Daulatabad Fort: Impregnable fort of medieval deccan

Daulatabad fort (19.57 N, 75.15 E) was one the most powerful forts of the medieval Deccan. The defense system that made Daulatabad virtually impregnable comprises fortifications with double and even triple rows of massive walls. In addition, there are ingeniously built mazes with a complex arrangement of entryways and deep rock-cut moats and trenches which can be crossed only at one point, over a drawbridge.  Defense mechanism of rock-cut subterranean passage is unbelievable.
Daulatabad fort
                                       Daulatabad fort from the summit

How to reach Daulatabad Fort: Daulatabad fort is 15 km away from Aurangabad on the way to Ellora caves.  You can club Daulatabad fort and Ellora caves together in a whole day trip. There are frequent busses (Government/Private) and shared jeeps from Aurangabad those will drop at fort’s entrance.

* Daulatabad Fort is 15 km from Ellora caves on the way to Aurangabad.

Where to Eat: There are many restaurants on main highway just in front of the Fort complex.

Where to Stay: Aurangabad is your best pick.

A crowded day at Daulatabad killa
                                                          a crowded day at Daulatabad killa

Notes for visitors:
* Visiting hours: sunrise to sunset
* Entrance fee: 5 INR (Indians), 100 INR (Foreigners)
* There is a steep climb (plight of steps) uphill to reach the fort’s summit which is reasonably exhausting for those who are not up to it. However you can visit buildings those are situated on relatively horizontal terrain.
* Include 3 hours at least to a have a quick walk-through of the fort.

Surroundings from the peak
                                          
Surroundings from the peak
Daulatabad Fort History:

 

Daulatabad was founded by the Yadavas of Deogiri (The hill of Gods) in 11th Century AD under king Bhillama 5, who led victorious campaigns against the hoysalas, paramaras and chalukyas of Kalyana. Subsequent Yadava rulers retained their capital at Deogiri until A.D 1296 when Ala-ud-din Khiliji defeated Ramachandradeva, son of Krishna and held sway over it by forcibly reducing Ramachandradeva as his vassal. Later, Malik Kafur led his armies in A.D 1306-07 and 1312 against the recalcitrant Ramachandradeva and his son Shankardeva successively subdued them and killed the latter. Malik Kafur placed Harpaladeva on the throne who later declared his independence. Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shan Khilji made a successful campaign against Deogiri and annexed the same to the Delhi Sultanate. Muhammad-bin-Tughlug, who succeeded the Khiljis at Delhi renamed Deogiri as Daulatabad (Abode of Wealth) and got the capital shifted from Delhi to Daulatabad in A.D 1328. But for various reasons he re-transferred his capital back to Delhi.
A School trip in Daulatabad
                                                                School trip @ Daulatabad

By quick succession of political events the area was wrested from the imperial authority and the Bahmani rulers under Hasan Gangu extended his control over Daulatabad as well. By 1499 the Nizam Shahis of Ahmednagar not only captured but also made Daulatabad as their capital in 1607. The subsequent period witnesses a series of wars between the Deccan Sultans and the Mughals under Akbar and Shah Jahan. In 1633 AD Daulatabad was finally captured after prolonged siege of four months. It was during this time Aurangzeb was placed as viceroy of Deccan who hed his campaign against Bijapur and Golconda from Daulatabad. For a short period Daulatabad was under the control of the Marathas before the Nizams of Hyderabad took control of it in 1724 AD.
Fortification walls at Daulatabad Fort
                                            Fortification walls at Daulatabad Fort
Fort’s architecture:

Built on a 200 meter high conical hill, Daulatabad was one of the most powerful forts of the medieval Deccan. The defense system consists of moats and three encircling fortification walls with loft gates and bastions at regular intervals. The entire fort complex consists of an area measuring approximately 94.83 hectares, and represents a unique combination of Military Engineering, amazing town planning with unique water management system and architectural marvels with strong political and religious hold.
 

