|CHAPTER 10 -- Of the kingdom
of Golconda and the wars which it has carried on during the last few years.
[] .... The Kingdom of *Golconda*, speaking generally, is a rich country, abounding in corn, rice, cattle, sheep, fowls, and other commodities necessary to life. As there are numerous *tanks*, there is also an abundance of good fish, and you find more particularly a kind of smelt, which has but one bone in the middle and is of very delicate flavour. Nature has contributed more than art to make these tanks, of which the country is full. They are generally situated in somewhat elevated positions, where it is only necessary to make a dam [] on the side of the plain in order to retain the water. These dams are sometimes half a league long, and after the season of the rains is past they open the sluices from time to time in order to let the water run into the fields, where it is received in divers small canals to irrigate the lands of private individuals.
*Bhagnagar* [nowadays, Hyderabad] is the name of the capital town of this kingdom, but it is commonly called Golconda, from the name of the fortress, which is only 2 *coss* distant from it, and is the residence of the King. This fortress is nearly 2 leagues in circuit, and requires a large garrison. It is, in reality, a town where the King keeps his treasure, having left his residence in Bhagnagar since it was sacked by the army which Aurangzeb sent against it, as I shall relate in due course.
Bhagnagar is then the town which they commonly call Golconda, and it was commenced by the great grandfather of the King who reigns at present, at the request of one of his wives whom he loved passionately, and whose name was Nagar [actually, Bhagmati]. This town is in 16 degrees 58 minutes of latitude. The neighbouring country is a flat plain, and near the town you see numerous rocks as at Fontainebleau. A large river [the Musi, a tributary of the Kistna] bathes the walls of the town on the south-west side, and flows into the Gulf of Bengal close to *Masulipatam*. You cross it at Bhagnagar by a grand stone bridge [the Purana Pul, built by Quli Qutb Shah in 1593], which [] is scarcely less beautiful than the Pont Neuf at Paris. The town is nearly the size of Orleans, well built and well opened out, and there are many fine large streets in it, but not being paved-- any more than are those of all the other towns of Persia and India-- they are full of sand and dust; this is very inconvenient in summer.
Before reaching the bridge you traverse a large suburb called Aurangabad [actually Karwan], a coss in length, where all the merchants, brokers, and artisans dwell, and, in general, all the common people; the town being inhabited only by persons of quality, the officers of the King's house, the ministers of justice, and military men. From 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning until 4 or 5 in the evening the merchants and brokers come into the town to trade with foreign merchants, after which they return home to sleep. There are in these suburbs two or three beautiful mosques, which serves as caravansaris for strangers, and several pagodas are to be seen in the neighbourhood. It is through the same suburb that you go from the town to the fortress of Golconda.
When you have crossed the bridge you straightway enter a wide street which leads to the King's palace. You see on the right hand the houses of some nobles of the court, and four or five caravansarais, having two storeys, where there are large halls and chambers, which are cool. At the end of this street you find a large square, near which stands one of the walls of the palace, and in the middle there is a balcony where the King seats himself when he wishes to give audience to the people. The principal door of the palace is not in this square, but in another close by; and you enter at first into a large court surrounded by porticoes under which the King's guards are stationed. From this court you pass to another of the same construction, around which there are several beautiful apartments, with a terraced roof; upon these, as upon the quarter of the palace where they keep the elephants, [] there are beautiful gardens, and such large trees, that it is a matter for astonishment how these arches are able to carry such a weight; and one may say in general terms that this house has all the appearance of a royal mansion.
It is about fifty years since they began to build a splendid *pagoda* [Mecca Masjid, begun by Abdullah Quli Qutb Shah] in the town; it will be the grandest in all India if it should be completed. The size of the stones is a subject for special astonishment, and that of the niche, which is the place for prayer, is an entire rock of such enormous size that they spent five years in quarrying it, and 500 or 600 men were employed continually on this work. It required still more time to roll it upon the conveyance by which they brought it to the pagoda; and they told me that it took 1,400 oxen to draw it. I shall explain why the work is incomplete. If it had been finished it would have justly passed for the noblest edifice in the whole of Asia.
