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 in Hyderabad 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.
Mahakot (Main Entrance Gate)
One of the main features of the defense system of the Daulatabad fort is the lofty entrance gates similar to the Jaisalmer Fort in Rajasthan. 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.
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.
On the opposite side, behind a small mosque is a stepwell which is believed to be filled with the supply of spring water.
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.
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).
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 Qutub 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.
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.
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.
Looks like a water storage tank or a hiding place?
Chhavi confused with a number of doors turning up one by one!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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