nizam’s rule.



1. History and Culture of the Indian People Volume 7.  

2. Why has government renamed Aurangabad

3. Aurangzeb-Whitewashing Tyrant, Distorting Narrative. Pg. 300.


Also read

1. Shivaji’s Karmas matter not caste

2. Afraisaib Khan not the Marathas renamed Aligarh

3. A brief history of the Nizam of Hyderabad  

4. Arya Samaj Movement in the erstwhile Hyderabad State 1938-39

5. Arya Samaj and DAV Movement – Social and Educational Dimensions

6. Border Movement in Hyderabad Karnataka for Liberation and Integration (1947-48). To download PDF click on PDF.

7. Role of Arya Samaj in the liberation of Hyderabad State. To download PDF click on PDF.

8. Aurangzeb: Whitewashing tyrant, distorting narrative


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