On the other side of the town, from whence one goes to Masulipatam, there are two large *tanks*, each of them being about a coss in circuit, upon which are some decorated boats intended for the pleasure of the King, and along the banks [] many fine houses which belong to the principal officers of the court.
At three coss from the town there is a very fine mosque where there are the tombs of the Kings of Golconda; and every day at four o'clock PM bread and pullao are given to all the poor who present themselves. When you wish to see something really beautiful, you should go to see these tombs on the day of a festival, for then, from morning to evening, they are covered with rich carpets.
This is what I have been able to observe concerning the good order and the police which is maintained in this town. In the first place, when a stranger presents himself at the gates, they search him carefully to see if he has any *salt* or *tobacco*, because these yield the principal revenue of the King. Moreover, it is sometimes necessary that the stranger should wait for one or two days before receiving permission to enter. A soldier gives notice first to the officer who commands the guard, and he sends to the *Darogha* to give him notice also. But as it often happens that the Darogha is engaged, or that he is taking exercise outside the town, and sometimes the soldier whom they have sent pretends not to have found him, in order to have an excuse for returning, and being much better paid for his trouble-- the stranger is obliged to await the termination of all this mystery, and sometimes, as I have said, for one or two days.
When the King administers justice he comes, as I stated, into the balcony which overlooks the square, and all those who desire to be present stand below, opposite to where he is seated. Between the people and the wall of the palace three rows of sticks of the length of a short-pike are planted in the ground, at the ends of which are attached cords which cross one another, and no one, whosoever he may be, is allowed to pass these limits without being summoned. This barrier, which is not put up except when the king administers justice, extends the whole length of the square, and opposite the [] balcony there is an opening to allow those who are summoned to pass. Then two men, who hold by the ends a cord stretched across this opening, have only to lower it to admit the person who is summoned. A Secretary of State remains in the square below the balcony to receive petitions, and when he has give or six in hand he places them in a bag, which a eunuch, who is on the balcony by the side of the King, lowers with a cord, draws up, and presents them to His Majesty.
The principal nobles mount guard every Monday, each in his turn, and they are not relieved before the end of a week. Some of these nobles command 5,000 or 6,000 horse, and encamp under their tents around the town. When they mount guard each goes from his home to the rendezvous, but when they leave it they march in good order across the bridge, and thence by the main street they assemble in the square in front of the balcony. In the van ten or twelve elephants march, the number representing the rank of the officer who goes off guard. Some of them bear cages (howdahs) somewhat resembling the body of a small coach, while others carry only their driver, and another man who holds a sort of banner in place of the cage.
After the elephants the camels follow two by two, sometimes up to thirty or forty. Each camel has its saddle and on it is fixed a small culveria [=a long slender gun], which a man, clad in a skin from head to foot, like a pantaloon [=comic figure], and seated on the crupper of the camel with a lighted match in hand, quickly turns from side to side before the balcony where the King is seated.
After them come the carriages, around which the servants walk on foot, after which the led-horses appear, and finally the noble to whom this whole equipment belongs, preceded by ten or twelve courtesans, who await him at the end of the bridge, leaping and dancing before him up to the square. After him the cavalry and infantry follow in good order. And as all that affords a spectacle, and has something of pomp [] about it that amuses me, during three or four consecutive months which I have sometimes spent at Bhagnagar, my lodging being in the main street, I enjoyed every week seeing these fine troops passing, which are more or less numerous according to the rank of the noble who has been on guard in his turn.
The soldiers have for their sole garment only three or four ells of cloth, with which they clothe the middle of the body before and behind. They wear their hair long, and make a great knot of it on the head as women do, having for their sold head-dress a scrap of three-cornered cloth, one corner of which rests on the middle of the head, and the other two are tied together on the nape of the neck. They do not wear a sabre like the Persians, but a broadsword like the Swiss, with which they both cut and thrust, and they suspend it from a belt. The barrels of their muskets are stronger than ours, and the iron [for which the area had long been famous] is better and purer; this makes them not liable to burst. As for the cavalry, they have bow and arrows, shield and mace, with helmet and a coat of mail, which hangs behind from the helmet over the shoulders.
