This fortress is a must visit if you are in Maharashtra. One of the state’s largest and most well preserved forts, the medieval Daulatabad-Devgiri fort changed hands over 10 times over time. Not only is it an extremely important historical landmark, it is also an engineering marvel and an ode to defense strategies and fortifications. Visitors are rewarded with great views of the surrounding countryside if they attempt the 1-1.5 hour climb to the top of the fort.
Built by the Yadava empire, and then captured by the Khiljis, the fort’s original name was Devgiri. In 1328 AD, India’s very own, non-fictional mad king, Muhammad-bin Tughlaq shifted the capital of the empire from Delhi to Devgiri, forcing every Delhiite to march 1100 km with all their possessions south to Devgiri, which was renamed to Daulatabad. Due to acute water shortages in the area, his idea failed and he shifted everyone back to Delhi!
The fort was then occupied by the Bahamanis, the Mughals with the Nizam Shahis, and the Marathas. Finally, it was under the Nizams of Hyderabad until the independence of India.
As intoxicated elephants were used as battering rams to storm open fort gates in medieval times, all the fort’s gates were sharply spiked around 10 feet up the wall. If invaders did manage to break into the walls they were about to experience hell on earth as the only way into the central fortress was across a drawbridge over a crocodile infested moat. This would only lead them right into the ingeniously built subterranean labyrinth called Andheri, filled with death traps that are right out of science fiction.
Since the fort was transferred between Hindu and Muslim rulers, back and forth, there is an influence of both architectures in the same spot. Hindu and Buddhist temples were broken and mosques were erected in their place and vice versa.
19°56' N, 75°13' E
“This fort is responsible for my bread and butter, I wish it was better marketed by the government”
– Mr. Kashinath, Official Guide
“Drought in recent years has severly affected supply but we somehow ensure we sell juice year-round.”
– Mr. Ahmed, Sugarcane juice vendor outside the fort