Sunday, January 4, 2015

Incredible India - Golconda Fort

As part of Incredible India series, this post is for Golconda Fort located in Hyderabad, India
Ref. wikipediaGolconda, also known as Golkonda or Golla konda ("shepherd's hill"), a ruined fort of Southern India and capital of medieval Golconda Sultanate (c.1518–1687). The Golconda fort was first built by Kakatiya as part of their western defenses. There is also a legend that a shepherd boy found an idol on the rocky hill called 'Mangalavaram'. This news reached the Kakatiya king, who was then ruling Golconda and ordered the construction of a mud fort around the holy spot. Later, the fort was expanded by the Qutub Shahi kings into a huge structure made of granite and it was built in 945 CE-970 CE on the lines of the Kondapalli fort. The city and fortress are built on a granite hill that is 120 meters (400 ft) high and is surrounded by massive crenelated ramparts. The fort was rebuilt and strengthened by Pratapa Rudra of Kakatiya dynasty.The fort was further strengthened by Musunuri Nayaks who overthrew the Tughlak army occupying Warangal. The fort was ceded by the Musunuri chief, Kapaya Nayaka to the Bahmanis as part of the treaty in 1364 AD. The fort became the capital of a major province in the Sultanate and after its collapse, the capital of the Qutb Shahi kings. The fort finally fell into ruins after a siege and its fall to Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in 1687 AD. Many famed diamonds are believed to have been excavated from the mines of Golkonda including Kohinoor 

Its worth taking a licensed guide to know interesting historical facts about the fort and click photos of significant history within the fort. There are more than 700 steps for climbing to the top but good % of historical significance can be experienced in the ground level itself. Fort is in ruins but still has wealth of historical stories to tell. It takes approximately 3 hours to cover the fort and depends upon how many snaps you would like to click. 

It is believed that there is a secret underground tunnel that leads from the "Durbar Hall" and ends in one of the palaces at the foot of the hill. The fort also contains the tombs of the Qutub Shahi kings. These tombs have Islamic architecture and are located about 1 km north of the outer wall of Golkonda. They are encircled by beautiful gardens and numerous exquisitely carved stones. Also there exists a tunnel connecting Charminar and Golconda, which was supposed to serve during wartimes as a source escape and according to our guide, it was also a route the King used to take his secret trip to witness the dance of a hindu dancer

Early in his reign, Quli became enamoured of a beautiful Hindu dancing girl named Bhagmati, to whom he assigned 1,000 cavalry as an escort. As time passed Golconda became very unhealthy through over-population, and in 1591 the king built a magnificent city a few miles away, which he named Bhagnagar to commemorate his favourite mistrress. 

On right side picture, 250 kg (551 pounds) weight can be seen, which was supposed to be lifted by candidates for qualifying the test of joining the army. Test was since the army men were supposed to carry equivalent weight to the top of fort during its construction. Daily diet of the men used to be consuming 2 Kgs of Rice and 1 kg of mutton at a time. 
Fort is also a testimonial to the cultural and religious diversity of India where a temple and mosque co exist. In the above picture, couple of girls in traditional dresses and beautiful ornaments are seen going for the religious rituals to perform in the temple climbing to the top, carrying the pots with fire on top. Amazing....
In the backdrop of fort, one can see development of modern Hyderabad & experience old meeting the new
Below are some of the artifacts that were uncovered from that era while digging through ruins. 

Second picture below shows where all the diamonds were embedded. On the right most picture below is the bedroom of one of the kings, which is now in ruins but what is still evident is the luxury royals experienced. Hole on the top dome was kept for sunshine to fall in so that royal couple would know when its day break without anyone disturbing them about the time.

Click here for text of complete guide of Golconda 

As part of Incredible India series, I had earlier shared a blog post on Incredible India - Karnataka Road Trip and a post on Incredible India - Qutub Minar.