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Author: Ravi Tourism Times
Golkonda గోల్కొండ or Golla konda గొల్ల కొండ (shepherd's hill) a ruined city of south-central India and capital of ancient Kingdom of Golkonda (c.1518–1687), is situated 11 km west of Hyderabad.
The most important builder of Golkonda was Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah Wali, the fourth Qutub king of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty. 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 most of present day Andhra Pradesh before the British Raj. After transferring Northern Circars to British, they ruled the Telangana region and some parts of present day Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Ruins of the Fort
Muslim Tourists at the Fort
The 13th century Golkonda Fort was built by the Kakatiya kings of Warangal.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). Golkonda is a Telugu term 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.
Darya-ye Noor Diamond
The Golconda fort used to have a vault where once the famous Kohinoor and Hope diamonds were stored along with other diamonds.
Golkonda was once renowned for the diamonds found on the south-east at Kollur Mine near Kollur (modern day Guntur district), Paritala (modern day Krishna district) and cut in the city during the Kakatiya reign. At that time, India had the only known diamond mines in the world.
Golkonda's mines yielded few diamonds. Actually, Golkonda was the market city of the diamond trade, and gems sold there came from a number of mines. The fortress city within the walls was famous for diamond trade. However, Europeans believed that diamonds were found only in the fabled Golconda mines.
Magnificent diamonds were taken from the mines in the region surrounding Golkonda, including Darya-e Nur, meaning sea of light, at 185 carats (37 g), the largest and finest diamond of the crown jewels of Iran.
Its name has taken a generic meaning and has come to be associated with great wealth. Gemologists use this classification to denote a diamond with a complete (or almost-complete) lack of nitrogen; "Golkonda" material is also referred to as "2A".
Many famed diamonds are believed to have been excavated from the mines of Golkonda, such as:
The Hope Diamond
The Regent Diamond
By the 1880s, Golkonda was being used generically by English speakers to refer to any particularly rich mine, and later to any source of great wealth.
During the Renaissance and the early modern eras, the name "Golkonda" acquired a legendary aura and became synonymous for vast wealth. The mines brought riches to the ruling Qutb Shahis of Hyderabad State, who ruled Golkonda up to 1687, then to ruling Asaf Jah of Hyderabad State, who ruled after the independence from the Mughals in 1724, until 1948,, when Hyderabad was annexed, to become an Indian state.
Fort overlooking the city of Hyderabad
Ruins of the Fort
Ruins of Golkonda Fort with fountain in front at dusk
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 burj (Arabic for tower) 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
Qutub Shahi Tombs
The tombs of the Qutb Shahi sultans lie about one kilometer north of Golkonda's outer wall. These structures are made of beautifully carved stonework, and surrounded by landscaped gardens. They are open to public and receive many visitors.
René Magritte's painting Golkonda was named after the city.
John Keats' early poem "On receiving a curious Shell" opens with the lines: "Hast thou from the caves of Golconda, a gem / Pure as the ice-drop that froze on the mountain?"
Stone Arch Ruins
Fort overlooking the city
Staircase leading to the top of the Fort
Section of a tent hanging or curtain, Golconda, late 17th century
Bala Hissar Gate. Note peacocks and lions above the lintel: a fine example of Hindu-Islamic architecture
Bird's eye view of the city of Hyderabad from Golkonda Fort
View of Qutb Shahi tombs
Ruins of the Fort
Rocks at the Golkonda fort
Ruins of the fort
Ruins of the fort, view from top
List of sultans of Golconda
Afanasiy Nikitin – the first European to visit Golconda
Middle kingdoms of India
History of India
History of Hyderabad
Qutb Shahi dynasty
^ Plunkett, R.; T. Cannon, P. Davis, P. Greenway and P. Harding (2001). Lonely Planet South India. Lonely Planet. p. 419. ISBN 1-86450-161-8. Retrieved 2006-03-05.
^ Durga Prasad G, History of the Andhras up to 1565 A. D., 1988, P. G. Publishers, Guntur
^ Ancient India, R. C. Majumdar, Edition: 8, Motilal Banarsidass, 1977, p. 377, ISBN 81-208-0436-8
^ Juan Cole, Sacred Space and Holy War, IB Tauris, 2007, p44.
^ [Book name: Footprint India By Roma Bradnock,ISBN 978-1-906098-05-6, p-1035]
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Golkonda
Golkonda Fort Pictures
Qutb Shahi Architecture at Golconda