Documentary Film Series on Golconda
During the reign of the Qutb Shahi Kings, Golconda became
world famous as a trading place for diamonds, though diamonds were never
mined in Golconda proper. Besides diamonds, the Kingdom produced other
precious stones like garnet, amethyst, topaz, agate etc. But pearls were
imported from Persia. Golconda became famous for the cutting and polishing
In 1645, a French jeweller by the name Tavernier visited Golconda and
the Qutb Shahi Kingdom, and chronicled in detail what he saw of the diamond
industry. He tells us that diamonds were cut and polished in a village
called "Karwan" near Golconda fort and that he saw 60,000 labourers at
work in the Kollur group (on Krishna river) of mines which was part of
the Golconda territory.
The Koh-i-noor as related by Tavernier was found in
Kollur near the River Krishna in the year 1656 A.D. during the reign of
Sultan Abdullah Qutb Shah. Meer Jumla who joined hands with the Mughals,
presented the diamond, while still uncut, to Shah Jehan. The stone then
weighed 787 carats. In 1665 the Koh-i-noor was seen by Tavernier, in Aurangzeb's
treasury (Travels in India by Tavernier). During the time of Mahmood Shah
(1739 AD) Nadir Shah took it to Iran.
After the death of Nadir Shah at Keleth in 1747, it was passed to his
grandson Shah Rukh in Meshed. In 1751 Shah Rukh gave it as a reward to
Ahmed Shah at Kabul, and later on it was passed by descent to his eldest
son Shah Zaman, and then to Shah Zaman's brother Sultan Shuja.
In 1812 the families of Zaman and Shuja went to Lahore and met Maharaja
Ranjit Singh, the last ruler of the Punjab and in return for some favour
it was presented to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In 1839, Ranjit Singh died
and at that time the Koh-i-noor was valued at one million sterling. Punjab
was annexed in 1849 by the East India Company and the diamond was taken
by Lord Lawrence and presented to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria. The Koh-i-noor
now weighed 106 carats and finally found its place in the Imperial Regalia
The PITT or REGENT diamond found in Paktial near Madras (present Chennai)
in 1701 originally weighed 410 carats. Later it was cut and reduced to
137 carats. It now lies in the Apollo Gallery of the Louvre, the French
The NIZAM diamond, 277 carats in weight, is said to be only a piece of
the mother diamond of 440 carats.
The GREAT TABLE diamond was also seen by Tavernier at Golconda. This 242
carat beauty was considered by Maskelyne to be exactly like the legendary
DARYA-I-NUR or SEA OF LIGHT of the Persian Shahs.
The HOPE diamond is believed to be part of the BLUE diamond shaped like
a drop that was found and sold by Tavernier himself to the French King
Louis XIV in 1642. Its weight was 67 carats.
historic fortress of Golconda is about IO Km west of Hyderabad. The old
name of Golconda fort was "Mankal". It was built on a hill which was once
the territory of the Kakatiya kings of Warangal in 1143 A.D. During the
reign of Sultan Muhammad Shah Bahmani (1358-1375 A.D.), Raja Krishna Dev
of Warangal handed over the fort in 1363 A.D. to Muhammad Shah Bahmani
of Gulbarga under a pact. Muhammad Shah named the fort Mohamadnagar.
There were five subedars (Governors) of the Bahmani Kingdom with headquarters
at Gulbarga and later at Bidar in 1518 A.D., Golconda was ranked among
the important forts of the Bahmani Kingdom.
After the death of Sultan Muhammad Shah Bahmani and
as a result of the instability of the kingdom these five subedars became
independent one after another. Sultan Quli, who was the subedar of Golconda,
proclaimed his independence and founded the Qutb Shahi dynasty in 1518
A.D. with Golconda as his capital.
