The Origin of Golkonda Fort Hyderabad
There are many interesting legends and stories associated with the Golkonda Fort in Hyderabad. The first one of these relates to its very foundation. As per legends, a shepherd boy once came across an idol of God while roaming around a rocky hill called Mangalvaram. The news of the discovery of idol reached the then ruling Kakatiya ruler who decided to build a fort at the spot. The fort‘s name Golkonda, meaning ‘shepherd’s hill’ refers to this legend.
Expansion & Decline
The fort later came under the Bahmani and Qutub Shahi dynasties. Under them, the fort took shape and expanded to become a huge & prominent structure. It was only after its capture by Aurangzeb did Golkonda saw its decline. Aurangzeb laid siege to the fort for 8 months, and it was only after a betrayal of a soldier of Golkonda that he succeeded in storming the fort. The gate that his army passed through to enter the fort is known as Fateh Darwaza. Much of the fort, today, is in ruins; however, there are a lot of sections that stay intact.
The Fantastic Architecture & Engineering
Golconda Fort is a wonderful amalgamation of brilliant architecture and engineering. There are three rampart walls for protection, 87 towers on these ramparts and eight gateways for entrance.
The main Gate – Bala Hissar Gate – is not just huge, but also decorated beautifully. There are peacocks and lions carved in the upper section. The gate has iron spikes to keep the invading army’s elephants in check. Plus there is also a hole on the top from where hot oil was poured down to push the attacking enemies behind. The curtain wall outside the gate ensured that the attackers had the least amount of space to cause damage to the entry point.
The Famous Acoustics of Golkonda Fort
The most interesting feature of the Golkonda Fort is the acoustics. The magic of sound fascinates you as soon as you enter the fort. At a specific point, below the dome, a number of people can be seen clapping. This is the clapping portico and a clap by you is heard all the way up to the Bala Hissar pavilion at the very top. This was a way to alert the soldiers at the top in case of any invasion or danger. Clap here, below the dome, to see how the sound echoes. It is not just fun, rather it is fascinating. More of great acoustics can be heard further inside the fort
The Route to Explore the Fort & Some Tips
From the clapping portico, you can either go right or left; however, it is suggested to stick to one route so as to cover the fort entirely in an organized manner. Whichever route you take, there is a lot of walking to be done and stairs to climb, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes, carry water (there are stalls at the base and at the top – not in between). Also, check for favourable weather. Hot weather can actually ruin your experience here. Keep at least 2-3 hours for exploring the fort properly.
Coming back to the route, basically, you take up one route to ascend to the top and the other one to descend down.
The Ascent -Attractions On way to the Top
The route towards the right takes you through the Akkanna and Madanna offices or ministers’ office which was the administrative centre and has a number of arched chambers. It is fascinating to walk in these chambers.
Walking ahead, you come across green lawns. This is the Nagina Bagh which was famous as the diamond market in the past. With its close proximity to Kollur mines, Golkonda was well known for its diamonds. The famous diamonds – Kohinoor, Hope, Darya-e-Noor – all came from Golkonda.
There also reservoirs to be seen en route. Golkonda is also well known for its water supply system.
Climbing up the stairs, the next structure to catch your attention is Ramdas prison. The story here goes that Ramdas, the revenue collector of the king, was imprisoned here for embezzlement of state funds. The prison was earlier used as a granary. During his imprisonment Ramdas, a devout, carved image of Hindu deities in the prison which are still seen. A diya is lighted here before the deity.
The Views From Golkonda Fort
As you climb up not only does the view of the Golkonda fort begins to unfold, rather, the view of the surrounding area begins to get more and more interesting and elaborate. The entire city of Hyderabad appears to be visible. To have a good look around, you can stop at Amber Khana – the royal granary, Jagdamba Mahakali Temple and Ibrahim Mosque. The best view, however, is from Balahissar Baradari or the Durbar hall. From here you can see the fort premises from the top and the city.
The Durbar hall was the place where the king held meetings with his ministers and people. It is believed that there is also a secret tunnel that was supposed to serve as an exit route for the royals in case of an emergency.
If you are tired, Baradari is the place to sit, relax, enjoy the view around and eat/drink something. There is a small stall selling some snacks and drinks.
The Descent – Attractions on the Way Down
From here, the descent starts and you come across the ruins of Rani Mahal, Zenana Dressing hall, Zenana Mosque and Dad Mahal. The last of these is the place where the king, from a balcony above, heard the grievances of nobles as well as common people. The place is another example of the wonderful acoustics of Golkonda Fort. At one place in Rani Mahal, what is spoken in one corner can also be heard in the other corner.
Talking about Ranis, a reference to the story of Bhagmati is absolutely inevitable. A village girl, she once accidentally came across prince Quli Qutub Shah who was the fifth ruler of the Qutub Shahi dynasty. The prince, still in his teens, fell madly in love with the girl, Bhagmati. The two saw each other and once the prince even risked his life to save his lady love. Later the two got married despite some protest and Bhagmati was renamed Hyder Mahal. The city of Hyderabad is named after her.
The story of Bhagmati and Quli Qutub Shah forms an integral part of the Sound and Light show that is held in an open area in the Rani Mahal every evening. Evenings are also the time when Golkonda looks its best – all lit and resplendent. It is a treat to walk through the arched passage when it is illuminated so beautifully.
Walking out, you see Taramati mosque followed by Aslah Khana or the armoury. Here, there is also an iron stone kept which weighs around 240 kg. The story goes that anyone who wished to join the army had to prove his strength by lifting up this iron block. Quiet obviously, only the best passed the test.
Here you come back at the entrance gate from where the journey to explore the Golkonda fort started.