Daulatabad Fort isn’t all that well known outside of India. It doesn’t feature on many bucket lists, and it doesn’t make it into all that many guidebooks as a must-see-highlight – unlike nearby Taj Mahal. The fort doesn’t even have it’s own Wikipedia entry. And yet there was a time when humble, homely, unassuming Daulatabad Fort was the most important city in the Indian subcontinent.
Daulatabad Fort takes advantage of a striking, 200-metre-high rocky outcrop known as Devagiri (meaning: Hill of the Gods) that rises up above the surrounding plains.
The Yadava kings of the 12th Century CE were the first to fortify Devagiri. They immediately began modifying the outcrop to improve its defensive capabilities.
To begin with, the lower slopes of the outcrop were chiselled away, to create steep, unclimbable walls. Next, more than five kilometres of battlements and defensive walls were erected around the site. And to top it off, fortified gates – with metal spikes strong enough to withstand the attack of a charging elephant – were set in place.
Daulatabad Fort was considered impregnable.
But then, in 1296, the fort was impregnated by the raiding armies of Alauddin Khalji, and that was the end of that idea.
The Mad King
In 1325 Muhammad bin Tughluq, sultan of the Tughluq Dynasty, ruler of the Indian subcontinent, decided to shift his capital city from Delhi to Daulatabad.
He wasn’t planning on living there by himself either. The entire population of Delhi were given their marching orders; the city decamped and tramped the 1,100 kilometres to Daulatabad.
Eight years later the population of the capital was on the road again, this time marching back to Delhi. A lack of potable water (amongst other things) meant the new capital hadn’t panned out as planned.
The incident earned Sultan Tughluq the moniker of the Mad King.
Practical information and how to reach Daulatabad Fort:
There are frequent buses running between Aurangabad and Daulatabad Fort. Trip time is 30 minutes. More transport info here: