A Visit to the Magnificent Fort of Daulatabad in Maharashtra

Daulatabad Fort originally known as Devgiri is a magnificent medieval fort built by the Yadava dynasty in the 12th century. The fort sits on a conical hill dominating the panorama with an amazing defense mechanism with three encircling fortification walls. Devgiri was renamed to Daulatabad ‘the city of wealth’ by Muhammad Bin Tughlaq who moved the capital of his kingdom from Delhi to Daulatabad in the 14th century for the strategic position and immense wealth of the city.

We first read about the Daulatabad Fort on our visit to Qutub Shahi tombs in Hyderabad. Amidst the magnificent tombs of Qutub shahi dynasty, was an incomplete tomb of the eighth sultan Abu Hassan Tana Shahi which piqued our interest. Abu Hassan initiated his tomb construction but was soon imprisoned by Aurangzeb in Daulatabad Fort of Aurangabad where he died and was later buried in a simple tomb in Khuldabad some 25 km from Aurangabad.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Mahakot (Main Entrance Gate)

One of the main features of the defense system of the Daulatabad fort are the lofty entrance gates. The wooden doors are studded with pointed spikes intended to wound the enemy elephants which were used to break open the gates.

We walked past the main entrance called Mahakot into a courtyard with guard rooms on both sides which housed several cannons mounted on carriages. The cannons are said to be collected from different points in the fort.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

The path from the main entrance to the summit has a succession of gateways none of which are built parallel. Few of the gates also have false gates, watchtowers, and recesses where soldiers could hide to attack the invading army scouring the way.

A small low-roofed gallery pictured below had beautifully carved pillars but we were clueless on what it would have been used for in the older times probably guard rooms though it did look like Jain temple in ruins.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Saraswati well

On the opposite side, behind a small mosque is a stepwell which is believed to be filled with the supply of spring water.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Hathi Hauz

This is a huge water reservoir built by Muhammad Bin Tughlaq when he moved his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad for water storage purposes owing to the arid terrain of the area.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Bharat Mata Temple

The temple and its premises are flanked by sculpted pillars of a Hindu temple and the temple itself is topped with a dome of a mosque. To avoid religious conflicts the temple now houses a statue of Bharat Mata (Mother India).

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Chand Minar

At the temple exit, is the towering Chand Minar built in Turkish style by Sultan Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah in the 15th century as a replica of Qutb Minar of Delhi to commemorate his capture of the fort. The 30 m high tower has four floors with three circular balconies. The minaret was embellished with blue Persian glazed tiles the evidence of which is still visible in on the eastern wall. The base of the tower houses a small mosque.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra


The path behind the Chand Minar leads to a small museum. Unfortunately, there is no board or direction marked to this small museum housing several ancient statues and sculptures found in the fort premises which lay in forlorn state.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra


This entrance is also studded with spikes similar to the other gates of the fort. At the right side of the stairs to the gate is a hall with sculpted pillars. The hall devoid of any idol is believed to be an ancient temple called Hemadpanti temple. Again we are clueless as there is no proper information present around the structure.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra
Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Looks like a water storage tank or a hiding place?

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Chhavi confused with a number of doors turning up one by one!

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

These last set of Gateways and slightly steep stairs led us to a leveled terrain. The Chand Minar is visible from almost anywhere in the fort premises.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Chini Mahal – A Royal Prison!

Chini Mahal looked like a majestic palace in ruins. The Palace is said to be served as a royal prison where the last sultan of Qutub Shahi dynasty was imprisoned by Aurangzeb which we discussed in the initial paragraphs. The facade of the palace had remains of the beautiful embellishments of blue porcelain tiles which left us wondering how beautiful it must have been in its golden days.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

Menda Canon

A massive cannon about 17 ft. long sits on a bastion above the Chini Mahal. The cannon is said to have built during the reign of Aurangzeb and has his name inscribed on it.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

The ruins of the Nizam Shahi palace was hidden in a walled enclosure and was undergoing reconstruction and was closed to the public.

Bridge over Moat

The access to the summit at this point is cut through a deep, wide trench surrounding the citadel. The only means of crossing the moat is a narrow drawbridge which was made of leather during the older times for the royal families. The moat was filled with water and crocodiles were left in the water which made it a daunting barrier.

Andheri or the Bhool Bhulaiya

At the end of the bridge, a few steps further is a small open area with an entrance leading to the tunnel. The dark Maze of passages built through the cave confused the enemy soldiers to move ahead. The pathways are dotted with windows where the soldiers would hide to attack the enemy and pour hot oil or drop heavy stones on the invaders. Successful traversing of the dark passages would lead to the summit Baradari.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra


An octagonal building served as a meeting hall sits on the summit. The baradari offers a remarkable panorama of the fort and the town of Daulatabad.

