The grand ruins of Golkonda Fort

There is some connection between rains, ruins and me. I have always had rains for company whenever I have visited ruins. Be it Tintern or Hampi or Champaner. It is never a heavy downpour, mind you, but a gentle drizzle. So I was not really surprised when rain welcomed us on arrival at the Hyderabad airport last month. I was on a day trip to Hyderabad with Neena, a colleague, and we had arrived early in the city so that we could visit the Golkonda Fort, before getting down to business.

We got that first look of Golconda, rising tall and majestic in the distance from the car we were travelling in. With rain clouds in the distance, it made for an unforgettable picture. As we neared the Fort, we kept getting tantalising glimpses of the Fort, each one a little closer. By the time the car stopped at the entrance to the Golkonda Fort, we were raring to explore the Fort.

The passage leading to the entrance of Golkonda Fort

It was 9 in the morning, and with hardly any other visitors in sight and it appeared that we would have the Fort almost to ourselves. This also meant that we were swamped by a horde of guides before we even got to the ticketing office. Since we had decided not to hire a guide, we had to politely and firmly decline every offer of a guide service.

We hoped to get around the Fort with an information booklet on the Fort, which we were told was available here. To our surprise, the ticket clerk informed us that no such booklets were available for the Indian tourist, and the few copies he had were only meant for international tourists only! So we ended up walking through Golkonda Fort without a guide, without any information booklet and with only a few signposts and boards to help us find our way around. And of course, the rain !

The Golkonda Fort is a massive 3-tiered fort with 8 gateways and 4 drawbridges, surrounded by a moat. It would not be wrong to call it the Golkonda Fort Complex as it contains 4 distinct forts, granaries, armouries, mosques, royal apartments and halls, pools and gardens within, covering an area of 11 sq.km.

A fort wall within the Golkonda Fort Complex

Golkonda derives its name from the Telugu word golla konda, which means shepherd’s hill. Legend has it that a young shepherd found an idol on the hill that the Fort is built on. Considering this to be a good omen, the Kakatiya king at that time built a mud fort in 1143. This was the humble beginning of the Golkonda Fort, which over the centuries was then ruled by Warangal Kings, the Bahmani Sultanate, the Qutub Shahi dynasty, and finally conquered by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb in 1687.

Balahissar Gate

It was during the Qutub Shahi reign that the mud fort of Golkonda was transformed into the formidable stone fort complex that we see today. It was a task that took 62 years. The main entrance, also known as the Balahissar Gate, is stunning example of Indo-Islamic design. There are peacocks and lions carved into the lintel above the gate, which is bordered by rows of delicate scroll work. The massive doors have metal spikes to deter elephants from breaking the gates.

The pathway leading to Balahissar Gate is  twisted and narrow for a good reason—such a passage can slow down and confuse attacking elephants. Besides, it does not allow for leverage or transport of mechanical devices which could be used break the gates.

Detail from the Balahissar Gate. Though it is not visible in this photograph, the peacocks are embellished with blue coloured stones/tiles

Neena and I had a great time wandering among the ruins, exploring paths and broken down arches and buildings, and poking into dark and mysterious corners. Some of the ruins were labelled, while the signboards in many others were faded or missing. We did not always know the significance of what we were seeing, and yet it was a visual treat all the way.

Arches, and then some more arches !
A view of some of the many ruins within the Golkonda Fort Complex
Remains of a fort wall
Taramati Mosque
A chamber within the Royal Palace
A view of another set of ruins within the Golkonda Fort Complex
The arches hide steps which lead to the top of the Fort
Entrance to the Kali Temple located on top of the Golkonda Fort Complex
View of Hyderabad city from the top

We spent about 2 hours at the Golkonda Fort complex happily taking in the sights and clicking away (I inaugurated my new camera here—Panasonic Lumix F100). There were times when I regretted not having hired a guide, but on the whole it was fine. But then Golkonda Fort was one of those places that one needs to see and get a feel of. I love ruins, though not just in the romantic sense of pathos, neglect and destruction; but of a world that once existed, thrived, and lived. And the grand ruins of Golkonda did not disappoint on those counts. 🙂

I also know that this was just my first visit to Golkonda. There are going to be others, and hopefully it will be when I can explore it in leisure, maybe with a guide or an information booklet, or both. And that day cannot come soon enough.

