I visited the Indian city of Hyderabad a couple of months ago. It was my first trip to a city I had heard so much about. A city steeped in history, drenched in heritage and oozing culture at every turn. It was a friend’s wedding that finally took me to Hyderabad, but despite the limited time and packed schedule, I was determined to explore as much of it as I possibly could.
There’s no dearth of things to see and do in Hyderabad, and in a previous post I wrote about all the history and heritage I could immerse myself in during my visit. The line of rulers known as the Nizams of Hyderabad left an indelible mark on the city’s legacy, and were instrumental in spreading Hyderabad’s renown as a patron of the arts, culture, and tradition. But a significant portion of the city’s architectural wonders owe their existence to the Qutub Shahi Dynasty, the ruling family of the ancient kingdom of Golconda.
The Golconda Fort is an ancient fort located 11 kilometers west from the city of Hyderabad, built as far back as 945 CE-970 CE by the ancient Kakatiya Dynasty. Legend has it that when the king heard that a young shepherd boy had found a religious idol on a hill, he decided to build a mud fort on the site, and hence the name – Golla Konda, meaning “shepherd’s hill” in Telugu.
The fort was captured by the founder of the Qutub Shahi dynasty, Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk, and declared Capital. It took 62 years for them to expand the original mud fort into the massive granite and stone structure that must have been a force to reckon with in its prime.
The kingdom of Golconda thrived under its impregnable stature. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth sultan, might have stablished the city of Hyderabad and moved the capital of his kingdom to it, but the Fort of Golconda has gone down in history as the pinnacle of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty.
Also the center of a flourishing diamond trade, many famed diamonds are believed to have been excavated from the mines of Golconda, including the ill-fated Hope Diamond and the stunning Koh-i-noor that now adorns the British Crown Jewels.
It wasn’t long before stories of the wealth and splendor piqued the interests of the Mughal Empire, it was then one of the richest cities in the region after all. After a number of unsuccessful sieges, Golconda finally fell to Aurangzeb’s army in 1687. The last Qutub Shahi ruler was captured and imprisoned, the thriving gems and diamond trade languished, and the city fell to ruins.
It’s hard to imagine what this citadel of strength, this impregnable fortress must have looked like in its glory days; all but reduced to giant piles of stone today. Vestiges of the genius still remain; marvelous acoustics incorporated into the design – a guard’s clap from a signaling point in the entrance courtyard is discernible at the fort’s highest point nearly a kilometer and countless stairs away, a warning in the face of an impending attack; architectural brilliance and craftsmanship is evident in the ingenuous water supply system; the beauty in symmetry and the attention to detail can be sought out in the pavilions, walls, gates, and gardens that remain; and the painstaking care taken to protect the rulers from calamity are brilliant – a secret underground tunnel from the King’s durbar (court) is believed to lead straight to the Charminar to facilitate the monarch’s escape.
Good to know: I’d recommend taking a Guide from the main gate, there’s a lack of any proper signage or printed material, so it’s really the only way to learn all these tidbits and nuances of historical significance. They charge a nominal fee, different for Indian Nationals and Foreigners, and really make the visit quite convenient.
The Golconda Fort hosts a Sound and Light Show every evening; and while I would have loved to stay for it, there was a wedding I had to rush to. But if you have time to spare, give it a go; I’ve heard good things.
So, where are you off to today?
I’m linking this post up to the #SundayTraveler & #WeekendWanderlust blog link-ups, co-hosted by some awesome bloggers.
This entry has been shortlisted for Holidify’s Travelogue Writing Contest in association with Linger. The content and pictures may not be used without prior permission of the author.
Submitted by: Upasna Verma
The original post can be found here.