Daulatabad-the City of Fortunes
Daulatabad (literally meaning the Abode of Fortune) in the state of Maharashtra, India has a very special place in Indian history. Previously known as DEVAGIRI ( = the mountain of gods) , this small hamlet is situated about 15 km from Aurangabad, a major city of Maharashtra well connected with Mumbai, Hyderabad & other major cities of India through road, rail & air connections. Today a dusty desolate place, this small hamlet was once the capital of India (yes, India!) for few years in the time of Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlak, who transferred his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad in 1327 AD. It was a transplantation rather than transfer, as the “mad” Sultan ordered all citizens of Delhi to go & settle there!
Perhaps the move was correct, as Delhi was at the northern part of the country & not far from the border, & there was always chances of invasion from outside, especially the North – West. But the sheer traveling to such a distant place in those days was a murderous job, & thousands perished on the road.
But the story did not end there. After about 13 years, Sultan reversed his decision, & ordered everyone to go back to Delhi!
Today, the silent stone fortress of Daulatabad stands mute with this history stored inside its dark passages, deep moats & lofty walls.
The fort of Daulatabad was originally constructed by Raja Bhillama of Yadav dynasty in the 12th century. It was conquered by Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi in 1296.
The fort was situated on a pyramid-shaped hill which provided an excellent natural defense. It was surrounded by 3 high stone walls, with gun turrets everywhere to protect the fort. There were several watch towers. The huge main gate was wooden, with iron spikes protruding to stop elephants to push through. There was a deep moat surrounding the fort, which acted as a strong defense. The final defense was an ingeniously built convoluted passage, pitch dark, which was cut inside the solid rock of the hill. This dark passage was virtually impassable for the enemy. Now, tourists with electric torches disturb the thousands of small bats which have made this dark passage their homes!
Near the top there is a temple of the elephant God Ganesha. An old woman priest helps the devotees in their offerings (Puja). I was amazed seeing this old lady there. How could she negotiate the dark passage daily! Its sure devotion gives strength!
On the top there was a palace & a source of sweet water.
From the top the view on all sides was just fantastic. Miles after miles of semi- barren land with table top hills of the Deccan plateau stretches to the horizon. In March, the wild Shimul trees (Cotton trees) were ablaze with millions of blood red flowers.
Inside the fort, there is a tall Minar (tower) called Chand Minar. With a height of 110 feet it is the second highest minar in India (only after the Qutab Minar of Delhi). It was built in 1435 AD by Sultan Al-ud-din Bahamani (Ahmad Shah II).
Any writing on this fort will not be complete without a mention of its guns. Now displayed for the tourists, originally these Merchants of Death were positioned in strategic spots to belch hot death on enemy who dared to attack this massive fort.
After visiting the place, one can only feel awe & respect for ---- no, not the Sultans or the architects who built this impressive fort --- but for the all-conquering TIME.