“I have this insane calling to be where I am not.“
I visited the Golconda fort back in the age, which I refer to as ‘my memory sucked age’. Recently, I had a strong desire to visit the fort again. Thanks to my partial beneficial amnesia I felt like a tourist even though I am born Hyderabadi.
I choose to describe this experience as extraordinary. It is the light and sound show that won my heart.
There are three other mining towns inspired and named after Golconda – Arizona, Illinois and Nevada. The architecture of this place is a confluence of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles.
The History of Golconda Fort
A Shepherd found an idol mangalvaram on a rocky hill and when the news reached the then Kakatiya king he built a mud fort to honor that idol. That’s how the place got its name; Golconda meaning Shepherd hill.
It is a group of four forts merged together established by three dynasties – the Kakatiyas, the Bahamanis and the Qutub Shahis.
The Qutub Shahis transformed that mud fort into a magnificent granite structure expanding its glory to its peak. Seven kings of the Qutub Shahi dynasty ruled Golconda. Muhammad Qutub Shah was the fifth king and you might want to remember this legend. It is because of him Hyderabad is called Hyderabad.
Golconda became one of the leading markets in the world. Diamonds like Hope Diamond, Kohinoor and Darya-ye Noor all owe its origin to Golconda Fort. The Kohinoor was mined at Kullur mine in Guntur district, A.P. It was originally owned by the Kakatiyas, they had installed it in a temple as the eye of a Goddess. Today, the diamond is a part of the crown of Queen Elizabeth.
Because of its wealth, fame, location and excellent engineering skills Aurangazeb the last Mughal Emperor, wanted to conquer the fort. His son Mohammad Sultan captured Golconda in 1687 after a siege that lasted for eight months. Aurangazeb also imprisoned Abul Hasan Tana Shah, the last king of Golconda, in Daulatabad jail where he died after twelve years.
This conquest saw huge levels of treachery and betrayal. The Mughals looted the fort of all its richness. The ruins of the fort have been converted into a tourist site by restoring most of the structure. However, this fort still stands as a testimony to the cultural heritage of Hyderabad.
How did Hyderabad get its name?
Shortly after becoming the king, Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah married his ladylove Bhagmati. He built a city and named it after her as Bhaganagar. That was later renamed Hyderabad after she was conferred with the title Hyder Mahal.
The fort comprises of 9 doors, 52 windows and 48 tunnels. The main entrance of the fort is the Bala Hissar gate. Just opposite the Bala Hissar Gate, there is a Curtain Wall. This wall circumferences the main gate in such a manner that no enemy could break in without the use of heavy equipment’s or elephants. Aurangzeb destroyed the original curtain wall, and the present wall was erected much later in 20th century.
The fort is an example of architectural excellence. The acoustic system was an excellent setting for conveying messages from one point to another. If you clap at the base main entrance, one can hear that sound at the Baradari nearly one kilometer away on the top. This fort was also famous for its excellent water engineering. They had a very elaborate and efficient water supply system to ensure the continuous water supply in the fort.
There is a small prison known as the Ramdas jail where Ramdas was imprisoned for stealing money to build a temple. For any Bollywood lovers, it is the same mental asylum in Salman’s movie Tere Naam. Many hand made idols of Hindu Gods are still kept on the wall of the room, thousands of visitors gather at the occasion of Ram Navami to offer their prayers.
Further, you have the Qutub Shahi mosque, which is considered the oldest structure in this fort. There was still so much more to explore but I had to head for the light and sound show.
Light and Sound show
I reach this grand theatre of ruins where a lot of sound and light equipment was mounted on the walls. The show began at 7.00pm in English voiced by Amitabh Bachchan. It started and ended with ghazals by Jagjit singh and there was a lot of regional folk in between. It was remarkable !
Today, even after 800 years, the fort still stands as one of Hyderabad’s greatest architectural wonders. I am grateful for the experience witnessing one of the glorious eras watching its rise, fall and now the ruins. However, this fort still stands as a testimony to the cultural heritage of Hyderabad.