Daulatabad is located at a distance of 15 km northwest of Aurangabad, and midway to Ellora group of caves. The fort is situated on an isolated cone-shaped hill rising abruptly from the plain to the height of about 190 meters (600 feet).
History of Daulatabad Fort
“Daulatabad Fort magnificent 12th century fortress stands on a hill, Built by Raja Bhillamraj, once known as ‘Devgiri’ or ‘Deogiri’ meaning ‘Hill of Gods’. Initially a Yadav stronghold, it passed through the hands of several dynasties in the Deccan. The ‘Daulatabad’ (the abode of wealth) name was given by Muhamad Tughlaq, Sultan of Delhi when he made his capital here in A.D. 1327.
When Muhammad-bin-Tughluq succeeded the Khiljis at Delhi and he renamed Deogiri as Daulatabad and seeing its impregnable fort, shifted the capital from Delhi in A.D. 1328. This led to serious repercussions and he had to again transfer the capital back to Delhi. The region and the fort passed on into the hands of Bahamani rulers under Hasan Gangu in A.D. 1347 and Nizam Shahis of Ahmednagar in A.D. 1499. Daulatabad became the capital of Nizam Shah Dynasty in 1607 A.D. Deccan witnessed turbulent periods due to the frequent invasions and in fights between the local ruling families during this period. The Mughals led several campaigns during the rule of Akbar and Shah Jahan and only during the latter’s period the area was fully captured in 1633 A.D. after a long siege of four months. Thus the Mughals seized power and Aurangzeb was placed as the Viceroy of Deccan who led his campaigns to Bijapur and Golconda from Daulatabad. The rising power of Marathas troubled the Mughals and for a brief period the region passed under the control of Marathas. Thus the Daulatabad fort passed several hands, captured and re-captured, by the Mughals, the Marathas, the Peshwas, and finally placed under the control of the Nizams of Hyderabad in 1724 A.D. which was under their control till independence.”
We reached Daulatabad (from Ellora caves) in just 20 minutes. The taxi passes through the Khuldabad; a small town just 0.5 kilometer away from the main road. This town is not on highway but our shared taxi has few passengers of Khuldabad. He dropped them there and picked few others. Our taxi driver told us that Khuldabad is surrounded by a high fortified wall built by Aurangzeb. It has seven gates. It is here that Aurangzeb, the last of the great Mughals lies interred. Aurangzeb funded his resting place by knitting caps and copying the Qu’ran, during the last years of his life, works which he sold anonymously in the market place. Here are also buried Azam Shah, Aurangzeb’s son, Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah, the founder of the Hyderabad dynasty, his second son Nasir Jang, Nizare Shah, king of Ahmednagar, Tana Shah, last of the Golkonda kings and a host of minor celebrities.
My tour companions were not interested in stopping at Daulatabad to see Fort but I insisted them and promised them that they will not be disappointed. They agreed only on one condition that if the Fort failed to impress them, then I have to sponsor lavish lunch for them.
There are many restaurants/Dhabas in front of the Fort. We took tea and snacks from one of them and kept our luggage there. We entered the Fort after buying the tickets from ASI counters.
The Daulatabad fort was one of the most powerful forts during the medieval period. Built on a 190 meter high conical hill, the fort was defended by moat and glacis running around the hill at its foot besides the most complex and intricate defense system. The fortifications comprise three encircling walls with bastions.
Daulatabad Fort is one of the world’s best preserved Forts, survived without being altered. Daulatabad Fort is said to be only occupied by cheating. A series of secret, puzzled, endless passages lounge curved like a python amidst the fort. Here blazing torches were push upon enemies. Or hot oil poured down his path, as he deliberated in the maze. The Fort itself lies in the body of an isolated hill; the steep hill – sides at the base falling so sharply to the moat that no aggressive troops could scale the heights. But the fortification was now extended well beyond the core of the original citadel. Bastion was built, mounted over with cannon. A six kilometer strong outer wall, artificial scarping and a complicated series of defenses made Daulatabad Fort secure.
The entrance through the outer wall is by a strong horn work consisting of a succession of gateways and courts. It has very thick and lofty walls convoluted on the outer faces and are defended by large bastions both without and within the courts. One the right of the entrance gateway is an enormous bastion. The face of the gateway above the door has been pierced with three large openings for artillery. The entrance from the barbican to the first court is through a lofty vaulted passage with a turn midway and two-leaved door at the entrance, a large recess for the guard on right and stairway to the parapet wall over the gate on the left. The outer door, studded and spiked against elephant attack, is still in position.
