Golkonda Fort – The travel from ‘Golla konda’ to ‘Golkonda’ is the story of the Qutub Shahi dynasty, the story of Taramati, the famous Kohinoor, Ramadasu, Abul Tanishah and the un-conquerable fort. As a part of project work for my daughter, we have visited this Fort. Golconda Fort is located in the western part of Hyderabad City and is about 5-6 kms from the Hitech city. There are a lot of local buses, auto rickshaws that can take you to the Fort. On the way to the Golkonda you will pass through at least two huge Darwazaas (Huge doors). The First one is the outer most door that has guarded Golkonda. The Second one is the middle wall that surrounded Golkonda. There are a lot of remains of old forts that lay covered by the modern houses. There were few ponds that are no longer used. For a distance we can see the fort as the fort is on a small hill. As you near the fort you will be awe struck with the majesty of the Fort. As it was a working day, there was hardly any crowd. As soon as we get down near the entrance you will be surrounded by the people who shown themselves as the government appointed Guides. They will be charging you between Rs1000 – 600. The entrance to the fort is only Rs.10 for Indian nationals. As we are visiting the fort for the first time and my daughter wanted details of the fort for the project we had to hire the guide. For the first time visitors I would recommend guided tour.
The legend has it that a shepherd boy who was grazing his cattle’s on the hill has found an idol in the area. This was reported to the Kakatiya rulers who were ruling this area at that time. A mud fort was build on the granite rock where the idol was found. Later the fort was fortified and to this day we can see the pictures of Lions, peacocks, griffins, lotuses on the way to the Balahisar which depicted Kakatiya’s style of architecture. In AD 1363 the fort came under the rule of Bahamani Sultanate and the fort became capital of a major province of the Sultanate. When Quli Qutub shah declared his independence from Bahamani rule the Golkonda fort became a seat of power for the Qutub shahi dynasty who ruled from A.D 1518 – 1687. During their rule the Fort was strengthened, palaces, mosques built inside the fort and Golkonda Fort reached the Pinnacle of its glory.
The entrance to the fort is cleverly covered with a curtain wall. We cannot see the entrance of the fort from outside. We have to walk through the narrow lane to reach the entrance. The curtain wall is to shield the main entrance from the enemy and also to prevent elephants break opening the door. On the Main door we can see sharp metal balls and on the top of the door is a small opening. If the enemy tried to break open the door, then the soldiers from inside the palace used to pour hot oil from the small opening. The huge entrance itself is a breath taking with its tall wooden doors and beautiful carvings on the door. This is is called Fateh Darwaza meaning Victory gate, after Aurangzeb’s army marched successfully through these gate. After crossing the main door there is one more door and then we are into the Balahisar. Balahisar is a Persian word which means ‘the head’. Here we can see a metal canon that was presented to the Nawabs by the Queen Victoria of England. One more interesting thing at this place is the advanced echo system. If a person stands below the dome at centre and claps, the sound travels all the way to the Darbar Hall. This is the signal system developed to alert the soldiers guarding inside the palace. On the right side we can see a small building with huge columns. This is said to be the place where the dead bodies of the Nawabs and their queens were given a ceremonial bath and then taken to the nearby mosque to conduct prayer. Later through another entrance the dead body is taken to present Qutub shahi tombs and the body is buried. It is said that the dead bodies of the Nawabs were not carried through the main entrance. Of late many underground passages were discovered during excavations, which were connecting the Golkonda fort with the Qutub shahi tombs, Charminar. These passages were used to carry the dead bodies.
