The Golconda fort (Hyderabad, India) gained prominence as the capital of the Qutub Shahi Sultans (1518 – 1687).
It was first built by the Kakatiyas, came next under the Bahmanis before it became the capital of the Qutub Shahis (who originated from Persia). The Qutub Shahi rulers were tolerant and hardly discriminated on the basis of faith. They 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! Thanks to this, the Qutub Shahi Sultans were also known as “Telugu Sultans” 🙂 🙂
This was very much unlike the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who attacked and conquered the Golconda fort in 1687, thus ending the Qutub Shahi dynasty. After his victory, the fort came under the Mughal empire and was ruled by the Nizams chosen by the Mughals.
In its heydays, the fort was famed for its riches and resplendent with many diamonds (including the famous Kohinoor diamond, now in the British monarch’s crown) and other precious stones. This was because the Hyderabad area had many diamond mines and also because the Sultans patronized and encouraged diamond trade within the fort.
They invited wealthy buyers and diamond traders to be their guests and organized markets in “Nagina Bagh” within the fort.
At the end of a market session, the traders sold leftover diamonds to the Sultans at cheap rates. Therefore they could afford to stud the entire fort with these gems!! All these gems were stolen when the fort fell into enemy hands 🙁 🙁
The architects of the Golconda were masters of acoustics, as seen in many other monuments in India. One can hear echoes of claps only in selected areas – very interesting to see the echo demonstration by the guides. The efficient water supply system in the fort is also very admirable.
Bhakt Ramadas’ prison is another interesting part of the fort. There’s a mosque and a temple inside the fort (probably few more exist, but I saw only the Mahakali temple and the Ibrahim mosque). This is again evidence that the Sultans were tolerant. The last Qutub Shahi Sultan – Tana Shah was a popular and benevolent ruler who managed to rule for 14 years, before he was overthrown by Aurangzeb.
Managed to get a great guide – Sirajuddin; he lives next to the fort, has been a guide since 35 years, and explained all of the above to me. Gave many other details as well that I’ve already forgotten…..
He also tried to explain that there was a lot of difference between exquisite Dakhini Urdu (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! 🙂
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