The fort, initially believed to have been built in the 11th century, changed hands multiple times over the years.
The Golconda Fort overlooking Hyderabad’s boulder-strewn (now not so much) landscape was originally a small mud fort believed to have been built in the 11th century by the Kakatiya rulers of Warangal. About 300 years later, the region briefly became a part the Delhi Sultanate. But soon, a commander named Alauddin Hassan Bahman Shah declared independence from the Sultanate, and founded the Bahmani kingdom that ruled much of the Deccan. About two centuries later, Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk, a Bahmani general, broke away and founded the Qutb Shahi Sultanate of Golconda. Most of what we see today of the fort, was built by the rulers of this dynasty.
The hill fort has three lines of fortification. The outermost surrounds what was the city of Golconda, and has eight entrance gates or darwazas. The part inside the second line is called the Bala Hisar. It is entered through an ornate gate followed by a porch, called the ‘clapping portico’ because a clap of the hands here can be heard all the way up in the innermost and highest point in the citadel. Most of the palaces are at the base of the hill. There’s a separate zenana or wing for the royal ladies. The palaces have decorative elements like water bodies and arched stucco niches on the walls. One of them, an open one whose roof is long gone, is believed to have been the grandest, and is now the venue for sound and light shows every evening. The complex also has audience halls where the Sultan could hear the grievances of his people.
(Solid granite defends the Golconda Fort)
On the way from the base to the top of the fort, one passes beautiful structures added during the reigns of various Sultans, like a beautiful armoury, a sarai or resting place for travellers, barracks for soldiers, offices for ministers, water reservoirs, small mosques etc.
(View of the ruins of the palace complex from above)
Most people ascending the fort stop to catch their breath, as well as the spectacular view, outside a prison called the Ramdas Bandikhana, where Bhakta Ramdas, the 17th century composer was imprisoned for 12 years. The ardent devotee of Lord Ram was sent to jail for using money collected as land revenues to build the famous Bhadrachalam temple. Legend has it that one night, two young men believed to be Lord Ram and his brother Lakshman visited the Sultan and returned the money. Ramdas was immediately freed, and the Sultan started the practice of sending gifts to the temple on Ram Navami every year.
(Steps leading to the granary)
The third line of fortification protects the innermost part of the fort. It roughly begins after an ambarkhana or granary. A little above the granary is a simple but stunning mosque named after Sultan Ibrahim Qutb Shah, the third ruler of the kingdom. Its minarets, perforated screens, arcaded balconies and stucco decorations exemplify the architecture from the Qutb Shahi era. The Mahakali temple is further up, and is where Bonalu celebrations in the city begin each year.
(Ruins of various structures)
The topmost structure in the fort is the Bala Hisar Baradari, commanding breathtaking views of the city. It is believed that it was used as a durbar hall.
(The Bala Hisar Baradari)
Towards the end of the 17th century, the Mughal army led by Aurangzeb laid siege to Golconda. The fortress was impregnable and had enough supplies to last a long time, but after eight months, a traitor opened one of the gates in the middle of the night, and let the Mughal forces in. The last Sultan Tana Shah was taken away in the morning, and imprisoned in the Daulatabad Fort. With that, Qutb Shahi rule in Golconda came to a sad end. Tana Shah was held captive for 13 long years, after which he died alone, far away from his family.
(The Bala Hisar Baradari towering over the other structures)
(The Bala Hisar Baradari towering over the other structures)
"Golconda" redirects here. For other uses, see Golconda (disambiguation).
Golkonda, also known as Golconda, Gol konda ("Round shaped hill"), or Golla konda, (Shepherds Hill) is a citadel and fort in Southern India and was the capital of the medieval sultanate of the Qutb Shahi dynasty (c.1518–1687), is situated 11 km (6.8 mi) west of Hyderabad. It is also a tehsil of Hyderabad district, Telangana, India. The region is known for the mines that have produced some of the world's most famous gems, including the Koh-i-Noor, the Hope Diamond, Nassak Diamond and the Noor-ul-Ain.
Golkonda was originally known as Mankal. Golkonda Fort was first built by the Kakatiya dynasty as part of their western defenses along the lines of the Kondapalli Fort. The city and the fortress were built on a granite hill that is 120 meters (390 ft) high, surrounded by massive battlements. The fort was rebuilt and strengthened by Rani Rudrama Devi and her successor Prataparudra. Later, the fort came under the control of the Musunuri Nayaks, who defeated the Tughlaqi army occupying Warangal. It was ceded by the Musunuri Kapaya Naidu to the Bahmani Sultanate as part of a treaty in 1364.
