Went to the Golconda fort yesterday as part of my new-found know-my-heritage trips these days. Raja was keen and Anjali had a school project so she decided to join in too.
|One of the outer gates|
|The curtain wall, I think|
So the four of us, Shobhs and I, Anjali and Raja headed off early to
Golconda fort which opens at 9 a.m. Why? Why not 6 a.m. when it is much
easier to climb up and take some fine shots? Maybe its too early for the
ticket counter walas to get up.
|Map of Golconda|
|Raja and Anjali guarding the narrow entrance to the inner fort|
So many people have to come at 9 a.m. and labour up in the hot sun and
labour down in the same. I'd recommend that the fort be open much
|Anjali and a plaque|
|Entrance from the inside|
Why did I think Golconda was a small fort in my earlier visits? It is not. I was then unimpressed by the stories of how the fort held off Aurangazeb's Moghuls for a year.
|An idea of the climb|
What's the big deal about this little thing was my thought? I don't know
what I was thinking then but when I went to it this time it pretty
boggled my mind. It's a tough fort to crack with so many gates, the
steep incline, the many surprises that the resident kings could spring
upon attackers including boiling oil and molten lead. The Quli Qutub
Shah sultans were warriors and lived there most of their lives from the
1500s to the 1700s when Aurangazeb captured Golconda.
|Some greenery and yellowy|
|Another plaque giving information|
Anyway you land up at Golconda and find that the entry ticket is only Rs. 5. It could be more right? Charge some more and maintain it well - more signages, a small museum or information room at the bottom that gives you the story in detail as in Chowmahalla palace, clear garbage, erase the X loves Y writings.
As you walk in you find some directions, some plaques but overall I felt
that if they had more signs and boards it would have been a better
experience for most. There are several guides but one never knows how long and how far they
will guide you because some of them are known to desert you half way and
say there is nothing much else to see. (I had that experience in the
Qutub Shahi tombs and I also met an old man who had been deserted by one
this day.) Also why don't they have a proper system of guides who are
trained, accredited and who charge a standard rate? Why can't they
organise that better and draw more crowds? But it works either way -
hire one and you get a slot of stories, not all of them true, and some
entertainment. Or do some research, keep your ears and eyes open and
piece it together by yourself. I prefer the latter.
|More of the same|
|Taking the steep way up|
The Golconda fort was a mud fort built by the Kakatiyas in 1143 A.D. Legend is that it was suggested to the king Pratap Rudra Dev by a shepherd that a fort could be built here. Hence the name Golla (shepherd in Telugu) and Konda (hill). In 1363 A.D. the fort was passed on to the Bahmani's by the Kakatiyas under a pack and for a while was called Mohammed Nagar after Mohammed Shah.
|Tacky plasticky pink|
|Well hidden garbage (What would the Quli Qutub Shah sultans kings say?)|
The Bahmani governors of Berar, Ahmed Nagar, Bijapur, Bidar and Golconda
became independent when the Bahmani dynasty grew weaker. In 1518 Sultan
Quli Qutub Shah broke away and established the Qutub Shahi kingdom at
|The tank with the not so well hidden garbage|
Seven kings of the Qutub Shahi dynasty ruled the Golconda for a period of 169 years (1518-1687). They were of Iranian descent. The first sultan was Quli Qutub Shah (1518-1543), Jamshid Quli Qutub Shah (1543-1550), Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah (1550-1580), Mohd Quli Qutub Shah (1580-1611), Mohd Qutub Shah (1611-1626), Abdulla Qutub Shah (1626-1672) and Abul Hasan Tana Shah (1672-1687). (One other sultan, Subhan Quli Qutub Shah, son of Jamshid was seven years old when he was made sultan in 1550, and he as quickly deposed of by his uncle, younger brother of Jamshid, Ibrahim.) Tana Shah was captured and imprisoned in Daulatabad Fort by Aurangazeb in 1687 thereby ending the Qutub Shahi dynasty rule. The Moghuls ruled over it until the Asaf Jahi kings or the Nizams ruled over Hyderabad under the Moghul sovereign.
As you get into the fort near the main gate, the one where you can clap and it reverberates and where the clap is supposed to echo on top of the fort some half a kilometer away thanks to the wodners of Iranian contruction, you are better off going to the right and climbing up from that side. Unfortunately there are no directions that tell you the same so many end up climbing up from the steeper sides which are not too friendly on older people. You head up past the Ramdas prison and the secretarial offices and other such.
|Shobhs with the Palace|
|Us three and the view to the top|
|Ruins of Golconda|
The entire expedition could take you 2 - 3 hours depending on how much time you wish to spend. It is a big climb with several steps, some steep as well. Definitely the shoe, cap, shades, water and jeans kind of an outing. The view at the top is fabulous and one can see Taramati Baradari on one side and the not-too-pleasing growth on our growing city on another. Thankfully Golconda is surrounded by a cantonment area on some sides and there is a pleasant spread of greenery there. On the other side its concrete and ugly structures.
|Framed - old man deserted by the guide|
|Impressive - granary perhaps|
|View of the city|
The fourth king Sultan Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah was the one who founded
Hyderabad across the Musi in 1587, built the Charminar, Mecca Masjid and
other buildings and palaces in the city. He named it after his love,
Bhagmati. Bhagyanagar was known as Hyderabad as Bhagmati's name was
changed to Hyder Mahal upon marriage to the sultan.
|The Baradari or Durbar Hall at the top|
The amount of construction work, the way the blocks of granite are placed, the acoustics of the royal palaces indicate high degree of expertise in the construction. The Quli Qutub Shah sultns were Iranian and there was enough influence of Iranian architecture and engineering.
|Good view of the ruins|
|Going up the highest point of the Fort, Shobhs at the Baradari|
|The Baradari behind me|
|Long trek down|
|I did it|
Anjali trekked up all the way by herself telling herself and me every now and then that - she will not give up - until she climbs it. She did that easily and climbed down as well. It was only after she came down to flatland did she ask me to carry her. I'm impressed. We clicked loads of pictures, ate some kulfi and ice cream and descended.
|Taramati Baradari at a distance|
|Premamati mosque (I think)|
|Steep descent, stony steps, unforgiving heat|
But there's so much to do and explore in the fort. The outer walls for that matter, the parks, mosques, tombs could all take up more than one visit to get a comprehensive understanding. But this was the fort where the Quli Qutub Shah dynasty ruled, the fort considered impregnable, so much so that it held out against Aurangazeb's Moghuls for almost a year and even then, fell only due to betrayal. It carries much history, romance and drama.
|Rocky and stark|
|Flatland and rest|
|One can visualise how it must have looked|
|Impassive after centuries|
|Near the secretariat|
|The Armoury (I think)|
|The right route up with the famous heritage walkway|
Sadly there is not even a face to associate with the fort, as in who were the rulers of this fort and what they looked like, which could be addressed by opening a small museum at the base with pictures and portraits, stories and histories, for the uninitiated. From the famous love stories between the Iranian sultans and the Hindu courtesans, one of whom was responsible for laying down the city Bhagyanagar that we now know as Hyderabad, the development of the famous diamond and pearl markets that made the Nizam, the richest man in the world, there is much that is silent.
Ideally on cooler days it's worth a climb at 4 in the afternoon and descend down to the sound and light show by 6 or so. But one could go up the Golconda every week if you live close by just for the exercise. That's a bit like how the Puneites do - walk the Parvati hill or climb the Simhagad every week. It's a great combination of health and fun and heritage.