Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Golconda Fort, Hyderabad

Mouth of Gun Cannon in Golconda Fort
The Golconda Fort, located on the outskirts of Hyderabad is one of the most splendid fortress in India. It was initially constructed as a mud fort around the holy spot by the Kakatiya rulers who came to know about a shepherd boy who found an idol on the rocky hills of Mangalavaram in 1143. Couple of centuries later (1364), the Bahamini dynasty acquired the possession of the fort. However, in 1518, Quli Qutub Shad broke away from the Bahmani Sultanate and formed the Qutub Shahi Dynasty and declared Golconda his capital. Since then, for a period of around 60 years, the first three Qutub Shahi kings reconstructed the fort into a huge granite fortress and expanded it to around 5 km in circumference.

Golconda Fort

Golconda Fort

During the 16th century, a huge outer wall was constructed around the fort which extended the circumference of the fort to 11 km. In 1590, the Qutub Shahi rulers shifted their capital to Hyderabad. In 1686, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb attacked the Golconda Fort with an intention to seize Hyderabad. The fortress was invulnerable, and held out against Aurangzeb for nine months, before falling to the Mughals through treachery. In 1687, a traitor betrayed the Qutub Shahi Dynasty and Aurangzeb's army managed to breach the defenses of the fort. Aurangzeb looted and destroyed the fort and left it in a heap of ruins.

Ruins of the Golconda Fort

Magnificient Fateh Rahben Gun Cannon on top of Adrah Sidiya

Cannon balls in Golconda Fort

The Golconda Fort is an exquisite blend of Hindu and Islamic styles. The fortress which consists of four distinct forts is build on a 400 ft elevated granite hill, surrounded by a wall, which is interspersed by 87 semi-circular bastions. Some of the bastions are still mounted with canons while a few of them are as high as 60 feet high. The fort has eight gateways, and four lift-bridges, and a countless number of royal buildings & lobbies, temples, mosques, magazines, stables, etc. inside.

A mosque at the summit of the Golconda Fort

A beautiful view of Golconda Fort

The Balahisar Gate guarded by statues of lions and peacock carvingsLocated on the eastern side, the Balahisar Gate is the main entrance to the fort and is guarded by statues of mythical beasts and lions. It has a pointed arch that is adorned with scroll work and peacock carvings. Fateh Darwaza, which is adorned with giant spikes, got its name after Aurangzeb's jubilant army entered the fortress through this entrance. Located on the South Eastern side, the Fateh Darwaza is well known for its acoustic effects. Even a small sound such as the sound of clap at a certain point of hand echos and can be heard clearly almost 1000 meters away at the Balahisar Baradari.

Beautiful garden inside Golconda Fort

Darya-e Nur diamondThe diamond mines at Golconda yielded many famous and magnificent diamonds. The fortress city within the massive walls was world famous for diamond trade. Among the most exquisite, outsized and precious diamonds believed to be excavated from Golconda are Darya-e Nur (sea of light), the largest and finest diamond of the crown jewels of Iran was 185 carats (37.0 g), The Koh-i-noor, Nur-Ul-Ain, The Hope, The Regent, Wittelsbach, Idol’s Eye and Beu Sancy.
Darya-e Nur diamond of Golconda

Kohinoor Diamond of Golconda

Nur Ul Ain diamond studden in Iranian Jewel Crown

Nur Ul Ain diamond of Golconda
The Hope diamond of Golconda
The Regent diamond of Golconda

The Wittelsbach diamond of Golconda
The Idol's Eye diamond of Golconda

The Beu Sancy diamond of Golconda 
Among the most prominent structures in the fort are public and administrative structures laid out in a sequence of enclosures, Silah Khana, Mortuary Baths, Nagina Bagh (now in ruins), Ambar Khana (granary), Bari Baoli (step well), a Hindu temple carved out of a huge boulder, and a mosque built by Taramati. The structures also included Akkanna-Madanna Offices, Ramdas Jail, Darbar hall, Baradari, Hammams, Mahals, royal courts that served the capital of the Qutub Shahi dynasty. An ascent of 380 steps from the Bala Hissar Gate finally culminates at the Balahisar Baradari. Far away in the hills, are two separate pavilions built on a hillock - the Taramati Gana Mandir and the Premamati Nritya Mandir where the legendary sisters Taramati and Premamati resided. They performed on a circular platform on the top of double storied Kala Mandir while the King enjoyed the performance from his durbar on top of the Fort.

Mahakali temple carved out of a huge boulder

Mahakali temple carved out of a huge boulder

The romances of the Qutub Shahi rulers is well known. Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah was in love with Bhagmati while Abdullah Qutub Shah fell in love with Taramati. While the fifth Sultan honored Bhagmati by naming the city founded by him as Bhagyanagar (Hyderabad was initially called Bhagyanagar), the seventh Sultan and grandson of Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah created an open musical auditorium with twelve doorways (baradari) which came to be known as Taramati Baradari

Taramati Baradari - Taramati used to sing and dance here and her melodious songs reached the ears of the Sultan

Taramati Baradari

Taramati Baradari is located at Ibrahimbagh on Gandipet Road just outside the Golconda Fort. It consists of a musical auditorium with 12 entrances. The baradari was build on top of a hillock mainly to avoid disturbance to the sound of the performances from the adjoining area. Taramati and her sister Premamati resided in Taramati Gana Mandir and the Premamati Nritya Mandir respectively. A few hundred meters away from Taramati Baradari, Premamati has a mosque to her name.

