Legend has it that Panchakki, the water mill at Aurangabad, Maharashtra and the library within its premises was founded by Hazrat Baba Shah Musafir, a Sufi saint who came from Bukhara in Russia. It is also popular that the Holy Quran preserved at the library is a gold covered on both its sides.
The water mill dating back to 17th century runs on scientific principle. This medieval Indian architecture was designed with an aim to generate electricity drawn from a nearby spring. In the early 17th century, the Panchakki was used to grind grains for the pilgrims and troops of the garrison without physical effort.
An 18th century library in the premises, comprising of many precious manuscripts treasured around 1, 00,000 literary books related to history, law, Sufism, medicine, religion, and philosophy in Arabic, Urdu and Persian languages until the time of the time of independence. However, in the mid 70s, these literary works were shifted to Hyderabad due to administrative factors. It is disheartening that this rich treasure trove now has shrunk to around 2,500 books only!
The monument has among other structures, a madrasa or school, a mosque, a minister’s house, a court, a sarai or general rest homes and separate rest homes for females. The monument also houses a dargah of Hazrat Baba Shah Musafir, the Sufi saint in the garden near the Mahmood Darwaza or gate. A monumental plaque to the spiritual leader Baba Musafir Shah and a tomb to his disciple Baba Shah Mahmood, in whose memory the Mahmood Darwaza is named after, a few other graves of important persons of that great era are laid out with reverence.
A huge banyan tree which seems eternally to be fresh with life completes the picture providing shade and the required ambience to the monument. An underground stream which begins from a nearby well above the junction Harsul River with a tributary stream some eight kms away is the source of continuous water supply to the mill. The water-pipe proceeds to the Panchakki reservoir is made to drop into the cistern from a height to generate necessary electricity power and also turn the large grinding stones of the flour mill. The excess water is made to flow into the nearby Kham River. Scientifically the cistern or huge tank lies in front of the mosque whose bottom forms the roof of a hall. The cool chambers of the hall are ornamented with fountains which were used by pilgrims during hot summer season. A panoramic view of the Kham River from the hall is beautiful. The elongated reservoir and the fountains in the Panchakki water-mill site were added to the monumental structure twenty years later by Jamil Baig Khan.
Panchakki which is located in the city of Aurangabad houses the headquarters of the Wakf Board of Maharashtra. Anytime is good time to visit this monument but October to March is ideal time as weather is pleasant during these months.