Mogul ruler Aurangzeb's long siege to the Golconda fort and the role of his bronze cannon the ''Fateh Rahbar''

In the famous  500 plus year old  Golconda fort of Hyderabad, Telangana, a protected heritage site one of the attractions among others  is a unique cannon -  the Fateh Rahbar used by Delhi 's Mogul emperor Aurangzeb against the Deccani sultans in the war in the 17th CE.

  .The Fateh Rahbar  bronze cannon, Golconda

Aurangzeb was Sunni muslim, while the rulers of the Deccan  who were Shia and  accepted the suzerainty of the Shah of Persia (now Iran)  resisted Mughal expansionism in the southern region of India. After subduing two Muslim kingdoms, the Nizam Shahis of Ahmednagar and the Adil Shahis of Bijapur, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb assembled an army and began his siege on Golconda Fort

Under the direction of the Mogul emperor himself, Hyderabad  was besieged for eight months and after a long struggle fell in October 1687 as the result of  betrayal from some people in the Sultanate,

When  Aurangzeb laid a long siege to the fort in 1687 to win the war against the last ruler of Qutb Shahi dynasty, he relied on a particular powerful cannon - the Fateh Rahbar meaning 'guide to victory.'   It is a large bronze cannon with a length of 486 cm, the diameter of its muzzle is 70 cm,(bore 26 cm and end of the barrel is 84 cm). He also asked his gunner to use  Azhdaha-Paikar (python body). Apart,  Mogul  encampments  was bombarded day and night by  bamboo rockets.  After victory  Aurangzeb had the Fateh Rahbar and other cannon(s) placed on top of the fort. He repaired the damages incurred in the war and made alterations to make the fort much stronger.  The cannons were strategically located on the bastions.

The Fateh Rahbar  bronze cannon, Golconda fort,

The place  Petla Burj where  the Fateh Rahbar  bronze cannon is installed, is under the care of the ASI and  is open to public. It is difficult for the visitors to go up as the steps are rough and rugged with overgrowth of bushes, indicating the lethargic attitude of the ASI . The bronze  cannon is also in a desolate state due to persistent official negligence . The long powerful bronze cannon  highlights  better bronze cannon manufacturing technology, metallurgical knowledge and workmanship, the forte of the Mughal artillery power. 

Secular & last ruler Qutb Shahi Abul Hassan Tana Shah

 Ibrahim Qutb Shah Wali (1518-1580)

Above image: Ruler  Ibrahim Qutb Shah Wali (1518-1580) was the fourth monarch of the kingdom of Golconda in southern India. He was the first of the Qutb Shahi dynasty to use the title "Sultan" and ruled from 1550 to 1580. He was fond of the Telugu language spoken in that region. 

treacherous Mogul king Aurangzeb,

Above image:  Aurangzeb, Mogul ruler with capital in Delhi. Most cruel Mogul ruler who imprisoned his own father and killed his elder brothers to ascend the throne. Beina a Sunni Muslim, he wanted to conquer the secular Decani Sultans who were shia...................

When ruler Aurangzeb who was on an expansion binge to include more lands under the mogul empire, he made a decision to raid the Deccan region under the control of the Qutb Shahi dynasty. The reason why he had set his eyes on the Deccan was,  it had fertile cotton soil, vast  natural and mineral resources, including diamond placer deposits in the alluvial region of the Krishna river (presently in  Guntur district of Andhra). The Kollur mines, now defunct, once produced famous diamonds like the Koh-i-noor, Hope, Arcot diamonds, etc.
Fateh Rahbar Golconda fort

Before his war campaign to the Deccan, Aurangzeb thought it was easy to defeat the Decani sultans. Only after reaching this region and  had been at war with the local ruler for a month or so, he realized, the task of winning the war was a tedious  and time-consuming one.  Built atop a 400 ft rocky hill with 8 strong entry gates, 87 angled bastions with  more cannons, and deep and wide moat all around the fort covering 8 miles, the fort itself posed a challenging one for the following main reasons: 

Siege of Golconda, India 1687

01. During the siege of 1687, the cannons placed atop the bastions provided massive artillery support which prevented the Mogul  army to move forward. 

02. According to  historian M.A. Qayyum, the Qutb Shahi army employed 110 cannons to repel the Mughal.  It meant persistent artillery power to prevent entry.

03. Each of the cannon was mounted with a special mechanism on a metal pivot embedded in the floor of the bastion. The advantage is it is easy for  the gunners  to turn the gun/ cannon from side to side and could accurately target any spot they wanted within the cannon’s range from the fort. It was the ruler Ibrahim Qutb Shah Wali who built the bastions with brick lime mortar with protection for the gunner and  vastly improved the artillery power. Each rotatable cannon was installed in a vantage point to repel the offencive forces.

04. Massive  entry gate doors  provided with sharp iron spikes and knob  acted as deterrence to the war elephants to ram the gate to break them  open.

curved passage,Fateh Darwaza Golconda fort, India

05. Yet another effective  defensive feature is curved path to the gateway. Each gate was built ingeniously  at the end of a curved passage, so battering rams or elephants couldn build up enough speed or force to attack the gates and split them open.

Banjara Darwaja, Golconda fort, Hyderabad,

06. Being self- contained fort with enough storage facilities to store food grains, arms and ammunition and water facilities, the Qutb Shah rulers withstood the long siege well. 

Having come to the fag end with long siege and declining ammunition, etc  with fatigued soldiers, Aurangzeb  now relied on his cannons in particular,   the Fateh Rahbar  bronze cannon.  The other cannons worthy of mention are  Qila Kusha,the Azhada Paikar, the Atish Bar and Dushman Kob. The Qila Kusha meaning ' fort opener' cannon was also made  in 1666 and is seen on the Musa Burj at south east of Golconda Fort

Toward the 8th month of the siege,  Mogul army entered into the mighty fort through the At Fateh gate and  Aurangzeb  ended the hegemony of the  Qutb Shahi reign in Deccan and took the last Golconda king,  Abul Hassan Tana Shah captive. Qutb Shah s as part of the deal  handed  over some of the famous diamonds -  the Nur-Ul-Ain Diamond, Great Stone Diamond, Kara Diamond, Darya-e-Nur, the Hope Diamond, the Wittelsbach Diamond and the Regent Diamond (?) The Golconda Sultanate was officially annexed as  a subah, or province of the Mughal Empire, called Hyderabad Subah.Qutb Shah was imprisoned in Daulatabad Fort, now in Maharashtra state.