Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Daulatabad Fort

Friday, 24 March 2017

While I had visited Daulatabad Fort in September 2014, Lon was at a conference that day, so I insisted that we visit Daulatabad on the way to Ellora Caves. While there are many old forts to visit in India, Daulatabad has a number of unique features.

Daulatabad is a spartan fort set on a small, steep hill near Aurangabad. It is nearly impregnable, but also unlivable. Ultimately, it was rarely used because living conditions were so poor.

Like most forts, the approach to the outermost gate has short right-angle turns to prevent battering rams and elephants from gathering enough momentum to ram the doors open. Additionally, the outer doors are massive and have spikes to deter elephants.
The Chand Minar stands as a victory monument along the road into the inner fort.
Across the road from the Chand Minar is the remains of a mosque that was made from an earlier Hindu temple. In a unity move, the mosque has now been made into a temple for non-sectarian “Mother India”. The royal pavilion can be seen at the top of the hill in the distance.
The center dome contains a jarringly garish modern idol of “Mother India”.
The gallery along the main wall of the temple/mosque/temple.
Chini Mahal. A palace, later turned into a prison.
The end of a cannon adorned with a ram’s head.
The most unusual feature of Daulatabad Fort is the “dark chamber”, now home to thousands of bats. If an invading army made it through several layers of conventional defenses (gates, moats, narrow passages, low doorways, etc.), it had to go through this passage to get to the inner reaches of the fort. The labyrinthine path is in total darkness and has uneven floors, uneven stairs, pitfalls, ways to pour boiling oil on attackers, and a path that splits, then turns back on itself so that the invaders could be led to attack themselves. It’s worth the trip to experience this passage.
After the dark passage, the fort road continues up to the top where there are additional artillery emplacements and a pavilion, presumably for living. The hill is steep, and the top is very small -- too small a space to have an army and king wait out a siege. While it worthwhile to go to the top (marvelous view!), we were ready to move on to Ellora Caves. See my earlier post for the full tour.

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