Any tour of Hyderabad is not complete without a visit to the Golconda Fort. It is on every travel operators’ itinerary along with other attractions like the Charminar, Salar Jung Museum, Hussain Sagar and Ramoji Film city. An amazing fact that the world-famous Koh-i-Noor, Noor-ul-Ain, Nassak and Hope Diamonds were found in diamond mines very near this fort.
Golconda Fort is located some 11 km from the city of Hyderabad. At one point in time; it was just a shepherd’s hill – Golla means shepherd and Konda means hill. Built as a mud fort by Kakityas, it eventually became the capital of the Qutub Shahi rulers between the years 1518 – 1687.
Golconda was a mighty fortress in its prime days. The highly fortified fort withstood many attempts at capturing but finally fell in the hands of the enemy only due to treachery.
Now it lies in ruins telling its story of glory to the numerous visitors who visit it.
Golconda was built by Kakatiyas in 1143 to defend their Kondapalli fort and was called Mankal. Rudrama Devi and Pratparudra added more improvements to the fort. It then fell in the hands of Bahami rulers who sent their governor Quli Qutub Ul Mulk as governor to Telangana. When the Bahami dynasty declined, the Qutub Shahis declared independence and expanded the mud fort into a massive fortified granite structure.
During their reign, the fort was bustling with people – royals, soldiers, tradesman and common men. It is said that gems and precious stones were traded like ordinary merchandise inside and near the fort.
Later the Qutub Shahis shifted their capital to Hyderabad. The fort finally fell to Aurangzeb in the year 1687, who destroyed its glory and left it in ruins.
This fort is listed as an “Archeological Treasure” in the List of Monuments prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India. The ruins enclose not one but 4 separate forts inside a 10 km outer wall. It is built in an area of 11 km at a height of 480 ft with 87 semicircular bastions and 4 drawbridges.
There are as many as 8 gateways with iron spikes to keep away battering elephants. The 25ft high and 13ft wide lowest gateway was named Fateh Darwaja after Aurangazeb stormed inside this indomitable fortress. The Eastern Gate is called Bala Hissar Gate and is decorated with beautiful Yalis, ornate peacocks and many Hindu Architectural features. Banjara Darwaza, Mecca Darwaza and Moti Darwaza are other prominent gateways to this medieval period bastion of the Qutub Shahi rulers.
Inside the Golconda Fort, there were numerous royal apartments, gardens, temples, mosques, granary, armory, fountain heads, baths, stables, and halls. Ibrahim mosque, Hira Mosque, Taramathi mosque Jami Masjid and Zannana mosque and a temple were some places of worship. Some of the royal apartments included Rani Mahal, Dad Mahal and Rangeena Mahal. Now only a few walls and some architectural features remain as evidence to mark the spot they were in.
The only surviving armory element is the Rahban cannon.
There were some engineering marvels incorporated to the architecture in Golconda fort, partly visible even today…
- A hand clap under the dome near the entrance can be heard at Bala Hissar the topmost point of Golconda, some 1km away. It worked as a warning for Royals on the upper level of the fort to prepare for ensuing contingency.
- At particular places, your whispers into one wall can be heard on the opposite wall.
- Water supply systems consisting of a spider web of aqueducts is another marvel of engineering of those times. Water from Durgam Tank nearly 5kms away, reached all higher levels of the Golconda fort including the baths of the royals and the fountains in the gardens through systems that could surprise even the present day architects.
- Ventilation and cooling systems were top class and the Royals never felt the heat even during the harsh Deccan Plateau summer months.
If these few facts have piqued your curiosity, note that there are more facts and stories waiting to be discovered on your visit there.
It is a good idea to employ a registered guide who can take you around all the important places in the fort. He may also add a few tidbits and intriguing legends of hidden tunnels and romantic fables that will make your day!
P.s: Do not miss the Light and Sound show at 6.00 pm. if you are on a short visit and have only a few hours to spare for sight-seeing.