PS: I wouldn’t mind if it does not rain that day 😉

29 thoughts on “The grand ruins of Golkonda Fort

  1. Most of the travel pictures (especially Hampi) are taken when there is sun glowing. You are lucky to have seen all these places in rain. Guides or information booklet or travel book – You should have one of these three since you are also a blogger, It helps to write better. Considering that you did not have an information booklet or a guide, you still were to come up with an amazing article. 🙂

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    1. That’s a wonderful way of looking at rain. Thanks for pointing this out to me. As for the information in the post, I compiled it from the information boards put up in the Fort. As for the dates, Wikipedia sindabad. 🙂

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  2. I am from Hyderabad and have gone to Golconda so many times only to be enthralled by it all over again every time. Once there was a photo exhibition about India (organised by Alliance Française) with huge photos (minimum 8ft by 8ft) all over the gardens of the fort. It was breathtaking!

    It is a beautiful place.
    Either you are very skilled at photoshop or you can do wonders with your camera, cause your photos are so radiant and that too for a grey sky day! Lovely pictures.

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    1. Wow ! Such huge photographs would have been stunning. I wish I could have seen it.

      I would not know what to do photoshop, as I find it quite perplexing. But yes, I have “doctored” all the photographs, but in Picasa by choosing the auto contrast mode. I do that to all my photographs as a practice. That’s all. Maybe its the effect of my new camera as well. But Prathma, the rains had made everything looks freshly laundered, if you know what I mean, and those colours have only been enhanced.

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  3. I had gone there a decade ago and remember seeing the ‘whispering gallery’ where the sultan sitting high above can hear even a whisper from those in the audience at least 15 feet below! We tried it and could really hear the whispers loud enough to understand them. the photographs are stunning. I didn’t have a camera with me then, but remember the climb and all the sights. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. That’s quite a bit of detail from the fort. Liked the way you have presented the pictures with stories from history. Had been there as part of my road trip “Trip Down Memory Lane”. I remember the Ramdas’s cave prison. And the place from where we could see the tombs. I’m often reminded of Ozymandias at such places. Historical places have so much to say. Thanks!

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    1. Yes, historical places have much to say and ruins so much more. And your suggestion about Ozymandias? Brilliant. I think I’ll recite it the next time Iam visiting some ruins. As for the details that I have put up about the Fort, it is put up at the entrance to the Fort, sans the dates. I only wrote it in my own words and added the dates which I got from wikipedia.

      Welcome to my blog, Tan, and thank you for stopping by and visiting. Hope you’ll be back 🙂

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  5. I am also usually torn between desire to learn more history and what happened where, and the need to feel a place and not be distracted by too many details. The pictures are beautiful and I think that the rain contributed to that by the grey skies and nice shinging greens. 🙂

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  6. Wonderful pics and post! By the way, Wikipedia is organizing a National Monuments photo contest this month. Check it if you’re interested. Only to contribute the grand database if not for contest! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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    1. Thanks Ganesh. I read about the Wikipedia photo contest and would like to contribute to the grand database more than the contest itself. You have contributed quite a few photographs yourself, haven’t you?

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      1. Thanks! Do tweet me the link if you upload one. I’ve been a sporadic but regular contributor to Wikipedia for about 6 years now. I don’t have a photo to suit this contest right now.

        Sorry if I sound propagandaist, but there are only a few things remaining you can do propaganda for!

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        1. I have to trawl through my digital collection to look for some decent photographs that I can contribute to wikipedia. And if I do send something, I will definitely send you the link.

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  7. Thanks for provideng awesome information about Hyderabad – Golkonda fort.. Golkonda images are too good.. I have many images of golkonda fort but ur images are very nice.. Thanks…

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