The Golconda fort is one of the heritage landmarks in Hyderabad that gained prominence as the capital of the Qutub Shahi Sultans (1518 – 1687). This fort once symbolized the wealth of India because it was surrounded by diamond mines, and several of the world-famous diamonds like the “Kohinoor” and the “Hope” diamonds once belonged here. Our guide told us that the fort used to be resplendent at nights with the reflections of fire torches from diamonds placed strategically on the walls!! 🙂
Golconda has a vivid history and has been under the control of different dynasties who ruled the area. First built by the Kakatiyas and controlled by them until the Bahmanis took over, it finally became the capital of the Qutub Shahi Sultans (who originated from Persia). The Qutub Shahi rulers were relatively tolerant and employed many Hindus in prominent positions, and also patronized Telugu – the local language. Dakhini Urdu (now also called Hyderabadi Hindi), Persian, and Telugu were all used during their reign. A few Sultans were even masters of Telugu and wrote poetry in it, and therefore, were also known as the “Telugu Sultans”. 🙂
They were very different from the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who attacked and conquered the Golconda fort in 1687, ending the Qutub Shahi dynasty. After his victory, the fort came under the Mughals and was ruled by the Nizams chosen by them.
In its heydays, it was famed for its riches and resplendent with many diamonds (including the famous Kohinoor diamond that is now in the British monarch’s crown), because the Sultans patronized and encouraged diamond trade within the fort. They invited wealthy buyers and diamond traders to be their guests and organized jewelry markets in “Nagina Bagh” within the fort. At the end of a market session, the traders sold leftover diamonds to the Sultans at a deep discount. Therefore, they could afford to stud the entire fort with diamonds!! Unfortunately, all these gems were stolen when the fort fell into enemy hands. 🙁
The architects of Golconda were masters of acoustics, as is seen in many other monuments in India. One can hear echoes only in selected spaces, and it’s very interesting to witness the demonstrations by the guides. The efficient water supply system is also very admirable.
The prison of the famous composer Bhakt Ramadas’ is another interesting part of the fort. He is said to have composed many of his famous songs here. There are a mosque and a temple inside the fort (probably a few more exist, but I saw only the Mahakali temple and the Ibrahim mosque). The last Qutub Shahi Sultan – Tana Shah, was a popular ruler who managed to rule for 14 years before he was overthrown by the despot Aurangzeb.
We managed to get a great guide – Sirajuddin; he lives next to the fort, has been a guide for 35 years, and explained all of the above to me. He gave us many other details that I’ve already forgotten….. Interestingly, he also tried to explain the difference between exquisite Dakhini Urdu (a mixture of Urdu and Telugu) and the “village Urdu” spoken in rural areas. But as far as I was concerned, it was all “Greek and Latin” to me! 😉
I would love to one day read the Telugu compositions of the Qutub Shahi Sultans and probably translate them…..