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GOLCONDA

Documentary Film Series on Golconda

During the reign of the Qutb Shahi Kings, Golconda became world famous as a trading place for diamonds, though diamonds were never mined in Golconda proper. Besides diamonds, the Kingdom produced other precious stones like garnet, amethyst, topaz, agate etc. But pearls were imported from Persia. Golconda became famous for the cutting and polishing of diamonds.

In 1645, a French jeweller by the name Tavernier visited Golconda and the Qutb Shahi Kingdom, and chronicled in detail what he saw of the diamond industry. He tells us that diamonds were cut and polished in a village called "Karwan" near Golconda fort and that he saw 60,000 labourers at work in the Kollur group (on Krishna river) of mines which was part of the Golconda territory.

The Koh-i-noor as related by Tavernier was found in Kollur near the River Krishna in the year 1656 A.D. during the reign of Sultan Abdullah Qutb Shah. Meer Jumla who joined hands with the Mughals, presented the diamond, while still uncut, to Shah Jehan. The stone then weighed 787 carats. In 1665 the Koh-i-noor was seen by Tavernier, in Aurangzeb's treasury (Travels in India by Tavernier). During the time of Mahmood Shah (1739 AD) Nadir Shah took it to Iran.

After the death of Nadir Shah at Keleth in 1747, it was passed to his grandson Shah Rukh in Meshed. In 1751 Shah Rukh gave it as a reward to Ahmed Shah at Kabul, and later on it was passed by descent to his eldest son Shah Zaman, and then to Shah Zaman's brother Sultan Shuja.

In 1812 the families of Zaman and Shuja went to Lahore and met Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the last ruler of the Punjab and in return for some favour it was presented to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In 1839, Ranjit Singh died and at that time the Koh-i-noor was valued at one million sterling. Punjab was annexed in 1849 by the East India Company and the diamond was taken by Lord Lawrence and presented to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria. The Koh-i-noor now weighed 106 carats and finally found its place in the Imperial Regalia of Britain.

The PITT or REGENT diamond found in Paktial near Madras (present Chennai) in 1701 originally weighed 410 carats. Later it was cut and reduced to 137 carats. It now lies in the Apollo Gallery of the Louvre, the French Museum.

The NIZAM diamond, 277 carats in weight, is said to be only a piece of the mother diamond of 440 carats.

The GREAT TABLE diamond was also seen by Tavernier at Golconda. This 242 carat beauty was considered by Maskelyne to be exactly like the legendary DARYA-I-NUR or SEA OF LIGHT of the Persian Shahs.

The HOPE diamond is believed to be part of the BLUE diamond shaped like a drop that was found and sold by Tavernier himself to the French King Louis XIV in 1642. Its weight was 67 carats.

Golconda Fort

The historic fortress of Golconda is about IO Km west of Hyderabad. The old name of Golconda fort was "Mankal". It was built on a hill which was once the territory of the Kakatiya kings of Warangal in 1143 A.D. During the reign of Sultan Muhammad Shah Bahmani (1358-1375 A.D.), Raja Krishna Dev of Warangal handed over the fort in 1363 A.D. to Muhammad Shah Bahmani of Gulbarga under a pact. Muhammad Shah named the fort Mohamadnagar.
There were five subedars (Governors) of the Bahmani Kingdom with headquarters at Gulbarga and later at Bidar in 1518 A.D., Golconda was ranked among the important forts of the Bahmani Kingdom.

After the death of Sultan Muhammad Shah Bahmani and as a result of the instability of the kingdom these five subedars became independent one after another. Sultan Quli, who was the subedar of Golconda, proclaimed his independence and founded the Qutb Shahi dynasty in 1518 A.D. with Golconda as his capital.

The Golconda fort is as old as the Warangal fort but some historians claim that it is about 2000 years old. Sultan Quii Qutb Shah replaced the old Hindu mud fort with a strong fortress of stone. The Qutb Shahis ruled Golconda for almost 170 years from 1518 to 1687 A.D. and various additions were made by the successors of Sultan Quili. The first three kings of the Qutb Shahi dynasty constructed the Golconda fort in a period of 62 years from 1518 to 1580. The walls and bastions were built of large blocks of masonry, some of them weighing several tons. The gates were studded with iron spikes and various other devices which were intended to prevent elephants from charging at them.

From the time it was built, the city was repeatedly devastated by pestilence owing to the scanty supply of water, therefore the bridge over the Musi, which was built by lbrahim Qutb Shah in 1578, showed the way to the expansion of the congested capital eastward. Muhammad Quti Qutb Shah laid the foundation of a new city on the south banks of the River Musi. Hence, the town fell into comparative insignificance after the foundation of Hyderabad.

