Step back into time and get to visit this fort to understand how life must have been in the medieval ages. With steps leading high up to a hill-top overlooking the city, a masjid, a temple, beautiful gardens and high walls, the site is truly enchanting. Golconda Fort lies in Hyderabad, more on the outskirts portion, at a distance of 11 km from the city centre. The nearest commercial and urban locality is Tolichowki at a distance of 3 km.
Blast from the past:
The fort is more popular as a Muslim monument, built by the Qutub Shahi dynasty. However, the history of the fort precedes the Qutub Shahi dynasty. Legend has it that a local shepherd discovered an idol in the area and reported it to the Kakatiya king, who ordered a small mud fort built around the idol. Thus in 1143, the foundation of the fort was laid during Kakatiya dynasty’s rule. This fort was subsequently called Gollu Konda, which in Telugu means “shepherd’s hill”.
In the years that followed, the Bahamani Sultanate emerged victorious after long and fierce battles with rivals. They made Golconda their capital. Later, Quli Qutub Shah formed the break-away Qutub Shahi dynasty in 1518. For the next 72 years, the fort grew from a mere mud structure to a strong and massive granite structure up to a circumference of 5 km. In 1590, when the capital was shifted to Hyderabad, Golconda expanded to a circumference of 10 km.
In 1686, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb laid a siege to Golconda with his aim of expanding the kingdom. His troops were based and waited patiently at a place now called Tolichowki, meaning ‘post of the troops’. It seemed almost impossible for the Mughals to breach the walls, when after a tiresome nine-month wait, they finally managed the impossible in 1687. Some say that the fort would not have fallen had a traitor not sabotaged its walls.
What to expect today?
You can always hire a guide and understand the history of the fort better. Make sure you reach the spot at least an hour before 5 pm in order to reach the hill-top at a height of 400 feet to catch some cool breeze and a magnificent view of Hyderabad city. Visit the fort during Bonalu, a thanksgiving Telugu Hindu festival, when the entry to the fort is for free. You can explore on your own or simply relax in the gardens.
The spooky side:
To the psychic, there’s much more on the fort premises than it meets the eye. There have been innumerable reports of ghosts of thieves dwelling in the trees, apparitions in the form of shadows gliding down and cries of people in pain. It is believed that the ghost of Taramati, a courtesan who went on to become a queen, is still seen around. In the quest of ghost-hunting, don’t be too adventurous as visitors are not allowed in after dark.
The annual Bonalu festival held in July/August is the occasion when devotees flock to the temple within the fort premises for worship. Visit it on a Sunday during the festival for the darshan. Breaking the fast, or iftar, during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan on the fort premises can be a pleasant experience, too. Stay back for the light-and-sound show in the evening that is held daily. Be a part of the celebrations and enjoy the local Hyderabadi variants of the burger and biryani at nearby stalls.
Buses to the city from major cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Pune are readily available. For travelling to Hyderabad, you can book your tickets at ticketgoose.com. You can easily disembark at Tolichowki or Mehdipatnam and take an auto or bus leading directly to the fort. With so much of history, trekking, adventure and festivities in the offering, Golconda Fort definitely is an all-out enjoyment-cum-learning spot.