Light show at Taramati Baradari in the evenings

Both Taramati and Premamati were magnificent dancers and courtesans of the seventh Sultan of Golconda - Abdullah Qutub Shah. Taramati, who was admired for her beauty by one and all was a melodious singer and the most favorite courtesan of the Sultan.

Steps leading to the uppermost structure of Taramati Baradari

Sultan Abdullah Qutub Shah - the seventh Sultan of Golconda
According to a school of thought, the structure at the hillock operated as a sarai for travelers during the reign of the second Sultan of Golconda, Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah. Abdullah Qutub Shah the seventh Sultan of Golconda, used to listen to Taramati's songs when she sung for the travelers at the sarai, from the fort almost a kilometer away. Her melodious voice reached to the Sultan by the soft breeze. The Sultan was so mesmerized by her melodious voice that he fell in love with her. He transformed the sarai into a baradari with such marvelous acoustic that her songs could be distinctly heard from the top of the Golconda Fort.

Light and music show in the pavallion

According to another school of thought, Taramati and Premamati were accomplished dancers. They used to display their dancing skills on tight ropes tied between their pavilion all the way to the Golconda Fort’s pavilion.

The stage being prepared for light and music show at Taramati Baradari

The Taramati Baradari was made of mortar and limestone and has terraced garden. It had natural air-conditioning properties provided by a gap in the twofold walls which suctions the air and releases it with accumulated pressure in the chambers. Due to its acoustics, APTDC has converted it to a cultural complex which is dedicated to various music and dance forms as well as events, concerts, performances and exhibitions.

A rare photograph in which the Qutub Shahi tombs are visible from the summit of Golconda Fort

One of the most prominent tombs among the prominent 7 Qutub Shahi tombs

Taramati passed away in 1672. As a tribute she was buried at the royal cemetery along with the Sultans and their Queens at the Qutub Shahi tombs. Premamathi was also buried in the same cemetery after her death. Qutub Shahi tombs are located a further kilometer north-west of the Fort.

Twin tombs of the Taramati & Premamati among the royal tombs

Is Golconda Fort really Haunted?

The fortress is a major tourist attraction and one of the favorite spots for a movie set. Moving around the dark corners, passages, empty wide spaces and large windows of the Golconda Fort is a fascinating experience. Many people have had frightening experiences when they tried to venture deep into the ruins. Most of them believe that the fortress is haunted. An apparition of Taramati often dancing in the royal courtroom is one of the most famous sightings at the fort.

Light Show in the fotress in the evening

Does Taramati's spirit still wander in the baradari where she danced and sang her heart out and the melody was carried by the gentle breeze to touch the heart of the Sultan?

Beautiful Light Show in the fotress in the evening

As per the rumors, the souls of Qutub Shah rulers still roam in the Golconda Fort. Many people have claimed hearing strange sounds from the ancient ruins at night. Some of the tourists have even experienced body-less shadows wandering in the fort. These unknown and unowned shadows come up suddenly shocking up the person who experiences it. There had been instances when some old photographs and pictures were turned upside down by some mischievous ghosts. Utensils have often been seen hurling up against the walls in the Kabootarkhana .

A eye catching view of the Taramati Baradari at night

The people who tend to stay back at the fort after a deadline of 6:00 PM are most likely to witness these paranormal phenomenon. Film crews who usually do not leave the fortress after the dusk and pass the deadline have often heard distressful sounds of people crying out in pain and are a witness to the most terrific, unexplained and strange activities. The experience and visualize much more than they would like.

A view of Taramati Mosque from the roof of Golconda Fort

There are people who believe that this is a planned activity, a type of publicity stunt to attract tourists to the fort. You need to experience the feeling in the fortress which was once a massive and full of grandeur.


  1. I am sure Hyderabad has a lot more of hidden history behind its stony pillars. The images of the stones tell me that these are truly precious stones. I also loved the pictures of the great Golconda fort which you have shared here.

  2. Valuable information you have shared about hyderabad
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  3. It was the day when i first visited Golconda with my family on a holiday trip! after the trip,i have experienced a couple of nightmares of a lady half clad,dancing in the court! i wasn't aware of taramati then n have been searching for the answer of such strange dreams! n nw i think, i got my answer....! thanx !

  4. It was the day when i visited Golconda for the first time along with my family on a holiday trip! we stayed there till 7 as the light show is usually held at evening timings!The fort has many crevices beneath the granits n many hidden passages! while my family was busy with booking stuffs for the show,i accidently stepped in a hollow dark place n hav experienced some paranormal activities going trough! i somehow managed to get out of it n joined my crew! since the very next day i got a couple of nightmares of a women half clad, dancing in a court! its a very terrifying incident of my life as those nightmares had a gr8 impact on my mind as i used to get hallucinations on it! n still am afraid of half clad women!!