For most tourists, Aurangabad is synonymous with the caves at Ajanta and Ellora. But there is an equally significant, and historic. This is the Daulatabad Fort, which is an architectural wonder for its rock-cut caves and passage, a structural temple, moat, defence walls, palaces, royal baths, residential quarters, bazaars, stepped wells, tanks, etc. Its historical prominence comes from the fact that during the rule of the Tughlaqs, the capital was shifted from Delhi to Deogiri which was renamed Daulatabad.
Just as the many other impressive forts that dot the Maharashtra landscape, the Daulatabad Fort is dominating too. On the road from Aurangabad to Ellora, the fort was founded in the 11th century CE by King Bhillama V, a Yadava ruler. The city was then called ‘Deogiri’, meaning the hill of gods. Much later, after Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq tried his best to use Daulatabad as a nodal base for expansion of his rule, a quick succession of political events led to the city being wrested from the Tughlaq authority. The Bahmani rulers under Hasan Gangu now extended their control over Daulatabad. Then the Nizam Shahis of Ahmednagar not only captured but also made Daulatabad as their capital in 1607 CE. In 1633 CE Daulatabad was captured after a siege of four months by the Mughals. It was during this time that Aurangzeb led his campaigns against Bijapur and Golconda from Daulatabad. For a short period, Daulatabad was also under the control of the Marathas before the Nizams of Hyderabad took charge of it in 1724 CE.
Situated on a 200-meter high conical hill, Daulatabad was one of the most powerful forts of the medieval Deccan. Spread over an area of 95 hectares, its defence system consisted of two moats and three encircling fortification walls with lofty gates and bastions at regular intervals. The fort was subsequently enlarged and various structures were added as it passed from one dynasty to another. As a reminder of that era, you can see here the remains of the moat and the fortification walls along with the stepped wells, the court building, a temple dedicated to Bharat Mata, a hall of public audience, water cisterns, royal baths and a rock-cut passage. The excavations carried out within the fort complex between 2003 and 2007 have also laid bare the lower city complex consisting of main lanes and by-lanes.
Some of the prominent structures within the fort complex include the Mahakot which comprises four distinct lines of walls with 54 bastions that surround the fort for a length of nearly 5 kilometers. The walls are between 6 to 9 feet thick and 18 to 27 feet high with ammunition depots and granaries built along the interiors. Another interesting spot is the Hathi Haud – a gigantic water tank admeasuring 38 x 38 x 6.6 meters with a capacity of about 10,000 cubic meters. There are steps from three sides of the tank to reach the bottom and only gravitational force was used to bring water to this system. Also not-to-be-missed is the Royal Bath which was constructed during the Tughlaq period for an affluent class of society. The chambers were used for massage, hot water bath, steam bath, etc. Each chamber was planned and designed with well-laid tanks, water channels, pipes, ventilators, etc.
Distance from Mumbai: 350 kms