Golkonda, also known as Golconda, Gol konda (“Round shaped hill”), or Golla konda, (Shepherds Hill) is a citadel and fort in Southern India and was the capital of the medieval sultanate of the Qutb Shahi dynasty (c.1518–1687), is situated 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) west of Hyderabad. It is also a tehsil of Hyderabad district, Telangana, India. The region is known for the mines that have produced some of the world’s most famous gems, including the Koh-i-Noor, the Hope Diamond, Nassak Diamond and the Noor-ul-Ain.
Golkonda was originally known as Mankal.Golkonda Fort was first built by the Kakatiya dynasty as part of their western defenses along the lines of the Kondapalli Fort. The city and the fortress were built on a granite hill that is 120 meters (480 ft) high, surrounded by massive battlements. The fort was rebuilt and strengthened by Rani Rudrama Devi and her successor Prataparudra.Later, the fort came under the control of the Musunuri Nayaks, who defeated the Tughlaqi army occupying Warangal.It was ceded by the Musunuri Kapaya Naidu to the Bahmani Sultanate as part of a treaty in 1364.
The Golkonda fort is listed as an archaeological treasure on the official “List of Monuments” prepared by the Archaeological Survey of India under The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. Golkonda actually consists of four distinct forts with a 10 km long outer wall with 87 semicircular bastions (some still mounted with cannons), eight gateways, and four drawbridges, with a number of royal apartments and halls, temples, mosques, magazines, stables, etc. inside. The lowest of these is the outermost enclosure into which we enter by the “Fateh Darwaza” (Victory gate, so called after Aurangzeb’s triumphant army marched in through this gate) studded with giant iron spikes (to prevent elephants from battering them down) near the south-eastern corner. At Fateh Darwaza can be experienced a fantastic acoustic effect, characteristic of the engineering marvels at Golkonda. A hand clap at a certain point below the dome at the entrance reverberates and can be heard clearly at the ‘Bala Hisar’ pavilion, the highest point almost a kilometer away. This worked as a warning note to the Royals in case of an attack.
The whole of the Golkonda Fort complex and its surrounding spreads across 11 km of total area and discovering its every nook is an arduous task. A visit to the fort reveals the architectural beauty in many of the pavilions, gates, entrances, and domes. Divided into four district forts, the architectural valor still gleams in each of the apartments, halls, temples, mosques, and even stables. The graceful gardens of the fort may have lost their fragrance, for which they were known 400 years ago, yet a walk in these former gardens should be in your schedule when exploring the past glories of Golkonda Fort.
Bala Hissar Gate is the main entrance to the fort located on the eastern side. It has a pointed arch bordered by rows of scroll work. The spandrels have yalis and decorated roundels. The area above the door has peacocks with ornate tails flanking an ornamental arched niche. The granite block lintel below has sculpted yalis flanking a disc. The design of peacocks and lions is a blend of Hindu – Muslim architecture.
Toli Masjid, situated at Karwan, about 2 km from the Golkonda fort, was built in 1671 by Mir Musa Khan Mahaldar, royal architect of Abdullah Qutb Shah. The facade consists of five arches, each with lotus medallions in the spandrels. The central arch is slightly wider and more ornate. The mosque inside is divided into two halls, a transverse outer hall and an inner hall entered through triple arches.
Much thought went into building this gate. A few feet in front of the gate is a large wall. This prevented elephants and soldiers (during enemy attacks) from having a proper ramp to run and break the gate.
The fort of Golkonda is known for its magical acoustic system. The highest point of the fort is the “Bala Hissar”, which is located a kilometer away. The palaces, factories, water supply system and the famous “Rahban” cannon, within the fort, are some of the major attractions.
It is believed that there is a secret underground tunnel that leads from the “Durbar Hall” and ends in one of the palaces at the foot of the hill. The fort also contains the tombs of the Qutub Shahi kings. These tombs have Islamic architecture and are located about 1 km north of the outer wall of Golkonda. They are encircled by beautiful gardens and numerous exquisitely carved stones. It is also believed that there was a secret tunnel to Charminar.
The two individual pavilions on the outer side of Golkonda are also major attractions of the fort. It is built on a point which is quite rocky. The “Kala Mandir” is also located in the fort. It can be seen from the king’s durbar (king’s court) which was on top of the Golkonda Fort.