The Qutub Shahi Tombs are located in the Ibrahim Bagh, around 2 km from the main gate of the Golconda fort. They contain the tombs and mosques built by various kings of the Qutub Shahi dynasty. The galleries of the smaller tombs are of single storey while the larger ones are two storied. In the center of each tomb is a sarcophagus which overlies the actual burial vault in the below crypt. The domes were originally overlaid with blue and green tiles, of which only a few remain today.
The tombs are domed structures built on a square base surrounded by pointed arches, a blend of Persian, Pashtun and Hindu styles. They are structures with intricately carved stonework and are surrounded by landscaped gardens. The tombs were once furnished with carpets, chandeliers and velvet canopies on silver poles. Golden spires were fitted over tombs of the Sultans to distinguish their tombs from those of other members of the royal family.
During the Qutub Shahi period these tombs were held in great veneration. But after their fall, the tombs were neglected until Salar Jung III ordered their restoration in the early 19th century. The garden was laid out and a compound wall was built.
The tomb garden of the Sultans of Golkonda was known as Lagar-e-Faiz Athar (the place for bountiful entertainment) in the days of the Qutub Shahi rulers. Occasionally there used to be some item song, dance or play staged here in the evenings, free of cost to entertain the poor.
Almost every tomb has a mosque adjacent to it. The biggest and the grandest mosque is the one adjacent to the mausoleum of Hayat Bakshi Begum, popularly known as the great mosque of the Golkonda tombs. It was built in 1666 AD. Fifteen cupolas decorate the roof and the prayer hall is flanked by two lofty minarets. Hayat Bakshi Begum was the daughter of Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah, the fifth sultan, the wife of Sultan Muhammed Qutub Shah, the sixth sultan and the mother of Abdullah Qutub Shah, the seventh sultan. She was affectionately known as “Ma Saheba” (Revered Mother).
There is a mortuary bath, which was built by Sultan Quli to facilitate the ritual washing of the bodies of the dead kings and others of the royal family before they were carried to their final resting place. The bath is one of the finest existing specimens of ancient Persian or Turkish baths.
The Golconda fort is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent fortress complexes in India. The fortress rests on a granite hill 120 meters high surrounded with huge crenellated ramparts. Golconda also known as Gol konda (Round shaped hill) or Golla Konda (Shepherd’s hill) is a citadel cum fort. It is located 11 km from the city of Hyderabad in the Indian state of Telangana. The region is famous for the mines that have produced some of the world’s most famous gems like Koh-i-noor and Hope Diamond. The fort used to have a vault where once these diamonds were stored.
Golconda Fort was first built by the Kakatiya dynasty as part of their western defenses. The fort was rebuilt and strengthened by Rani Rudrama Devi and her successor Prataparudra. Later the fort came under the control of the Musunuri Nayaks, who defeated the Tughlaqi army occupying Warangal. It was ceded by Musunuri Kapaya Nayak to the Bahmini Sultante as part of the treaty in 1364. Under Bahmini rule, Golconda slowly rose to prominence and Sultan Quli Qutub-ul-Mulk was sent to Golconda as the governor in 1501 AD. Bahmini rule gradually weakened during this period and Sultan Quli formally became independent in 1538 AD, establishing the Qutub Shahi dynasty based in Golconda. Over a period of 62 years, the mud fort was expanded by the first three Qutub Shahi sultans into the present structure, a massive fortification of granite extending around 5 km in circumference. It remained the capital of the Qutub Shahi dynasty until 1590 when the capital was shifted to Hyderabad, but the fort remained to be the stronghold of the dynasty.
In January 1687 AD, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb led his force to besiege the Qutub Shahi dynasty at Golconda Fort. He surrounded the fort with 100 canons in order to breach the granite walls of the fort but with no success. The siege of Golconda lasted 8 months and on various occasions it had pushed the massive Mughal army to its limits, in fact the Golconda fort was probably the most impregnable fort in South Asia. After a siege of 8 months, the Mughals entered the fort through a decisive victory but through the secret treachery of Sarandaz Khan, a military official in the army of the Qutub Shahi dynasty, who was bribed to open one gate and let the Mughals enter the fort. Aurangzeb left the fort intentionally in ruins.
