Golconda, is the name given to a city in India which was formerly a center of the diamond trade.
Golconda also denotes "a rich mine" or "any source of great wealth".
The city of Hyderabad is famous for its breathtaking monuments. The majestic and imposing monument whic lies on the Wester outskirts of Hyderabad City - Golconda Fort, unravels with it the 400 years of the rich cultural heritage of this city.
Built by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah in 1525, the Golconda Fort epitomizes the opulent new culture of the time.
The Legend: A Shepherd's Hill
According to a legend, "Shepherd's Hill or "Golla Konda", as it was popularly know in Telugu, has an interesting story behind it. One fine day, on the rocky hill called Mangalavaram, a shepherd boy came across an idol. This was conveyed to the Kakatiya King, who was ruling at that time. The King got a mud Fort constructed around the Holy spot. Over a period of time this lowly construction was expanded by the Qutb Shahi Kings into a massive Fort of granite which has been a silent witness to may historic events. Every nook and corner of this splendid monument echoes the unparalleled history of a bygone era.
The impregnable Fort was cradled by many Dynasties and it was of strategic importance to most of the rulers. In 1518, when the Qutb Shahi Dynasty was found, Golconda was made its capital. The subsequent generations saw Golconda being fortified further with several additions and the formation of a beautiful city within.
Impregnable Fort and its Rise
In the 16th century, Golkonda was the capital and fortress city of the Qutb Shahi kingdom, near Hyderabad. The city was home to one of the most powerful Muslim sultanates in the region and was the center of a flourishing diamond trade.
By the 17th Century, Golconda was famous as a Diamond Market. It gave the world some of the best known diamonds, including Kohinoor.
The Mines of Golkonda themselves yielded diamonds of trifling quantity. Europeans knew that diamonds were found only in these fabled mines. Golkonda was, in fact, the market city of the diamond trade, and gems sold there came from a number of mines. The fortress city within the walls was famous for diamond trade.
Magnificent diamonds were taken from the mines in the region surrounding Golkonda, including Darya-e Nur, meaning sea of light, at 185 carats (37 g), the largest and finest diamond of the crown jewels of Iran.
Many famed diamonds are believed to have been excavated from the mines of Golkonda, such as:
The Hope Diamond
The Regent Diamond
By the 1880s, Golkonda was being used generically by English speakers to refer to any particularly rich mine, and later to any source of great wealth.
This fort amazes me with the technical expertise on display. The magnificent architecture of the Golconda Fort is manifest in its acoustic system, the structural grandeur of the palaces and ingenious water supply system.
At Fateh Darwaza can be experienced a fantastic acoustic effect, characteristic of the engineering marvels at Golkonda. A hand clap at a certain point below the dome at the entrance reverberates and can be heard clearly at the 'Bala Hisar' pavilion, the highest point almost a kilometre away. This worked as a warning note to the royals in case of an attack.
Also in this fort is the story of Ramadas, Kancharla Gopanna, popularly known as Bhaktha Ramadaasu, a devout Hindu who constructed Bhadrachalm temple without informing the sultan at that time Tana Shah, was kept in a jail located inside the fort.
It is believed that there is a secret underground tunnel that leads from the "Durbar Hall" and ends in one of the palaces at the foot of the hill.
Golkonda consists of four distinct forts with a 10 km long outer wall with 87 semicircular bastions (some still mounted with cannons), eight gateways, and four drawbridges, with a number of royal apartments & halls, temples, mosques, magazines, stables, etc. inside.
Ruins of the Fort
Bala Hissar Gate is the main entrance to the fort located on the eastern side. It has a pointed arch bordered by rows of scroll work. The spandrels have yalis and decorated roundels. The area above the door has peacocks with ornate tails flanking an ornamental arched niche. The granite block lintel below has sculpted yalis flanking a disc. The design of peacocks and lions is a blend of Hindu – Muslim architecture.
Toli Masjid, situated at Karwan, about 2 km from the Golkonda fort, was built in 1671 by Mir Musa Khan Mahaldar, royal architect of Abdullah Qutb Shah. The facade consists of five arches, each with lotus medallions in the spandrels. The central arch is slightly wider and more ornate. The mosque inside is divided into two halls, a transverse outer hall and an inner hall entered through triple arches.
Taramathi Gana and Premathi Nritya Mandir
You can see two separate pavilions in outside of Golconda Fort, built on a rocky prominence the Taramathi Gana Mandir and the Premathi Nritya Mandir, both the legendary sisters Taramathi and Premamathi resided. Both gave their performance on a circular dais atop a two-storied structure, the Kala Mandir, which was visible from the king's durbar (king's court) on top of the Golconda Fort.
Qutub Shahi Tombs
The fort also contains the tombs of the Qutub Shahi kings. These tombs have Islamic architecture and are located about 1 km north of the outer wall of Golconda. They are encircled by beautiful gardens and numerous exquisitely carved stones. It is also believed that there was a secret tunnel to Charminar. The tombs of the Qutb Shahi sultans lie about one kilometer north of Golkonda's outer wall. These structures are made of beautifully carved stonework, and surrounded by landscaped gardens. They are open to public and receive many visitors.
Mahakali Temple and Bonalu Festival
Mankal is the other name of the place where Golconda Fort is situated. It derives its name from the Kai Temple which to this date exists in the premises of the Fort.
Bonalu is a Hindu festival of the Goddess of power, Mahakali, celebrated in Hyderabad, Secunderabad and parts of Telangana and Rayalaseema in India.The festival is also considered a thanksgiving to the Goddess for fulfillment of vows.
Bonam means Bojanaalu or a meal in Telugu, is an offering to the Goddess.
Bonalu festival begins with the Golconda Mahankali, located inside the Golconda fort, and follows with Secunderabad's Ujjaini Mahakali Temple also called as Lashkar Bonalu, Balkampet Yellamma temple and then to the old city.
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