As we drove towards the gate, the fort walls whetted our appetite for what was enclosed within. I was recently in Hyderabad along with a class mate from school, to meet (guess what!) another couple of my school friends. I was meeting them after many years and as such was inhabiting the mind space of an excited school girl, irreverent of the fact that each of us have adult children of our own… combine this with my all-time favourite thing to do – going to a fort… this was a surefire trigger for an accelerated heart-beat. That the fort was The Golconda fort, did not make it any easier. Having been there, an easy claim for me to make now is that the fort is a world of amazement for all travellers, fort-buff or not.
As we approached the fort, almost on cue, Dr. Kalpana Muralidharan, my friend and academician – political science (note: non-historian) exclaimed… Gorgeous! and ran inside, leaving me at the entrance looking at the cannon and the funnily clapping guides (you will figure later in the article why). I could see that she had started clicking away as soon as we stepped inside. I have included some of the magnificence that was captured by her as well, besides mine, on our humble but handy phone cameras.
Fort way – within town!
The fort is just about 10 – 11 km from the city of Hyderabad. A crowded road leads us inside. Quite different from the far and out of town ones in Aurangabad, Gwalior, Jaipur. Much like the Bangalore fort which is within the city. Golconda fort is a hill-fort and citadel (a fortress that commands a city and is used by the inhabitants of the fort for defending during attack or siege).
We made our way to the fort after spending some hours in the morning at the Salar Jung museum and then driving past the beautiful but much crowded area of Charminar. However, as a note to self (and to most of you if you have an additional day for site seeing – I would strongly recommend spending one entire day at the fort as it is well worth it. The fort closes at 5.00pm and then as one wanders around the lower areas enjoying the sun setting on the ramparts, the anticipation of the sound and light show begins. With the fading sunlight, the crowds gather around the ruins of the Rani Mahal section of the fort. The alcoves and niches as they light up, envelope the tourist in their mystery and beauty. The place has a seating of around 250 and is reasonably well managed. I am told that during weekends it gets over crowded.
The stories of bazaar that sold diamonds…king who was a poet and in love…this rendezvous with the Quli Qutb Shahi dynasty in the baritone of Amitabh Bachchan is a treat. The songs in the voices of Jagjit Singh and Kavita Krishnamurthy resonating around you under the night skies, surrounded by the ruins, transports even the scientist in me (and as I figured, the political scientist too) into a once upon a time 100s of years ago land.
There are shows in English, Hindi and also in Telugu. For timings and tickets, you can check the link here:
Fort history – bite size
Golkonda/Golconda word originates from Gol (round shaped) Konda (hill) or perhaps Golla (shepherd’s) Konda (hill). It is a citadel and fort in Telangana, most known for having produced the most famous diamonds of the likes of Koh-i-Noor, the Hope Diamond and the Nassak Diamond. Built by the Kakatiya dynasty, the hilltop fort is surrounded by massive battlements.
It was during the period of the Bahamani Sultanate, under Sultan Quli Qutub-ul-Mulk that Golkonda rose to prominence. Over the years, as the Bahamani rule weakened and Sultan Quli became independent, the Qutb Shahi dynasty made its base in Golconda. For the next several decades, the mud fort was expanded. Fortification of granite was created and this remained the capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty until 1590, till the capital was shifted to Hyderabad. Golconda fort became a citadel over the years as it’s 7 kms of outer wall enclosed the city. We walked around the fort for about 2 hours before the sound and light show, but that was hardly enough. As I mentioned earlier, this place deserves an entire day!
Fort facts – enjoy!
- Golconda fort is listed as an archaeological treasure in the ASI’s (Archaeological Society of India’s) official list of monuments.
- The fort has 4 forts within its outer wall with 87 semicircular bastions, some still mounted with cannons, 8 gateways and 4 drawbridges.
- There are royal apartments, temples, mosques, stables etc. within the fort.
- The “Fateh Darwaza” (victory gate) is studded with iron spikes to keep elephants from head butting and battering the gates open. The name comes from when Aurangzeb’s triumphant army marched through it.
- The pointed arch at the gate is bordered by rows of scroll work and the spandrels have yalis and decorated roundels. ( motif of a mythical creature seen in Hindu temples, sculpted into pillars. It is a part lion, part elephant and part horse. Very widely used in south Indian sculpture, I have seen them in the Krishna temple in Hampi, in the Lepakshi temple in Anantpur and in the Bhoganandishvara temple in Chikkaballapur).
- The area above the door has peacocks with elaborately decorated tails – the design of peacocks and lions are a superb blend of Hindu-Muslim architecture.
- The palaces, factories, water supply system are worth wandering into and wondering about.
- The tombs of the Qutb Shahi kings, in Islamic architecture are encircled by beautiful gardens and carved stones.
- The Baradari at the top of the citadel is a great view point and looks gorgeous when lit up during the light and sound show.
- My fact – it is a great place to hang out with your class mate!
Fort -y tales – more coming up
As you enter the fort through the “Fateh Darwaza”, you will find many tourists (and their guides) clapping. While it looks funny at first, one soon realised that they are checking out an architectural feat. A hand clap at a certain point below the dome can be clearly heard at the ‘Bala Hisar’ pavilion! That is the highest point of the fort and almost a km away. A clever design for sending a warning note to the royals in case of intrusion.
It is also believed that there’s a secret underground tunnel from the fort that begins at the Durbar hall and ends somewhere at the foot of the hill. And there’s supposed to be another tunnel that led to the Charminar.
A self-proclaimed fort-buff, (check my post on Tipu’s birth place and Devanahalli fort – https://niveditamukerjee.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/tipus-birth-place-and-the-devanahalli-fort/), I look forward to continue to sharing more on forts and castles that I have been to. Share your favourite ones with me as a reply to this post, would love to add them to my list of places to go and/or write about.