>Travel Pictures


Daulatabad Fort

February 2008

The massive walls were perfect meeting points for the large school groups that were visiting the fort. An important figure in the region's history, we were told by several of the chaperones that a visit is basically a compulsory part of the schools' curriculum.

The Chand Minar is the most distinctive landmark in the lower part of the fort system. It was (supposedly) once covered with glazed tiles, but there is very little that would indicate that nowadays. It is supposed to be somewhat patterned after the Qutb Minar, which sure seems the case looking at the bottoms of the balconies. Towering over the grounds at just under 100 feet, it pointed us straight down the dirt road towards the hilltop fort ahead.

Located about halfway between Aurangabad and Ellora caves, the Daulatabad Fort gave us a great last day excursion and excuse to stretch our legs. 

While we weren't taking a school class, it was still a lot of fun to imagine what the place must have been like in the olden days!

There was (as we've found at every site we've visited) plenty of restorative work going on, probably using techniques that haven't changed in centuries with the exception of using plastic buckets!)

Along the way, we were the 'rock stars' that everyone wanted to meet. Breck and Alea shook hands with tons of kids and had their pictures taken with many groups (for hanging up at the school?)

Inside this old Muslim complex is an ornate Hindu goddess, Bharatmata, which we were told represented the spirit of India. We did a quick puja, got the little dot on our forehead, and then rang the bell to announce our presence to the spirits. Then we played hide and seek among the cool columns.
As we worked our way further and further into the complex, we got a good look at the hill we would have to be climbing. The legend of the fort is that it was equipped with all sorts of defensive measures to ensure its impregnability. 
The ugly green water moat surrounding the base was interesting, as the old bridge (the one that slopes down (left, with Alea and Susan on it) was deliberately flooded in the case of attack. There are dams on either side of the mountain, connected to a spring water source, with big tanks of water at the ready. Should an army come, one of the doors would be opened and the water level would rise rapidly up and over the bridge. (Obviously the straight horizontal bridge is a modern addition!!)

Once an invader was past that (and remember, they'd have to have gotten through the outside walls first), they next faced the darkened, twisting tunnels under the building. These were full of dead ends, pitfalls, and hidden traps. One that Susan read about was a series of hallways constructed such that if the defenders built a fire at one end, the winds would 'suck' all the heat and flame in a giant firestorm through the hallway, incinerating the attackers. Luckily for us, there was an old man who was only too happy to lead us through with a lit torch (for a small fee).

The rock face of the mountain itself was said to have been sheared flat to prevent armies climbing it. That left the only way up (and up and up!) around a twisting stairway, with plenty of opportunities for archers above to pick off opposing soldiers (not to mentioned pretty tough spiked doors). 

Looking over the entire valley, the huge cannons made for a super further deterrent. So effective were all these measures that the fort was never captured, despite nearly constant warfare during the Mughal period, until the general commanding the guards was bribed into letting attackers enter!

So with the help of Ganesh (another offering, another dot on the forehead), we made it all the way to the top.

Alea and Susan show their true feelings about a suggestion that they jog to the top.

We met many more friendly people - many, many kids who were fascinated with Breck's curly hair and Alea's green eyes
But we were all pooped from the climbing up and down (see that hill behind them? That's where we went in pretty hot weather - imagine April!!).

So we bid farewell to the groups still coming in, and decided to get some lunch.

We stopped for some water at the local juice bar and then directed our driver to take us to a place that had food and beer! When we got there, the kids had a place to play (but of course they headed straight for the mud!), mom and dad had some shade in which to relax, and we regathered ourselves after a super morning at the fort.

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