The ruined city of Golconda, the largest and most impressive stronghold of the Deccan region, rises from scrubland 11km west of Hyderabad. Encircled by massive crenelated ramparts, the fort served as the capital of the Qtub Shahi kings from 1518 until it was conquered by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb 169 years later, after a protracted eight-month siege.
Tier upon tier of high walls and arches rise up the flanks of the 400-ft hill on which Golconda rests, creating a striking spectacle from below. Inside its three lines of defences lay a self-contained town containing royal apartments, assembly halls, mosques, magazines, stables, baths and granaries. The fort also boasted a unique acoustic system: a hand clap at the main gate can still be heard a kilometre away at the Bala Hissar on top of the hill – a trick local guides demonstrate with great relish!