Under the Bahmani Sultanate, Golkonda slowly rose to prominence. Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk (r. 1487–1543), sent as a governor of Telangana, established it as the seat of his government around 1501. Bahmani rule gradually weakened during this period, and Sultan Quli formally became independent in 1538, establishing the Qutb Shahi dynasty based in Golkonda. Over a period of 62 years, the mud fort was expanded by the first three Qutb Shahi sultans into the present structure, a massive fortification of granite extending around 5 km (3.1 mi) in circumference. It remained the capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty until 1590 when the capital was shifted to Hyderabad. The Qutb Shahis expanded the fort, whose 7 km (4.3 mi) outer wall enclosed the city.
The fort finally fell into ruin in 1687, after an eight year long siege leading to its fall at the hands of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
The Golkonda Fort used to have a vault where once the famous Koh-i-Noor and Hope diamonds were stored along with other diamonds.
Golkonda is renowned for the diamonds found on the south-east at Kollur Mine near Kollur, Guntur district, Paritala and Atkur in Krishna district and cut in the city during the Kakatiya reign. At that time, India had the only known diamond mines in the world. Golkonda's mines yielded many diamonds. Golkonda was the market city of the diamond trade, and gems sold there came from a number of mines. The fortress-city within the walls was famous for diamond trade. However, Europeans believed that diamonds were found only in the fabled Golkonda mines. Magnificent diamonds were taken from the mines in the region surrounding Golkonda, including the Daria-i-Noor or "Sea of Light", at 185 carats (37.0 g), the largest and finest diamond of the crown jewels of Iran.
Its name has taken a generic meaning and has come to be associated with great wealth. Gemologists use this classification to denote a diamond with a complete (or almost-complete) lack of nitrogen; "Golconda" material is also referred to as "2A".
Many famed diamonds are believed to have been excavated from the mines of Golkonda, such as:
By the 1880s, "Golkonda" was being used generically by English speakers to refer to any particularly rich mine, and later to any source of great wealth.
During the Renaissance and the early modern eras, the name "Golkonda" acquired a legendary aura and became synonymous for vast wealth. The mines brought riches to the Qutb Shahis of Hyderabad State, who ruled Golkonda up to 1687, then to the Nizam of Hyderabad, who ruled after the independence from the Mughal Empire in 1724 until 1948, when the Indian integration of Hyderabad occurred.
The Golkonda fort is listed as an archaeological treasure on the official "List of Monuments" prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India under The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. Golkonda actually consists of four distinct forts with a 10 km (6.2 mi) long outer wall with 87 semicircular bastions (some still mounted with cannons), eight gateways, and four drawbridges, with a number of royal apartments and halls, temples, mosques, magazines, stables, etc. inside. The lowest of these is the outermost enclosure into which we enter by the "Fateh Darwaza" (Victory gate, so called after Aurangzeb’s triumphant army marched in through this gate) studded with giant iron spikes (to prevent elephants from battering them down) near the south-eastern corner. An acoustic effect can be experienced at Fateh Darwazaan, characteristic of the engineering marvels at Golkonda. A hand clap at a certain point below the dome at the entrance reverberates and can be heard clearly at the 'Bala Hisar' pavilion, the highest point almost a kilometer away. This worked as a warning note to the Royals in case of an attack.
The whole of the Golkonda Fort complex and its surrounding spreads across 11 km (6.8 mi) of total area and discovering its every nook is an arduous task. A visit to the fort reveals the architectural beauty in many of the pavilions, gates, entrances, and domes. Divided into four district forts, the architectural valour still gleams in each of the apartments, halls, temples, mosques, and even stables. The graceful gardens of the fort may have lost their fragrance, for which they were known 400 years ago, yet a walk in these former gardens should be in your schedule when exploring the past glories of Golkonda Fort.
Bala Hissar Gate is the main entrance to the fort located on the eastern side. It has a pointed arch bordered by rows of scroll work. The spandrels have yalis and decorated roundels. The area above the door has peacocks with ornate tails flanking an ornamental arched niche. The granite block lintel below has sculpted yalis flanking a disc. The design of peacocks and lions is typical of Hindu architecture and underlies this fort's Hindu origins.