The Golconda 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 and halls, temples, mosques, magazines, stables etc. The lowest of these is the outermost enclosure into which we enter by “Fateh Darwaza” or Victory Gate (so called after Aurangzeb’s triumphant army marched in through this gate), studded with giant iron spikes (to prevent elephants from battering them down) near the southern corner. At Gateh Darwaza one can experience the fantastic acoustic effect. A hand clap at certain point below the dome at the entrance reverberates and can be heard clearly at the main hall, almost a kilometer away, a warning note to the royals in case of attacks.
It is an arduous task to discover every nook and corner of the Golconda fort which spreads across an area of 11 kms. A visit to the fort reveals the architectural beauty of the various buildings in the complex.
Warangal Fort is situated in Warangal in the Indian state of Telangana. It existed since 12th century when it was the capital of the Kakatiya dynasty. Most of the fort is in ruins and you can see the ancient fort walls scattered around the area. Warangal fort is spread over a radius of 19 km between Warangal and Hanamakonda. It was constructed during the reign of King Ganapti Deva and his daughter Rudramma Devi who ruled until 1289 AD and then under her grandson Prataparudra II, whose reign came to be known as the ‘Golden Age’ of Kakatiya dynasty.
The fort has four ornamental gates or arches, known as ‘Kakatiya Kala Thoranam’, that originally formed the entrances to the now ruined great Shiva temple. This Kakatiyan arch has been adopted and officially incorporated into the Emblem of Telangana state after the state formation in 2014. The temple inside the fort was dedicated to the Mother Earth, Swayambhudevi.
In 1323, Muhammad bin Tughluq marched to Warangal with 65,000 mounted soldiers carrying archery, attacked the fort and plundered and destroyed the city. In keeping with tradition, he ordered the destruction of the Swayambhu Shiva temple where the state deity has been deified. All that is now visible of the temple are remnants scattered around the fort. There are many ruins of wall slabs, brackets and ceiling panels, which are exhibited in the outdoor museum.
Within 150 meters of the archaeological zone is the Kush Mahal, which is a public hall built in the 14th century by the Delhi Sultans, who had captured the fort. The mahal which is rectangular in shape is built with huge sloping walls, sliced by six arched openings on each of its sides. There are approach steps on the northeast corner that provides access to the top of the structure, which has scenic views of the entire fort complex. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of Kush Mahal (or may be it got deleted by mistake) but I have the pictures of the exhibits and also views from the top of Kush Mahal.
Within the southern quarter of the archaeological zone is a big water tank. Inside this tank is a distinctive natural rock formation that protrudes above the water surface. This is called locally as Ourugallu (Single Rock) in Telugu, giving the name Warangal to the fort. A small temple is built over this rock. From the top of the rock one can get the panoramic view of the surrounding area.
Ramappa Temple also known as the Ramalingeswara temple is located in Palampet village 77 km from Warangal in the Indian state of Telangana. The temple is a marvelous example of Kakatiyan creative genius, with beautiful art, intricate carvings adorning the walls, pillars and ceilings. The roof of the temple is built with bricks, which are so light that they are able to float in water.
According to inscriptions the temple was built in 1213 AD by Recherla Rudra, an army general of Kakatiya ruler Ganapati Deva. The temple is known by the name of the architect Ramappa, who built it. It took 40 years to build this temple. Lord Shiva is worshiped in this temple as Ramalingeswara. The hall in front of the sanctum has numerous carved pillars that have been positioned to create an effect that combines light and space. The temple had remained intact even after repeated wars and natural disasters. There was a major earthquake during the 17th century which caused some damages to the temple.
The temple stands on a raised platform with lateral porched entrances on three sides. The main entrance faces east. The sanctum contains a black basalt linga installed on a high pedestal. Over the ceiling of the main hall is depicted the scenes from Ramayana, Siva Purana and other mythological narratives. The striking peculiarity of the building lies in the arrangement of bracket figures, above the kakashasana level decorated with slender graceful madanikas, Naginis etc. in different poses.
There are two small Shiva shrines on either side of the main temple. One of them has an enormous Nandi within, facing the shrine of Shiva which is in very good condition.
About a kilometer away from the temple is a lake known as ‘Ramappa Cheruvu’. The lake was constructed in the 13th century and is a magnificent example of irrigation work of Kakatiya Rulers. It is spread over an area of more than 82 square kms with lush greenery all around. The lake is overlooked by beautiful hills in the background providing spectacular views.
How to Reach:
From Warangal and Hanamakonda, there are frequent bus services to Mulugu which is at a distance of 50 km. From Mulugu there are frequent buses available to Palampet which is at a distance of around 20 km. The temple is around 500 meters from here.