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The Daulatabad fort with a tunnel entrance, cannon post, and narrow access bridge
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Daulatabad is a 14th-century fort city in Maharashtra, India, about 16 kilometers northwest of Aurangabad. The place, was once as known as Devagiri, circa the sixth century AD, when it was an important uplands city along caravan routes and is now but a village, based around the former city of the same name.
Starting 1327, it famously remained the capital of Tughlaq dynasty, under Muhammad bin Tughluq (r. 1325-1351), who also changed its name, and forcibily moved the entire population of Delhi here, for two years, before it was abandoned due to lack of water.
There is a tradition that Deoghur or Doulatabad was built in 1203 AD by a Dhangar or herdsman who acquiring by some unusual good fortune vast wealth was named by his brother shepherds Rajah Ram and soon after assumed the rank of a Rajah.
Fort of Daulatabad
The area of the city includes the hill-fortress of Daulatabad (Urdu, Marathi देवगिरी) (sometimes Latinised to Deogiri). It stands on a conical hill, about 200 meters high. Much of the lower slopes of the hill has been cut away by Yadava dynasty rulers to leave 50 meter vertical sides to improve defenses. The fort is a place of extraordinary strength. The only means of access to the summit is by a narrow bridge, with passage for not more than two people abreast, and a long gallery, excavated in the rock, which has for the most part a very gradual upward slope.
About midway along this gallery, the access gallery has steep stairs, the top of which is covered by a grating destined in time of war to form the hearth of a huge fire kept burning by the garrison above. At the summit, and at intervals on the slope, are specimens of massive old cannon facing out over the surrounding countryside. Also at the mid way, there is a cave entrance meant to confuse the enemies.
Daulatabad (190 57’ N; 750 15’ E) is located at a distance of 15 km northwest of Aurangabad, the district headquarters and midway to Ellora group of caves. The original widespread capital city is now mostly unoccupied and has been reduced to a village. Much of its survival depends on the tourists to the old city and the adjacent fort.
Daulatabad or ‘the abode of wealth’ was the name given by Muhammad-bin-Tughluq when he made his capital here in A.D. 1327. The ancient name being ‘Devagiri’ or ‘Deogiri’ meaning ‘Hill of Gods’ under the Yadavas of Deogiri. The Yadavas were initially ruling under the Chalukyas of Kalyani over region of modern Dhulia and Nasik districts with their capital at Chandradityapura (modern Chandor, Nasik district). Bhillama V who was one of the powerful Yadava rulers led victorious campaigns against the Hoysalas, Paramaras and Chalukyas founded the city of Deogiri and shifted his capital here. Since then the succeeding Yadava rulers held their capital here. During the rule of Ramachandradeva, son of Krishna, Ala-ud-din Khilji invaded and captured Deogiri in A.D. 1296. However, Ramachandradeva was allowed to rule from here as a vassal. Later, Malik Kafur led two campaigns against Ramachandradeva and his son Shankardeva in A.D. 1306-07 and 1312 respectively; Shankardeva was killed during the latter campaign. Harapaladeva was placed on the throne by Malik Kafur who later ascertained his independence. This led to another successful campaign against Deogiri by Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah Khilji and the fort was annexed to the Delhi Sultanate. Muhammad-bin-Tughluq succeeded the Khiljis at Delhi and he renamed Deogiri as Daulatabad and seeing its impregnable fort, shifted the capital from Delhi in A.D. 1328. This led to serious repercussions and he had to again transfer the capital back to Delhi. The region and the fort passed on into the hands of Bahamani rulers under Hasan Gangu in A.D. 1347 and Nizam Shahis of Ahmednagar in A.D. 1499. Daulatabad became the capital of Nizam Shah dynasty in 1607 A.D. Deccan witnessed turbulent periods due to the frequent invasions and infights between the local ruling families during this period. The Mughals led several campaigns during the rule of Akbar and Shah Jahan and only during the latter’s period the area was fully captured in 1633 A.D. after a long siege of four months. Thus the Mughals seized power and Aurangazeb was placed as the Viceroy of Deccan who led his campaigns to Bijapur and Golconda from Daulatabad. The rising power of Marathas troubled the Mughals and for a brief period the region passed under the control of Marathas. Thus the Daulatabad fort passed several hands, captured and re-captured, by the Mughals, the Marathas, the Peshwas, and finally placed under the control of the Nizams of Hyderabad in 1724 A.D. which was under their control till independence.
The outer wall, 2.75 miles (4.43 km) in circumference, once enclosed the ancient city of Deogiri (Devagiri), and between this and the base of the upper fort are three lines of defences.
Besides the fortifications Daulatabad contains several notable monuments, of which the chief are the Chand Minar and the Chini Mahal. The Chand Minar is a tower 210 ft (64 m). high and 70 ft (21 m). in circumference at the base, and was originally covered with beautiful Persian glazed tiles. It was erected in 1445 by Ala-ud-din Bahmani to commemorate his capture of the fort. The Chini Mahal, or China Palace, is the ruin of a building once of great beauty. In it Abul Hasan Tana Shah, the last of the Qutb Shahi kings of Golconda, was imprisoned by Aurangzeb in 1687.
Daulatabad rail station is located on the Kachiguda-Manmad section of the Nanded Division of South Central Railway. Until reorganisation in 2003, it was a part of the Hyderabad Division Aurangabad is a major station near to Daulatabad.
- "Devagiri Daulatabad Fort".
- The Asiatic journal and monthly register for British and foreign India, pg 355. Published in 1827.
- Qureshi, Dulari (2004). Fort of Daulatabad. New Delhi: Bharatiya Kala Prakashan. ISBN 81-8090-072-X. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
- Qureshi, Dulari (2004). Fort of Daulatabad. New Delhi: Bharatiya Kala Prakashan. ISBN 81-8090-072-X.
- Daulatabad at the Islamic Monuments of India Photographic Database
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