Among the ruins of Golconda Fort lies a history of half a millennium. It remains a thing of beauty despite the destruction it has gone through. It is 3 miles in circumference, and the granite hill that it is built on is 390 feet high. The glorious Golkonda fort in Hyderabad has cannons, gateways, majestic halls, drawbridges, and more. It was first built in 1143 by a Kakatiya king, but the Qutub Shahi Dynasty and Bahmani Sultans fortified it between the 14th and 17th centuries.
The Qutub Shahi kings ruled the area in the 16th and 17th centuries. One of the most pivotal rulers in the Deccan Plateau, the Qutub Shahi Dynasty at its peak ruled Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, parts of Tamil Nadu and half of Karnataka. As the magnificent Golconda fort was built, it was the capital of the dynasty from 1518 to 1591. The Muslim sultanate was then overthrown by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1687. He destroyed the fort but the mosques and Qutub Shahi tombs remained safe enough to be visited as a tourist place.
How To Reach Golconda Fort
Golconda Fort is around 10 kms away from Hyderabad, 568 kms from Bangalore and 657 kms away from Visakhapatnam. It is accessible by bus, train, airplane and metro train.
The distance from Golconda Fort to the nearest airport, Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, is approximately 26 kms. You can take a public bus or cab from the airport.
Secunderabad Railway Station is the biggest railway station in Hyderabad. It is 18 kms away from the Golconda Fort. The nearest local railway station is Public Garden. The closest metro station is Nampally.
There are many buses that can take you to Golconda Fort. The routes and bus numbers can be found online. You can also take auto rickshaws and cabs.
Modest Beginnings And Grand Developments
The Golconda fort of Hyderabad has many legends attached to it that explain how it came into existence. As per the legend during the Kakatiya kingdom’s rule, a shepherd boy accidentally came across an idol of a god on the hill. The land was then considered holy. As the news reached the Kakatiya king, he ordered a mud fort to be built in the exact place. The name Golconda Fort is said to have been inspired by the words golla konda, a Telugu term that means shepherd’s hill. As time progressed, monarchs like Rani Rudramadevi, the Bahmani Sultans, and Qutub Shahi rulers expanded and built the granite fort that stands today to surround the city. From being a mere hill that shepherds visited, it progressed into being one of the most important seats occupied by powerful dynasties that reigned over a major part of the Deccan region.
A Marvel Was Built Brick By Brick
As you enter Golconda Fort, the first thing you see is Fateh Darwaza. The curved gate is an important structure in the history of Golconda Fort. The name translates to victory gate in Urdu. In 1687, a mercenary soldier Abdullah Panni opened the gate at night leading Mughal soldiers to invade the fort. After annexing the kingdom and leaving the Golconda ruins, Aurangzeb’s army walked out using this gate.
Fateh Darwaza is also an acoustic marvel. If you clap here it can be heard at the Bala Hisar pavilion, at the hilltop which is one kilometre away. Back in the day, it was used to warn soldiers of an approaching attack. It is also believed that this helped the army chief keep an eye on his soldiers. The state of the heritage site is crumbling now with a lot of encroachments. The Archaeological Survey of India has sent notices to encroachers, but has been unable to stop it.
The Golconda Fort of Hyderabad is believed to have protected many royal members with an exemplary security system. The fortress had a cannon ready at the door, and when under attack it would spew hot oil on the enemies. Further, the entry gate was designed in such a way that if the fort was under attack, troops using elephants could not break the door. The fortress has seen the prime and downfall of various kingdoms. Through it all, it held its secrets regarding invasions and battles. It is believed that there are underground passages made for royalty to escape grave danger. These passages lead to the durbar hall (royal court) of another palace situated at the end of the hill. Despite the rumours, these passage routes were never found.
The fort had many water pits around the premises as the queens of the palaces were concerned about their beauty. Back in the day, it was believed that if you looked in the mirror, the dark spots on your face could increase. So they checked their reflections in water pits instead.
Also read: 8 Of The Most Stunning Forts In India
Golconda Kingdom Shone Bright Like Its Diamonds
In Golconda, everything that shines is not gold but diamonds. The Golconda kingdom was home to diamond mines and produced celebrated diamonds like the Kohinoor. As the kingdom was spread across the three states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka the diamond mines in Mallappally, Gollapalli, Vajrakur, Paritala, Kolleru, and Kodavati Kallu were operative during Abdullah Qutbshah and Abdul Hasan Tanashah’s reigns. Around 60,000 miners laboured in these mines that belonged to the Qutb Shahi rulers and Mir Jumla, the top designated officer of the dynasty. Some of the most famous diamonds, apart from the Kohinoor, that were mined from these regions are the Jacob diamond, the fifth-largest polished diamond in the world that embellished powerful Telugu kings of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hope, Blue Light, and Regent. Golconda’s mines were one of the most crucial hubs for the diamond business and attracted enthusiasts from around the world.
Beauty Going Unnoticed
On the premises of the 500-year-old fort, is another relic whose history dates back to more than 400 years. An African Baobab tree called hatiyan-ka-jhad has been standing as a silent spectator and witnessing historic events unfold at the Golconda Fort. The tree’s height is 79 feet and it’s 25 metres in circumference. The name translates to elephant tree, and it is believed that it was brought to the region from Africa and planted by the Qutub Shahi kings. Even though the Archaeological Survey of India recognised it as a heritage symbol, not many tourists know about its existence.
Information About Golconda Fort
Golconda Fort is now closed due to the ongoing pandemic. The fort is situated in Ibrahim Bagh, west of Hyderabad. Visiting it in summers or afternoons is not advisable. Golconda fort’s timings are 9 AM to 5.30 PM. The fort also has a light and sound show that depicts its history. From November to February the first show is held at 6.30 PM and the second show is at 7.45 PM. From March to October, the first show is held at 7 PM and the second at 8.15 PM. Every week the first show is in English and the second shows on Monday, Wednesday and Friday are in Telugu and Hindi on Tuesday. As the fort lights up in hues of pink, yellow and blue, its history comes alive. The trek up the hill is easy and not very tiring. The view from the top makes it worth the hike.
Glimpses Of The Past
History enthusiasts love the Golconda Fort because it was a major part of Telugu history. If you visit the fort, you must explore Hyderabad and its culture and food. The Qutub Shahi dynasty contributed massively towards Hyderabadi culture and cuisine. Most of the Qutub Shahi rulers were secular and helped develop the Telugu language. Charminar, the most famous monument in Hyderabad was built by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 when the capital shifted from Golconda to Hyderabad.