Toli Masjid, situated at Karwan, about 2 km (1.2 mi) from the Golkonda fort, was built in 1671 by Mir Musa Khan Mahaldar, royal architect of Abdullah Qutb Shah. The facade consists of five arches, each with lotus medallions in the spandrels. The central arch is slightly wider and more ornate. The mosque inside is divided into two halls, a transverse outer hall and an inner hall entered through triple arches.
Much thought went into building this gate. A few feet in front of the gate is a large wall. This prevented elephants and soldiers (during enemy attacks) from having a proper ramp to run and break the gate.
The fort of Golkonda is known for its magical acoustic system. The highest point of the fort is the "Bala Hissar", which is located a kilometer away. The palaces, factories, water supply system and the famous "Rahban" cannon, within the fort are some of the major attractions.
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 (0.62 mi) north of the outer wall of Golkonda. They are encircled by beautiful gardens and numerous exquisitely carved stones. It is also believed that there was a secret tunnel to Charminar.
The two individual pavilions on the outer side of Golkonda are also major attractions of the fort. It is built on a point which is quite rocky. The "Kala Mandir" is also located in the fort. It can be seen from the king's durbar (king's court) which was on top of the Golkonda Fort.
The other buildings found inside the fort are :
- Habshi Kamans (Abyssian arches), Ashlah Khana, Taramati mosque, Ramadas Bandikhana, Camel stable, private chambers (kilwat), Mortuary bath, Nagina bagh, Ramasasa's kotha, Durbar hall, Ambar khana etc.
This majestic structure has beautiful palaces and an ingenious water supply system. Sadly, the unique architecture of the fort is now losing its charm.
The ventilation of the fort is absolutely fabulous having exotic designs. They were so intricately designed that cool breeze could reach the interiors of the fort, providing a respite from the heat of summer.
The Huge gates of the fort are decorated with large pointed iron spikes. These spikes prevented elephants from damaging the fort. The fort of Golkonda is encircled by an 11 km (6.8 mi) outer wall. This was built in order to fortify the fort.
Golconda Ruling Dynasties
Several dynasties ruled golconda over years.
Naya Qila (New Fort)
Naya Qila is an extension of Golkonda Fort. The ramparts of the new fort start after the residential area with many towers and the Hatiyan ka Jhad "Elephant-sized tree" - an ancient baobab tree with an enormous girth. It also includes a war mosque. The local government plans to convert the area into a golf club.
Qutub Shahi Tombs
The tombs of the Qutub Shahi sultans lie about one kilometer north of Golkonda's outer wall. These structures are made of beautifully carved stonework, and surrounded by landscaped gardens. They are open to public and receive many visitors.
. Its one of the famous sight seeing places in Hyderabad.
UNESCO World Heritage
The Golconda fort, and other Qutb Shahi dynasty Monuments of Hyderabad (the Charminar, and the Qutb Shahi Tombs) were submitted by the Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO in 2010 for consideration as World Heritage Sites. They are currently included on India's "tentative list".
In popular culture
- Russell Conwell's book Acres of Diamonds tells a story of the discovery of the Golkonda mines.
- René Magritte's painting Golconda was named after the city.
- John Keats' early poem "On receiving a curious Shell" opens with the lines: "Hast thou from the caves of Golkonda, a gem / pure as the ice-drop that froze on the mountain?"
- Referenced in the classical Russian ballet, La Bayadère
- Anthony Doerr's novel All the Light We Cannot See references the Golconda Mines as the discovery place of the "Sea of Flames" diamond
Other places with the same name
- A city in Illinois, United States is named after Golconda.
- A city in Nevada, United States is named after Golconda.
- A village located in the southern part of Trinidad had given the name in the 19th century to a rich tract of land which was once a sugar-cane estate. Currently, mostly descendants of East Indian indentured servants occupy the village of Golconda.
- ^Saqi Mustaid Khan, Ma'asir-i-Alamgiri, Translated by Jadunath Sarkar, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta; 1947, p. 183
- ^Prasad, History of the Andhras 1988, p. 172.
- ^Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. p. 118. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
- ^Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 178.
- ^Bradnock, Roma. Footprint India. p. 1035. ISBN 978-1-906098-05-6.
- ^"Alphabetical List of Monuments - Andhra Pradesh". Archaeological Survey of India. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014.
- ^Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "The Qutb Shahi Monuments of Hyderabad Golconda Fort, Qutb Shahi Tombs, Charminar - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". whc.unesco.org.
- ^"6. On receiving a curious Shell. Keats, John. 1884. The Poetical Works of John Keats". Bartleby.com. Retrieved 2013-05-01.