• Fateh Darwaza – A Picture Story

    The Fateh Darwaza was a prominent entrance to the city of Qila Mohammadnagar, the Qutb Shahi capital city of the kingdom of Golconda. This entrance was renamed the Fateh Darwaza when Aurangzeb made his triumphal entry into the city after the 8-month-long siege ended with a treasonous transaction. Before that, it was called the Baghnagar darwaza – it was the gate you took if you wanted to go to Hyderabad. The road led more or less in a straight line to the Purana Pul, the first stone bridge across the Musi, and then on to Char su ka hauz (today’s Gulzar hauz), from where you could head on the highway to the kingdom’s principal port of Machilipatnam. This made it the principal highway of the trade-focused Qutb Shahi kingdom.

    Here are some pictures from a heritage walk to Fateh Darwaza with the Deccan Archive and INTACH Hyderabad.

    Kakatiya sculptures adorn the top of the Fateh Darwaza. They depict yalis, which are a common motif in south Indian sculpture. They range from stylized lions to fantastic chimerical bests incorporating lions, horses and elephants. The ones here are lions in the Kakatiya sculptural style.

    The side view of the sculptures show the yalis subduing elephants. While the meaning of the iconography to the Kaktiya’s is unclear, its relevance to the Persianate Qutb Shahi’s is clear – they saw themselves as the lions subduing their enemies, represented by the elephants.

    The formidable walls that protected Qila Mohammadnagar withstood the onslaught of Aurangzeb’s seasoned Mughal army. This was an army of siege specialists drawn from various parts of the world. Ottoman siege engineers and Rajput strategists combined their forces to forge cannon, mount raids to bring down the walls, and keep up the bombardment on the Qutb Shahi citadel. Aurangzeb’s army also knew how to fight long-drawn sieges – they had just come from a successful 18-month siege of Bijapur. They were not in a hurry, and they were not going anywhere. This is a view of the outer city walls looking south from atop the Fateh Darwaza.

    Two massive gates with stout wooden doors reinforced with iron alloy spikes barred entry into the city. The pathway through them is narrow and curved, necessitating a slow approach. Bowmen and gunners on the walls and the gate had a free shot at you, and you had no hope of passing through unless they wanted you to pass.

    Thirty-foot-high walls on either side heavily armed guards on top of them made sure the entry to the city was secure.

    A bronze cannon on top of one of the bastions on the gate. These were mounted using the thick and strong  trunnions you see half-way on the body, which are located at the center of gravity of the cannon. This makes it easy to change its elevation. This whole assembly was mounted on a metal pivot embedded in the floor of the bastion, making it easy to turn the gun from side to side. With these two movements, cannoneers could accurately target any spot they wanted within the cannon’s range.

    A Mughal cannon, which was forged by putting strips of metal into a series of metal rings.

    This inscription near the Fateh Darwaza says that during the reign of Abdullah Qutb Shah, a person name Khairat Khan build a garden and a stepwell. While no remains of the garden or stepwell are currently visible, a nearby stone gateway could be associated with it.