The next gateway is defended by strong towers and an embattled parapet. There is only one two-leaved door here but it is of the usual heavy constructions and armed with iron spikes. Within the doorway are two guard rooms, each of two vaulted bays. The next gateway leads into the enclosure which has, at the left, a huge water tank and further up there is an ancient Hindu temple named Bharat Mata temple. Its roof supported by 150 pillars. Towards the right is Chand Minar.
Chand Minar: The 30 meter high Chand Minar (Tower) built much later with 3 circular balconies had a defensive and religious role in the Fortress. This circular tower with three balconies has similar features to Qutub Minar in Delhi. The lowest part of the minar is a square construction with arch-shaped openings, and ‘mehrab’ like niches inside. It may have functioned as a small mosque. In one corner of the construction, there is a Persian inscription. The base of the Chand Minar was built in the Tugluq period, whereas the central part is assumed to have been built by Ala ad-Din Hasan in 1346, to celebrate the conquer of Daulatabad Fort.
The third wall is much further up the hill and the rise begins to grow steeper, the entrance here is complicated and difficult to negotiate, and is defended by a tower on either side. A flight of steps leads up to the first door, this door being carried, an assailant is faced by guards in a recess directly in front of him, and his further progress is obstructed by a door on the right, opening to a passage through the wall with a flight of steps up, under attack from guards posted in a large recess in the rear, another recess on the right-hand side of the passage and a third directly facing him. A third door opening to a flight of steps on the left and under attack from the rear must finally be carried before he has arrived inside the wall.
Ascending form this level and passing by the ruins of the Chini Mahal, a palace decorated with encaustic tiles, one reaches a platform at the foot of the citadel. By the side of Chini Mahal, is placed a massive cannon manufactured during the period of Aurangzeb popularly known as ‘Mendha cannon’.
The entrance to the citadel is defended by a wide and 40 feet deep wet moat leaving dams across it and a submerged causeway for the bridge of unusual design. It descends rapidly by a flight of steps down from the counter scarp and rises again to the level of the gallery on the other side. The gallery passes round three sides of a tall bastion and an assailant rushing through it would be under attack from the battlements of the bastion and from those of a high wall and strong tower on the counter scarp of the moat, which are so built as to face in that direction. From the end of the gallery a few steps lead down to a small open court, on one side of which is the entrance doorway to the tunnel.
There is only one narrow entrance over the moat. The upward climb now leads to a sub terranean passage over 150 feet. It spirals darkly over the hewn steps shielded by the rock mass overhead. Some parts of it are pitching dark and the attendant lights a flare for the visitors. In the olden days id could be easily barricaded. At its far end, a final obstacle was created by a kind of iron brazier. When a fire was lighted in the brazier the great heat blew in to the passage due to an effective device of suction and passage became altogether blocked.
On issuing from the trap-door at the head of the tunnel one arrives at the foot of a very wide and long series of flight of steps, ascending to the Baradari, a summer house, built for Shah Jahan on his visit to Daulatabad in 1636 A.D.
Close to its top, there is a reservoir, fed apparently by some underground, natural source. The use of this supply to besieged fortress is obvious. Further up there is a Mughal pavilion and to crown all, a bastion with a gun. From this spot, there is a wonderful view of the country side around. However, visitors who find the climb strenuous need not proceed beyond the subterranean passage.
All over the fortress there are strong ramparts. Cannon are mounted at strategic points and the defences were so designed that a great concentration of fire could be attained. It is self-powerful for enemy.
How to Reach Daulatabad
The nearest airport is at Aurangabad, 22 kms away from Daulatabad Fort. Aurangabad has a good national airport, which is well connected to major cities.
Aurangabad Railway station is nearest one to Daulatabad Fort, which is approximately 15 kms away. There are a plenty of private car services you can hire or you can avail the bus service from railway station to the fort.
There are regular buses from Aurangabad to Daulatabad Fort. Alternative you can hire private car, there are plenty of tour operator you can avail service from. The drive from Aurangabad to Daulatabad Fort takes half hour.
Best time to visit Daulatabad Fort is during the months of October to February (winter season) and from June to September (monsoon season), these are the best time to visit Daulatabad, as the weather is really pleasant during these months.”
It took us around two and half hours to completely watch the Fort; from bottom to hill top and back to bottom. We were very tired due to continuous walking but my friends were impressed with the architecture of fort and planning used for its making. We rested for some time, took one round of tea with fresh hot pakoras and boarded one shared taxi for Aurangabad. We still have 3-4 hrs. to spend in Aurangabad and we fully utilized it by visiting Bibi ka Maqbara and Pan chakki.
So the next post on Aurangabad… Stay in touch.