Sep02

Golkonda Fort

Golkonda (Telugu: గోల్కొండ), a ruined city of south-central India and capital of ancient Kingdom of Golkonda (c. 1364–1512),

 is situated 11 km west of Hyderabad.


The most important builder of Golkonda was a Hindu Kakatiya King. Ibrahim was following in the spirit of his ancestors, the Qutub Shahi kings, a great family of builders who had ruled the kingdom of Golkonda from 1512. Their first capital, the fortress citadel of Golkonda, was rebuilt for defense from invading Mughals from the north. They laid out Golkonda's splendid monuments, now in ruins, and designed a perfect acoustical system by which a hand clap sounded at the fort's main gates, the grand portico, was heard at the top of the citadel, situated on a 300-foot (91 m)-high granite hill. This is one of the fascinating features of the fort.


They ruled over the Telangana region and some parts of present day Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The 13th century Golkonda Fort was built by the Hindu Kakatiya kings.The Kakatiya's ascent to power can be traced to the reign of the Western Chalukyas. Kakartya Gundyana, a subordinate of the Eastern Chalukyan monarch, Amma II (945 CE-970 CE), established the Kakatiya dynasty. The dynasty's name comes either from its association with a town known as Kakatipura (since the kings bore the title "Kakatipuravallabha") or from their worship of a goddess called Kakati. A temple dedicated to goddess Kakatamma exists in Warangal so Kakatipura could be another name for Warangal itself. Kakatiyas' ancestors belonged to the Durjaya family.

In the 16th century, Golkonda was the capital and fortress city of the Qutb Shahi kingdom, near Hyderabad. The city was home to one of the most powerful Muslim sultanates in the region and was the center of a flourishing diamond trade.
Golkonda was located 11 km west of the city of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh state, India (location 17°23′00″N 78°24′15″E). According to a legend, the fort derives its name from Golla conda, which is a Telugu word for Shepherd's Hill. It is believed that a shepherd boy came across an idol on the hill. This led to the construction of a mud fort by the then Kakatiya dynasty ruler of the kingdom around the site.


The city and fortress are built on a granite hill that is 120 meters (400 ft) high and is surrounded by massive crenelated ramparts. The beginnings of the fort date to 1143, when the Hindu Kakatiya dynasty ruled the area. The Kakatiya dynasty were followed by the state of Warangal, which was later conquered by the Islamic Bahmani Sultanat. The fort became the capital of a major province in the Sultanate and after its collapse the capital of the Qutb Shahi kings. The fort finally fell into ruins after a siege and its fall to Mughal emperor Aurangazeb.


After the collapse of the Bahmani Sultanat, Golkonda rose to prominence as the seat of the Qutb Shahi dynasty around 1507. Over a period of 62 years the mud fort was expanded by the first three Qutb Shahi kings into a massive fort of granite, extending around 5 km in circumference. It remained the capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty until 1590 when the capital was shifted to Hyderabad. The Qutb Shahis expanded the fort, whose 7 km outer wall enclosed the city. The state became a focal point for Shia Islam in India, for instance in the 17th century Bahraini clerics, Sheikh Ja'far bin Kamal al-Din and Sheikh Salih Al-Karzakani both emigrated to Golkonda.
The Qutb Shahi sultanate lasted until its conquest by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1687. The fortress held out against Aurangzeb for nine months, falling to the Mughals through treachery.


