Posts Tagged ‘fort’

An underground tunnel leads from inside the ramparts of the Golconda Fort to the walled compound (at a distance of about 3 kilometers from the fort), where all the seven kings of the Qutub Shahi dynasty (and other important family members) are interred. The tombs within this complex have been built in the time period of mid 1500s to late 1600s.

The structures stand today, weathered, but tall and sturdy. They bear testimony to the lives of the men or women who have lived within the walls of the Golconda Fort and have left a lasting legacy in some form or the other in the area where the current Hyderabad city in India flourishes.

At first glance, each tomb looks similar in shape to the one next to it. However, when you pay closer attention to the details, you see the big and small differences that point to the fact that the architect of each edifice was an individual with distinct visions, beliefs, and interests.

This collection of majestic structures is somber, yet ethereally beautiful.

When I stood in the middle of the circle of tombs, I felt oddly connected with all those people who had stood some hundreds of years ago in exactly the same spot, breathing the air that I did — maybe even aspiring for some of the same things that I do today – and possibly looking about them and willing themselves to remember the moment in time when they came face to face with the fragility of human life.

A map of the complex of tombs outside its entrance


This is a fake grave for the visitors. The actual body is, I was told, buried underground in an actual grave



The Assembly Hall at Golconda as seen from the top of one of the tombs


The unfinished tomb of Abul Hassan Tani Shah, the last Qutub Shahi ruler of Hyderabad. He died in captivity elsewhere, and hence his body is not interred inside this structure. I learned that the dome on top of the tomb is built only after the interment of the body. Also, interestingly, this edifice stands alone outside the compound wall that protects the rest of the tombs.


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Golconda Fort, which began its life as a mud fort, has withstood the assault of natural elements and humans for centuries and stands tall and aloof to this day. There are features inside the fort that are technologically so advanced that they could teach a thing or two to the military and engineers today.

Intimate details like: the low-roofed cubbyholes in the bodyguards’ barracks, where obviously the guards lived away from their own families with bare minimum necessities so they could protect their lord and master; or the alcoves in the walls of the queen’s palace where make-up articles could be stored; or the walkways within the several gardens that are smooth and worn from generations of ancient feet strolling over them tugged at my heart.

As I walked through the ruins of the Rani Mahal (the queen’s palace) and the zenana (the women’s quarters where the king’s harem lived), I could almost hear the rustle of silks as the women walked by in their colorful ghagharas and cholis (long skirts and intricately embroidered blouses), the numerous bangles on their hands tinkling in unison with their giggles and laughter.

They brought to my mind the fact that women and men — who had desires, aspirations, and likes and dislikes probably similar to mine — lived and died here. Some of them probably enjoyed the rich lifestyle given them inside these walls, but there were countless others who strained at the invisible ropes binding them to these palaces.

All that remains now to show for the lives of the various residents of the fort over the centuries are its somber ruins.

Here are more pictures I took inside the fort…

This tall wall curtains off the main entrance to the fort and fools everyone into thinking it’s just a rampart wall. It has parapets above it, behind which soldiers used to crouch and take inventory of the enemy camps during battles. The entry inside the wall that leads to the gigantic doorway is quite narrow, thus protecting the entrance to the fort from the direct assault of an army.


The doors guarding the entrances are made of metal and have pointed studs on them to prevent the use of elephants and large logs to crash the doors down during battles


Barracks where bodyguards lived. These barracks are situated right by the entrance. Obviously, if anyone wanted to enter the fort surreptitiously, they'd have to deal with the bodyguards first


One of the many reservoirs found throughout the fort -- they were used to store water for the residents' use and also to water the many gardens


Pipes made of baked clay were fitted inside the walls of the fort all the way to the top which were used to pump water (using Persian wheels) from a lake at ground level, filling several tanks at various levels strewn inside the fort


The king's mosque at the top of the fort


A temple inside the fort, built by the Hindu ministers during the reign of the last ruler of the Qutub Shahis. This was one of the highlights of the fort for me. Up until then, I was immersed in the Islamic architecture and lifestyle. I turn a bend in the road and there I was staring at a huge “Om” (the symbol written in saffron over a white background in the picture, one of the most recognized symbols of the Hindu religion), on top of a temple right at the heart of the fort. And it does not seem out of place. In fact, it seems just right. You see such sights throughout India


Queens' Palace -- these buildings used to be three storeys high before Aurangazeb's canons reduced them to ruins and rubble


Private gardens for the enjoyment of the queens


Inside the queens' palace


Inside the harem -- cordoned off now to prevent graffiti on the walls


Durbar or the king's assembly hall. It can get suffocatingly hot in Hyderabad during summer. Inside, where the king’s throne sits, the hallway has been so designed so that cool air flows through it during all seasons of the year. Basically, it was air-conditioning.


Ruins of a once rooftop garden

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