Sunday, February 21, 2016

Four Hours of Nawabi Tales

Huge green V at Airport!
I did something very exciting last weekend! I was in two states at one time for 3 days!!! Before you guys make any assumptions – neither was it the momentary standing on some state border line nor am I lying. I did it, and believe me or not there are two places in India where you can do this and not just for days but weeks, months and even years! India has 2 pairs of states that share their capital – Punjab and Haryana share Chandigarh, and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana share Hyderabad – and I was in Nawab’s land last weekend! *Drum Rolls* Plus I visited an acoustic marvel of the ancient world!

Sunset at Hi-tech City - that is how late I was!
I visited Hyderabad last weekend on an official purpose – a corporate sports event – and was office bound or well sports-ground bound for most of the long, hot, sunny and tiring weekend. But to visit a new place and not wander around, my wanderlust alter ego would never let me rest, maybe for eternity. So after managing to gain exactly four hours of ‘free time’ from my crazy schedule, I did manage to submerge myself with the Nawabi feel and some old tales.

Just outside Golconda
Last Sunday, February 21, 2016, after a weekend of sports drama under the harsh Andhra sun, we (the whole contingent) returned to our hotel at 5:00 clock and I was lost about where to go because sadly all the historical and cultural places in Hyderabad close down by 5:30 PM and everything worth visiting is at least 40 mins away from Hi-tech city. Given the time dilemma, I decided to go the tourists’ way this time and did a google search for ‘places to visit in Hyderabad’ and guess what, I did find a place! Yay! Qutub Shahi tombs – 9:00 am to 6:30 PM. So without wasting much time, I called up two other folks and we set out to see the heritage area of the Qutub Shahi rulers! But all we discovered after reaching there was that Google needed a serious revision of its database because the guards at Qutub Shahi told us the place shuts down at 5:30 and did not allow us to enter the place even though the first of the seven tombs was visibly 500m away from where we were standing.

Lights on the ruins of Golconda
Our next stop was Golconda fort, but only for the sound and light show. Touristy yes but trust me it is so worth it if you love history! Golconda fort, about a couple of kilometres away from Qutub Shahi Tombs is one of the largest and most renowned forts of India, thanks to the world famous Kohinoor and Hope diamond and the light and sound show is one of the best ways to understand its glorious past specially if you are pressed for time.

Domes and Arches

Series of Arches every where
Golconda fort, though recognized as a marvel of the Qutub Shahi period, had its foundations laid back in late 12th century by the Kakatiya Dynasty and was a mere battlement back then. Lost and occupied by Bahmani Sultanate next the fort saw a lot of ups and downs in terms of management, economy and status as it was the capital for Bahmani Sultanate till it fell under the administration of Sultan Quli Qutub Mulk and was the ground of foundation of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty. The light and sound show tells you the whole story of the fort and the Golconda Kingdom till the very end when the Qutub King was betrayed to Aurangzeb and was destroyed. The forty minutes long show leaves you with wonder but also makes you feel for the kingdom that once flourished in art, architecture and culture.

Walls near Rani Mahal













Though you do not get to explore upper levels of the fort during or after the light and sound show, you can freely roam around the ground level if you were in for the 6:30 PM show and that is exactly what I did. The show had left me with a thirst of seeing more of the ruins that silently tell you about the place and more than anything leave you under a spell. Not using any metaphor here, but the place is such that any history lover would see or weave a version of ‘what happened there’ while wandering in the dim lit ruins. Qutub Shahi rulers had beautified the fort and modified the architecture with a lot of Indo-Persian elements, developing a sound communication system that makes Golconda fort a one of its kind acoustic marvel of India.

Light Show
Golconda Fort has dome like structures in the corridors and the surrounding palaces and due to the extensive use of clay, the walls have ability to reflect sounds. The Qutub Shahi rulers leveraged these advantages of the fort and developed a communication/warning system called the old phone system by the guides there. I had seen a show regarding the clap system of Golconda and also heard a guide explaining it to a tourist that day. 


