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Fort Daulatabad

Daulatabad (Marathi दौलताबाद; Urdu: دولت‌آباد ؛ meaning “City of Prosperity”), is a 14th century fort city in Maharashtra, India, about 16 kilometers northwest of Aurangabad. The place, was once as known as Deogiri, (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.

The area of the city includes the hill-fortress of Devagiri (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.

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.

The site had been occupied since at least 100 BCE, and now has remains of Buddhist caves similar to those at Ajanta and Ellora.

The city is said to have been founded c. 1187 by Bhillama V, a prince who renounced his allegiance to the Chalukyas and established the power of the Yadava dynasty in the west.

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.[1]

In 1294 the fort was captured by Ala-ud-din Khilji, and the rajas, so powerful that they were held by the Sultans of Delhi to be the rulers of all the Deccan, were reduced to pay tribute. The tribute falling into arrear, Devagiri was again occupied by the Muslims under Malik Kafur, in 1307 and 1310, and in 1318 the last raja, Harpal, was flayed alive.

Devagiri now became an important base for the operations of the Delhi Sultanate's conquering expeditions southwards. In 1327 Muhammad bin Tughluq determined to make it his capital, changed its name to Daulatabad, and tried to march the whole population of Delhi to it.

The project was interrupted by troubles which summoned him to the north; during his absence the Muslim governors of the Deccan revolted; and Daulatabad itself fell into the hands of Zafar Khan, the governor of Gulbarga. It remained in the hands of the Bahmanis till 1526, when it was taken by the Nizam Shahis. It was captured by the Mughal emperor Akbar, but in 1595 it again surrendered to Ahmad Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar, on the fall of whose dynasty in 1607 it passed into the hands of the usurper, the Nizam Shahi minister Malik Amber, originally an Abyssinian slave, who was the founder of Kharki (the present Aurangabad).

His successors held it until they were overthrown by Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor, in 1633; after which it remained in the possession of the Delhi emperors until, after the death of Aurangzeb, it fell to the first Nizam of Hyderabad. Its glory, however, had already decayed owing to the removal of the seat of government by the emperors to Aurangabad.
Monuments

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. (Hits: 1751)

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