Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk through the walls of a fort that witnessed the rise and fall of empires, the discovery of legendary diamonds, and the stories of love and betrayal? If yes, then you should visit Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, one of the most impressive and fascinating forts in India.
Golconda Fort is located about 11 km from the city centre of Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana state. It was originally built as a mud fort by the Kakatiya dynasty in the 13th century, and later expanded and fortified by the Bahmani and Qutub Shahi dynasties. It served as the capital of the Qutub Shahi kingdom from 1518 to 1687, until it was captured by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
Golconda Fort is not just a fort, but a complex of palaces, mosques, temples, tombs, gardens, and museums. It showcases the rich history and culture of the region, as well as the remarkable engineering and architectural skills of its builders. It is also famous for its acoustic system, its water supply system, its ventilation system, and its defence system.
In this article, we will explore the history and architecture of Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, as well as provide some tips and information for visitors who want to experience this magnificent monument. We will also tell you about some of the attractions and activities that you can enjoy at Golconda Fort, such as watching the sound and light show, visiting the nearby Qutub Shahi tombs, and exploring the fort’s museums.
History of Golconda Fort Hyderabad
The history of Golconda Fort Hyderabad is a saga of glory and decline, spanning over six centuries. Here are some of the highlights of its history:
The Origin of Golconda Fort
The origin of Golconda Fort dates back to the 13th century, when it was built as a mud fort by the Kakatiya dynasty, who ruled over most parts of present-day Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The name Golconda comes from the Telugu words “Golla Konda”, which means “shepherd’s hill”. According to legend, a shepherd boy found an idol on the hill, which led to the construction of a mud fort by the Kakatiya king Prataparudra.
The Rise and Fall of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty
The fort came under the control of the Bahmani sultanate in 1364, after the defeat of the Kakatiyas. The Bahmani rulers expanded and strengthened the fort with stone walls, gates, bastions, and towers. In 1518, Sultan Quli Qutub Shah declared his independence from the Bahmani sultanate and established the Qutub Shahi dynasty. He made Golconda his capital and transformed it into a thriving city. The Qutub Shahi rulers were patrons of art, culture, literature, and architecture. They built many palaces, mosques, temples, tombs, gardens, and markets within and around the fort. They also developed Golconda as a centre of diamond trade, as it was located near the famous diamond mines of Kollur. Some of the world’s most famous diamonds, such as the Koh-i-Noor, the Hope Diamond, the Regent Diamond, and the Orlov Diamond were found in Golconda.
The Qutub Shahi dynasty ruled over Golconda for nearly 170 years, until it was conquered by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1687. Aurangzeb laid siege to Golconda for eight months, using cannons and mines to breach its walls. He finally succeeded with the help of a traitor who opened one of the gates at night. Aurangzeb plundered Golconda’s wealth and treasures and imprisoned its last ruler Abul Hasan Tana Shah. He also destroyed many buildings and structures within the fort.
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The Nizams and Beyond
After Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, Golconda came under the control of his successors, who neglected it and let it decay. In 1724, Asaf Jah I declared his independence from the Mughals and founded the Asaf Jahi or Nizam dynasty. He shifted his capital from Golconda to Hyderabad city. The Nizams ruled over most parts of present-day Telangana and Andhra Pradesh until 1948 when they joined the Indian Union.
Golconda remained a neglected and forgotten site until it was recognized as a heritage monument by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1951. Since then, the ASI has undertaken several conservation and restoration works to preserve and protect Golconda Fort. Today, Golconda Fort is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hyderabad and a symbol of its glorious past.
Architecture of Golconda Fort Hyderabad
Golconda Fort Hyderabad is a marvel of engineering and architecture, reflecting the influence of various styles and cultures. The fort covers an area of about 11 square km and is surrounded by a wall that is 10 km long and 17 feet thick. The wall has eight gates, each with a distinctive name and design. The main gate is called Fateh Darwaza or Victory Gate, which has iron spikes to prevent elephant attacks. The gate also has a remarkable acoustic feature, where a clap at the entrance can be heard at the highest point of the fort, which is about a km away. This was used as a signal system to alert the guards of any intruders or attacks.
The fort has four distinct zones, each with its own set of buildings and structures. The lowest zone is the outer area, where the common people lived and worked. It has markets, warehouses, stables, and barracks. The second zone is the middle area, where the nobles and officials resided. It has mosques, temples, gardens, and pavilions. The third zone is the inner area, where the royal family lived. It has palaces, halls, courtyards, and fountains. The fourth zone is the upper area, where the military and defence establishments were located. It has watchtowers, cannons, armories, and secret tunnels.
Some of the most notable buildings and structures within Golconda Fort are:
Bala Hissar Darwaza: This is the main entrance to the fort from the eastern side. It is a grand archway with intricate carvings and inscriptions.
Rani Mahal: This is the palace of the queens and princesses. It has elegant rooms with colourful tiles and paintings.
Durbar Hall: This is the hall where the king held his court and received his guests. It has a majestic throne made of marble and studded with precious stones.
