Golconda: Through a commoner’s perspective
Golconda fort is one of the most famous monuments in Hyderabad, well known city in the southern states of India. A single glimpse at Golconda and any person can anticipate that the monument imbibes a long history of war and hatred. However, Golconda also offers a plethora of heroic tales of love, courage, sacrifice, belief and over and above all, a liberal ideology. All of it can’t be seen through naked eyes but can be realized, once you get to know the past of the place.
I have always had a strange fascination toward historic places. So, whenever I visit monuments, I make it a point that I do a little history check on the place. Although, this time it turned out to be one of the most unplanned visits. We arrived at Golconda by dawn, with whatever little sunlight left all I could clearly see was the huge fortification wall surrounding the monument. Evidently, it was a place where the kings or Sultans lived. By the time we passed through the main entrance of the fort, it was dark. The locals told us that there is a light and sound show that is played every day after dawn. So, we decided to have a look. What we missed out on was the exact time of the show and by the time we realized the same, the show already commenced. They also told us that it is being played in the central chamber, which is a 15 minutes’ walk. So, we rushed through the path leading to the central chamber, ran past the hall ways and reached the central chamber in less than 8 minutes, as we never wanted to miss the beginning of it. Nevertheless, we did miss it. We took seats in the last row as it was at a greater height and gave a holistic view of the whole chamber and the surrounding. I was excited and inquisitive as the show was a recitation on the history of the place in Amitabh Bachan’s voice.
The show was interplay of audio and visual effects, the conversation was between a bunch of people, who I assume were tourists and Amitabh being the storyteller. There were several stories told about the rulers, their families, their administration and other important aspects of their reign. The show was splendid; with each mood change in the dialogue the color and intensity of the lights were altered. It felt like each wall that was lit by the colorful light, has come to life and is reciting the story themselves. There were moments that just took my breath away. Amid the whole show, the stories of Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah and his son, Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah were actual head turners for me. Both the father and the son were great rulers and during their reign the kingdom had seen abundance in terms of both wealth and prosperity. What caught my attention were their love lives; Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah is well known for his profound love for Bhagamati, Devadasi girl (temple dancer) of Hindu origin who eventually became his queen. There were many tales that narrated Muhammed Quli’s immense love for Bhagamati, one of which stated that he named the city across the river Musi, Bhagnagar, after Bhagamati. Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah himself had a Telugu wife, Bhagirathi, who was also the mother of Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah. Muhammed Quli was also a connoisseur of art and literature. He was a prolific poet, effusive about romance, beauty and religion. It is said that one can have repeated glimpses of Bhagamati come in between the lines of ghazals and poems written by Muhammed Quli.
What I gathered from Muhammed Quli’s love story was his liberal ideology. He was a Prince and had a high degree of responsibility and restrictions in terms of marriage. However, despite of all the odds, he had the courage and endurance to stand up to his true love. He didn’t let the idealist bonds of religion and society hold back his love for Bhagamati. The show took me to an alternate universe, where I could see that people then, were comparatively broad minded and castes were mere sects of society and not a license for discrimination. The show ended and gave me a reason to rethink my beliefs about love, relationships and religion. My visit to Golconda was an unplanned one, but it turned out to be a highly inspiring and educative.