The Golconda fort is as old as the Warangal fort but some historians claim
that it is about 2000 years old. Sultan Quii Qutb Shah replaced the old
Hindu mud fort with a strong fortress of stone. The Qutb Shahis ruled
Golconda for almost 170 years from 1518 to 1687 A.D. and various additions
were made by the successors of Sultan Quili. The first three kings of
the Qutb Shahi dynasty constructed the Golconda fort in a period of 62
years from 1518 to 1580. The walls and bastions were built of large blocks
of masonry, some of them weighing several tons. The gates were studded
with iron spikes and various other devices which were intended to prevent
elephants from charging at them.
From the time it was built, the city was repeatedly devastated by pestilence
owing to the scanty supply of water, therefore the bridge over the Musi,
which was built by lbrahim Qutb Shah in 1578, showed the way to the expansion
of the congested capital eastward. Muhammad Quti Qutb Shah laid the foundation
of a new city on the south banks of the River Musi. Hence, the town fell
into comparative insignificance after the foundation of Hyderabad.
The Golconda kings spent millions of rupees upon the fort for the command
of the Deccan. The walls were strengthened and canals were built adjacent
to the walls. Within the walls of the fort, scattered in all directions,
are a number of old buildings, mosques and places of historical and architectural
interest. Several well laid gardens have turned into patches of jungle.
Of all the mountain fortresses, Golconda is perhaps the most impressive
fortress, in ruins, in India.
Quii improved and fortified the fort. He also added new structures like
the Safa Masjid and the Daulat-Khana-e-Ali. The fourth King, lbrahim Qutb
Shah, also constructed many edifices within the fort during his long,
peaceful reign. The historian, Ferishta, tells us how the fortifications
around Golconda were rebuilt with stone and mortar and how the king established
an alms house (Langar Khana) and constructed a black platform (Kala Chabutra)
along with many tanks, mosques and colleges.
The royal nobles built their palaces within the fort
for security. In course of time Golconda became a picturesque city boasting
of gardens, broad thoroughfares and shops.
lbrahim Qutb Shah's reign witnessed the discovery of the fabulous, world
famous diamonds of Golconda at Kollur near Krishna river. The famous historian
Ferishta observes that Golconda was an international market place where
merchants converged from Turkestan, Arabia and Persia. Two of the world
renowned diamonds from here are the Koh -i-Noor and the so called Nizam's
Diamond. The Koh-i-Noor is part of the English monarch's Crown Jewels.
It is said that this celebrated diamond was given by Golconda's Prime
Minister Mir Jumla to Aurangzeb after the latter's successful siege of
Layout of the Fort
The fort is on an isolated granite hill and rises in splendour about 400
feet above the surrounding plain. The contours of the fort blend well
with those of the hill. Today, in the midst of the arid plain, the ruins
have a desolate majesty.
The fort's shape is an irregular rhombus, surrounded by a glacis. The
granite crenellated wall is over 7 Km in circumference with a deep trench.
The outermost segment is reached by the Fateh Darwaza (Gate of Victory).
Roughly a thousand yards ahead is the Bala Hisar Gate built into the wall
that circumspect the hill's base and protects the citadel. Finally, half
way up the hill one finds the third wall, a natural defence that was made
continuous by building in between the huge rocks on the hill. Above this
wall is the oldest section of the fort.
Walls and Bastions
Three granite walls of megalithic construction encircle the fort. The
outermost was extended to encompass a smaller fort on a hillock. The second
wait skirts the hill along its foot and the third, on the hill slope,
links the huge boulders. The exterior wall's thickness ranges from 17'
to 34' and is broken by the 87 semi circular bastion, 50' to 60' high,
fashioned out of massive granite blocks.
