As a child I was always attracted towards stories based on a historical backdrop. I was absolutely in love with those tales. History has its own charm. And that takes me to another spectacular historical journey to Daulatabad, originally known as Devagiri, the Hill of Gods.
The history of Daulatabad dates back to 12th century and is very interesting. It was a capital of Hindu Kingdoms of Deccan. Then it was named Devgiri or Deogiri. The fortress was constructed by Raja Bhillamraj of Yadav dynasty. In 1308 A.D the Sultans of Delhi conquered the fort and Mohammed Bin Tughtuq re-named Devagiri as Daulatabad (City of Fortune) as the capital of the Tughtuq dynasty in 1327A.D. He forced the entire population of Delhi to move to Daulatabad, the new capital. Women, children, and even sick were not exempted. Thousands of people died on the way. But soon he realized his mistake (there was scarcity of water in the region) and repeated the same action of madness, dragged the entire population back to Delhi.
“700 fort steps”! Yes, we had to climb that high if we wish to reach the peak of the fort. And that too, not the usual steps that we are familiar with. Fort steps. We just smiled at each other, looked at our two and half-year old daughter and took a deep breath…Ahhhh. We paused for a while at the courtyard.The cannons welcomed us.
The pleasure of standing inside a fort made in the 14th century and touching the cannons once used by the Mughals slightly cleared the air. And we were ready to take up the challenge till the boiling point. With the sun looming over our heads and our daughter in the sling bag…we started.
Forts actually have their own ways of story telling. No guide can ever tell the actual story. They might give you the actual facts though. The remnants of the huge structures, walls exposed by heat and rain, incomplete and rough carvings, broken minarets – they will tell you the true story. The story of the prosperity, conquers and bloodshed. You can almost see the story unfolding in front your eyes. That’s the beauty of forts. Built on a conical hill it was one of most powerful forts of the medieval period.
The fort was famous for its complex defense systems and complicated secret escapes. I tried visualize troops fragmented in smaller groups and passing through the narrow escapes to combat their enemies. Lofty outer walls, numerous inner walls with heavy iron gates with sharp spikes made the fort unique. These spikes were made to prevent elephants who would forcefully try to open the gates. The iron gates are gigantic and divide the path in smaller segments. Thus, ensuring a better defense mechanism.
As we advanced (the scorching heat retarded our ascent), we could see the Chand Minar (Tower of Victory) from distance. It was built by Ala-ud-din Bahmani in 1435 A.D as a symbol conquering Daulatabad. An outstanding example of Islamic art.
We climbed few more steps and found a lush green lawn on the left. I wonder what was purpose of keeping such an open space? May be they wanted to have a place for a good cup of tea or just to stroll around planning the next attack.
The first gateway leads to an enclosed area which surprisingly has a Hindu Temple. This is the sign of the fort being originally built by a Hindu King. It is a small temple with numerous beautifully decorated pillars.
From this point we decided to come back. Although we could not reach out to the top but the journey was memorable. As always history behind this 700 years old fortress still fascinates me.
From Daulatabad Fort, we headed towards Ellora.
- It is located 17 kms from Aurangabad on the way to the Ellora caves.
- Daulatabad Fort is also included in the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) tours to Ellora caves as well.
- Timings – 9am to 6pm (All days of the week)