Towards the right of this place is the ‘Akkanna Madanna’s Office’ or secretariat and towards the left is the ‘Nagina Bagh’. We moved towards the Secretariat. This is a long building with arches and wide columns of pillars. All the visitors who have come to meet the Nawab have to under go, a security check. Only then they are allowed to meet the Nawab in Darbar Hall. All the official records are kept on the shelves at this place. There are few iron rods protruding on the walls. These are used to hang curtains and to separate the rooms. Few iron holdings are used to hold the Fire torches. I wished if we could have caught hold of few records, we would have known the record keeping system at that time. After coming out from this place we went to see the ‘Nagina Bagh’. This place is between Secretariat and Balahisar. Currently a small garden was developed here. But during the time of the Nawabs this place was a market place, where people used to sell diamonds, gems and other precious stones in this open place. The word ‘Nagina’ means gems or pearls in Persian language. The place has attracted traders from as far as Persia, Italy. Marco Polo, the Italian traveller is one of the famous foreigners who have visited this place. Before the entrance to the Nagina bagh there is a heavy metal weight. Any person who want to be a soldier in the Nawab’s army has to lift this and show their strength. In those days people from far off places like Africa and Nepal used to come to join as soldiers in the Nawab’s army. Even today in the Hyderabad city there is a place called A.C.Guards. This is the place where African Cavalry used to reside hence the name African Cavalry Guards (A.C.guards). Three of us tried to lift this weight but were not able to move an inch. Just have to imagine how much strength the soldiers used to have.
There are three separate routes, designed to reach Darbar hall, located on the top of the hill. The first route is the soldier’s route. This is the shortest way to reach the Darbar hall. It is a steep climb from Balahisar to the Darbar hall. The second route is for dignitaries who have come to meet the Nawab. This route is next to the secretariat. The last route is the common man route. This is the longest route and one has to climb 255 steps to reach the top of the hill. This route starts from the Nagina bagh. We took this route and have started walking. After walking for 5 mins we reached a huge tank or a well. This is one of the water storage that was used to supply water to the fort. The water to this tank is supplied from the nearby lakes. Then using the Persian wheels the water is pumped into the earthen pipes. These earthen pipes carried water to the other two water tanks located further high. We slowly started climbing the steps. We were huffing and puffing. The weather was good and it was cloudy, but we still had problem climbing the steps. We stopped climbing for a while and looked back. It was an awesome sight. We were able to see the three walls that protected the Golkonda fort, the huge Hyderabad city. The guide has informed us that the outermost wall is about 12 kms from the Fort. The second one is 7 kms away from the Fort and the last one is surrounding the fort. We again started climbing the steps. By this time we have started sweating. We have crossed the second tank and then reached Ramadasu jail. Ramadasu is the famous telugu poet and is a great devotee of Sri Rama. Ramadasu original name was Kancherla Gopanna. He was a tasildar (tax collector) of Badrachalam region. Once he wanted to construct a temple to Sri Rama and used all the money collected through tax to construct the temple. On hearing this the Nawab of Golkonda Tanishah became very upset and has ordered Gopanna to be kept in prison till the tax money was repaid. This is the jail where he was kept. (Gopanna was later called as Ramadasu, because of his devotion to the Lord Rama). This jail is a quite a big room, with steps reaching the top. Ramadasu has carved the idols of Rama on one of the wall. There is a small opening on the top of the roof. This opening was used by the soldiers to hand over the food to Ramadasu. It is hard to believe that Ramadasu has spent 12 years at this place suffering but singing beautiful songs on Lord Sri Rama. Next to this place is Annaz Khana or Amber khana. This is a storage room for the food items. Just besides this, there is a huge rock and a small burj built on it. This is called Mehtha Burj. Just a little further there is a small mosque built by Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah. The four minars in the mosques are of Persian style and are said to be inspiration for the Charminar. Then again we walked up through the mud road and narrow steps. We reached Mahan kali temple. This temple was said to be built during Kakatiyas period. During ‘Bhonnalu’, a famous festival in Telangana, hundreds of devotees come here to offer Bhonum (cooked rice with jiggery) to the goddess. It is good to see Hindu temples and Mosque’s located side by side peacefully inside the fort.
