Indian cinema is known for its beautiful locations. With a country covering over 3,287,590 square kilometers and a regional history spanning thousands of years, the landscape reflects the rise and fall of many civilizations and dynasties.
One of those dynasties is the Golconda Sultanate which ruled in the area of modern-day Andhra Pradesh in southern India from 1518-1687. Golconda comes from the Telugu word Golla Konda which means "Shepherd’s Hill". According to legend, in 1143AD a shepherd boy found an idol in the area and the Kakatiya king ordered a mud fort to be built around it. From humble beginnings came a massive architectural wonder known as Golconda Fort.
Golconda Fort has a rich history. The Kakatiyas of Warangal were a south Indian dynasty that ruled over the Telugu speaking lands from 1083-1323. The Kakatiya dynasty is regarded as one of the golden ages of Hindu rulers who encouraged literature, art and architecture. It is said that the world famous Koh-i-Noor ("Mountain of Light") diamond was found here during the Kakatiya rule. Golconda architecture reflects Kakatiya influence through over-door carvings and relief work in stucco consisting of lions, peacocks, griffins and lotus.
In 1363, Golconda Fort was ceded to the Bahmani Sultanate along with three hundred elephants, two hundred horses and a large sum of cash. As the eastern border of the Bahmani kingdom, Golconda was vital to protecting this border for the next 150 years. After the downfall of the Baihmanis, Golconda became the capital of the Qutb Shahi kings (also known as the Golconda Sultanate) from 1518-1687.
During this time, the trade in diamonds and semi-precious stones grew significantly and the Sultanate expanded the mud fort into a massive, expansive, and impregnable fortress of granite, with a circumference that extended to around 5 kilometers. During the reign of the fifth sultan of this Shia Muslim dynasty, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (1580–1611), relations between Hindus and Muslims were strengthened, even to the point of Hindus resuming their religious festivals like Diwali and Holi and Hindus rose to prominence in the Qutb Shahi state.
The fort finally fell into ruins after it was taken by Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in 1687. It is said that, after a nine-month siege, the walls of this mighty bastion were breached by the emperor due to a traitor who sabotaged the gate.
The Golconda Fort is one of the most recognized landmarks in Andhra Pradesh and a dream location for anyone drawn to medieval architecture.
Golconda actually comprises four distinct forts surrounded by a 10 kilometer outer wall that is over 12 meters high. There are eight gateways, four drawbridges, and 87 semicircular bastions rising 15-18 meters- some still mounted with cannons. The colossal entrance gates are fitted with iron spikes to thwart elephants from damaging them. Within the forts are a multitude of royal apartments and halls, temples, mosques, magazines, stables, and graceful gardens which reflect both Hindu and Muslim architecture.
According to culturalindia.net:
The fort is built on a granite hill at a height of around 120 meters and is bordered by thick walls. The stone blocks used for constructing these massive walls weigh several tons. The structure is such that though closed, it allows much space for all over ventilation, thus allowing circulation of cool breeze that provides respite from the summer heat.
The architecture of the fort was built with acoustics in mind. According to the Archeological Survey of India:
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.
Golconda Fort has been used as a location for several Indian films including:
- Wanted, a 2009 Hindi crime action thriller starring Salman Khan. In fact, Wanted is a remake of the Telugu film Pokiri (2006), starring Mahesh Babu, as was the Tamil film Pokkiri (2007), starring Vijay. All three films used Golconda fort as the setting for one of the major scenes in the story.
- Magadheera, a 2009 Telugu historical drama-romance action film starring Ram Charan Teja and Kajal Aggarwal
The film screenshots above are from Velayudham. The playlist below features the Golconda Fort scenes from Magadheera and Wanted (violent scene), followed by videos documenting the history and architecture of Golconda Fort.
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