In the north-west corner lies Petia Burj, or the "big-bellied bastion"
jutting out from an angle in the fortification and commanding long portions
of the wall on both sides. The famous Fateh Rahbar gun is positioned on
the Burj. Another along the north-east, is called the "Nine-lobed Bastion"
and has a corrugated face with nine lobes. This design affords a greater
length of parapet for defence and greatly facilitates firing from all
are two other famous bastions. The first is Musa Burj situated towards
the south of the fort which was planned by Musa Khan who was Abdullah
Qutb Shah's general, and built by Dharmachar, the architect, to protect
the fort against the first Mughal invasion in 1656 led by Prince Muhammad
Sultan. The Azdha Paikar gun is kept on this burj.The other well known
bastion non-existent today, was Kaghazi (paper) Burj, so called because
the ingenious painters and craftsmen of Golconda fashioned overnight a
perfect facade of paper and cloth after a portion which was extensively
damaged by the Mughal guns one day before the fort actually fell. The
idea behind the dummy bastion was to deceive the invaders into thinking
that their guns had left it completely unscathed. The Kaghazi Burj is
only a small distance beyond Musa Burj and was originally made of granite
before Aurangzeb's force destroyed it.
A few of these Burjs, reveal Telugu inscriptions,
registering the local interest shown by the monarchs, and at certain points
in the fort, there are carvings of mythical figures that exemplify the
Hindu influence that prevailed on the Qutb Shahi Kings.
There are eight darwazas or gates in the outer wall: The Fateh, Bahamani,
Mecca, Patancheru, Banjara, Jamali, Naya Qila and Moti gates. Only four
gates are well known: the Fateh, Mecca, Banjara and Jamali. It was through
the southern Fateh (victory) Gate that the triumphant Mughal armies under
Prince Muazzam marched into the fort. It is best to enter the citadel
through the Fateh Darwaza, and after a detour, emerge out of the Banjara
Darwaza in the north west near the Qutb Shahi tombs. A narrow, winding
passage through thick, imposing walls leads to the Fateh Darwaza. The
large, angled loop holes on the ramparts provided the defenders with complete
control of the passage below.
The Fateh gate is 13 feet wide and 25 feet high. It was provided with
thick teak shutters and covered with iron sheets that were studded with
spikes to prevent elephants from battering the gates. In war-time, drunken
elephants were coaxed into battering the gates which were closed inside
by a heavy sliding timber piece. Cannon balls are still to be seen piled
up near the gate and some-guns can be observed even now. The inner gates
behind Fateh Darwaza are similar to the outer ones but are devoid of the
A remarkable signalling device had been incorporated in the Golconda Fort's
construction. The various edifices are so placed as to transmit sound
to different far-away points. If one stands at the centre of the entrance
portal and claps one's hands, that sound is deflected by the opposite
building which is constructed at an angle to the entrance. Similarly,
if a clapping sound is made from the opposite building, that sound will
carry to the hill-top although at other closer points it may not be heard.
The Banjara Darwaza in the north-west is a big imposing granite gate,
around 50 feet high. The parapet has been destroyed but the cornices showing
carved beasts suggest Hindu influence, just as in the Fateh Darwaza.
the Fateh Darwaza and the Musa Burj, within the fort wall, towards the
north-east, there lie the ruins of palaces of which only the Diwan's Mahal
remains fairly intact. This palace was the residence of Muhammad Sayeed
Mir Jumla. In later years, the two nobles Akkanna and Madanna who served
under the last Qutb Shahi king, Tana Shah resided in this splendid palace.
On the principal thoroughfare of the fort city of Golconda, adjacent to
the Habshi Kamans, is a small mosque with arches each 15 feet high, and
a court yard. An Arabic inscription at the entrance tells us that the
Jama Masjid was built by Sultan Quii in 1518 A.D.
