Lying to the west of Hyderabad city at a distance of 11 km, the historic Golkonda Fort derives its name from a Telugu word
‘Golla Konda’ which means Shepherd’s Hill. With its extensive and elevated fortifications it was a landmark that governed the destiny of the south. The fort originally belonged to the Kakatiyas of Warangal. This is testified by the over-door carvings and relief work in stucco consisting of lions, peacocks, griffins and lotus at the entrance of Balahisar. In AD1363 it was ceded to the Baihmanis. After their downfall in AD1518 it became the capital of the Qutb Shahi kings (AD 1518-1687). The fort was extended and substantially strengthened by these kings with massive fortification walls having bastions and battlements. Subsequently Aurangazeb annexed it to the Moghal Empire (AD 1687) during the reign of Abul Hasan Tana Shan, the last ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty and appointed Asaf Jah as the Subedar of the Deccan province. Asaf Jah declared independence in AD1713 as Nizam-ul-Mulk and the Nizams held sway over Hyderabad until AD 1948.
Golkonda fort, one of the most famous and the biggest fortress in the Deccan plateau, was built on a 400 ft. high hill. It has three lines of massive fortification walls one within the other and rise to a height of over 12 m. The outer most wall was provided with a deep moat all around covering a vast area of the town with a circumference of 7 km. It has 8 imposing gateways and is buttressed with 87 bastions rising to a height of 15 to 18 meters. Each of these bastions was surmounted by cannons of varying caliber rendering the fort impregnable and strong among the forts of the medieval Deccan.
After the outer wall it has also a double wall that runs around the foot of the hill on which the citadel stands. Within the double wall, winding further up the hill, connecting the natural boulders with masonry walls is a third wall. An extension of the outer wall was made to enclose a small area on the northeast of the town in 1724 AD, which is now known as
Naya Qila. The well-planned township of Golconda located within the fort was one of the splendid cities famous during the medieval world for its extensive trade in gems and diamonds as attested to by foreigners like Marco Polo, an Italian traveler. The fort has a striking appearance and its higher area is covered with the remains of armories, magazines, mosques, granaries, reservoirs and audience chambers; while at the foot of the citadel are nestled the dwellings of the queens and princesses and homesteads of their retainers.
The fort has an ingeniously evolved water supply system. The water raised by Persian wheels was stored in overhead tanks at different levels. Water thus collected was effectively distributed to various
mahals, other apartments, roof gardens and fountains in the citadel through stone aqueducts and a network of earthen pipes by sheer force of gravity.
The important structures inside the citadel or balahissar are the imposing Silai Khana ( a three-storied
Aslah Khana – armoury building), Nagina bagh, guard lines, Akkanna-Madanna Offices, Ramdas Jail,
Darbar hall, ruins of Ambar khana, Baradari on the summit, an inner cordon wall, and a
Masjid raised by Ibrahim Qutub Shah (1550-1580 AD). The east gateway is the only entrance to the citadel and it is one of the biggest gates in the entire fort.
Signalling Device (Acoustic property): - A remarkable signaling device had been incorporated in the construction of Golconda Fort. The various edifices are so placed as to transmit sound to different far away points. If one stands at the center of the entrance portal and claps the sound is deflected by the opposite building, which is constructed at an angle to the entrance. Similarly if clapping sound is made from the opposite building, it will be carried to the hilltop, although at the other close points it may not be heard. It is believed that this was deliberately contrived to convey a message to the guards posted on the roof of
darbar hall regarding the visiting dignitaries.
The other buildings found inside the fort are Habshi Kamans (Abyssian arches), Ashlah Khana, Taramati mosque,camel stable, private chambers (kilwat), Mortuary bath, Nagina bagh, Ramasasa's kotha, Durbar hall, Ambar khana etc.