The Golconda kings spent millions of rupees upon the fort for the command of the Deccan. The walls were strengthened and canals were built adjacent to the walls. Within the walls of the fort, scattered in all directions, are a number of old buildings, mosques and places of historical and architectural interest. Several well laid gardens have turned into patches of jungle. Of all the mountain fortresses, Golconda is perhaps the most impressive fortress, in ruins, in India.

Sultan Quii improved and fortified the fort. He also added new structures like the Safa Masjid and the Daulat-Khana-e-Ali. The fourth King, lbrahim Qutb Shah, also constructed many edifices within the fort during his long, peaceful reign. The historian, Ferishta, tells us how the fortifications around Golconda were rebuilt with stone and mortar and how the king established an alms house (Langar Khana) and constructed a black platform (Kala Chabutra) along with many tanks, mosques and colleges.

The royal nobles built their palaces within the fort for security. In course of time Golconda became a picturesque city boasting of gardens, broad thoroughfares and shops.

lbrahim Qutb Shah's reign witnessed the discovery of the fabulous, world famous diamonds of Golconda at Kollur near Krishna river. The famous historian Ferishta observes that Golconda was an international market place where merchants converged from Turkestan, Arabia and Persia. Two of the world renowned diamonds from here are the Koh -i-Noor and the so called Nizam's Diamond. The Koh-i-Noor is part of the English monarch's Crown Jewels. It is said that this celebrated diamond was given by Golconda's Prime Minister Mir Jumla to Aurangzeb after the latter's successful siege of the fort.

Layout of the Fort

The fort is on an isolated granite hill and rises in splendour about 400 feet above the surrounding plain. The contours of the fort blend well with those of the hill. Today, in the midst of the arid plain, the ruins have a desolate majesty.

The fort's shape is an irregular rhombus, surrounded by a glacis. The granite crenellated wall is over 7 Km in circumference with a deep trench. The outermost segment is reached by the Fateh Darwaza (Gate of Victory). Roughly a thousand yards ahead is the Bala Hisar Gate built into the wall that circumspect the hill's base and protects the citadel. Finally, half way up the hill one finds the third wall, a natural defence that was made continuous by building in between the huge rocks on the hill. Above this wall is the oldest section of the fort.

Walls and Bastions

Three granite walls of megalithic construction encircle the fort. The outermost was extended to encompass a smaller fort on a hillock. The second wait skirts the hill along its foot and the third, on the hill slope, links the huge boulders. The exterior wall's thickness ranges from 17' to 34' and is broken by the 87 semi circular bastion, 50' to 60' high, fashioned out of massive granite blocks.

In the north-west corner lies Petia Burj, or the "big-bellied bastion" jutting out from an angle in the fortification and commanding long portions of the wall on both sides. The famous Fateh Rahbar gun is positioned on the Burj. Another along the north-east, is called the "Nine-lobed Bastion" and has a corrugated face with nine lobes. This design affords a greater length of parapet for defence and greatly facilitates firing from all sides.

There are two other famous bastions. The first is Musa Burj situated towards the south of the fort which was planned by Musa Khan who was Abdullah Qutb Shah's general, and built by Dharmachar, the architect, to protect the fort against the first Mughal invasion in 1656 led by Prince Muhammad Sultan. The Azdha Paikar gun is kept on this burj.The other well known bastion non-existent today, was Kaghazi (paper) Burj, so called because the ingenious painters and craftsmen of Golconda fashioned overnight a perfect facade of paper and cloth after a portion which was extensively damaged by the Mughal guns one day before the fort actually fell. The idea behind the dummy bastion was to deceive the invaders into thinking that their guns had left it completely unscathed. The Kaghazi Burj is only a small distance beyond Musa Burj and was originally made of granite before Aurangzeb's force destroyed it.

A few of these Burjs, reveal Telugu inscriptions, registering the local interest shown by the monarchs, and at certain points in the fort, there are carvings of mythical figures that exemplify the Hindu influence that prevailed on the Qutb Shahi Kings.

Gates

There are eight darwazas or gates in the outer wall: The Fateh, Bahamani, Mecca, Patancheru, Banjara, Jamali, Naya Qila and Moti gates. Only four gates are well known: the Fateh, Mecca, Banjara and Jamali. It was through the southern Fateh (victory) Gate that the triumphant Mughal armies under Prince Muazzam marched into the fort. It is best to enter the citadel through the Fateh Darwaza, and after a detour, emerge out of the Banjara Darwaza in the north west near the Qutb Shahi tombs. A narrow, winding passage through thick, imposing walls leads to the Fateh Darwaza. The large, angled loop holes on the ramparts provided the defenders with complete control of the passage below.

The Fateh gate is 13 feet wide and 25 feet high. It was provided with thick teak shutters and covered with iron sheets that were studded with spikes to prevent elephants from battering the gates. In war-time, drunken elephants were coaxed into battering the gates which were closed inside by a heavy sliding timber piece. Cannon balls are still to be seen piled up near the gate and some-guns can be observed even now. The inner gates behind Fateh Darwaza are similar to the outer ones but are devoid of the huge spikes.

