LONGGG POST ALERT!  If u love history, u will love it 😉

Heritage? Hyderabad? Wait! Aren’t  they synonymous?  3 yrs of  roaming around the nook and corner of the city in search of  forts, arches and tombs and I still have so much to explore. Last Saturday, I set out on one such Heritage Trail‘ which starts from Qutub Shahi Tombs [where the rulers of Hyderabad live beyond death] to Golkonda Fort [where they were born and lived in all royalty] The trail ends with the magnificent ‘Sound and Light Show’ at the Fort.

A brief about the history of Golkonda and Hyderabad before we get on with the actual trail.  Golkonda, which was known as ‘Managalavaram‘  during the rule of the Kakatiyas, derived its name from ‘Golla Konda‘ meaning ‘Shepherd’s Hill’.  The fall of the Kakatiyas to the Delhi Sultanate brought some anarchy to the region.  The Bahamani Sultanate [the first independent Islamic Kingdom in the South] fought against the Delhi Sultans and set up an independent state here in the Deccan.  It was during this time that the Bahmani king had dispatched Sultan Quli Qutub Shah to quell the disturbances in this region. After the disintegration of the Bahmani Sultanate into the five Deccan sultanates, he declared independence and took title ‘Qutub Shah’, and established Qutub Shahi dynasty of Golconda.

The 5th of the Qutub Shahi rulers, Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah was the one who founded the city of  Hyderabad and built the architectural center-piece , Charminar.  During his rule, there was a major outbreak of plague in Golkonda and so, in order to curb the epidemic and manage the water and other resources amongst the increasing population of Golkonda, he built another city, Hyderabad.  This king had a Hindu commoner named ‘Bhagmati‘ for his wife and so when he had initially named the new city as ‘Bhagnagar[actually meaning the city of gardens], a few ministers fought back that he had named it after his Hindu wife. In order to appease them, he renamed the city as ‘Hyderabad‘  [Hyder se aabaad (prosper)] and conferred the title of ‘Hyder Mahal’ on his wife.

The  Qutub Shahi tombs are one of the most authentic evidence of the this dyansty’s architecture.  Ensconced amidst picturesque and landscaped gardens, known as Ibrahim Bagh, lie these cluster of tombs dedicated to the 7 rulers of the dynasty who ruled Hyderabad. The area also houses other tombs for the remarkable women of the dynasty, a few relatives and noblemen who were married into the royal household or  served them faithfully.

The major highlights of the architecture are:

  • The work here is called Stucco work; its not carving.
  • There are odd no. of arches in every tomb [3 on each side here]

  • The two medallion like structures. Legend has it that a king from this family met a Fakir during one of his journeys and was offered kulchas to eat.  The Kind had 7 of them to satiate his hunger and the Fakir blessed him saying that his lineage would rule successfully for 7 generations to come. As a sign of good luck, these kulchas find a place on all their buildings in the form of these medallions.

  • The braided plait-like structure.

  • The petal-like enclosures at the top of the tomb.

One of the most important tombs here is of  Hayat Bakshi Begum, popularly known as  ‘Maa Sahib‘  [the area ‘Masab Tank’ in Hyderabad actually derives its name from her] She was the daughter of  the 5th ruler and occupied an important place in history for more than one reason. Her father had taken only one wife, unlike most rulers of the time and though he had just this one daughter from her, never looked forward to have a son to succeed him to the throne.  He trained her to be a good ruler and as women could not ascend the throne, got her married to his own nephew who could be her public face.  She was also probably the only woman who encountered a rival emperor, Aurangzeb, when he had taken her son into custody and tried to strike a deal with him. Needless to say, she has this beautiful tomb built for her along with a wonderful Mosque alongside it,  which is supposed to be one of the most well-maintained mosques in India.

The Mosque

In front of her tomb, we can also see a small mosque which was built over-night for Aurangzeb, as he did not have his own place to pray in the city.

Even the lamp-posts here are so artistic!

Another important tomb and one of the most exquisite ones, is of course the one belonging to the 5th ruler, the one who founded Hyderabad. It is the biggest of all the tombs here and also unique as it is the only one which has even number of arches. Also, he wanted his tomb to be built such that Golkonda and Charminar are visible from the point and it is so indeed.

This is the only tomb which has designs influenced by Hindu architecture – the pillars and the temple-like designs @ the top.  Remember – he had a Hindu wife, one he lovvved @ that 😉

Most other tombs are comparatively smaller and simpler.

The tombs are believed to have had tiles too, in royal blue and elegant green. Unfortunately, we only have traces to tell us about the same now.

Another important area here is the ‘Mortuary Bath’, where the bodies were taken for a royal bath and dressing-up before they were buried.

Here is the area where the bodies were bathed, 12 spokes representing the ‘Wheels of time’

The vessels used for giving a bath.

Let’s now proceed towards the destination of the trail ‘ Golkonda‘. I have visited the fort about 7-8 times now, but every single time, I get something new to see and learn 🙂

Everything here has been well planned and impeccably designed.  But obviously, it took Aurangzeb to bribe an internal member to get into the Fort. All the entry gates to the fort are S-shaped so that  even if the rival  elephants try to break the huge and strong gates, they don’t get much place for the approaching run-up an hence cannot gain the required momentum. And even if they did, hot oil would be poured from above.

Can u see the opening for the same in the pic here?

This fort is well known for it’s water supply system and its acoustics . The ‘Clapping Portico‘ situated right after the fort’s main gates has a perfectly designed Acoustical system. A hand clap here can be heard at the top of the citadel, situated on a 300-foot high granite hill.  This was used to alert the soldiers residing @ the top about the approaching enemy-army. There are many such  fascinating features here which could gather even a whispered gossip from anybody living in the fort and none of them could escape from reaching the King’s ears.

The other amazing feature is the ‘Water System‘.

The water pipes were built inside the walls and plastered so that they could supply water, at the same time keeping the entire fort cool!

The Dhobi Ghat lies @ the bottom-most point so that the royal members can discard the soiled clothes as soon as they enter the fort and need not carry it all the way up.  Also because very few members were allowed to go all the way up to the palaces of the Kings and the Queens. The Armoury is found at the foothills too so that huge arms need not be carried for long distances when needed and also to save time.

Other important landmarks:

Place were important meetings, gatherings and mass prayers were held.  Entry for most people was limited upto this point.

The adjacent chamber where the visitors would stay

Special rooms for visitors dear to the regal household

One of the rooms in the Rani Mahal – where the queens lived.

The minaret structure at the top is the Durbar hall, where the King [the 7th Ruler] used to sit and watch performances by his favorite courtesans, Taramati and Premamati.

The two lived and performed @  Taramati Baradari ,  a special place built for the purpose, some distance away from the fort.  A simple structure, but it stands magnificent in poise and beauty.   It’s been so well designed acoustically, yet again, that  any sound made , right in the centre of the Baradari carries clearly over to the Golkonda fort.  Talk about luxury – this is how the King used to listen to the music resonating from this Baradari!

An old pic from Taramati Baradari

As a tribute, both Taramati and Premamati were buried in the royal cemetery, the Qutub Shahi Tombs.

Tombs for Taramati and Premamati

Photography is prohibited during the ‘Sound and Light Show’. So, if you see any pics anywhere else, its of-course illegal and those people have gone against the rules 8)

The night-lit fort looks splendid!

Wow! It feels so nice to live in a Heritage City 😀

Let’s remember 🙂