Aurangabad:Shiv Sena's demand to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar has caused unease in the year-old Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, but historians point out that the city has been called by many other names.
Over the centuries, the city was also known as Raj Tadag, Khadki and Fatehnagar, historian Dr Dulari Qureshi told PTI.
An inscription in the Kanheri caves refers to the city being called Raj Tadag (royal lake), she said.
In the book 'The Iconography of the Buddhist Sculptures of Ellora' author Dr Ramesh Shankar Gupte also mentions that the city was first called Raj Tadag.
That name continued till the 10th century and also finds a mention in the earlier trade routes. The Ujjain-Ter trade route passed through Maheshwar, Burhanpur, Ajanta, Bhokardan, Raj Tadag, Pratishthan (Paithan) and Ter in Osmanabad district.
Italian writer Pia Brancaccio says in the book 'Buddhist Caves at Aurangabad: Transformation in Art and Religion' that in the 10th century, Raj Tadag was famous for finished cotton goods.
Qureshi said the city was known as Khadki when Malik Ambar was a Siddi military leader in the Deccan region 400 years ago. "The name Khadki denotes the rocky terrain of this place," she said.
Historian Rafat Qureshi said, "Another name of present Aurangabad we find is Khujista Buniyad (auspicious foundation) during the period of Aurangzeb but the nomenclature remained for a short time. Aurangzeb renamed the city after himself and it has been known as Aurangabad since 1653," he said.
Former head of the Department of History and Ancient Indian Culture of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University Dr Pushpa Gaikwad said the city's identity cannot be changed by changing its name.
"Aurangabad is famous and people will identify it by this name even after it is renamed. The world knows it by its present name," Gaikwad said.
History teacher Dr Bina Sengar said the city's name can be equally associated with the names of Devgiri/Daultabad and Pratishthan (Paithan).
Shiv Sena MLC Ambadas Danve said Sambhajinagar was the name given by Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who killed Sambhaji Raje is buried near Aurangabad, hence the city should be called Sambhajinagar, he added.
AIMIM MP Imtiaz Jaleel said one cannot wipe off history merely by changing the name of a place. "The government has to spend crores of rupees in renaming the city. Why can't the money be spent on better infrastructure," he added.
BJP MLA Atul Save said, "No Muslim here names his kid as Aurangzeb, then why should we refer to this city by his name?
After Aurangabad Smart City Development Corporation set up Love Aurangabad selfie points in the city recently, an outfit linked to Danve came up with another selfie point called Super Sambhajinagar.
In 1995, Shiv Sena had first demanded that Aurangabad be renamed as Sambhajinagar.
A proposal to that effect was passed in the general body meeting of the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation in June 1995, which was challenged by a Congress corporator in the high court and later in the Supreme Court.
The Congress on Saturday reiterated its opposition to renaming Aurangabad even as its ally Shiv Sena said the name change would happen soon, but the issue would not rock the coalition government in Maharashtra.
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