Habshi Kamans (Abyssinian Arches)
Close to the entrance of Bala Hisar's inner part, there are two noticeable
features. The Habshi Kamans rise in front of the Bala Hisar Darwaza towards
the east. These are two grand arched structures between which passed the
road leading from the Langer House. On top of these Kamans were the rooms
where the Abyssinian guard of the Qutb Shahis lived, and the Naubat Khana
(Drum House) was located. Next to these arches is the second worthy feature,
the terrace like structure, stretching into the road marking the graves
of the brave Abyssinian men who died fighting to the last man against
Below the royal palaces, by the eastern wall, is the plain called the
Maidan of the Jilu Khana-e-Ali. At its centre lies a ruined mosque. In
the Qutb Shahi days, the Golconda armies used to salute the king who would
be at a Jharoka (window) behind the mosque. Hence, the salutation of the
fighting men was an expression of homage not only to the monarch but also
This marks the inner area of the fort meant for palaces and factories.
A wall separated the town from another wall that circled the entire hill.
The east gateway is the only entrance to the Bala Hisar and it is one
of the biggest gates in the entire fort. Hindu influence in the construction
of this gate is indicated by the carved figures of mythical animals. Similar
carvings can also be found on other parts of the fort's inner wall.
Immediately after entering the gate on the right is Nagina Bagh. It was
here that the loyal general, Abdul Razak Lari, was found wounded and close
to death after fighting the invading Mughals who entered the fort by treachery.
Lari became famous all over the Deccan as the symbol of courage and loyalty.
Nagina Bagh is now well maintained. Some alcoves and walls in the south
side and a big tank-like well reveal the artistic temperament of the Qutb
Silah Khana (Armoury)
A three-storeyed granite structure with vaulted cellars opposite the Nagina
Bagh, to the immediate left of the doorway of the Bala Hisar is Silah
Khana. To its right are the quarters of the garrison which are low buildings
going up the hill to a certain distance.
Ahead of the Silah Khana, to the left, are the ruins of palaces and factories.
They are probably the most interesting set of ruins in Golconda Fort.
Some of them rise to about five to six storeys and, once inside, one is
filled with wonder at the architectural genius of their builder. The harem
and sarais together with their dark, vaulted cellars, huge halls, fountains
and tanks (which could also be seen on the upper floors) constituted one
of the most striking examples of architectural excellence in India. In
fact, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and his nobles avoided living in these
grand palaces and chose to reside in more ordinary dwellings. One can
imagine how splendid these palaces must have been with carpets and curtains,
lamps and glittering chandeliers, nobles and the attendant servants.
Water Supply System
There was also an indigenous water supply system in these palaces that
kept the tanks permanently full and the fountains in action at every level.
Some remnants of the water supply pipes can still be found on the walls.
The water supply system of the fort is a proof of hydrological engineering
skill. Durg Tank which is about 5 Km from the fort was utilised for the
supply of water.
Fateh Rahbar Gun
This cannon is on a turret called Petia Burj (pot-belly bastion) on the
western wall of Golconda Fort and was one of those used during the last
siege of Golconda by Aurangzeb. Verses are engraved on the cannon, which
is 16 feet 2 inches long. The diameter of the bore is 2 feet 3 1/2 inches
and the circumference at the other end 8 feet 8 inches. There are other
cannons at Golconda but this is the most impressive among them.
Baradari of Bala Hisar and other monuments
double storeyed building at the top of the hill is reached after a strenuous
climb of about 360 steps. Originally known to the Golconda citizens as
Tana Shah Ki Gaddi (throne) and commonly referred to as Bala Hisar. This
unique edifice was made to look like a natural extension of the hill top.
It can be seen from great distances and is the highest point of the fort.
On the way to this monument, on finds a deep well to the left, now lying
totally dry. Perhaps this supplied water to the army. Further up, one
comes across a plat-form through a hole in which can be seen a wide, underground
tunnel. Opposite the platform are the ruins of the royal treasury or Ambar
Khana. A Persian inscription on the block of granite in front of the entrance
tells us that the treasury was built in 1642 during the tenure of King
Abdullah Qutb Shah. Here a wall was constructed with great skill, taking
the advantage of the huge rocks on the hill slopes. As the last line of
defence for the citadel, it was virtually impregnable. Even today, almost
350 years later, this wall is still firm.