There are so many public women in the town, in the suburbs, and in the fortress, which is like another town, that it is estimated that there are generally more than 20,000 entered in the Darogha's register, without which it is not allowed to any woman to ply this trade. They pay no tribute to the King, but a certain number of them are obliged to go every Friday with their governess and their music to present themselves in the square in front of the balcony. If the King be [] there they dance before him, and if he is not, a eunuch signals to them with his hand to withdraw.
In the cool of the evening you see them before the doors of their houses, which are for the most part small huts, and when the night comes they place at the doors a candle or a lighted lamp for a signal. It is then, also, that the shops where they sell *tari* are opened. It is a drink obtained from a tree, and it is as sweet as our new wines. It is brought from 5 or 6 coss distant in leather bottles, upon horses which carry one on each side and go at a fast trot, and about 500 or 600 of them enter the town daily. The King derives from the tax which he places on this tari a very considerable revenue, and it is principally on this account that they allow so many public women, because they are the cause of the consumption of much tari, those who sell it having for this reason their shops in their neighborhood.
These women have so much suppleness and are so agile that when the King who reigns at present wished to visit Masulipatam, nine of them very cleverly represented the form of an elephant, four making the four feet, four others the body, and one the trunk, and the King, mounted above on a kind of throne, in that way made his entry into the town.
All the people of Golconda, both men and women, are well proportioned, of good stature, and of fair countenances, and it is only the peasantry who are somewhat dark in complexion. The King of Golconda who reigns at present is called Abdullah Qutb Shah [r.1611-72], and.... [] .... has no son; he has only three daughters, who are all married.
The eldest is married to one of the relatives of the Grand Shaikh of Mecca, and the circumstances which preceded this marriage are sufficiently curious to occupy a place in my observations. The Shaikh, having arrived at Golconda in the garb of a mendicant, remained for some months at the gate of the palace, refusing to reply to sundry people of the Court who inquired why he had come. At length the matter being reported to the King, he sent his senior physician, who spoke Arabic well, to ascertain from the Shaikh what he wanted, and the reason of his coming. The physician, and some nobles of the Court who also spoke to him, immediately saw that he was a man of intelligence, and took him to the King, who was much pleased with his appearance and conversation. But at length, the Shaikh having declared that he had come to marry the Princess, this proposition very much surprised the King, and was received by some of the Court as the proposal of a man who was not altogether in his senses. At first they merely laughed, but when they observed that he persisted in his demand, even threatening that a great calamity would befall the country if they did not give him, the Princess in marriage, he was cast into prison, where he remained for a long time.
The King, at length, considering that it would be better to send him back to his own country, made him embark at Masulipatam on one of the vessels which carry goods and pilgrims to Mocha, whence they travel by land to Mecca. About two years afterwards the same Shaikh returned to Golconda, and managed so well on this occasion that he espoused the Princess and acquired great credit in the kingcom, which he now governs, and where he is all-powerful. [] It was he who prevented the King from yielding up the fortress of Golconda, where he had taken refuge when Aurangzeb and his son entered Bhagnagar, as I shall presently relate-- throwing himself upon him, and threatening to kill him if he did not resolve to hold out without thinking more of delivering the keys to the enemy. This bold action was the reason why the King loved him the more, and made use of his counsel in all important affairs; and thus, not only as son-in-law of the King, but as Prime Minister, he is now the principal personage in the Court of Golconda. It was he who caused the Great Pagoda [Mecca Mosque] of Bhagnagar to remain unfinished, because he threatened the kingdom with a great calamity if they persisted in completing it.
