The Golconda Fort – rather its majestic and awe-inspiring ruins – sits on top of a granite hill, at the heart of the old city of Hyderabad. Its origin dates back to the late 1300s. The area where the fort and the city of Hyderabad now exist (it comes under a larger area known as the Deccan) used to be under the rule of Hindu kings originally.
During the reign of Raja Pratap I of the Kakatiya dynasty, it is said, a shepherd had suggested that the king build a fort on top of the hill where the structure squats now. The king acknowledged the wisdom behind the advice and built a mud fort on top of the hill. He then magnanimously named it after the initiator of the idea, the shepherd. (Golconda, a Telugu word, is the combination of two words: Golla = shepherd, konda = hill.)
By the 1500s, times had changed and parts of India had come under the rule of Turks and Persians, and Islamic rulers from elsewhere. In 1512 A.D, the Deccan fell into the hands of Quli Qutub Shah, the first king of the Qutub Shahi dynasty, who made Golconda his capital (there was no city of Hyderabad by then). Thus began the exposure of the area to foreign architecture, traditions, and culture, all of which would eventually make it one of the stronger hubs of Muslim culture in India.
The Golconda fort is also known as the house of Kohinoor. Kohinoor, once the largest diamond in the world, was originally mined from this area. It was also one among the many national treasures of India that were looted and borne away to foreign lands by invaders. The diamond has changed hands over the centuries and now is one of the British Crown Jewels.
The fort stayed impregnable for a long time, until the advent of guns and canons. Even then it withstood one of the strongest militaries of the time, the Mughal army (led by Aurangazeb, during the long-enduring Mughal campaign to establish control over South India), for months on end. It was during this siege that Golconda finally succumbed and fell into the hands of Aurangazeb.