Bala Hisar (Citadel)

Golconda, Andhra Pradesh (near Hyderabad)

Golconda was the capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty from 1512, the year the dynasty was founded, until 1591, when the dynastic capital shifted to Hyderabad. The Qutb Shahi dynasty lasted until 1687, when Golconda was captured by the forces of the Moghul emperor Aurangzeb. After Aurangzeb's death in 1707, the Nizams of Hyderabad declared independence. Later, the Nizams retained a measure of autonomy as allies of the British against Tipu Sultan of Mysore. Golconda was at that time the world's only known source of diamonds; both the Koh-i-Noor Diamond and the Hope Diamond were cut from gemstones found there.

Golconda's upper fort (Bala Hisar) was built on the eastern slope of the hill, as seen here. The photo looks west, from just inside Bala Hisar Gate. Enclosure walls separate the lower from the upper parts of the citadel. In the distance, the peak of the citadel rises steeply to 425 feet above the ground level. Public buildings such as an armory (photo extreme left) and royal mosque (Taramati Masjid, photo center) occupy the lower portions of the citadel. They are overlooked from the top of the hill by private palace buildings such as Ibrahim's Mosque, whose distant minarets are barely visible in the upper part of the photo.