In front of the temple is a small narrow passage. If we stand here the guide will signal a person standing near Bala Hisar to clap. We can hear the clap, and this is the amazing acoustic that Golkonda is famous for. Beside the temple is the Guard line. The kings guards used to stay here and keep an eye on the visitor’s to the Durbar. The weather here is cool. We sat here for 5 mins and all the tiredness has gone. Just beside the temple is the Durbar hall. It is a two storied building where the Nawab used to hold his Durbar. The Ground level hall is called Diwan-e-aam where the common people can meet the Nawab. The Second floor is the Diwan-e- khas where the nobles, government officials can meet the Nawab. If we climb up few steps we can reach the stage where Nawab used to sit and hold Darbar. This particular place will be very cold and windy. Amazing architecture was used to create this effect. From here we can see one more Durbar hall. This is almost on the pinnacle of the rock. Then we walked down through the narrow stair case. This route is used by the Nawab and other royal people to come to Darbar. The step are very narrow. Beside these steps must be a lake. Now we can see only the open land with few broken structures. As we walk down we reach the Queens Quarter’s. They are almost in ruins. We can only see the beautiful decorations on the walls. They look like small shelves, but not sure what they are used for. There is a small water Basin’s on the floor. Opposite to the Queens rooms is a building for the Queen’s body guards. Further down there is a small water tank. We can still see the earthen pipe lines intact that supply water to this tank. Here the animals are made to drink the water first and checked for any poisoning. Later the water is supplied to the Queens room. We walked further and reached an open place with a stage. (Inside Queens Palace – Golkonda Fort, Hyderabad) Here the royal family used to watch any recreational programs. Currently this is where the famous ‘Light and Sound’ show takes place. If we move further we see the guest rooms. The speciality of the room is that from any corner even if we whisper we can clearly hear it on the other side of the room. We went to a corner and rubbed our cloth slowly with the hand, the people standing on the other side of the wall were able to hear the noise in the opposite room. This is a system to keep watch on the Royal guests and hear their conversations. Above this place is a Kitchen and also Nawabs Audience room. If any prisoner or accused want to plea mercy then they are brought here. The Nawab will listen to their plea and decides where to grant mercy or not. Here also we can hear beautiful acoustics. In the process of the audience, if the accused try to remove knife / any weapon from his clothes the sound is echoed and alerted the soldiers. So much of a precaution. On to one side from here we can see the provision to heat a big pot of hot water and the hot water is supplied through the pipes throughout the palace. As we walk towards the opening of this place, there are a lot of cave like openings and are inhabited by bats and it is very stinky. Moving little further we came to the open place. In front of us is Ashlah Khana where all the weapons are stored. On the right side of us is the Taramati Palace. This palace is also a majestic structure with a huge doorways, arches and rooms inside. We can imagine chariot’s, Palanquin waiting for the queens, and beautiful queens with flowly silk robes, shinning jewellery with gold, gems and diamonds getting into palanquin. Surprisingly this palace is almost intact. There is a corridor or a varandah, then a passage that opens into a main hall and there are small rooms surrounding this hall. In between rooms there are steps to climb up. If we climb up we can see the beautiful ruined Fort all around. It is very quiet and Queens must had a very peaceful time sitting here. We spent some time here checking the rooms and imagining what these rooms might be, what would have been the life style of the queens living here. Their joys, their sorrows, worries. Sadly we do not have any record of these. It is very cool and peaceful inside.
After sometime we started walking towards the Ashlah Khana (armoury building). This is a three storied building for storing ammunition. The building is currently locked and Government is planning to turn this building into a museum. We can see old long guns, iron balls, metal weapons like swords, spears lying around. And then finally wondering the fate of this fort we came out. On the way back there are two display tables where you can see things found inside the fort. Broken vases, small metal and mud articles, coins e.t.c. This fort with massive three line of fortification walls, and a moat covering the outer wall fell not to the strength, but to the treacherously of a soldier who has opened the door to let the enemies come in and capture the fort. Aurangzeb the Mughal ruler lay siege for 9 months, but was not able to enter the fort. They could not breach the strong walls of the fort. Sarandaz khan, one of the commander of Tanishah, was blinded by the greed of governorship and has opened the door for the enemy to come in. Though Abul Hasan Tani shah soldiers fought bravely they could not stop the enemy. The battle took place in the current Nagina Bagh.
Thus the great fort was captured and the Nawab was taken as a prisoner to Bijapur. Recollecting the details of the Golconda we came back home.