This five-part series by historian Manu S Pillai explores the histories of the Deccan Sultans’ cities, as well as their lofty goals, bloody conflicts, and opulent lifestyles.
Shah Abbas of Persia dispatched an embassy to India in 1603.
The local sultanates had long courted Persia, even submitting to its rule. Of course, they did this to further their own objectives. After all, the shah was a distant figure who was unlikely to exercise direct power. Nevertheless, the sultanates’ putative suzerainty gave them legal protection from Mughal claims to their lands. In other words, it was a balancing effort to court a rival power from a safe distance while holding at away the empire closer to home.
This lack of sincerity may have contributed to the Qutb Shah of Golconda’s refusal when the Persian embassy proposed marriage as a means of securing the alliance. The foreign ambassadors spent years at his court but were unable in completing this task. Golconda would give the Persian emperor ceremonial honours and kind words as a sign of respect. But it wouldn’t endow him with a princess daughter.
Golconda’s historian is one of two cities and numerous powers.
The Kakatiya dynasty originally constructed the massive fort. Which still commands respect even now, before it was conquered by the Bahmanis. It was further developed in the 1500s by the first of the Qutb Shahs. Another governor who rebelled against his overlords. Palaces and other structures were progressively constructed inside the intimidating stone rings that had taken the place of the mud walls.
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Golconda is still a difficult proposition today. One can practically see the victorious Mughal forces panting. And heaving as they marched up to the imperial durbar given that visiting it requires trudging up boulder piles and through narrow corridors. The final Qutb Shah sat in this position with stoic dignity, wearing all of his trappings, and knowing that he was now a prisoner. In the hallways where he held court today, there are pigeon nests and bat colonies. Glory left Golconda that day, and it changed from being a living, breathing place to an artefact.