Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Visiting Daulatabad

The first stop that you can take when you visit Aurangabad is the Daulatabad fort. This fort is around 15 kms from Aurangabad on the Ellora road.

Courtyard of the Daulatabad Fort
A massive land fort, it served as the capital of the Yadav dynasty. Daulatabad is also known as Deogiri and was once considered as invincible. Devgiri is a 12th century fort that was built by the Yadava king Bhillama V. He established the Yadava stronghold in Deccan by making Deogiri as his capital.

Deogiri is a strong land fort and has seven lines of defence. The fort has never seen battles and has seen a change of power only once, and that too through treachery.

High fortified walls with watch towers

On the road to Ellora, when you see the massive Daulatabad fort on your left, you can immediately feel the strength and power of the fort. As you enter the first darwaza, you come across a courtyard

 You cross the courtyard and the second darwaza, and you are met with high fortified walls.

Victory Pillar
As you start walking in towards the fort, you can see the Victory Pillar on your right, also known as Chand Minar. This pillar was raised in 1445 by Ala-ud-din Bahamani to mark his capture of the fort. Chand Minar is 210 ft. (64 m.) high and 70 ft. (21 m.) in circumference at the base, and was originally covered with beautiful Persian glazed tiles.

Opposite the Minar is the Jumma masjid, whose pillars originally belonged to a temple.  Now it has a Devi's mandir. Close by is a large masonry tank, the common bath.  The Chini Mahal lies in ruins and was the place where Abdul Hasan Tana Shah, the last king of Golconda, was confined by Aurangzeb in 1687 AD.

Beyond the main entrance, lie the wet and dry moats, a narrow bridge to cross the wet moat, and the famous Andheri.

The wet moat has small openings from the Andheri, the dark passages. Enemies were thrown directly into the water 30 feet below from the Andheri. It was sheer impossible to cross the wet moat from the narrow bridge and then cross the Andheri.


After you cross the narrow bridge, you are led to the dark, dangerous passages that are designed to befuddle, entrap, and finally kill the enemy. The Andheri is a series of secret, quizzical, subterranean passages coiled like a python amidst the fort. In these passages, flaring torches were thrust upon an unwary enemy. Or hot oil poured down his path, as he deliberated in the labyrinth. Heat from a brazier was blown into the passage by a process of suction suffocating the entire garrison within.

Once you are successful in crossing the Andheri with the help of a local guide, you reach the first level of the fort. I suggest that you take the help of the local to cross the Andheri. Not only is it really dark and scary, and you might get lost, but it is also worth listening to the story he tells you as you cross the Andheri. It's chilling and exciting to listen and see the places in the Andheri where the soldiers would be hiding, waiting for the enemy, and the means they would use to destroy the enemy.

In the Andheri, at some places, stone hedges are built so that the enemy walks in the darkness and gets hurt on the knees. The enemy would logically turn to a side with hurt knees only to be banged upon solid stone wall and breaking their heads.

View after coming out of the Andheri
Even with these injuries, if some brave ones are able to move ahead in the labrynth, the hidden soldiers do their work of pouring hot oil on the enemy, or shooting arrows from hidden crevices.

At one point, you can feel the blast of cool air coming and are automatically attracted to it, thinking it's an opening out of the Andheri. But you are mistaken, because that outlet opens directly to the wet moat outside. One step through the opening and you are down the drain, in the water. Fortunately, it is all closed and barricaded now. Can you imagine how many men must have lost their lives in hope of cool, fresh air?

Victory Pillar and the way out seen after coming out of Andheri

After the Andheri, you can keep climbing right up till the top of the fort. We skipped that and returned to the base, because we wanted to cover Ellora too. But the fort was absolutely mesmerizing. It is a standing example of the power, cunning, intelligence, architechtural elegance and excellence that the great Yadav rulers had.

If you plan to visit Aurangabad, do keep time to visit this formidable fort.

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