Visit to Daulatabad Fort, a Day Trip from Aurangabad
Continuing on my blog posts on our trip to Aurangabad … this one is on Daulatabad fort. Daulatabad fort is just 12kms from Aurangabad. We set off all fresh and eager to explore this largest and strongest fort of Deccan plateau.
Originally Daulatabad was known as Devagiri, meaning hill of Gods. It was ruled by as many as six dynasties and each of them may have conquered this fort by deceit or strength. The fort was founded by Bhillama Raja of Yadava dynasty in 1187 and ruled by several rulers after him. In 1327 it was conquered by Mohammed-bin-Tughlaq. He was so enamored by the fort and the city that he decided to shift the capital here and renamed the city as Daulatabad. The fact that his mission failed is another story!
The fort is surrounded by three huge fortifications and is a unique combination of Ground fort and Hill fort. The first one, the Amberkot is around the city. The other two Mahakot and Kalkot are at the entrance to the citadel. The walls are steep and scaling them is near impossible. The fort is surrounded by two moats, (one of them now dry) and these must have been teeming with crocodiles then. Earlier days the bridge across the moat was made of leather which could be rolled up when attacked by enemies, we were told. The new iron bridge was built in 1952.
We were awestruck seeing the massive gates at the entrance with spikes studded on them. They are still intact, though if you observe carefully some of the spikes are missing. These gates prevented the entry and damage by elephants.
The trek upwards was a gradual slope. We must have climbed a couple of thousand steps here on our clamber to the summit. We had to go through series of pitch-dark tunnels with unbearable stench of bat droppings, zigzag paths, steep climbs at some stretches; we even crossed the bridge over a moat. Canons are mounted at various points, which may have been strategically important for the defense of the fort. We took short breaks in between, taking a peep here and a shot there.
The Chini Mahal has many mysteries and skeletons enclosed within it. This is where the last king of Golcanda Abul Hasan Tanashaha, the last king of Bijapur Sikander Adilshaha, Ganapati the last king of Kakatiya dynasty of Warangal were held as captives till they died or were mysteriously killed.
Daulatabad Fort was the pride of many Kings and Emperors in the past. And many have left their mark in the form of architectural splendors. The Chand Minar was built by Ala-ud-din Bahamani in celebration of his victory over the fort in 1435. Emperor Shah Jehan built the Baradari, the palace at the top of the hill. Sri Janardhan Swami, (who was a quilledar, an officer in charge of fort) a great saint meditated in a cave in the fort and is believed to have left his footprints there.
Pathetic Conditions at Daulatabad Fort
Well, today tourists too are leaving their marks. The condition of the moat is disheartening to say the least… filthy and full of plastic bottles :o(. Earlier enemies wouldn’t have waded through this moat for fear of crocodiles, today one look at the filthy water none would dare to put a finger in it!
The walls of Baradari (twelve windows) are scratched and scribbled on. It is disgusting to see the walls coated with telltale red stains that speak volumes about the thriving Indian paan industry. The Kings and Emperors will do several flip-flops in their graves if they ever come to know of the state of their palaces here.
Huffing and puffing, we reached the summit of Daulatabad Fort. The view from here is exhilarating. But for those few negative factors mentioned the palace seemed to be a well maintained one. Walking through those corridors of the octagonal palace with twelve windows-the Baradari, gave me goose pimples all over. Wasn’t this the same corridor through which Emperor Shah Jehan once walked?