Signalling device

A remarkable signalling device had been incorporated in the Golconda Fort's construction. The various edifices are so placed as to transmit sound to different far-away points. If one stands at the centre of the entrance portal and claps one's hands, that sound is deflected by the opposite building which is constructed at an angle to the entrance. Similarly, if a clapping sound is made from the opposite building, that sound will carry to the hill-top although at other closer points it may not be heard.

The Banjara Darwaza in the north-west is a big imposing granite gate, around 50 feet high. The parapet has been destroyed but the cornices showing carved beasts suggest Hindu influence, just as in the Fateh Darwaza.

Diwan's Palace

Between the Fateh Darwaza and the Musa Burj, within the fort wall, towards the north-east, there lie the ruins of palaces of which only the Diwan's Mahal remains fairly intact. This palace was the residence of Muhammad Sayeed Mir Jumla. In later years, the two nobles Akkanna and Madanna who served under the last Qutb Shahi king, Tana Shah resided in this splendid palace.

Jama Masjid

On the principal thoroughfare of the fort city of Golconda, adjacent to the Habshi Kamans, is a small mosque with arches each 15 feet high, and a court yard. An Arabic inscription at the entrance tells us that the Jama Masjid was built by Sultan Quii in 1518 A.D.

Habshi Kamans (Abyssinian Arches)

Close to the entrance of Bala Hisar's inner part, there are two noticeable features. The Habshi Kamans rise in front of the Bala Hisar Darwaza towards the east. These are two grand arched structures between which passed the road leading from the Langer House. On top of these Kamans were the rooms where the Abyssinian guard of the Qutb Shahis lived, and the Naubat Khana (Drum House) was located. Next to these arches is the second worthy feature, the terrace like structure, stretching into the road marking the graves of the brave Abyssinian men who died fighting to the last man against invading Mughals.

Parade Ground

Below the royal palaces, by the eastern wall, is the plain called the Maidan of the Jilu Khana-e-Ali. At its centre lies a ruined mosque. In the Qutb Shahi days, the Golconda armies used to salute the king who would be at a Jharoka (window) behind the mosque. Hence, the salutation of the fighting men was an expression of homage not only to the monarch but also to God.

Bala Hisar

This marks the inner area of the fort meant for palaces and factories. A wall separated the town from another wall that circled the entire hill. The east gateway is the only entrance to the Bala Hisar and it is one of the biggest gates in the entire fort. Hindu influence in the construction of this gate is indicated by the carved figures of mythical animals. Similar carvings can also be found on other parts of the fort's inner wall.

Nagina Bagh

Immediately after entering the gate on the right is Nagina Bagh. It was here that the loyal general, Abdul Razak Lari, was found wounded and close to death after fighting the invading Mughals who entered the fort by treachery. Lari became famous all over the Deccan as the symbol of courage and loyalty. Nagina Bagh is now well maintained. Some alcoves and walls in the south side and a big tank-like well reveal the artistic temperament of the Qutb Shahi Kings.

Silah Khana (Armoury)

A three-storeyed granite structure with vaulted cellars opposite the Nagina Bagh, to the immediate left of the doorway of the Bala Hisar is Silah Khana. To its right are the quarters of the garrison which are low buildings going up the hill to a certain distance.

Royal Palace

Ahead of the Silah Khana, to the left, are the ruins of palaces and factories. They are probably the most interesting set of ruins in Golconda Fort. Some of them rise to about five to six storeys and, once inside, one is filled with wonder at the architectural genius of their builder. The harem and sarais together with their dark, vaulted cellars, huge halls, fountains and tanks (which could also be seen on the upper floors) constituted one of the most striking examples of architectural excellence in India. In fact, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and his nobles avoided living in these grand palaces and chose to reside in more ordinary dwellings. One can imagine how splendid these palaces must have been with carpets and curtains, lamps and glittering chandeliers, nobles and the attendant servants.

Water Supply System

There was also an indigenous water supply system in these palaces that kept the tanks permanently full and the fountains in action at every level. Some remnants of the water supply pipes can still be found on the walls. The water supply system of the fort is a proof of hydrological engineering skill. Durg Tank which is about 5 Km from the fort was utilised for the supply of water.

Fateh Rahbar Gun

This cannon is on a turret called Petia Burj (pot-belly bastion) on the western wall of Golconda Fort and was one of those used during the last siege of Golconda by Aurangzeb. Verses are engraved on the cannon, which is 16 feet 2 inches long. The diameter of the bore is 2 feet 3 1/2 inches and the circumference at the other end 8 feet 8 inches. There are other cannons at Golconda but this is the most impressive among them.

