About Golconda Fort, Hyderabad along with its history, timings, images & secrets information. Who built Golconda fort? Check Importance of the fort, interiors & diamond connection here.
India is a country whose roots are manifested so deeply in history that it boasts of its significance and reflection even in the present day. The rich heritage and culture of the country have always amazed and attracted everyone around the globe.
In all 30 states and 8 Union Territories that exist in India, one can find a monument, a fort, or an architectural extravaganza that will leave jaws open. In this article we shall discuss one of many such marvels in India, that is standing tall on a hilltop of the state capital of Telangana, Hyderabad… The Golconda Fort.
The Golconda Fort of Hyderabad is considered to be one of India’s most marvelous citadels of ancient times. The fort is the epitome of the magnificent Nawabi style of architecture that speaks volumes about the culture of the Nawabs of the Deccan region during the time this fort was constructed. The name Golconda came from “Gola Konda” which was popularly known by the Telugu people as “Shepherd’s Hill”.
According to Wikipedia, “Golconda Fort, also known as Golkonda, is a fortified citadel and an early capital city of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, located in Hyderabad, Telangana, India. Because of the vicinity of diamond mines, especially Kollur Mine, Golconda flourished as a trade centre of large diamonds, known as the Golconda Diamonds.”
There is one enthralling story regarding the construction of the Golconda Fort according to the legends that, one day, a boy who is a shepherd went to the rocky hills and found an idol called Mangalavaram. The news was soon reported to the then Kakatiya Dynasty king who was in the rule of that region. The king then ordered to construct walls around that holy spot and to make a fort inside those walls.
This is how a mud fort was constructed and the descendants of the king kept on developing the fort following his trend.
The Golconda Fort and Its History
Golconda is a fort which in literal Telugu translation means Shepherds Hill is a burg situated in Hyderabad, the capital city of the Indian state of Telangana. This fortified fort once used to be the capital city of the Qutb Shahis during the medieval period of 1512-1687.
Who built Golconda Fort?
Golconda which was earlier known by the name of Mankal was originally built by the Kakatiya Dynasty, who ruled most of the Deccan region during the period between the 12th and 14th centuries which in present-day comprises of eastern parts of Karnataka, southern parts of Odisha, and the entire states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
It was built as a part of the defense along the outline of the Kondapalli Fort of the Reddi Kingdom. Golconda Fort was built on the top of a hill made of granite that is approximately 125 meters high, surrounded by huge battlement style defensive architecture consisting of a low wall, generally, chest height allowing the launch of projectiles within the defense during a war with intruders.
When was Golconda Fort rebuilt?
The Golconda Fort was then rebuilt to strengthen by Rani Rudrama Devi, who was a monarch of the Kakatiya Dynasty during the period of 1263 to 1289, and her successor Rudradeva II, who was the last ruler of the Kakatiya Dynasty to rule the Deccan region of the south. In later stages, by defeating the Tughlaqi army the Musunuri Nayakas, the warrior kings of the 14th century, took over the Golconda Fort.
Golconda slowly started to rise in its magnitude and prominence when it went under the Bahmani Sultanate. The Sultanate sent their top governor, Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk to Golconda who then established the city. With time, the Bahmani rule gradually fell apart during a course of a brief period and Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk became independent in the year 1538. He then established the Qutb Shahi Dynasty who ruled over the region from 1518 AD to 1687 AD.
History behind construction and structure of the Golconda Fort
For a period that lasted more than 62 years, from the mud fort, how it was initially constructed, the first three sultans of the Qutb Shahis reformed and developed the structure of the Golconda Fort to the structure that it is today.
A mammoth structure of granite constructed in a fortification structure in approximately 5 kilometers of circumference. The city remained the capital of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty until late 1590 which later shifted to the city of Hyderabad. The dynasty expanded the fort in such a way that the 7 kilometers outer wall of the fort enclosed the entire city.
Since there are a lot of diamond mines in the nearby vicinity of the fort, especially Kollur Mine, the city of Golconda flourished as a major diamond trade center in the South India region and thus attracting a lot of outsiders towards it.
The city of Golconda has produced most of the world’s most popular diamonds, including the infamous, Koh-i-Noor which was acquired by the Brits during the British Raj in India, the Blue Hope which is in the United States of America, the pink-colored Daria-i-Noor is in Iran, the White Regent is gracing a museum in France, the Dresden Green is with the Germans, and the Orlov is in the north with Russia.
The diamond Nizam and Jacob are in India but few of the major diamonds like Florentine Yellow, Akbar Shah, and Great Mogul are now lost with no traces.
During those times, the Golconda Fort used to have a massive vault safe where the Koh-i-Noor and the Hope Diamond along with other precious diamonds and costly gems were safely stored. The fort has a vast history of diamonds, let us have a dive right into it.
The reign of the Qutb Shahis at Golconda was over by 1687 which was then run over by the cruel Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, who then intentionally left the beautiful Golconda Fort in ruins.