Baradari: This is a pavilion with 12 arches and pillars. It was used as a summer retreat and a place for entertainment and relaxation.
Nagina Bagh: This is a garden with a pool shaped like a diamond. It was used for royal parties and celebrations.
Taramati Baradari: This is a 12-sided pavilion outside the fort, near the Qutub Shahi tombs. It was named after Taramati, a famous courtesan and singer who performed here for the king.
Jama Masjid: This is one of the oldest mosques in Hyderabad, built by Sultan Quli Qutub Shah in 1518. It has a large dome and four minarets.
Ramdas Bandikhana: This is a prison cell where Ramdas, a Hindu saint and devotee of Lord Rama, was imprisoned by Abul Hasan Tana Shah for misusing the royal funds to build a temple. Ramdas carved images of Rama, Sita, and Hanuman on the walls of his cell.
Kala Pahad: This is a hill on which Aurangzeb placed his cannons during the siege of Golconda. It was named Kala Pahad or Black Hill because of the smoke and dust that covered it during the bombardment.
Tips and Information for Visitors
If you are planning to visit Golconda Fort Hyderabad, here are some practical information and advice that you should know:
- The timings of visiting Golconda Fort are from 9 am to 5:30 pm every day except Friday.
- The entry fee for Golconda Fort is Rs 25 for Indians and Rs 300 for foreigners. There is an additional fee of Rs 130 for an audio guide that explains the history and significance of various parts of the fort in different languages.
- The sound and light show at Golconda Fort is held every evening except Monday from 7 pm to 8 pm in English and from 8:15 pm to 9:15 pm in Telugu or Hindi (alternating days). The show narrates the history and legends of Golconda Fort with special effects and music. The fee for the show is Rs 140 for adults and Rs 110 for children.
- The best time to visit Golconda Fort is from October to March when the weather is pleasant and cool. Avoid visiting during summer (April to June) when it can get very hot and dry.
- To reach Golconda Fort from Hyderabad city, you can take a bus (number 65M or 66G) from Mehdipatnam or Nampally railway station; or you can take an auto-rickshaw or taxi from any part of the city. The nearest airport is Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, which is about 25 km from the fort. You can take a cab or a bus from the airport to the fort.
Activities and attractions that you can enjoy at Golconda Fort
Exploring the fort’s ruins and museums:
You can walk around the fort and admire its architecture and engineering. You can also visit the museums within the fort that display various artefacts, weapons, coins, paintings, and sculptures related to Golconda’s history and culture.
Watching the sound and light show:
You can witness a spectacular show that narrates the history and legends of Golconda Fort with special effects and music. The show is held every evening except Monday from 7 pm to 8 pm in English and from 8:15 pm to 9:15 pm in Telugu or Hindi (alternating days).
Visiting the nearby Qutub Shahi tombs:
You can also visit the Qutub Shahi tombs, which are located about 2 km from the fort. These are the mausoleums of the Qutub Shahi rulers and their family members. They are built in a blend of Persian, Indian, and Islamic styles and are surrounded by gardens and fountains.
Exploring the Taramati Baradari cultural complex:
You can also explore the Taramati Baradari cultural complex, which is located about 3 km from the fort. This is a 12-sided pavilion that was named after Taramati, a famous courtesan and singer who performed here for the king. The complex also has a theatre, an art gallery, a restaurant, and a hotel.
Tips and recommendations for visitors
Wear comfortable shoes and clothes:
The fort is spread over a large area and has many steps and slopes. You will have to walk a lot to see all the parts of the fort. Therefore, wear comfortable shoes and clothes that can protect you from the sun and dust.
Carry water bottles and snacks: There are not many options for food and water inside the fort. You may have to buy them from outside vendors at higher prices. Therefore, carry your own water bottles and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and energized.
Hire a guide or use an audio guide: The fort has many stories and secrets that are not easily visible or understandable. Therefore, hire a guide or use an audio guide to learn more about the history and significance of various parts of the fort. You can also download an app called Golconda Fort Guide on your smartphone that provides information and maps of the fort.
Avoid hawkers and touts: There are many hawkers and touts who may try to sell you souvenirs or services at inflated prices or scam you in some way. Therefore, avoid them and do not fall for their tricks or offers.
Golconda Fort in Hyderabad is a magnificent monument of history and architecture that deserves your attention and admiration. It is a place where you can witness the glory and decline of empires, the discovery and trade of diamonds, and the stories and legends of love and betrayal. It is also a place where you can enjoy various attractions and activities such as exploring the fort’s ruins and museums, watching the sound and light show, visiting the nearby Qutub Shahi tombs, and exploring the Taramati Baradari cultural complex.
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If you are looking for a unique and memorable experience in Hyderabad, then you should definitely visit Golconda Fort. It will not only enrich your knowledge but also inspire your imagination.
Have you ever visited Golconda Fort in Hyderabad? If yes, what did you like most about it? If no, what are you waiting for? Share your thoughts or experiences with us in the comments section below or on our social media platforms. We would love to hear from you!