Baradari of Bala Hisar and other monuments

The double storeyed building at the top of the hill is reached after a strenuous climb of about 360 steps. Originally known to the Golconda citizens as Tana Shah Ki Gaddi (throne) and commonly referred to as Bala Hisar. This unique edifice was made to look like a natural extension of the hill top. It can be seen from great distances and is the highest point of the fort.

On the way to this monument, on finds a deep well to the left, now lying totally dry. Perhaps this supplied water to the army. Further up, one comes across a plat-form through a hole in which can be seen a wide, underground tunnel. Opposite the platform are the ruins of the royal treasury or Ambar Khana. A Persian inscription on the block of granite in front of the entrance tells us that the treasury was built in 1642 during the tenure of King Abdullah Qutb Shah. Here a wall was constructed with great skill, taking the advantage of the huge rocks on the hill slopes. As the last line of defence for the citadel, it was virtually impregnable. Even today, almost 350 years later, this wall is still firm.

A distance up the terrace is a mosque called lbrahim Qutb Shah Ki Masjid, or the Mosque of lbrahim Qutb Shah. Even now, awe inspiring ruins stimulate our imagination and afford us visions of past beauty and royal splendour.

The Madanna temple is also in the Bala Hisar area. Madanna was a powerful minister of Abdul Hasan Tana Shah and the temple was named after him. The temple is a striking example of the tolerance of Islamic kings, who allowed its existence in close proximity to their own residence and Assembly Mosque.

In one corner of the palace is a big, round hole, reckoned to be the entrance to a secret underground tunnel which surfaces 8 KM away at the Gosha Mahal. For the safety of visitors, the passage is now blocked.

A stone staircase on the palace's western front takes one to the roof of a courtyard. The Bala Hisar , the top most building, can be seen standing at the courtyard's southern boundary. Stairs on the wall of the second storey of the Bala Hisar take the visitor to the roof, in the centre of which is a stone takht (throne). This is the highest point of the entire Golconda fort. From here can be seen, on the south-west, elevated terraces and two far-away hillocks. These are the Baradaris of Taramati and Premamati, two courtesans of the royal harem of Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah and Sultan Abdullah. At this high spot, it is said, the two kings would spend their leisure hours, listening to the music of these two ladies, carried over the distance by the wind. The Baradari are located on the Osman Sagar road. About 70 steps take one to the top of the terrace on which is a small mosque.

Ashurkhana

Opposite the Safa Mosque is an Ashurkhane, the house of mourning used during ten days of Moharrum. The middle section of this structure was destroyed, leaving only the surrounding rooms and corridors. Huge carved stone trays are in evidence, and also wooden incense burners and other artefacts in some of the rooms.

Victory Gun

This massive gun is fixed on a turret on a road to the west. This cannon was used by Aurangzeb's armies during the siege of Golconda and was called, "Fateh Rahber" or "the guide-to-victory cannon".

Katora Hauz

A little further, on the way to the Banjara Darwaza, towards the Qutb Shahi tombs in the north, lies Katora Hauz, a stone and mortar tank which is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world. Constructed by lbrahim Qutb Shah in 1560, its water comes from underground pipes. The story goes that, for the Sultan, the Hauz was filled with fragrant rose water.

Naya Qila

The Naya Qila or "new fort" is on a hillock north-east of the main citadel. It was built by Abdullah Qutb Shah. This hillock was used as a base by Aurangzeb for his first attack on Golconda in 1656. Once he had established a truce with the Mughal invaders, Abdullah Qutb Shah set about fortifying his defences. He extended the fort wall to include the new fort and built such strong and formidable bastions to protect it, that the Mughals, during their second invasion, avoided it completely and attacked from the south. In the Naya Qila, the most fascinating section, besides the burj, is the Baradari at the head of a number of pools and fountains. This was probably the most beautiful of Golconda's pleasure resorts and in its original form, must have been spell binding. Nizam Ali Khan, Asif Jah II, was a frequent visitor here.

Masjid-e-Mulla Khiali

This mosque is situated within the New Fort. It was constructed in 1580 by Mullah Khiali who was a poet Laureate.

Aurangzeb's first attack in 1656 A.D.

During the reign of Abdullah Qutb Shah, the dominion was further extended in the south, and through the conquering genius of the celebrated General, Mir Muhamad Sayeed, Mir Jumla, a very large part of the Carnatic province was annexed to the kingdom.

Mir Jumla was a man of infinite capacity, but his ostentation and arrogance-gave offence to the Qutb Shahi king who put his son in prison. Mir Jumla appealed to Aurangzeb for help against his master in 1655, and this afforded a pretext for Aurangzeb to invade the territory. Abdullah Qutb Shah sued for peace and besides paying a heavy indemnity covering more than the cost of the expedition,