Golconda

From Academic Kids

Golconda is a ruined city and fortress 11 km west of the city of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh state. The city and fortress are built on a granite hill that is 120 meters high and is surrounded by massive crenellated ramparts. The beginnings of the fort date to the 1143, when the Hindu Kakatiya dynasty ruled the area. The Kakatiyas were followed by the state of Warangal, which was later conquered by the Muslim Bahmani Sultanate.

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Golcondafort.jpg
Golconda fort, a major landmark of Hyderabad

The fort derives its name from Golla Konda, which is the telugu word for Shepherd's Hill. It is said that a shepherd boy came across an idol on the hill. This led to the construction of a mud fort by the then Kakatiya ruler of the kingdom around the site. Nearly 200 years later Bahmani rulers (1364) took possession of the fort which later passed on to the Qutb Shahi dynasty around 1507. Over a period of 62 years the mud fort was expanded by the the first three Qutb Shahi kings into a massive fort of granite, extending around 5 km in circumference. It remained the capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty until 1590 when the capital was shifted to Hyderabad. The Qutb Shahis expanded the fort, whose 10 km outer wall enclosed the city. The Qutb Shahi sultanate lasted until its conquest by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1687. The fortress held out against Aurangzeb for eight months, falling to the Mughals through treachery.

Golconda consists of four distinct forts with a 10 km long outer wall having 87 semi circular bastions; some still mounted with cannons, eight gateways, four drawbridges and number of royal apartments & 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 Aurangzebís 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 the fantastic acoustical effects, characteristic of the engineering marvels at Golconda. 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 kilometre away. This acted as the warning note to residents in case of danger.

The tombs of the Qutb Shahi sultans lie about one kilometer north of Golconda's outer wall. These graceful structures are made of beautifully carved stonework, and surrounded by landscaped gardens.

The fortress city within the walls was famous for its diamond trade, and many famed diamonds including the Koh-i-noor and the Hope are said to have come from here. The wealth of the Golconda mines enriched the ruling Nizams of Hyderabad, which ruled the area from their independence from the Mughals in 1724 to 1948, when Hyderabad was annexed by India to become an Indian state. Hyderabad state was broken up in 1956, and Golconda became part of Andhra Pradesh state.

Admission in 2004 was approximately $1. Golconda is wide open for exploration, with few or no areas roped off from visitors.

The mining town of Golconda, Arizona, now a ghost town, was named for the Golconda mines. See also Golconda, Illinois.

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