The weary walls of the Golconda Fort narrate a tragic story of an eventful era in the history of the Deccan, a story of grandeur and penury, of daring conquests and shameful defeats, of the Kings and the Peasants, of the bitter truth that even great kingdoms fall. The walls stand mute yet scream the stories of the Kings riding atop their destriers to battle, of silken carpets caressing the countless steps, of elaborate darbars hosting guests from far off lands, of music and dance emanating from the fort and drowning the plains below. A walk in the ruined remains of the fort and one is transported back hundreds of years to the mighty Kingdom of the Qutub Shahi Kings with all its glory and ruin.
The soil of Hyderabad is soaked in history, witnessing numerous dynasties rise from the dust and eventually be buried in it. From the Qutub Shahi to the Mughals and to the Nizams, Hyderabad had always been a vital center of power, culture and economy. The Kings have been swallowed by the past but their legacies remain in the form of palaces, paintings, sculptures, coins. One can view the glorious history of Hyderabad through these objects and take a peek into the lives of the kings and peasants alike.
A couple of kilometres from the Golconda Fort lie the Qutub Shahi Tombs, the resting place of the seven rulers of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty, sons and daughters of the Kings, revered hakims , adored courtesans and even a valiant commander-in-chief of their army. Surrounded by landscaped gardens, these tombs rise with grace and poise touching the sky with their chiselled minarets and bulbous domes.
Climbing the flight of stairs to the Taramati Baradari one can imagine curious travelers with their meagre belongings, traders with caravans carrying spices, silk and precious stones lost in the soothing voice of Taramati, her songs riding on the wind to the Sultan, Abdullah Qutub Shah, who held court in the Golconda Fort.
The old city area of Hyderabad is a microcosm of India, noisy, bristling with energy, crowded. Overlooking the famous chudi bazaar (bangles market) is the daunting structure of the Char Minar, a masjid modelled on a similar structure in the Golconda Fort and built by Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah. As his city was being ravaged by a plague epidemic, the Sultan had pledged to build the mosque as a symbol of respect when the deadly disease was driven away from his lands.
About half a kilometre from the Char Minar is the magnificent Chowmahallah Palace, the erstwhile residence of the Nizam and the seat of the Asif Jahi Dynasty. The palace complex is a visual delight with ornate halls, glittering chandeliers, intricately carved furniture, a clock tower which has been on time for 250 years, elegant vintage cars and rugged motorcycles, decorated horse carriages, metal cannons. The palace is home to artefacts such as old coins and currency, portraits, blueprints of dams, delicate tea stained china, champagne bottles, embroidered sherwanis, Persian rugs, swords, bows, arrows, shields, chainmail, spears and daggers.
A day spent amidst these inanimate structures and it seems as if they embody a soul, a character borrowed from the artisans who toiled to give them life and the patrons who appreciated their gift. Their presence evokes a mixed feeling of elation and melancholy, a promise of greatness and innate fallibility, a sense of awe and sympathy, a realization of the weakness of the body and the strength of the soul.