The ongoing conservation and landscaping effort in the inner area of Golconda fort is rewriting the history of the structure and at the same time, leaving visitors spellbound. In the course of landscaping, officials of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have discovered a different pathway to the Jagadamba temple which is near the Bala Hissar of the fort.
“We have also discovered huge chambers near the structure known as Ramdas Bandikhana after clearing the vegetation. We are making more discoveries as the work progresses,” says Milan Kumar Chauley, superintending archaeologist of ASI.
The change is not limited to discoveries being made by ASI, but the transformation it has wrought on the fort that now creates a sense of awe among the milling visitors. It has to do with a change in conservation policy by ASI.
“Earlier, the policy was to preserve a structure as is without meddling. Now, there is a policy change where we can reconstruct a building or a structure if we can find evidence about how it looked earlier. Sometimes, the evidence is in the form of a photograph or a painting,” informs Mr. Chauley.
Closer to past glory
Thanks to this change in policy, many of the ruined structures, which were formless and in a ruined condition, appear as they did centuries before. While visitors to the fort would earlier go back puzzled about a flat ruined wall, they can now notice niches and the structure which is clearly the ceremonial drum house (naqqar khana). What used to look like scattered stones have been reshaped into steps.
Even the view from clapping chamber, which showed a rough layout of the fort, is now a symmetrical structure with clean lines after the conservation and landscaping work. Even the main water channel and fountain in the Nagina Bagh area which was gutted and covered with vegetation has been restored. Nagina Bagh was one of the gardens in Golconda fort and is associated with the Abdur Razzaq Lari, the loyal soldier of Abul Hasan, who suffered countless wounds after a traitor opened the gateway leading to the fall of Qutb Shahi sultanate in 1687.
“We don’t publicise our work. The conservation work was taken up in 1951 when we got control of the fort and it is an ongoing effort,” says Mr. Chauley.
“A few people have raised the issue about the colour of some of the conservation work. We are using lime mortar that was used to build the fort. Weathering will take care of the colour over a period of time. But the structures will become stronger,” says Bhanu Prakash Varma of ASI.
The Golconda fort is key to Telangana government’s effort at acquiring a UNESCO World Heritage Site status for its Qutb Shahi-era monuments.
While the inner fortification is being painstakingly restored by the ASI using archival images, the area around the monument is overrun with encroachers taking over most areas. Even the gateways that once kept medieval armies at bay have been turned into living quarters by squatters. #KhabarLive