The Interiors Of Golconda Fort
Golconda Fort has been in the “List of Monuments” as an archaeological masterpiece, prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in accordance with the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act
The Golconda Fort embodies four different forts with a 10 kilometers long outer wall with 87 semicircular fortifications on a few of which cannons are mounted with cannons. It also has eight gateways, and four drawbridges, with an ample amount of royal apartments and royal halls. One can also find temples, mosques, magazines, and horse stables of those ancient times inside the compound of the fort of Golconda Fort.
On the lowest point of the Golconda Fort is the outermost enclosure that consists of the Victory Gate (Fateh Darwaza). This huge entrance is called Fateh Darwaza because the Mughal King, Aurangzeb’s army men marched and entered through this entrance/ gate after tasting victory. This entrance has giant iron spikes installed so that the elephants from the rival camp don’t batter them down.
There is a very interesting fact about the Fateh Darwaza, where an echoing and acoustic effect can be witnessed. It is said that there is a certain point at the Fateh Darwaza and if one stands at that point below a dome-like structure and clap his hands, the clapping sound then reverberates and echoes in such a magnitude that the sound can be heard very clearly at the “Bala Hisar” which a certain spot within the fort that is almost a kilometer away from the Fateh Darwaza.
This technique was used to send warnings of an attack or a possible attack during the time when rulers used to rule over this place and there was always a risk of a possible attack from the intruders and the rival camps. Such was the architectural genius and advancement during that time when there were no radio technologies or walkie-talkies to communicate with each other or to send messages or warnings.
The mindblowing planning of the royal architects of those times is evident from the ventilation of the fort, which is designed in such a way that a fresh cool breeze enters the fort even during a scorching sunny and humid summer of Hyderabad!
The Bala Hisar Gate we spoke about previously from where the sounds from the Fateh Darwaza can be heard is the main entrance of Golconda Fort which is placed on the eastern side of the fort. The entrance has an arch that is pointed and the boundaries are designed by several rows of scrollwork.
The spandrels that are roughly triangular on the entrance of the gateway have been installed with yalis (a mythical statue of a creature found in most temples of South India) and are decorated with roundels. The space available above the door has been decorated with peacocks.
The granite block that is placed below has been sculpted with yalis who are flanking a disk. Interestingly the design of peacocks and lions present in this space is in a typical architectural style found in Hindu culture.
About 2 kilometers from the Golconda Fort, there is a Toli Masjid, situated at Karwan. This Masjid was built by Mir Musa Khan Mahaldar, who is a royal architect in the court of Abdullah Qutb Shah. This façade has five arches and each consists of medallions of lotus placed in the spandrels.
Out of the five arches, the central arch is slightly wider and there are a lot of ornate (small complicated designs) as decoration. There are two divisions inside the Mosque as the hall is divided into two parts, i.e a transverse hall outside and an inner hall that has to be entered through the triple arches.
If rumors are to be believed, there is a classified and confidential tunnel that opens from the Durbar Hall in the Golconda Fort and leads all the way to one of the palaces present at the downhill at the foot. The tombs of all the kings and rulers of the Qutb Shahis are present in the fort of Golconda.
These tombs of these kings and rulers are constructed in an Islamic architectural style. The tombs are located about a kilometer north of the Golconda Fort and are surrounded by a lavish and beautiful garden and several stones that are carved with designs. It is also said that there is another secret tunnel from here all the way to the Charminar.
There are a couple of pavilions placed at the outer section of Golconda Fort built on rocky terrains. There is also one “Kala Mandir” you can locate in the fort. It can easily be seen from the top of the fort where the King’s Durbar is situated on the top of the fort.
Golconda Fort is established on the western side of the city of Hyderabad and is approximately 9.6 kilometers from the famous Hussain Sagar Lake at the center of the city. The outer area of the fort makes a total area of three square kilometers in terms of the area.
Also places like the Royal Nagina Gardens, the barracks of the bodyguards, and also the water tanks which are 12 meters deep each, which once was an integral and important part of the Golconda Fort’s water system is also worth watching as it boasts of history and the lifestyle of people who lived during that era.
The main attraction and the glory of this fort are its Durbar Hall which overlooks the cities of Secunderabad and Hyderabad, which is also known as the twin cities. Although climbing all the way up there can be a tiring process and if you gather all your guts and accomplish the climb, you will be rewarded with this breathtaking view of the twin cities below and also if you are lucky enough, you can see the famous Charminar as well on a clear day when there are no clouds.
In recent times, the Golconda Fort has got a new attraction for the tourists and visitors where there is a light and sound show that brings the legend of Golconda to its justified life.
With an interplay that involves both audio and visual effects, the atmosphere and vibes of the place are something else where the saga of Golconda and Golconda Fort unfolds slowly over the centuries of historical facts and the stories of the lives and deaths that the walls of the fort are witness to. This infotainment show is presented to the audience on alternate days of the week, in both English and Telugu languages. The Golconda Fort amidst all current-day Hyderabad modern city still stands tall.