The fort is one the most complex and intricate forts of Deccan, having the honor of the capital of Yadavas for over a century (1187-1294), capital of India during Tughlaq period (1328), Capital of Nizamshahis of Ahmednagar (1607 A.D).
Hall of public audience in Daulatabad Fort
                                      Hall of public audience in Daulatabad Fort

The defense system consists of two moats (Dry and wet moat) and a glacis, three encircling fortification walls with wall walks, machicolations bastions at regular intervals, Zigzag and lofty gates with iron spinks, strategic position of gun-turrets and Andheri. The combination of hill and Land fort, is divided into small sectors encircled by fortification walls. The fortified Ambarkot is planned for common people. Mahakot area having four distant lines of enclosure walls served the residential area for higher class of the society. The Kalakot is the royal residential area with double line of fortifications. The balakot is the pinnacle portion where the pride of honor, the flag flutters. The fort consists of structures like stepped wells, Reservoirs, Minar, Hammam, Baradari, Various palaces, Andheri, Temples, Mosques, beside 10 unfinished rock cut caves. The water management system is unique with a network of terracotta pipe lines, drains etc.
Pillars near bharat mata temple Daulatabad fort
                                    Pillars near bharat mata temple Daulatabad fort

The fort was enlarged and structures were added subsequently as the fort passed on from one hand to the other and from one dynasty to another. Today the Daulatabad Fort, besides the moats and fortification walls consists of the stepped wells (baolis), Kacheri (Court) building, Bharat Mata Temple (Temple dedicated to mother India), Hathi haud (Elephant Tank), Chand Minar (70 m high), Aam Khas building (Hall of Public Audience), Royal Hammam, Chini Mahal, Rang Mahal, Andheri (The Dark passage), building known as Baradari and water cisterns, Besides there are 10 unfinished rock cut caves belonging to the Yadava period. . Of all the palaces here, the Baradari was the favorite summer residence of the Mughal emperors. The vestiges unearthed from time to time in the front complex revealed the existence of a multi-cultural religious activity at Daulatabad. These consist of various sculptures of Gods and Goddesses of Brahamanical pantheon, the Jaina Tithankaras, architectural members of secular and non-secular character, canons, utensils of copper, etc. In the recent past the archeological excavations carried out within the fort complex have laid bare the lower city complex consisting of main lanes and by-lanes bordered by remnants of various structures of different dimensions.

 

Because of its strategic location and its strong protective defenses it is aptly called as an impregnable fort and its possession was carved by most powerful dynasties ruling between 12th-17th Century AD. Its ownership became a matter of pride and prestige and haughty arrogance.
Daulatabad fort Aurangabad
                                          Daulatabad fort Aurangabad
Hathi Haud: measures 47.75 m in length, 46.75 m in width and 6.61 m in depth.

Bharat Mata temple: Measures 87.14 m EW and 72.80 m NS with two openings to the east and north.

Chand Minar: Built by Sultan Alau-ud-din-Bahmani (Sultan Ahmed Shah 2) in AD 1447, height 70 m and circumference 21 m at base.

Andheri: A serpentine dark passage used as defence mechanism which was never conquered.

Baradari: Built in A.D 1636 perhaps for Shah Jahan's visit (A.D 1627-1658) consisting of 13 halls.

Cannons at Daulatabad fort
                                                           Cannons at Daulatabad fort
Cannons at Daulatabad fort
 

The invention of cannon is variously attributed to the Chinese, Europeans and Arabs. A typical cannon tapers from base to mouth and consists of muzzle in front, middle called as chase and the back known as breech followed by cascabel the rear end portion. A small hole is provided at the rear portion to insert the wick to ignite gunpowder to fire the cannon ball. Cannons use gunpowder (saltpetre combined with charcoal and sulphur) for firing, saltpetre being discovered by the Chinese in 10th century A.D.
 

