Hyderabad, Golconda fort • India, Telangana

Discover the secrets of Golconda Fort, Ramdas Jail, and Bonalu festival decorations in just over 6 minutes! Join us on an immersive journey through the fascinating history and culture of Hyderabad, Telangana, India. Don't miss out on this opportunity to explore one of the most impressive fortresses in the world and learn about the transformations it underwent during the Qutb Shahi Dynasty. Watch our video now and be transported to a different time and place!
00:00 • intro | 00:49 • the arsenal and the fortifications | 01:42 • preparations and decoration for the Bonalu festival | 02:54 • Ramdas jail

made with photos and videos taken during the trip Unknown India • Ladakh, Karnataka, Telangana,

History of the Golconda fort

 

Golconda Fort was founded in the 12th century by the Kakatiyas, a Hindu dynasty that would rule over much of southern India from the 12th to the 14th century, roughly covering the present states of Telangana, Andrah Pradesh and part of Karnataka. 

The region aroused many desires, among other things because of the richness of its subsoil, particularly its diamond mines. One of the most famous diamonds in the world, the Koh-i-Noor was mined in the mines of Golconda, probably around the 13th century. After belonging to various ruling families in India, this huge diamond was taken to England and set in the crown of Queen Elizabeth (better known as the Queen Mother). 

The Kakatiya dynasty was defeated by Muslim troops from the Delhi Sultanate in 1323. This defeat marked the beginning of a period of Muslim rule over the Deccan region. 

The Delhi Sultanate was in an expansionist phase towards the southern states, but had to face many problems in the north, which explains why one of its vassals, Alauddin Bahman Shah, was able to create another Muslim dynasty in the Deccan region, the Bahmani Sultanate. 

A few years after the fall of the Kakatiyas, the Bahmanis settled at Golconda Fort in place of the Delhi Sultanate. During the Bahmani period, Golconda grew in importance as a commercial, cultural and political center. The Bahmani sultans built forts, palaces and mosques in and around Golconda. 

As history has a tendency to repeat itself, the Bahmanis were replaced at the beginning of the 16th century by one of their vassals. A general in the service of the Bahmanis, Quili Qutg-ul-Mulk was appointed governor in the region and after a few years he declared his independence by founding the Sultanate of Golconda and the Qutb Shahi dynasty which kept power in the region until arrival of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb's troops in 1687.

 

Transformations of Golconda Fort by the Qutb Shahi Dynasty 

 

The Qutb Shahi brought many improvements and developments to Golconda Fort during their reign. Here are some of the most notable changes and additions: 

 

Strengthening of defences: The Qutb Shahi strengthened the defenses of the fort by constructing massive walls and bastions, as well as improving security features, such as clerestory doors and trap doors. 

Palace Building: The Qutb Shahi built lavish palaces and royal residences inside the fort to serve as seats of power and abodes for the royal family. 

Mosques: Several mosques were built within the Golconda fort complex, including the Great Mosque, which was intended for prayer and religious gatherings. 

Gardens and Water Reservoirs: The Qutb Shahi laid out beautiful gardens and water reservoirs to provide a pleasant environment and water resources for the inhabitants of the fort. 

System of aqueducts: A complex network of aqueducts was built to bring water from the surrounding rivers and reservoirs to the fort. 

Military facilities and warehouses: Military facilities, armories and warehouses were built to support the logistical and military needs of the fort. 

Architecture and decoration: The Qutb Shahi brought their own architectural style, which was a mixture of Persian, Indian and Turkish influences. This is reflected in the design elements and decorative patterns of the buildings in Golconda Fort. 

 

These developments transformed Golconda Fort into an impregnable fortress and an important political and cultural center of the region during the Qutb Shahi era.

 

End of Golconda's capital status and founding of Hyderabad 

 

The founding of Hyderabad dates back to 1591, when the fifth sultan of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, decided to build a new city as the capital to replace the fortified city of Golconda. The main reason for this decision was the lack of space and potable water in Golconda to support the growing population and the needs of the court. 

 

Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah chose a strategic location on the north bank of the Musi River, where he designed and built the city with careful urban planning. The city was designed in the form of a grid, with wide and well laid out streets. City walls and gates were built to provide security. 

 

However, Golconda Fort remained the official residence of the sultans and the seat of power for some years, even after the founding of the new capital, Hyderabad. But gradually, as Hyderabad expanded and the culture developed in the new capital, the sultans transferred their residence to the new city. Golconda Fort retained its military and defensive role and its reputation as an impregnable fortress until defeat by the Mughals of Aurangzeb in 1687. 

The fort lost its importance from this time and began to wither, for lack of maintenance. 

What made the originality of this fortress is its singular architecture, its innovative defense systems and also its surprising acoustics. 

