Golconda
By James E. McEldowney

A long time ago when princes called Rajahs or Nizams lived in India there was a famous fort named Golconda. Now Golconda was not just an ordinary fort. It had stone walls so high and broad, soldiers with bows and arrows could stand on top to guard against even the strongest enemy. If ever an enemy came they would drive them off with their arrows and later with their guns.

The fort is still there but warfare has changed. The walls have been broken down in places but you can visit it and see how magnificent it must have been. When my friend Kenneth came from America he said, "Come, take me to the old fort. I want to see the place where they found the Hope Diamond." The Hope Diamond is one of the very largest diamonds ever found. It is now part of the crown of the King of England. It was found in the diamond bazaar inside the old fort.

I always liked to take visitors there. Every time I went I saw something different. So I said, "Come along, if you are ready for a long walk and a stiff climb." He said he was, so we went. Now Golconda is big. It is spread out as big as some cities. The outside wall is about 10 miles long. That took a lot of rock for such a long and high wall. Inside that wall are rice fields, because during a long attack the people inside had to have food. Then there are other walls, so that if the enemy was able to break down the outer wall, they could not attack people inside the second wall.

We left our car outside the first wall and walked up to the second wall. It was nearly a half mile walk. That wall was a bit higher and it, too was long, for it went around a good sized hill. The gate was even bigger and stronger. The gate itself was made of thick wood into which long iron spikes had been driven. The spikes were sharp on the end to make it impossible for an elephant to push the gate open. If an elephant tried, the iron spikes would go right in its face.

Two parts of the gate opened and closed in the center. In one of the sides there was a little door called the eye of a needle. One person could go through that little gate at a time. An army couldn't. We went through the needle's eye. Kenneth asked, "Where is the diamond bazaar where they found the Hope Diamond?" "It is in the little town around the shoulder of the hill," I answered. We walked on we came to a town of about 5000 people, living in little huts close together. The diamond bazaar was in the market place of that town. There was quite a crowd pushing their way through the narrow streets. We had not really come to see the diamond shops so very soon I said to Kenneth, "Come along, now we must start up the steep hill." As we started up the hill Kenneth asked, "Why is this path so wide and made to look like steps about eight feet apart?" "It was used by the elephants of the prince. They would climb up toward the palace at the top of the hill. Up and up we climbed. There were buildings lying in ruins along the way. Before we reached the third wall I said, "While we catch our breath, let us go off toward the third wall up ahead and see if we can find any interesting things from the past. We came to an open field near the upper wall. We looked carefully among the dry grass in the field and sure enough we found two broken arrows. Then, much to my surprise, we also found part of a very old gun. That was a real prize. I picked it up and Kenneth put in the nap sack on his back.

The next wall was built on a steep slope. It looked higher than the others and it would be difficult for anyone to climb over that wall. It had the same kind of gate that was in the second wall.

We had come almost to the fourth wall when I said, "Come, I want to show you something." There a little distance from the path was a building with the front of it fallen in. It was a very large and high building. Then I told Kenneth why it was so broken down. Some Indians had come to see the fort when a sudden heavy rain began. They hurried to this building. It was in good condition at that time. They took shelter in it and while it rained they sat on the ground, for the building had no floor, and began to smoke their Indian pipe. One of them had just lit it and threw the match down on the ground. All at once the ground blew up. Years before soldiers had stored gunpowder in that building and there was still some on the ground. The explosion not only killed the people but it blew the whole front and much of the roof off.

Kenneth didn't enjoy that part of the trip so we went on through the fourth gate and climbed up to the palace. The outer palace walls formed the fifth wall. They did not seem as strong as the other walls. Inside the palace grounds there were some trees growing so we sat in the shade. Then we climbed to the top of that wall and from there we could see the whole fort and miles beyond it. While we sat there Kenneth said, "Just imagine what it must have been like when the people in the palace watched an enemy attack the fort." That was long ago. At last Kenneth said, "I surely thank you for bringing me out here. I will be able to tell my children about the wonders of this old fort." After we had rested a while we went down and back to my home.

Kenneth wasn't the last person I took to Golconda. It was an historic part of India and I was happy to show it to visitors. Perhaps if you go to Hyderabad, India, you will be able to see Fort Golconda. I'm sure you will find it a fascinating place. [by James E. McEldowney, Spring 1997]

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