The walls ranging from 17 to 34 feet broken by 87 semi-circular bastions in shape, some reaching 60 feet in height, and built on a granite hill that is 400 feet high and it remains one of India’s most magnificent fortress complexes.
Even before the kingdom of Golconda rose in prominence, the beginning of the fort was thought to be in 1143, when the Kakatiya Dynasty ruled the region.
According to legend, a shepherd boy found an idol in the area. When this was reported to the Kakatiyan king, he ordered a mud fort to be built around it. The fort eventually became known as Golla Konda, which in Tegulu meant Shepherd’s Hill.
In 1686, the Mughal prince Aurangzeb started to lay siege on the fort of Golconda, with the intent of claiming Hydebarad, the wealthy capital of the Qutub Shahi dynasty.
The fortress proved to be as impregnable as its reputation claimed. It wasn’t until the year after, in 1687, when Aurangzeb finally managed to breach the fort after a nine-month long siege. It was said that the fort only fell down because of a traitor who sabotaged the gate.
Today, even after almost 800 years, the fort still stands as one of Hyderabad’s greatest architectural wonders. One of it’s gratest engineering marvels is the fantastic acoustic effects: one handclap at a certain point below the entrance dome can be heard at the highest point of the pavilion almost a kilometer away. This was said to be used for warning the royals in case of an attack.
At last we reached Golconda. We were glad that didi was with us. Didi studies history and we enjoy visiting different places with her.
Shailja: My goodness! This fort is so huge.
Shreedhar: And see at what a height it is built!
Kalyani: Just look! Have you ever seen such a huge gate?
Shailja: It must be very heavy. I wonder how many people would be needed to open and close this gate.
Kalyani : Look at these sharp ironSpokes. I wonder why they were made?
Shailja: Look at these thick walls too.
Shreedhar: I have never seen such thick walls.
Kalyani: At some places, a part of the wall comes out in a round shape. I wonder why?
Didi:These are called bastions (burj).
See these are even higher than the wall. The outer wall of this fort has 87 bastions. Thick walls, a huge gate and so many bastions! So many ways to ensure security
What did we find inside the fort?
Shailja: I wonder how old this fort would be? Do you think the
king built the fort so that he could live here?
Kalyani : It was written outside that Qutubshahi Sultans ruled here one after another, from 1518-1687.
Didi : Much before that, in 1200, this fort was made of mud and different rulers lived here.
Shailja: Oh look! This board has a map of the fort.
Shreedhar: This map shows so many gardens, fields and factories. See, there are many palaces also inside the fort.
Shailja: That means that not only the Sultan, but many other people like farmers and workers must also have been living here.
Kalyani: It must have been a complete town.
The Sultan’s Palace
Shreedhar: These steps seem to go on and on. Shailja: Even in those days they used to have buildings with two floors!
Kalyani: Now, the building is in ruins. But one can imagine that earlier there were many big halls and rooms here.
Shreedhar: Look at this beautiful carving on the walls. It is so fine
Kalyani : We also saw something like a fountain on one of the roofs.
Didi : Yes, there were many big tanks and fountains here. They used to be full of water.
Wow, what engineering!
Think, even today when engineers design houses, sometimes there is dampness in the walls. And here, so long ago, there were fountains on the terrace!
The building must have been made with such good understanding. If we think how the people lived five hundred years ago, so many questions come to our mind. For example, how was water lifted to such heights? Can you guess how?
Why these attacks?
While we were all talking, Shreedhar called us to see a big gun (cannon). We ran up the steps.
Shailja: This must have been the Sultan's big gun.
Didi : This was used by Aurangzeb. His full army came with their guns and cannons to attack but they could not even enter the fort. For eight months they camped outside the fort.
Shailja: Why would the army come here all the way from Delhi?
Didi: In those days, emperors and kings, played such tricks. They tried to make smaller kingdoms a part of their own kingdom. This was done sometimes by friendship, sometimes by flattery, or even by marriage between families. And when nothing else worked, they also attacked them!
Kalyani: Why is it that Aurangzeb’s army could not get into the fort? He had so many soldiers and big guns.
Shailja: Didn’t you see these strong thick walls? In the map there is a long deep ditch (pit) along the wall. How could the army enter?
Shreedhar: If the army tried to come from a different side, then the soldiers in the bastions would have seen it from a distance. No wonder it was difficult to attack the fort!
Kalyani: Imagine! The army is coming on horses and elephants, with all their guns. Here, the Sultan's army stands fully prepared.
Shailja: Oh no! How many people and soldiers on both the sides must have been killed in all this fighting? Why do people attack and have wars?
Shreedhar: Guns and cannons are things of the past now. These days many countries have nuclear bombs. A single bomb can cause so much destruction!
When there was no telephone:
Didi asked us to wait at the king's palace. She herself went to Fateh Darwaza. A while later we heard Didi’s voice, “Alert! I am Sultan Abul Hassan. I am very fond of music and Kuchipudi dance.” We all laughed. We were surprised how didi’s voice could be heard from so far. She later told us that if you stand at Fateh Darwaza whatever you speak can be heard at the king’s palace.
Arrangements for water:
The picture shown here is made after seeing a very old painting of
those times. Can you think why bullocks have been used here? Use your hand movement to show in which direction the drum attached
to the rod moves when the bullocks move. In which direction would the ‘toothed wheel’ move?
Look, this pole shown under the ground joins with another
wheel which has a number of pots on it.
Now imagine, how would this garland of pots lift water from the well?
Do you now get some idea about how the tanks could have been filled by lifting water from the wells? Even today we can see clay pipes in the walls of the fort. These pipes would have been used to carry water to different places in the palace.
What a sad sight!
Talking, whistling and listening to our own echo we were walking
through this mehrab (arch).
Shreedhar: Oh! The breeze feels so cool in this tunnel.
Shailja: It was written that soldiers stayed here.
Shreedhar: See this board, but look what the wall is like!
Shailja: Oh! Think how this wall has seen thousands of years go by. It has seen kings and queens, horses and elephants, war and peace... But we have spoilt it in just a few years.
Kalyani: I don’t understand, what kind of fun do people get in writing their names all over the place like this?
Close your eyes and go back in time!
Imagine that you are in those days when there was a busy town inside Golconda. Think about the questions given below and discuss in class. You could even put up a play.
What is the Sultan doing in the palace? What kind of clothes is he wearing? What dishes are being offered to him? But why does he seem so worried? And in what language is he talking?
Going to the museum:
After seeing Golconda, the children also went to a museum in Hyderabad. Many old items are kept there. Many things were found when the place around Golconda was dug – like pots, jewellery, swords, etc.
Shailja: Oh! Why are these broken pieces of pots kept in the almirah? See that small plate made of bronze. That blue piece seems to be made of ceramic (clay).
Didi : It is through all these things that we come to know how people of those times lived, what they used and what things they made. If all these would not have been kept here, how would you know so much about those times?
Make your own museum:
Rajni teaches in a Government school in Mallapuram district in Kerala. Together with the children of her class, she has collected many old things from all the houses. Like old walking sticks, locks, umbrellas, wooden slippers (khadaun), pots, etc.