Panchakki – The Water Wheel, Aurangabad

Aurangabad is not just about carved caves and fascinating forts or towering temples and silencing sepulchers. Here you will find one of the rare engineering marvels of medieval India: Panchakki – the water wheel. It is situated right in the heart of the city and will take just an hour to tour the complex.

As we entered we were surrounded by a group of guides, and the haggling started. Strangely we found they settle for around Rs.200 whether it is for three hours at the Ajanta Caves or four hours at Daulatabad Fort or the half-hour tour at Panchakki. These guides earn maximum during the winters and monsoons when many more tourists visit Aurangabad. During the summers when temperature is around 45degrees, there are days when most guides earn nothing at all. Felt really sorry for the guys there.

Panchakki - The Water Wheel
Panchakki - The Water Wheel EntranceThe young guide who took us around described with pride this little known tourist spot. At the complex there is a huge tank brimming with water and a centuries old fountain at the center functional even now. Underneath this reservoir (pic.), he explained there are spacious rooms which were used by the pilgrims in the earlier days. During summer these cool rooms provided lot of relief to the tired travelers. These rooms are not in use now and are not open for tourists.

 Panchakki MuseumThis complex also houses the tomb of Sufi Saint Baba Shah Jaffar. He was the spiritual advisor to Emperor Aurangazeb. There is a small museum here; rows of arrows, beads used in prayers, other crumbling artifacts and pottery are displayed here. No access to its interiors however. I wish they were properly labeled and displayed.

The Working of Panchakki – The Water Wheel

The waterwheel is below the ground level. We peeped through a grilled space at ground level to have a glimpse of the water wheel. There was no water and the Panchakki wasn’t moving.

Panchakki Wheel bladesPanchakki Grinding Wheel He hurriedly explained during the rainy seasons water flows in turning the waterwheel at great speed. This energy is used to turn the grinding wheel. He then turned Panchakki – The water wheel with his hand, and asked us to check the grinding wheel. It was moving. He seemed happy that he could impress us. The wheel-turning, I suspect, is one of his favorite guide-acts.

Panchakki guide“Three centuries ago huge quantities of grains were ground here. The bread made out of the flour was used for feeding orphans, fakeers (saints), poor people and devotees then.”

“Water reaches this spot through a maze of clay pipes, from a spring in the mountains 8 kilometers away. These days the big industries that have moved in are siphoning off water at the source point. So only during rains the water wheel functions.” He sounded very worried. May be he is worried tourists will stop visiting this spot then. We were touched by the amount of interest he took to explain everything in detail.

Pointing towards the Banyan tree next to the tank he said it is over two hundred years old and suggested that we take some rest in the shade of the tree, “You will be blessed and it will give you lot of peace of mind, Sir.”
Panchakki banyan tree

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26 Responses

  1. backpakker says:

    hi, first timer here..you have an amazing blog..great post ..interesting to know about this..am kicking myself for not going there despite spending so many years in Mumbai
    -lakshmi

  2. Swarna says:

    Indy: This is turning out to be a wonnderful 1st-hand account of Aurangabad. Wish you many more instructive travels, and may you always find time to share those great pics, for armchair and other travellers!

  3. kallu says:

    Interesting post and more, an interesting person.Your interest in so many facets of life is amazing.
    It looks like We can browse through your blog for places of interest when we go somewhere new.
    Nice

  4. Wow…some very nicely captured shots & lovely reading your description about this place…I also like the Tajmahal photos very much on your last post…i think you are doing a wonderful work…Very nice!

  5. btw kalyanda, that pic was of Taj of Deccan. Uncanny resemblance isn’t it?

  6. Helmi says:

    Another informative tour to medievil India, Indrani. Are you, like me, always disspointed with the lack of information at India’s museums and monuments?

    There’s plenty of room for improvement for India’s Tourism Industry, I believe…

  7. Everybody is waiting for some kind of aid or other.Those monuments taken over by UNESCO are looked after well, rest are at the mercy of…

  8. Visited Aurangabad couple of years back while attending a medical conference. Panchakki is very close to Medical college.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. This is an interesting place, very informative!

  10. Looks to be a peaceful place.

  11. Shrikant says:

    I have been here. Interesting place.

  12. Mridula says:

    Any other nation might have kept the rooms open and operational as a source of pride! Happy to hear about the monument from your blog for the first time!

  13. Jyothi D'mello says:

    That Banyan tree is magnificent. Informative post about Panchakki.

  14. Interesting description and it so very goes in my list. Guides have their interest points centered around ancient engineering marvels

  15. Loved every ounce of information you poured out buddy with so much heart 🙂

  16. This looks like a much serene and peaceful place to dwell in :’)

  17. Chaitali says:

    A very beautiful account which keeps one engaged to the last line.

  18. These rare historical places are great to visit… If and when i go to aurangabad, i will definitely check this out… Thanks to you…
    Keep exploriing!

  19. A very informative post 🙂

  20. Yogi Saraswat says:

    He hurriedly explained during the rainy seasons water flows in turning the waterwheel at great speed. This energy is used to turn the grinding wheel. He then turned the water wheel with his hand, and asked us to check the grinding wheel. It was moving. He seemed happy that he could impress us. The wheel-turning, I suspect, is one of his favorite guide-acts. It was a boring thing and tired to run these Panchakki’s but now these are becoming our tourist points , in this modern age . Beautiful post indrani ji

  21. Sims says:

    Thanks for sharing Indrani. Did not hear about this earlier.

  22. amsang says:

    very interesting reading. Liitle bit of science and engineering in ancient India.

  23. Am sure many many years ago the water would also flow fast during the summers. We just seem to have destroyed the water sources now.

  24. Such a great article. This is an amazing engineering marvel that was clearly designed to be quite simple to operate. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Interesting to know that water used to reach Panchakki from a spring 8 kilometers away. That is a long distance! They must have had great construction skills. The rooms for pilgrims look well preserved. It takes half an hour to explore this sight, you say?

  26. Ariane says:

    Medieval India is quite impressive! Never heard of Panchakki – The Water Wheel, Aurangabad… it’s great to read all that information about it!

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