There are few places of historical interests that are very close to a city or district headquarters. One such monument is Daulatabad, the 14th century fort city which is about 16 kms in the city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra State. A developing tourist spot and considered to be one of the seven wonders of Maharashtra was originally called Devagiri during the 6th century AD when it was an important thriving city used by traders to pass through this city. It was gradually reduced to a mere village.
India is a country of faiths and folklore. Beliefs galore; Lord Shiva is believed to have dwelled on the surrounding region on the hills. It is therefore appropriately called Devagiri – Hill of God! Another legend has it that Devagiri was built in 1203 AD by a herdsman who by good fortune inherited vast wealth.
Daulatabad or ‘The city of fortune’ acquired its name under Muhammad bin Tughluq when it remained the capital of India for a short period during Tughluq dynasty starting 1327. The monarch known for his whimsical nature to shift his capital back and forth from Delhi to Devagiri had also forcibly moved the entire population of Delhi for two years. He had to abandon this initiative due to lack of water.
Built in the 12th century on top of a conical hill this majestic citadel dramatically emerges about 600 feet above the Deccan plain. To improve defenses, much of the lower slopes have been sliced away aesthetically to leave 50 meter vertical sides. The excellent architecture ranks it among the few impregnable forts of Maharashtra, with three lines of defenses between the boundary walls and the base of the upper fort. The outer wall covering a circumference of 4.43 km once enclosed the ancient city of Devagiri.
To keep away intruders, the fort complete with a tunnel entrance, spiked gates, deep trench with mechanical draw bridges, crocodiles, steep side ways specimens of massive cannon post facing out over the country side, a maze of coiled network of secret subsurface passages and sham entrances at the mid way to confuse the enemy and other paraphernalia, befitting a fortress.
Evidently it is one of the world’s best preserved fortresses of medieval era possessing extraordinary strength. No wonder, the only means of access to the summit is by a narrow bridge, with passage for not more than two people side by side and a long access gallery having steep stairs with gradual gradient excavated in the rock. At the top is covered by a grating destined in time of war to form the hearth of huge fire that kept burning by the garrison. With such fool proof precaution and three rows of massive walls it would be impossible for intruders to escape. The fort could be captured only by treachery.
Significantly on a spiritual note, Daulatabad fort has some exceptionally outstanding structures and monuments like the Chand Minar, Jami Masjid and royal palaces that consist of spacious halls, grand pavilions and majestic courtyards. The Chand Minar is a 30-metre high victory tower within the precincts of the fort was built by Alauddin Bahmani commemorating his conquest of the fort in 1435. The Chand Minar used as a prayer hall or a victory monument is divided into four storeys having glazed tiles and carved decorative motifs.
The Jami Masjid is actually a mosque, within the boundaries of the fort was built in 1318 by Qutubuddin Mubarak, comprising of 106 pillars ransacked from the Hindu and Jain temples, which previously stood on the site. Thankfully, this monument is well preserved but has been converted into a Bharatmata temple causing great resentment among the local Muslim community.
Daulatabad Fort which is in the close proximity of the city of Aurangabad, is approachable by any mode of transport.