Daulatabad Fort Aurangabad Maharashtra

We visited the fort in summer when it was very hot. And could not make it to the summit as we wanted to save some energy for the Ellora Caves which was our next stop. The best time to visit Daulatabad Fort would be in the winter season (October to February) or monsoon season (June to September).

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21 Comment

  1. What an amazing place. I find structures like this so interesting, not to mention the fascinating history behind it all. I couldn’t get over some of the beautiful design and details shown by some of your lovely photos. I would just love to visit the fort and see it first hand.

  2. As much as the fort looks fascinating, it was your images of the step well and that caught my attention. I’d love to visit some places like this in India. The minaret is beautiful! It’s great to get some history on a part of the world I don;t know much about so thanks for the great post!

  3. I really enjoy seeing old buildings and Forts so I was glad to come across this article. I would love to visit somewhere like this with my son and teach him what I have learnt from your article. Thanks for sharing

  4. Indrani says: Reply

    It was the first time I saw bhool bhulai in Daulatabad. The guide did take us inside to some distance, but then we gave up. Chand Minar is really impressive and visible from anywhere.

  5. India is full of forts scattered all over, specially in places of historic significance. No matter which fort you go, there is a ton of history behind it. Even though there are a lot of forts in Maharashtra, no two are alike.
    Will definitely be checking out the Daulatabad fort the next time I visit. The first time I went to Aurangabad, I only got a glance of the majestic fort from a distance.

  6. I made a pit stop to Daulatabad Fort when we returned from the Ellora caves. It was full of langurs monkey and the bats. I was impressed with its sheer size and scale. Not many people write about it. Glad you did.

  7. Beautiful picture of the old fort and it’s magnificent ramparts. I would really like to explore this place in India in the future.

  8. I love visiting old palaces and ancient buildings that are now in ruins. It’s fascinating to imagine what they looked like centuries ago. Love that you brought your little one too! Such a cutie!

  9. This looks like such a fun place to explore! I love forts and the history behind them, especially ones like these that are more or less access all areas. It always makes me shudder when I read about how people would pour hot oil or boiling water out of the windows. I mean, can you imagine how painful that must have been?!
    I haven’t done any exploring of Maharashtra beyond Mumbai but will definitely have to scout out Daulatabad when I next visit India.

  10. I’ve never heard of this fort, but your photos look really impressive. I am especially interested in that massive cannon. The reservoir is also quite striking. The people who built this fort must have been engineering wizards!

  11. Cat says: Reply

    Daulatabad Fort looks like an amazing place to explore. You can learn so much about the history and religion just by walking through the ruins. Great tip on visiting this place in the winter, I can see that it would be scorching hot in the summer months!

  12. Interesting addition for a trip to Aurangabad. It seems like you spent a couple of hours here. Despite not being in great shape, it is a great spot for history lovers. All the architectural details that you mention make me more curious about Tughlaq.

  13. Divsi says: Reply

    I have heard about this place from so many people and each one has recommended it highly coz it is very underrated. So good to read about it in such detail. Love your pictures, they give an absolute idea of what it is like. Being a history buff I d love to explore this, with its rustic pillars, step wells and intricate architecture:)

  14. Sabine says: Reply

    Ohh I am such a sucker for old buildings, they are like giant playgrounds with endless much to discover….Great pictures and you just really made me want to go there and explore it for myself 😉

  15. I never knew about this fort and the history behind it.Actually those pillars look like Jain temple pillars. The canon is so huge and it lools really impressive too. The stepwells always fascinate me. Are you allowed to climb it down. Amazing pictures.

  16. Bhusha says: Reply

    I’ve been wanting to visit Daulatabad Fort whenever I visit Mumbai. But so far it has just not happened! The Saraswati well is just unbelievably gorgeous! Reminds me the stepwells of Gujarat. The concept of Bharat Mata Temple is interesting!

  17. Tatum Skipper says: Reply

    What a little cutie that girl is! That architecture is incredible! I always think…if walls could talk, I bet those would have some amazing stories to tell! Very captivating.

  18. Shane Prather says: Reply

    Such an elaborate history behind the interesting ancient architecture. The design of the Saraswati well would have to be my favorite. I wonder how much water it holds!

  19. What an amazing fort, and such ill fated history! I had seen a couple of documentaries around Daulatabad and I realized Mohammad Bin Tughlaq was a genius in many sense – you have to give him that. If only Daulatabad had not become drought prone and he hadn’t tried to move the entire population – his plan would have been an exemplary move for that era. Dont you agree?

  20. Ami says: Reply

    The fort looks quite formidable. I loved the Chini Mahal, the prison. Is there something within it that still stands or is it all in ruins? I definitely am going to aim for the winters given the open nature of the fort.

  21. Its fascinating how Daulatabad was supposed to become the capital city in one large expensive experiment which failed. We were visiting Aurangabad and Ajanta + Ellora, couldn’t take out time for Daulatabad. Will do it again…

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