Golconda: A Testimony of the Chronicles of South India

Golconda Fort | ©Chris Connelly
Golconda Fort | ©Chris Connelly
The Telugu word golconda translates to ‘shepherd’s hill’ and has good reason for being named so. A shepherd boy found a sacred Indian idol in the area, after which the then-ruler of Kakatiya Dynasty built a mud fort commemorating the occasion. The half-ruined fort was named Golconda. After the invasion by Qutb Shahi Kings in AD1518, the fort was expanded and made out of granite, stretching to 7 kilometers in circumference. From this time Golconda became the capital of Qutb Shahi dynasty, dignifying the affluence and legitimacy of the rulers.

The Fort Facts

Located in the western part of Hyderabad, the fort is built on a 400-foot high hill. The Archaeological Survey of India lists it as an archaeological treasure in its official list of monuments. Set apart from the bustle of the city, the fort has three stretches of fortification walls, one within the other. During the height of the kingdom’s power, the walls were raised up to 12 meters, and 87 bastions were mounted to ensure security.

There were 8 gateways, with Bala Hissar Gate as its main entrance. Seen above this entrance are magnificent carvings of both male and female lions and peacocks, the two animals representing security and prosperity.

A minaret at the fort © Flickr/Jamin Gray

The designs include both Hindu and Muslim architecture. Divided into four separate forts, the building houses mosques, temples, tombs, stables, reservoirs, audience chambers, meeting halls (diwan-e-khas), etc. A magnificent garden which has now lost all it’s green, was said to be frequented by the Queens.

An Architectural Marvel

An acoustic effect has been skilfully engineered inside the fort. The edifices in the entrance were erected as such to make the sound of a single hand-clap be heard by the guards who stood at the highest point of the pavilion — around a kilometre away. This was done to strengthen the security by sending faster signals to the inhabitants of any imminent danger.

Winding passages inside the fort complex © Flickr/swifant

Another reason which makes this fort an architectural marvel is its ingenious water supply system. The water was raised by Persian wheels and stored in overhead tanks at three different levels. The water collected was effectively distributed throughout the citadel, including the gardens and fountains, through stone aqueducts and a network of earthen pipes using the force of gravity.

Water wells at Golconda © Flickr/Teddy Sipaseuth

The World’s First Diamonds

The world’s first ever diamonds were recognised and mined in South-East India. The legendary Koh-i-Noor Diamond was once stored in the vaults in the fort of Golconda! The vault used to be home for many famous diamonds such as Hope diamonds: Daria-i-Noor, Noor-ul-Ain, Princie and Regent Diamond. Mined diamonds from areas like Kollur Mine near Kollur, Guntur district, Paritala and Atkur in Krishna district were brought to the city where these were cut and given finishing. Golkonda’s mines yielded many diamonds. By the 1880s, the name ‘Golconda’ was synonymous for vast wealth. These indigenous mines brought riches to the Qutb Shahis at Golconda.

Diamond ©Pixabay

The Mughal Invasion

Mughal Sultanate had had started eyeing up Golconda because of its opulence and strength. After invading most of the provinces in Hindustan, the diamond state became the sole aim for Aurangzeb to conquer. The Mughal emperor led his army to seize the fort. The infrastructure was so impregnable with its fortified walls, spikes on the main gate to prevent elephants and the echo engineering, it took the emperor 9 months to do it. It was only after a Qutb Shahis traitor was bribed to open one of the gateways that allowed the Mughals to enter the fort. Post invasion, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb became the richest monarch in the world.

Emperor Aurangzeb at the Seige of Golconda Fort ©WikiCommons

The Golconda Fort Today

In AD1713, Nizams took over the fort from the Mughal Sultanate, until the province of Hyderabad was created, post-independence, in 1948. The Nizams had also expanded a part of the fort which is now called as Naya Qila. Most the construction was ruined during the siege by Aurangzeb. Today, 500 years later, the fort draws thousands of visitors to its gates every year to acknowledge the heritage and testimony of Hyderabad’s glorious past. Tourists can relive the magnificence of Golconda’s history by visiting on the amazing light and sound shows put on in the evenings.

Light and sound show © Flickr/melgupta