Kancharla Gopanna, popularly known as Bhaktha Ramadaasu, a devout Hindu who constructed Bhadrachalm temple without informing the sultan at that time Tana Shah, was kept in a jail located inside the fort. Bhadrachala Ramadas

Golkonda consists of four distinct forts with a 10 km long outer wall with 87 semicircular bastions (some still mounted with cannons), eight gateways, and four drawbridges, with a number of royal apartments & halls, temples, mosques, magazines, stables, etc. inside. The lowest of these is the outermost enclosure into which we enter by the "Fateh Darwaza" (Victory gate, so called after Aurangzeb's triumphant army marched in through this gate) studded with giant iron spikes (to prevent elephants from battering them down) near the south-eastern corner. At Fateh Darwaza can be experienced a fantastic acoustic effect, characteristic of the engineering marvels at Golkonda. A hand clap at a certain point below the dome at the entrance reverberates and can be heard clearly at the 'Bala Hisar' pavilion, the highest point almost a kilometre away. This worked as a warning note to the royals in case of an attack.


The whole of the Golkonda Fort complex and its surrounding spreads across 11 km of total area, and discovering its every nook is an arduous task. A visit to the fort reveals the architectural beauty in many of the pavilions, gates, entrances and domes. Divided into four district forts, the architectural valour still gleams in each of the apartments, halls, temples, mosques, and even stables. The graceful gardens of the fort may have lost their fragrance, for which they were known 400 years ago, yet a walk in these former gardens should be in your schedule when exploring the past glories of Golkonda Fort.

Bala Hissar Gate is the main entrance to the fort located on the eastern side. It has a pointed arch bordered by rows of scroll work. The spandrels have yalis and decorated roundels. The area above the door has peacocks with ornate tails flanking an ornamental arched niche. The granite block lintel below has sculpted yalis flanking a disc. The design of peacocks and lions is a blend of Hindu – Muslim architecture.


Toli Masjid, situated at Karwan, about 2 km from the Golkonda fort, was built in 1671 by Mir Musa Khan Mahaldar, royal architect of Abdullah Qutb Shah. The facade consists of five arches, each with lotus medallions in the spandrels. The central arch is slightly wider and more ornate. The mosque inside is divided into two halls, a transverse outer hall and an inner hall entered through triple arches.
Much thought went in to building this gate. A few feet in front of the gate is a large wall. This prevented elephants and soldiers (during enemy attacks) from having a proper ramp to run and break the gate.


The fort of Golkonda is known for its magical acoustic system. The highest point of the fort is the "Bala Hissar", which is located a kilometer away. The palaces, factories, water supply system and the famous "Rahban" cannon, within the fort are some of the major attractions.


It is believed that there is a secret underground tunnel that leads from the "Durbar Hall" and ends in one of the palaces at the foot of the hill. The fort also contains the tombs of the Qutub Shahi kings. These tombs have Islamic architecture and are located about 1 km north of the outer wall of Golkonda. They are encircled by beautiful gardens and numerous exquisitely carved stones. It is also believed that there was a secret tunnel to Charminar.


The two individual pavilions on the outer side of Golkonda are also major attractions of the fort. It is built on a point which is quite rocky. The "Kala Mandir" is also located in the fort. It can be seen from the king's durbar (king's court) which was on top of the Golkonda Fort.
The wonderful acoustic system of Golkonda fort speaks volumes about the architecture of the fort. This majestic structure has beautiful palaces and an ingenious water supply system. Sadly, the unique architecture of the fort is now losing its charm.
The ventilation of the fort is absolutely fabulous having exotic designs. They were so intricately designed that cool breeze could reach the interiors of the fort, providing a respite from the heat of summer.


The Huge gates of the fort are decorated with large pointed iron spikes. These spikes prevented Elephants from damaging the fort. The fort of Golkonda is encircled by a 11-km-long outer wall. This was built in order to fortify the fort.

Naya Qila (New Fort)

Naya Qila is an extension of the Golkonda Fort opposite to it. This ramparts of this new fort starts after the residential area in between. This area is very extensive with extenstive ramparts, many burjs (Arabic for Towers) and Haathiyaan Ka Jhaad - a very large and old Baobab Tree with an enormous girth. It also includes a war mosque. Plans are afoot by the local government to convert the area into a Golf Club.

The original article is from Wikipedia. Reprinted under the Creative Commons Licence.

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