If you are travelling anytime to Hyderabad on a holiday, make sure to visit the Golconda Fort. The imposing fort, which was once the declared capital of the city, is about nearly 11 km of travel from Hyderabad city. It is steeped in history that talks of the innumerable conquests, defeats and also of the splendor, sparkle and opulence of a bygone era. You can even find traces of many age-old customs, the impressive architecture and of fantastic scientific inventions that ruled the roost nearly 400 years back.
Golconda or Golla Konda meaning the Shepard’s hill in Telegu, was at first built as a mud fort in the 10th century by the Kakatiya king, who ruled the area then. According to popular legend, a shepherd boy discovered an idol of goddess Durga while he was grazing his flock of sheep on top of the hillock. The shepherd reported the siting to the Kakatiya ruler, who then constructed the mud fort around the hill in order to protect the idol. It is also believed that the fort was constructed as part of the defense mechanism of the Kakatiya king. The following centuries had their share of different dynasty rulers, who battled hard for their laborious wins and the fort was a mute witness to most of these battles. The Golconda city was also one of the main market centers for diamond trade. During the early 16th century, the Bahmani Sultanate ruler proclaimed the fort as the capital of his state. However, in 1518, Quli Qutab Shah, declared his win over the Golconda region and made the city his capital. In the next decades, the successive Qutab Shahi rulers- nearly three generations of them, reconstructed the mud fort to the impressive granite fort we see today, even though much of it is in ruins. As per the history chronicles, the Mughal emperor Aurengzeb, had to battle hard for nearly nine months to lay siege on the fort in 1687.
The architectural marvel of the fort is hard to describe, majorly because the massive structure is interlaced with many intelligent inventions of the different builders who contributed to the making of Golconda Fort. The fort is constructed on a granite hill at a height of about 120m, (nearly 400ft) and is enclosed by thick stone walls- the stones of which are believed to weigh tons. You enter the fort through the Bal-Hissar Gate, situated on the eastern side of the fort. The gateways are fixed with iron spikes to ward off wild elephants and enemy attacks. As you enter the arched doorway, you are in for the most incredible acoustic wonder.Try clapping your hands at a certain marked point here and you can be clearly heard at a distance of 1 km at the ‘BalaHisar’ Pavilion. This acoustic wonder was invented as a part of military intelligence and it is still an unsolved mystery as to how the sound system works. The old adage that the “Walls have ears”, probably was concocted here, as your faintest whispers at one end of the wall or room can be clearly heard at the other corner. To the right of the entrance, you have a small tunnel of miniatures alcoves, which were used as small baths to bathe and dress dead royals. The structure was built like the ancient Persian and Turkish baths. There were regular supplies of hot and cold water for this. The uninterrupted water supply at all times of the year was another engineering wonder.
As you trek up the hillock you are in for more architectural marvels like the Ramdas Jail, Taramati mosque, the Durbar Hall, the Ambar Khana, the lush gardens called the Nagina Bagh and the Baradari on top of the hill. A Baradari is a long pavilion with 12 open doors to allow free air circulation. The building has three doorways on each side of the square shaped structure. The majestic fort is an eclectic mix of palaces, drawbridges, durbars, mosques and temples. According to the local folklore, the Queen’s chamber at the fort was not fitted with any mirrors but instead there was a fairly large water pit for her to look, so that she does not get any dark spots on her skin. Much of the fort is in ruins but still there are many distinct traces of the magnificence of an era that is unknown to us.
The Fort timings are from 9 am to 5.30 pm every day. Do not miss the Light and Sound Show every evening at 6.30 pm to learn more about the history of the Fort. Visit this link to learn more about the timings for the show in different Indian languages.