The largest known diamond in the world is said to have originated near Hyderabad, India. It was taken by the Arabs before being taken back by India before moving into the possession of the British.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Like most great cities of antiquity, there was a large stone fort built on a hill overlooking Hyderabad and all the surrounding area. The fort is called Golconda Fort.
On our first full day in Hyderabad, we went to Golconda Fort with our friends Bhanu and Keerthi.
I met Bhanu online through Elance when I was looking for someone to help me with a video project. Bhanu did a great job with the work, and since then he’s been doing a fair amount of video work for our sites PromotionsAndDiscounts.com and IdentityTheftSecrets.com. Here’s one example of a video he did from a write-up about Apmex Promo Codes.
When I told Bhanu we would be in India, he said that his cousin Keerthi offered that we could stay with her and her husband Rahul. And so we did.
Keerthi and Rahul have a large apartment not far from where Bhanu lives.
Bhanu and Keerthi were such amazing hosts… I hope to have the opportunity to repay their kindness someday (soon) when they visit us in Colorado (or wherever).
So… our tour for the day…
Before we went to Golconda Fort, we went to check out the tombs of the kings and queens of this area from the 1500s and 1600s.
The tombs were beautifully decorated and apparently are quite unique blends of Hindu and Muslim architecture, as one of the monarchs converted while holding the throne.
It was fun to go around and take pictures with Bhanu and Keerthi, all the while receiving the (now familiar) confused stare from people looking at us as a complete anomaly. In many parts of India, even in some of the big cities and at tourist attractions like Golconda Fort, being white still puts you in the very extreme minority. Either people just stare, or they stare in confusion with a face that seems to say “what are you doing here?” It’s fun to be the odd one and a small center of attention sometimes. (Other times it can be a bit aggressive and too much in your face.) But because we were with Bhanu and Keerthi, it made it easy to enjoy the experience because people let us move along without too many obstructions or insistences that we go somewhere or buy something.
From the tombs, we went to Golconda fort.
Golconda Fort was surprising both in it’s sheer size and it’s technological marvels. They devised a system in the 1600s whereby water would be pumped uphill through three different holding tanks. This was done so that the king could have a bath and drinking water.
But the system was also used outside of the fort to create a reservoir to help the people irrigate crops.
And the water wasn’t just pumped up a small hill. The hill took us about 45 minutes to climb up, with nearly 400 steps to the top.
After reaching the top (where the good but shifty tour guide took me aside and asked for an extra tip – he had apparently also asked Carrie earlier), we hurried back down so that we could get seated in time for the 7:00 light show.
This is a nightly event where they sit as many as 1000 people in chairs at the bottom of the hill of the fort and display lights all the way up the hill. The lights are used to tell a visual story as you hear how Golconda Fort and the city of Hyderabad came into existence. The light show was a bit long, but it was a lot of fun to hear the story of the founding of Hyderabad, and what led to it’s eventual downfall.
Turns out, as in most tales of these conquered cities of antiquity, someone was bribed to leave open a gate, which allowed the Moghuls (after 8 months of unsuccessful attempts) to get into the amazingly fortified city and capture the king, taking him away from Hyderabad never to return.
You can still see his unfinished tomb alongside the finished tombs of the other kings of Hyderabad.
Golconda Fort was allowed to fall into ruin for over 300 years (as no one of means was here to care for it), but in the 1950’s the government of India took on restoring it, which is why we are able to see it today.
Oh, and the diamonds? Apparently diamonds used to be so common in Hyderabad that they were used to reflect light, in order to light all of the rooms of the fort.
You know… diamonds large enough and plentiful enough to be used as reflectors. Yah.
Every Friday (the Muslim holy day), within the outer wall of the fort also was a diamond market, where traders would come from all over the world to get the stones.
Today most of those diamonds are probably in the hands of individuals all over the world, but the big one… the crown jewel of Hyderabad, is actually in one of the crowns of the British.
Bhanu and Keerthi, thank-you for a wonderful day.
Side note: Bhanu develops applications for the iPhone/iPad and does video production/editing work. If you’re looking to have a simple video produced or an iApp made, let me know via our contact page and I’ll put you in touch with Bhanu.