The Golkonda fort, situated in west Hyderabad, stands as a reminiscence of the rich Qutub Shahi dynasty and is the birth place for the famous Kohinoor diamond. We left unplanned from home at about 1 p.m. We hired a cab from home to drop us a the fort; it took almost an hour and a half to reach.
After a series of arches, we reached the gates of the fort. At this place, we bought the entry tickets for the fort and a few guides of Andhra Tourism flocked us asking if we need a guide to show us around. We were told that it is better to hire a guide after entering the fort than on the outside; it costs far lesser to hire a guide once you enter the fort. After entering the walls of the fort, we hired a guide after bargaining for Rs. 300 , up and down.
The Golkonda fort has seven walls, and is built and developed over a span of 62 years, under the Kakatiyas and the Qutub Sahi kings. The fort shined in glory till the Mughal emperor, Aurangazeb conquered the Qutub Shahi kingdom and destroyed most of the fort in 1687. The fort was built in a top-down approach starting with the king’s throne and then surrounding it with various buildings.
The first gate of the fort is the Balahissar gate, it has beautifully carved peacocks at the top, with blue stones and tiles. The way to the gate is curved and narrow, to make it difficult for the opponent’s army elephants to attack the fort through the passage. Also, it slows down the movement of mechanical devices which can be used to break down gates.
The Golkonda fort is popular for its water supply and acoustic systems. The signalling system to transfer messages in the form of claps from the gates to the top of the fort, is embedded within the construction of the fort walls and arches. The various buildings and edifices of the fort are constructed in such a way that the sound is reflected from the entrance to reach the top of the hill. This is used by the army to indicate invasion by other armies or any other important messages to the king so as to plan safety. This brilliant acoustic system can be tested by clapping from the center of the entrance portal. Just past the main gate, on the right, you can see numerous small arches, this place held the soldier barracks. There are projections in the corners of each arch so as to hold curtains that separated the place into rooms. On the left, there is the Silah Khana(the armoury). Beside the barracks, there’s Nagina Bagh, a garden where diamonds used to be displayed and sold in the open. The garden also as upto 10 arches for holding swings, where the royal women used to enjoy their evenings.
After Nagina Bagh, there’s the water tank. There are 4 water tanks all together to supply water within the fort, all of which get their water from a lake nearby, popularly called the Durgamma Cheruvu, through pipes and manual hand pumps. You can also get a sight of broken pipes embedded in the walls, near the tank, if you observe closely. As we climbed up the hill, we could catch a good view of the Hyderabad city, the Charminar can be seen from the fort.
Next, we came to the place where Bhaktha Ramadas was imprisoned by the Qutub Shahi Sultan. There are two holes at the top, one for light and one for food. As the story goes, Ramadas was a devotee of the Indian Hindu God, Rama. He was appointed as a revenue collector by Akkanna, his uncle, who worked in the court of the Qutub Shahi Sultan, Abul Hassan Tana Shah. When he visited Bhadrachalam, he was unhappy about the dilapidated state of Lord Rama‘s temple there and so, decided to raise money to reconstruct it. However, even after emptying his own pockets and collecting money from some others, he couldn’t raise enough for the reconstruction. So, the villagers asked him to spend the revenue collections on the temple and promised to repay the money after harvesting the crops. Ramadas did so. When the Qutub Shahi Sultan came to know about this, he wasn’t happy and imprisoned Ramadas till he repays the money. It is said that Ramadas composed and sang songs praising Lord Rama even in the prison. The story continues saying that, to free Ramadas from the grief, Lord Rama appeared in front of the Qutub Shahi Sultan in the form of Ramoji and Laxmoji, disguised as servants of Ramadas and repaid the money to the Sultan, asking to free Ramadas.
Next, there was a building meant for food storage. Then, there was Ibrahim Mosque, which has three arches with the central being larger than the flaking smaller ones. After the Mosque, there’s the Kali temple, probably built by the Kakatiyas. Opposite to the temple, the guide showed us a point from where we could hear the claps from the entrance of the fort. Then, we settled down there, a little ahead of the mosque for sometime and enjoyed the refreshments of one of the small ice cream shops, just a few steps below the top-most point. The highest point of the fort is the throne of the king. In the ground floor, towards a corner, there is a gated narrow arched passage through which cool air gushes throughout the day, we were told that its the natural ‘air conditioner’ that was used to keep the palace cool. On the first floor, you can see two other structures a little far away, which look like stages. It is told that the court dancers,Taramathi and Premamathi used to perform on those structures, and the king enjoyed the performances from his throne! Also, in the corner of this palace, there is a secret underground pathway that leads to the Gosha Mahal and is said to be 8km long. This passage is, however, blocked now, for the safety of tourists.
As we started walking down hill, we came across the ruins of the buildings where the queens lived a luxurious lifestyle, and also the Darbar of the king where he used to address and solve bourgeois problems. The king’s position in the Durbar is in such a way that if a commoner tried to through a knife at him, it will never hit him. The acoustics also plays a role here – stand in the Durbar and strike on your shirt, you can hear an echo. This is another way used to communicate through acoustics. So, ever wondered if the king and the queen eavesdropped into other conversations of the workers? Yes! Just before the Durbar, the buildings are designed in such a way that if anybody even whispered near the walls on the ground floor, the queen could comfortably hear the conversation by placing her ear against the wall in her room on the first floor!
We also came across the Zanaana mosque which was meant for the queens and a common room for all the queens with a fountain in the center. A diamond used to be kept on one side of the hall and a light is lit behind the diamond, the refractive property of diamond is used for lighting the place. At this same place, a light show takes place in some specific timings, at night in different languages. If you are interested, you can buy tickets and catch up with the light show. At last, we came across the Taramathi mosque and the guest house in ruins back at the beginning of the fort. The Golkonda fort is one of my favorite historic monuments with its beautiful architecture, gardens, pools and has its own fascinating story to tell. If you are ever in Hyderabad and you are someone that likes history or stories of lifestyle and architecture, you should definitely consider visiting this awesome place!
- Tourist Attractions in Hyderabad (googleswiki.wordpress.com)