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Published: December 10th 2017
These places are big, really big.
Not just big, but massive. Grand. Outlandish even.
The building blocks are huge, walls towering, and architectural details surprising at Golconda Fort, a complex of buildings that spreads over many acres and crawls up a hill. Seven kings (nizams) of the Qutb Shahi dynasty ruled over the fort from AD 1518 to AD 1687. The first three nizams built much of the fort during the first 62 years of their dynasty, fortifying the fort that had been there already for several centuries.
I launched my day of the big-place tour with a hike through Golconda Fort, noting the imposing outer walls that look exactly as you’d expect a royal fort to look. To my dismay, a group of bouncing teenagers beat me through the front gates, but I managed to slip by the pandemonium and trot on up the trail, admiring the rock arches and massive gates along the way.
The trail climbed, and I climbed the trail, very slowly—encountering a water reservoir, turrets, munition storage rooms, a small mosque, and a Hindu temple. On the hill summit is the three story darbar hall, from which I could see the city
of Hyderabad stretching into the haze, beyond the palace buildings within the walls of the fort below.
Also within view are the tombs of the Qutb Shahi nizams and relations, looking rather like giant billiard balls stacked on pedestals on the landscape. I visited this cemetery of sorts later in the day. Each ruler built his mausoleum and an associated mosque while he was still alive. To my delight, I discovered that the interior of each mausoleum, with soaring rounded ceilings, had exquisite acoustic properties. I sang inside each one, comparing the echos, feeling the vibrations, and imagining that the remains of the royal ones buried within appreciated my serenades.
An ambitious conservation project is restoring the glory of these monumental structures. One had scaffolding creeping up its rounded exterior, with a trail of workers clinging to its skin.
Yep, Big. Befitting of the bigness of the personages who ruled during those years.
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