In India, cannons were used effectively for the first time by Babur in the first Battle of Panipat from 12-19 April, 1526 against his adversary, Ibrahim Lodhi. Since then, cannons have become an important component in the battles. The earliest cannons were made of bronze, while the Europeans introduced wrought and cast iron cannons in India during the 16th century A.D. Most of the Indian cannons are of bronze only. The range of these cannons varied from 1 km to 3.5 km. The cannons were either mounted on bastions or other vantage points of a fort to strike the advancing enemy. Other options were to mount them on wooden carriages, with four or two wheels, both solid and spooked, and drawn to the battlefields. Light cannons are also known variously as Gajanal, shaturnal or ushtranal, narnal, depending upon the mount.
Chand Minar at Daulatabad Fort
                                       Chand Minar at Daulatabad Fort

A large number of cannons are found at Daulatabad Fort, some in their original places like bastions on fort walls and circular towers while others were collected from various locations and displayed in the courtyard near the entrance gate and near Aam Khas gate. The cannons range from large to heavy guns to medium howitzers and handguns. These cannons are made of either bronze or iron - both wrought and cast. The cannons displayed near the entrance gate of the fort, represent many varieties of guns. The iron cannon placed in a left side cell is 1.82 m long with bore of 7 cm diameter. A bronze cannon placed near the second entry gate is 3.15 m in length and has a 12 cm dia bore. This is one of the most ornate cannons depicted with leaf design on its muzzle, a rope design covering the rings and cascabel portion portrays a tiger holding a hunted deer in its mouth. Besides bronze cannons, there are smaller guns and mortars made of iron with varying length from .9 m to 2.90 m. A gun placed in a cell to the right side of the second gate is notable for decorations of a stylized animal head on its muzzle; it is 3.33 m long having 6.5 cm bore.
 

Other noteworthy cannons of Daulatabad fort include the Durga tope (Durga cannon), Kala Pahad cannon and the Mendha tope (Ram Cannon) which is the largest piece of artillery in Daulatabad fort placed near Chini Mahal. Apart from indigenously made cannons, two bronze cannons, Which were cast in Amsterdam is 1638 and 1642, are also found here.

Entrance near Mahakot
                                                                 Entrance near Mahakot
MAHAKOT
 

The second line of defense management (Mahakot), was made complicated by construction of four distinct lines of enclosure walls with innumerable, small and big bastions of single, double and triple storied and ramparts which would have to be scrambled before the main entrance could be reached. The fortification walls and structures were either built or added at different period’s dynasties like Yadavas, Khiljis, Tughlaqs, Bahamanis and the Nizamshahis. The outer wall of the fort is 5 k.m in circumference, has an average height between 6-9 meters. and 2-3 meters in thickness. These walls however end on reaching the moat and on the north and south side of the fortress.
 

In every interval there are strong chambers that serve both as guardrooms as well as stores for grain and ammunition. The very thick timber gates with iron studs and long spiked nails protect the entrances, which have beautiful carved designs. The area consists of noteworthy monuments like the Saraswati Bawadi, Hathi Tank, Bharatmata Mandir, Chand Mlnar, Aamkhas Building, Hammam, Kacheri and ruins of an extensive palace built by Mughal rulers. Archeological Survey of India has conducted excavation on the southern side of the Bharat Mata Temple and the remains give a glimpse of the medieval Township.
Some structure in Daulatabad fort
                                          Some structure in Daulatabad fort
ANDHERI (DARK PASSAGE)
 

The only entrance to citadel is through a devious tunnel, which in times of siege was rendered impassable by an ingenious contrivance. This sub-terrain passage is indeed mysterious and in spite of several individual’s attempts, all its mysteries are not known. The long ascending tunnel rises rapidly and tortuously by a flight of steps, which are uneven in width and height, difficult for climb in the absence of light. The labyrinthine passage coupled with the darkness confuse the enemy army to kill themselves along a tunnel containing numerous chambers cut out of solid rock which were used in the olden times as guard rooms and store houses. The turns and twists lead to a window, now covered with grills; but was originally a trap set for enemy intruders, who, on entering tumble down the slope to meet a watery grave in the moat below. The tunnel was impassable when the great obstacles come in the form of darkness, Caltrops, harrier of smoke and a splash of hot oil of water from above. The steps in the courtyard are newly constructed in 1952 for the convenience of tourists.

Information courtesy: © Archeological Survey of India, Aurangabad Circle

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