This was the first time I had heard about the acoustic system!

Golconda Fort has a clapping portico followed by a series of arches diminishing in size, which enables a sound wave generated under the dome of the portico to get compressed and then bounce back amplified enough to reach a significant distance. The best way to experience this is to clap under the Fateh Darwaza aka the entrance gate and you can hear the clap faintly near Taramati Mosque and clearly at Ballah-Hisar which is almost a kilometer away from the gate.

The huge entrance or the Fateh Darwaza
Also inside the domes whispers travel through the columns and I tried this in the corridors near Rani Mahal – whisper to the wall at a corner of a dome and the whisper is audible at all diagonal corners, loud and clear. Experiencing this was probably the best part of my visit to Golconda and it makes the whole visit so worth it. Imagine the intelligence and the level of science people understood back then!

The domes corridors that make the acoustic system.
There architecture of the fort is very well thought of otherwise also. Situated on top of an hill, water needed to be transported to the whole area and Golconda had an efficient system of clay pipes devised for the purpose, which if you notice carefully you would still see around the corridors. 

Taramati Mosque 
The raised patio in front of the gate has strategically placed vents for pouring hot oil and shooting arrows giving the guards enough time to send out warning using the warning system. You also see a lot of curtain holders and storing chambers in the high domed passages and I noticed all of these without a personal guide in dim light!

Raised patio infront of the entrance
I am sure I have missed out a lot at Golconda, but I am glad I could gauge the brilliance of yet another kingdom of country. I decided to visit Golconda and Qutub Shahi tombs over Charminar because of the amount of history and architectural skills associated with them. Hope this article helps people like me who have really less time to wander in Hyderabad!

Ornate entrance
How to reach and what to do:
If you have considerable time to explore, reach Golconda by 4:30 PM explore the upper areas by 5:30 PM and take tickets for the 6:30 PM show. This way you get spared from the harsh day sun, cover the whole of the fort and also get to see half of Hyderabad at sunset.
For the sound and light show, buy the INR 80 ticket and wear full sleeves to save yourselves from mosquitoes. They do provide an Odomos with the ticket, but it is better to be safe than sorry right?
It is better to take an Ola or Uber from Hitech City, else you will really need to haggle with autos (auto charges are crazy) – Ola/Uber rate from Hitech city to Golconda range from 160 – 175 depending on traffic.

Darwazas outside Golconda Fort

Where to eat:
There are no good restaurants in 2km radius of the fort. And carry enough water with you because the hike is draining.

And I really hope Telangana Tourism increases the visiting hours to atleast 7 or 7:30 PM for places like Chowmahalla palace and Qutub Shahi Tombs. But for now, Golconda and Charminar are the only options for late evenings.

P.S – All pics are personal.

Memories! 

15 comments:

  1. Those vibrant pics of Golconda and Rani Mahal are just brilliant. I bet they looked awesome in that evening shade.
    I like how you give a description on how to reach there and what to expect (food wise) as well.

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    1. Thankyou so much Doc! And believe me They place looked amazing...i was so lost at a point that I totally forgot to click pics and was just admiring the fort.

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  2. nice pics.. i am sure gonna visit golconda for the light show.. these colors make me crazy ...i just want to click click click :)

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    1. Thanks Stuti :) Do visit and I assure you will go click click click :D

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  3. I had been to Hyderabad many years ago but didn't get a chance to see the Golconda fort in so much detail as you. Wish I had then...

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    1. You can obviously go again and this time explore the place more :)

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  4. You have captured Golconda beautifully bringing back fond memories of my visit to this place! Had been here as part of my college trip and initially instead of going around this fort, we were only whispering to see how our voices traveled!

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    1. Thanks Arun. We were also going crazy with the whisper thing...singing playing chinese whispers, calling out to each other! So much fun :D

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  5. Replies
    1. i am a localite in hyderabad and since this many years till now i have never seen somebody portrayed the monumental history of golconda in thier blog..,a true inspiration for a perfect blogger :)




































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