 

Golconda fort layout 

 

Golconda Fort is built on a granite hill and is surrounded by massive ramparts and bastions that extend for about 4.8 km in perimeter. The fort has four distinct areas, each separated by interior walls and fortified gates. Notable elements of the fort include: 

 

The main entrance, called Fateh Darwaza (Gate of Victory), which has a complex defense system and impressive acoustics. 

The citadel, located on the hill, where the royal palaces, apartments, gardens and mosques are located. 

Warehouses and granaries, which were essential to support the population and the soldiers of the fort during sieges. 

The soldiers' barracks and garrison quarters, located near the outer ramparts.

 

Ramdas Jail 

 

Ramdas Cell, also known as "Ramdas Bandikhana" or "Ramdas Prison", is a historical room located in Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, India. It is famous for being the place where Ramdas, a 17th century Hindu saint and poet, was imprisoned for about 12 years. 

Kancharla Gopanna popularly known as Bhakta Ramdas or simply Ramdas was a devout devotee of the god Rama and a tax collector during the reign of Muslim Emperor Abul Hasan Qutb Shah. Ramdas is accused of using tax money to build the Bhadrachalam temple, dedicated to Rama, without the king's permission. As a result, he is imprisoned in Golconda Fort. 

During his imprisonment, Ramdas is said to have written several devotional hymns and poems in honor of Rama. These writings, known as "Dasarathi Satakam", are still considered masterpieces of Telugu literature and are sung in temples and during religious ceremonies. 

The cell walls are adorned with rock carvings depicting Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, which are thought to have been carved by Ramdas himself during his imprisonment. 

The release of Ramdas is attributed to a miracle. Several legends exist but all end with the release of Ramdas.

 

Golconda fort nowadays 

 

The fort remains a popular tourist site and shows are held at Golconda Fort including the famous sound and light show. This evening show tells the story of Golconda Fort and the surrounding area through a combination of sound, light and projection effects. The narrative is in multiple languages including English, Hindi and Telugu to allow a wide audience to enjoy the experience. 

 

Besides the sound and light show, Golconda Fort sometimes hosts other cultural and artistic events, such as concerts, theater performances and art exhibitions. These events help maintain the cultural significance of the site and attract visitors from around the world.

What's the weather like in Hyderabad?

about the place, Hyderabad:

Founded by Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591, Hyderabad owes its name to the Sultan's wife, Princess Bhagyanagar, who took the name Hyder Mahal when she converted to Islam. 

Hyderabad is famous for its pearl and diamond industry and its nickname is "the city of pearls". 

Successive dynasties in the Sultanate of Golconda (the name of the hill where many diamonds were mined) were great patrons and left remarkable monuments to the city, including the famous Charminar monument. They also enlarged and heavily embellished the fort at Golconda. 

The city is also famous for the excellence of its biryani. Another of its nicknames is "the capital of biryani".

 

Spoken comments in the film: 

From its establishment in the 13th century by the Hindu Kakatiya dynasty until the fall of the Sultanate of Golconda in 1687 after invasion by Mughal troops with Emperor Aurangzeb at their head, Golconda Fort has been the seat of power and the center of political and military life in the region. Nowadays, this fort is partially in ruins, due to lack of maintenance over the last 3 or 4 centuries, but is still sporadically used for shows, due to its extraordinary acoustics.

 

We visited Golconda fort at the end of the Bonalu festival, a religious festival celebrated in the state of Telangana dedicated to the goddess Mahankali. This festival takes place every year during the month of Ashada (July-August in the Julian calendar). The purpose is to honor the goddess and to make her offerings carried in procession in decorated pots. These offerings are brought by dancing to a small temple, the Mahankali temple. On the occasion of the Bonalu, the stairs of the fort are decorated and painted orange.

 

A room of the fort is particularly visited, both by tourists and by the faithful. It is a room that served as the cell of a 17th century poet and tax collector. This man was accused of embezzling money to build a temple to the glory of Rama. And his miraculous release 12 years later made him a legend still revered today.

 

Golconda Fort, located on a height, offers a very beautiful overview of the city of Hyderabad.

a courtyard of the fort, Hyderabad, Telangana • India
the ammunition store in Golconda fort, Hyderabad • India • Telangana

the ammunition store in Golconda fort

the fortifications of Golconda fort, Hyderabad • India • Telangana

the fortifications of Golconda fort

Ramdas jail in Golconda fort, Hyderabad • India • Telangana

Ramdas jail in Golconda fort

Ibrahim mosque in Golconda fort, Hyderabad • India • Telangana

Ibrahim mosque in Golconda fort

Hyderabad, Telangana • India

© 2020 - 2024 • Jean-Marie Putz, PutzProductions