A distance up the terrace is a mosque called lbrahim
Qutb Shah Ki Masjid, or the Mosque of lbrahim Qutb Shah. Even now, awe
inspiring ruins stimulate our imagination and afford us visions of past
beauty and royal splendour.
The Madanna temple is also in the Bala Hisar area. Madanna was a powerful
minister of Abdul Hasan Tana Shah and the temple was named after him.
The temple is a striking example of the tolerance of Islamic kings, who
allowed its existence in close proximity to their own residence and Assembly
In one corner of the palace is a big, round hole, reckoned to be the entrance
to a secret underground tunnel which surfaces 8 KM away at the Gosha Mahal.
For the safety of visitors, the passage is now blocked.
A stone staircase on the palace's western front takes one to the roof
of a courtyard. The Bala Hisar , the top most building, can be seen standing
at the courtyard's southern boundary. Stairs on the wall of the second
storey of the Bala Hisar take the visitor to the roof, in the centre of
which is a stone takht (throne). This is the highest point of the entire
Golconda fort. From here can be seen, on the south-west, elevated terraces
and two far-away hillocks. These are the Baradaris of Taramati and Premamati,
two courtesans of the royal harem of Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah and Sultan
Abdullah. At this high spot, it is said, the two kings would spend their
leisure hours, listening to the music of these two ladies, carried over
the distance by the wind. The Baradari are located on the Osman Sagar
road. About 70 steps take one to the top of the terrace on which is a
Opposite the Safa Mosque is an Ashurkhane, the house of mourning used
during ten days of Moharrum. The middle section of this structure was
destroyed, leaving only the surrounding rooms and corridors. Huge carved
stone trays are in evidence, and also wooden incense burners and other
artefacts in some of the rooms.
This massive gun is fixed on a turret on a road to the west. This cannon
was used by Aurangzeb's armies during the siege of Golconda and was called,
"Fateh Rahber" or "the guide-to-victory cannon".
A little further, on the way to the Banjara Darwaza, towards the Qutb
Shahi tombs in the north, lies Katora Hauz, a stone and mortar tank which
is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world. Constructed by
lbrahim Qutb Shah in 1560, its water comes from underground pipes. The
story goes that, for the Sultan, the Hauz was filled with fragrant rose
The Naya Qila or "new fort" is on a hillock north-east of the main citadel.
It was built by Abdullah Qutb Shah. This hillock was used as a base by
Aurangzeb for his first attack on Golconda in 1656. Once he had established
a truce with the Mughal invaders, Abdullah Qutb Shah set about fortifying
his defences. He extended the fort wall to include the new fort and built
such strong and formidable bastions to protect it, that the Mughals, during
their second invasion, avoided it completely and attacked from the south.
In the Naya Qila, the most fascinating section, besides the burj, is the
Baradari at the head of a number of pools and fountains. This was probably
the most beautiful of Golconda's pleasure resorts and in its original
form, must have been spell binding. Nizam Ali Khan, Asif Jah II, was a
frequent visitor here.
This mosque is situated within the New Fort. It was constructed in 1580
by Mullah Khiali who was a poet Laureate.
Aurangzeb's first attack in 1656 A.D.
During the reign of Abdullah Qutb Shah, the dominion was further extended
in the south, and through the conquering genius of the celebrated General,
Mir Muhamad Sayeed, Mir Jumla, a very large part of the Carnatic province
was annexed to the kingdom.
Jumla was a man of infinite capacity, but his ostentation and arrogance-gave
offence to the Qutb Shahi king who put his son in prison. Mir Jumla appealed
to Aurangzeb for help against his master in 1655, and this afforded a
pretext for Aurangzeb to invade the territory. Abdullah Qutb Shah sued
for peace and besides paying a heavy indemnity covering more than the
cost of the expedition,