Friday, July 30, 2010

Ancient Kingdom of Golconda, Near Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

The ancient kingdom of Golconda from the 13th century is today a city in ruins surrounded by a fort that is situated about 15 kilometres from the heart of Hyderabad city in Andhra Pradesh.

A Fort View
Though most of this city is ruins today, the Archaeological society of India have done a marvellous job of maintaining it and thus allowing the tourists to Golconda get a good glimpse into its rich history.

Carvings from multiple cultures
I visited this amazing tourist place sometime last month on a hot and sultry day. Not the ideal conditions to walk and climb through the rocky structures and terrain, but I am guessing that it was the weather that made me appreciate the architecture and the technology of this city even more.

Corridors at Golconda Fort 
The entry ticket cost me about five Indian rupees. As soon as I entered the perimeter, I hired the services of a government recognized tourist guide to help me understand the history better. His services cost me five hundred rupees for a full tour of the city lasting a little less than three hours.

Entering Golconda Fort
The start was not quite so fascinating with my guide helping me get an understanding of the layout of this city. But, as I kept going deeper into the city, its aura kept increasing.

Fortified Pathway inside Golconda Fort, Hyderabad
The most special feature of this fort is a acoustical system that was designed to be a defence technique wherein a hand clap sounded at the fort’s main gates, the grand portico, was heard at the top of the 300 foot high granite hill. I got a live feel of this when my guide asked his counterpart at the security gate below to clap his hands and when he did I was indeed speechless as it felt like a clap that originated just next to me.

Main Door of Golconda Fort
Though, this is the most famous acoustical system in this city, there are  others that deserve a lot of praise too. For example, inside the king’s chambers, one can hear even a whisper that takes place outside his room. This was designed so that he could over hear any plans of killing him.

Mosque at Golconda Fort
The other defence system that drew praise from me is the main durbar. The king would sit on an elevated room and his durbar would sit below. Though, he could see his people and hear them, the people could not attack him as there was no direct line of sight to the king. Thus, a knife aimed at him would hit one of the many crooked walls that separated him and his killer.

Mosque Minar at Golconda Fort
As we all know, today’s Hyderabad and yesteryear’s Golconda is situated in a dry region of our country and that water is a scarce commodity here. But, if you were to look at Golconda’s aqueducts, its water ponds and its water filtering system, then you would say that this city had an advanced water technology system.

Mosque on top of Golconda Fort
Water would flow into pond number 1 from a nearby lake through gravity. Then, they would be pumped into six other water ponds each situated at a higher altitude by slaves and cattle. At each pond, water would then be filtered and would undergo various different treatments. The final result, when the king and the queen bathe, they would receive hot water, cold water, water with rose fragrance, drinking water, etc. Quite un-believable right?

Nandi Rock Structure at Hindu Temple in Golconda Fort 
Coming back to my tour…This fort had at that time a near impregnable defence system with its main gates blocked by huge walls. The entire perimeter of the fort was blocked by high walls and the areas beyond had traps and then there were armed guards.

Ruins of Golconda Fort
The architecture in this city is mostly of the Islamic style, but at some places like the front Bala Hissar Gate, one can see both Hindu and Islamic architecture here. The mosques near the entrance and at the top also retain the architectural magnificence even till date.

Signboard at Golconda Fort 
As you walk towards the highest point on the fort through the steep rock-cut steps, you are awarded with stunning views of the Hyderabad city and the entire vicinity of the fort area.

The ruins form a beautiful view
It was a hot day, but I hardly felt the heat as the entire fort was so well ventilated. The designs are such that cool breeze could reach even the interiors of the fort. This can be seen especially in the King’s durbar, which seems like an air conditioned hall inside.

Work on the walls inside Golconda Fort 
There is a Hindu temple on campus, the Ramdas jail has Hindu gods and goddesses, there were different routes for the royal people and for the ordinary people, the designs are so unique and intricate, the well paved out gardens, and the overall royal look along with all its other features made this visit to Golconda a great experience for me.

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