Golconda’s Diamond Connection
The city of Golconda is very popular for the quality of diamonds found in the Kollur Mine, situated in the southeast region of the fort near Kollur of Guntur district. Atkur and Paritala of the Krishna district are also quite popular for the diamonds they produced during the Kakatiya rule in the Deccan region of South India.
During that time, the only known diamond mines across the globe were known to be in India, and probably why the country attracted so many intruders from different parts of the world. Golconda was known to be the biggest market city of diamonds and precious stones and gems that came out from different mines in the region, making the walled city of Golconda a major trade center for diamonds.
The name Golconda, over the years, and centuries has taken a very generic meaning and has been associated with having huge wealth. More often than not, Gemologists across the world use classification to assess the quality of diamond with an overall lack of nitrogen and call it Golconda. The Golconda material diamonds are also denoted by 2A.
If history is to be taken into consideration, most of the popular and famous diamonds are believed to be excavated from the city of Golconda or the regions in the nearby vicinity of the Golconda City.
A few of the popular diamonds that were found in the Golconda city are:
The Daria-i-Noor which means the “Sea of Light” in Persian and weighs around 36 grams (182 carats) is one of the rarest diamonds to be ever found. This pale pink colored diamond is now in Tehran in the Central Bank of Iran under the Iranian Crown Jewels collection.
Koh-i-Noor is one of the biggest cut diamonds to be ever found in the history of diamonds. The diamond which weighs around 21 grams is presently a part of the British Crown Jewels, as the Brits acquired the diamond from the country during British Raj in India. Koh-i-Noor in literal means “Mountain of Light”.
The Hope Diamond is one of the most popular diamonds in the world which originated from the Golconda region and the ownership record of this diamond dates back to more than four centuries when the stone was purchased by a gem merchant from France.
A 34.6-carat intense pink-colored Princie Diamond was again found in the mines of Golconda approximately 300 years ago and belonged to the Royal family of the Nizams. The Nizams auctioned this beauty in 1960 which was bought by a London-based jeweler group.
A beautifully cut stone, the Regent Diamond which weighs roughly around 410 carats is also known as the Pitt diamond. A light tinge of blue in color, this diamond is considered to be the most beautiful diamond in the world and is currently on display at the French Louvre.
The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond is a deep blue, 31-carat diamond that is said to be of flawless clarity which was discovered in the Kollur Mines of Golconda City. The controversy surrounding the diamond is that critics have claimed the purchaser of this diamond, Laurence Graff has altered the diamond so much that its historical significance and integrity have been compromised.
Another Business in Golconda
A major cotton weaving industry was already present in the Golconda region during the initial years of the seventeenth century where production of cotton was in huge quantities for the consumption of the local people domestically and also to be exported overseas in different countries of the world.
In this cotton industry, high-quality plain or patterned cloth that was made of muslin and calico were produced during those times. Calico is a textile that is often plain-woven and mostly made of unbleached and not fully processed cotton.
The plain cloth was only available in either white or brown color, however, the variety may differ in terms of bleached or dyed. The clothes made in this industry were exported majorly to Persia and most of the European countries. Colors like indigo or blue were in use for the patterned clothes which were majorly exported to countries like Java, Sumatra, and other eastern countries of the world.
Plan a Visit To Golconda Fort
The Golconda Fort is located roughly at a distance of about 13 kilometers from the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station of Hyderabad. The fort is very well connected to every major bus stand of Hyderabad. Once you arrive at the bus station, you can book an OLA or Uber, or take a local taxi and it will drop you at your destination at the Golconda Fort for not more than 40-45 minutes.
Address: Khair Complex, Ibrahim Bagh, Hyderabad, Telangana 500008
Timings: The fort is open for tourists from 8 AM to 5.30 PM in the evening, every day of the week.
Entry fees: The price of the ticket for entry to the Golconda fort is Rs 15 for Indians and Rs 200 for foreigners.
Food: An ample amount of decent and pocket-friendly food points are available in the near vicinity of the fort where the visitors can have a wholesome meal.
Parking: There is a small parking space at the fort where a limited number of vehicles can be accommodated.
Why Golconda Fort is Closed as of Now?
Golconda Fort along with Charminar is Closed, Again
This decision was taken after the Telangana government expressed its concerns about the surge in COVID-19 cases. Local authorities and police informed ASI that social distancing norms would be difficult to follow at the Charminar as the heritage has a narrow staircase.
Few Points to Remember if You Want To Visit The Golconda Fort
Visitors should make sure that they wear an easy and comfortable wardrobe and footwear as they would need to walk a lot of distance on foot.
The fort is public property and therefore it is the moral responsibility of every visitor to keep the place clean. Please do not litter the compound and premises of the fort.
The sound and light show arranged in the Golconda Fort is one of the biggest attractions of the fort. So, never do miss it.
Carry sufficient drinking water while heading to the fort as you have to walk a lot and you may need to hydrate yourself time and again.
Tourists can hire a local guide who can explain the historical significance and stories related to the uniqueness of the historical structure to them.
That’s it for now folks! Keep coming to space for more such informative articles. Until next time, Goodbye.