Golconda Fort (initially called Golla Konda, which means Shepherds’ Hill) is a castle and early capital of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty in the western part of Hyderabad, Telangana. The Golconda includes four forts in an 11-kilometre area with eight gateways. Golconda is famous for diamond mines and produced some famous diamonds like Koh-i-Noor (now owned by the United Kingdom), Blue Hope (United States), Daria-e-Noor (Iran), etc.
The Golconda is known initially as Mankal and built in 1143 by Kakatiyas (South Indian Dynasty). It is rumoured that when the Kakatiyas were building the fort, a shepherd boy found an idol of a god on the site. That is why it is called Golla Konda or the Shepherd’s Hill. Then the fort was rebuilt by Rani Rudrama Devi and her successor Prataparudra.
Later the fort came under the control of Kamma Nayakas, defeated the Tughlaqi army from occupying Warangal. In 1364 it was ceded to Bahamani Sultans from Kamma King Musunuri Kapaya Nayaka.
Bahamani sultans slowly rose to the prominence of Golconda. Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk (1487-1543) was sent to Golconda as a Governor, established the city as the seat of government in 1501. During this period Bahamani Sultanate gradually weakened and in 1538, Sultan Quli established the Qutb Shahi Dynasty.
The first three Qutb Shahi Sultans expanded the mud fort into the present structure, a massive fortification of granite extending around 5 kilometres in over 62 years.
The Qutb Shahi Dynasty ended in 1687 when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb laid siege to the fort. It was an 8-month long siege. He led his army to seize the Golconda fort (which was the diamond capital) and home to the Kollur mine.
Before this, Aurangzeb and his force conquered two Muslim kingdoms: Nizamshahi of Ahmadnagar and the Adilshahi of Bijapur. It was a matter of time that the Mughal Army attacked the Golconda Fort.
It took 8 months to seize the Golconda. On various occasions, it had pushed the Mughal Army to its limits. The Golconda Fort was the most invincible in the Indian subcontinent at that time. But finally, Aurangzeb and Mughals entered the fort through a deceived victory and the Golconda led to an eventual fall from its glory. Aurangzeb was referred to as a “mean-minded coward”.
Golconda Fort made its name as an archaeological treasure on the “List of Monuments” by the Archaeological Survey of India. This fort consists of four distinct forts with a 10-kilometre long wall with 87 semicircular bastions mounted with cannons, eight gateways and four drawbridges.
Inside the fort, there were several royal apartments, halls, temples, mosques, stables, etc. Bala Hissar Gate is the main entrance to the fort from the eastern side. The door has a painted arch bordered by rows of scrollwork. Above the door, there is a peacock with ornate tails. The design of peacocks is from Hindu architecture that underlies the Hindu origin of the fort.
On a visit to the fort, you can experience the architectural beauty in the pavilions, gates, entrances, walls and even the stables. The whole fort complex spreads across 11 kilometres and reveals the arduous work. The fort’s gardens were known for their beautiful fragrance, but after almost 400 years, it may have lost its fragrance, but you can still explore its glorious past.
The fort is known for its acoustic system. It can be experienced in Fateh Darwaza or the Victory Gate, the lowest point of the fort. A hand clap at a certain point below the dome can be heard at the Bala Hissar Pavillion, the highest point a kilometre away. It was used as a warning note to the Sultan in the case of an attack.
In the 17th century, a cotton-weaving industry in Golconda produced large quantities of high-quality plain or patterned cloths for domestic and exports. The cloth was mainly made for Muslims and primarily exported to Persia, Java, Sumatra and European countries.
But Golconda was mainly known for the diamond mines. Kollur mine was the first mine found in the south-east. Later the Atkur in Krishna district. Both were found during the time of Kakatiyas. These were the only discovered diamond mines in the world at that time.
Golconda was the city of diamond trade and gems which came from many mines. The diamonds were known as the Golconda Diamonds. Golconda has produced many famed diamonds like Koh-i-Noor, Daria-e-Noor, Hope Diamond, Noor-ul-ain, Orlov, Nizam, Jacob (India) and some lost diamonds like Florentine Yellow, Akbar Shah, Great Mogul.
The Permanent Delegation of India submitted the fort to UNESCO for consideration as World Heritage Sites.