The most interesting aspect of Golkonda Fort is that it is built using rocks and boulders that were available on the hillock where Golkonda Fort (video of our visit) stands today. Also the fact that Bonalu – a major festival in Telangana kick starts from here and also Independence Day parade and the Republic Day parade are held here make it interesting.
Let me begin by saying that I enjoy visiting forts more for their architecture, design and style and not really for history lessons.
I visited Golkonda Fort recently with family for the sole reason that every time I am standing in a particular direction of the high rises I stay in, I am facing the fort and it seems to ask for attention (pun intended).
Though willingly or not so willingly I have been to a few forts and the main reason that I don’t like to visit forts is that almost all of them have a similar story – rise, betrayal and fall of the kingdom (fort) so much like a Bollywood masala movie.
And here I am with kids and the husband to walk around history and listen to another story with the same storyline but different characters.
As we take a guide registered with Telangana Tourism from the entrance of the fort for a charge of INR 1250 he takes us through the various aspects of the fort.
Why Golkonda Fort was built?
The entrance gate of the fort is called ‘Balaji Sar’ gate. Balaji means round and Sar means at a height. The wonderful thing you encounter as soon as you enter the main gate is 24 diamond-cut dome shape ceiling standing under which if you clap then the clap can be heard in the king’s hall which is 500 feet away. Architectural marvel! Yes, of course.
We headed towards the fort using the path intended for public use in those days and came back walking on the path intended for the royals.
Our guide tells us enthusiastically about the history of the fort. In 1143, the Kakatiyas came to this place from Warangal, during that time the area that we know as Golkonda today was entirely covered with boulders and rocks. They made a small mud fort which was called Goula Kund – ‘Goula’ means shepherd and ‘Kund’ means hill. In 13th century Bahmani kings came to Goula Kund for business with the Kakatiyas, and in 1363 they made 5 districts while staying here for business; however in 1518 Qutub Shahi dynasty took over and built a fort of lime, clay and stones which took about 62 years to complete. Sultan Quli Qutub Shah laid the main the foundation of the fort in 1518. This fort was built from the top of the site towards bottom. There are a total of 360 steps to reach the top.
The main reason to build a fort here was because there were diamond mines in the region. Kohinoor diamond – the world famous diamond was found here only.
How Hyderabad was named?
In 1591, fourth king of the Qutab Shahi dynasty Mohamad Quli Qutab Shah developed a separate city called Charminar and married a Hindu dancer Bhaagmati and renamed her as Haider Bakshi and that is how Hyderabad got its name, our guide tells us. Earlier, Hyderabad was also known as Mohammad Nagar and Bhagya Nagar.
The story of Kohinoor Diamond
In 1611, about 175 km from the fort were the coal mines and it was here the Kohinoor Diamond was found. Its original weight was 360 carat – world’s largest diamond, costliest and unlucky too. Our guide tells us that Kohinoor got the unlucky tag because whosoever was in possession of Kohinoor was ruined.
In 1687, Aurangzeb took the Kohinoor and used it in Shahjahan’s peacock throne and then began the downfall of the Mughals. Then they gifted the Kohinoor to Punjab’s king Ranjit Singh who then passed away and then Iran’s Nadir Shah took the Kohinoor from Ranjit Singh’s son Dilip Singh. It was then in the possession of the British from Afghanistan. But the British cut it in two piece one is in the museum and the other is in Queen Victoria’s crown. These days the diamond is in the possession of the British.
Such interesting stories/ facts always come from guides only.
During the reign of Qutub Shahis, Banjara hills was inhabited by the gypsies known as banjaras in Hindi and hence the name Banjara Hills. Today, it is the costliest area in Hyderabad.
Ramdas Bandi Grih (prison in the fort)
In 1672, Ramdas was the treasurer of the then ruling king and he was sent to Bhadrachalam to collect tax of 6 lac rupees. He collected the money but did not deposit in the treasury hence was arrested and put in a separate jail with in the premises of the fort for 12 years. He carved 16 statues of different Gods(Hanuman, Ram Lakshman, Sita, and Ganesh) using a only a stone.
It is said after 12 years, Lord Ram and Lakshman appeared in the dreams of the Qutab Shahi ruler Abu Hassan and magically 6 lac rupees were deposited in the royal treasury. In September 1684, Ramdas was released and he died in 1685 in Bhadrachalam which is about 375 km from the fort. Ramdas had spent 6 lac rupees in building Ram Temple in Bhadrachalam but he had not informed the king hence he had to spent 12 years in prison.
1.Golkonda Fort is the highest point in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. From ground it is 500 feet and from sea level it is 2280 feet.
2. There was a secret tunnel spanning 8 km from the Golkonda fort to Hyderabad city. It was closed in 1954.
3. Diwan –I-Aam and Diwan-I-Khaas was built in such a way that throughout the year the area was air cooled owing to ventilation.
Fall of Golkonda Fort
Like most of the destruction during that time this fort too saw its downfall at the hands of the Mughal tyrant Aurangzeb. He attacked the fort in September1686 and fought continuously for 8 months but he could not capture the fort. However, the main commander of the Shahi ruler Abdullah Panni deserted his king and allied with Aurangzeb and opened eight doors of Golkonda in one night. But Aurangzeb could not rule the fort as in 1687 many people committed suicide and many fled, so there was hardly any one left to be ruled hence Aurangzeb personally destroyed the fort thinking if he could not rule here no one else should.