This Prince [the Shaikh] passionately loves all those who are proficient in mathematics, which he understands fairly well; hence, although he is a Musalman, he favours all Christians who are learned in this science, as he particularly showed in the case of the Rev. Father Ephraim, a Capuchin, when he was passing through Golconda to go to Pegu, whither he was sent by his Superiors. He did all he could to induce him to remain in his country, and offered to build for him, at his own cost, a house and a church, assuring him that he would lack neither occupation nor parishoners, since some Christian Portuguese and many Armenians came every year for trade. But Father Ephraim, who had his orders to proceed to Pegu, was unable to accept his offer, and when he went to take leave of the Shaikh he received from him a *khilat* of the most honourable kind, since it included the whole suit, namely the cap, the cabaye [from qaba-i shahi, "royal robe"] or grand robe, the arcalou or cassock, two pairs of drawers, two shirts, and two girdles, with a scarf to be worn round the neck and upon the head for protection against the heat of the sun. The Reverend Father was astonished at this present, and told the Shaikh that he could [] not wear it, but the latter pressed him to take it, and said that he might bestow it on one of his friends. Two months afterwards I received this present from Father Ephraim when I was at Surat, and I thanked him for it on the occasion of our first meeting.
The Shaikh, seeing that he could not detail the Father, and not wishing to allow him to travel on foot from Golconda to Masulipatam, as he intended, compelled him to accept an ox which he gave him, with two attendants to conduct him; and not being able to force him to accept 30 pagodas in addition, he directed the two attendants that on arrival at Masulipatam they should leave with the Capuchin Father both the ox and the pagodas. This order they did not fail to carry out in every particular, for otherwise on their return to Golconda it would have cost them their lives. I shall complete the history of Father Ephraim, who afterwards experienced many misfortunes, when I describe Goa, which is the principal Portuguese possession in India.
The second daughter of the King of Golconda was espoused to Sultan Muhammad, eldest son of Aurangzeb. What led to the marriage was this: *Mir Jumla*, Commander-in-Chief of the army of the King of Golconda, who had received from him much good service in establishing his throne, when he went to Bengal to deal with a Raja's affairs, left in hostage with the King, according to custom, his wife and children as pledge of his fidelity. He had many daughters, but only one son, who had a considerable following and made a great figure at Court. The credit and the wealth which Mir Jumla [] had acquired made him enemies, who, jealous of such good fortune, sought to destroy it in his absence, and to injure him in the esteem of the King. They told him that Mir Jumla's power should cause him to be suspected; that all his actions tended towards dethroning him and securing the kingdom of Golconda for his son; that he ought not to wait till the evil was without remedy; and that in order to rid himself of an enemy the more dangerous because he concealed himselof, the shortest way was to poison him.
The King, being easily persuaded, gave these persons an order to accomplish the deed; but having taken their measures clumsily three or four times in succession without being able to accomplish their object, the son of Mir Jumla at length heard of it, and at once informed his father.It is not known exactly what command he got from his father; but after he had received his reply he went to the King, to whom he spoke out with boldness, taxing him with the services which his father had rendered him, and with the fact that without his aid he would never have come to the throne. This was true; but there was a Court intrigue which would take too long to describe. This young noble, somewhat carried away from his ordinary demeanour, used such sharpness of language to the King that His Majesty, offended by his insolence, rose in a rage, while the nobles of the Court, who were present, threw themselves on him and handled him roughly. At the same time, by order of the King, he was arrested with his mother and sisters, and put in prison, and this affair, which made a great commotion at Court, so much enraged Mir Jumla, who soon had news of it, that having forces at hand, and being beloved by the soldiers, he at once resolved to make use of these advantages to revenge himself for the injury.
He was then, as I have said, deputed to Bengal, for the purpose of bringing to their allegiance some Rajas possessing territories on the Ganges; and Sultan Shuja, the second son of Shah Jahan, [] who was then Governor of Bengal, was selected by him as most suitable to join forces with him against the King of Golconda, whom he no longer regarded as his master, but as the greatest of his enemies. He accordingly wrote to the Prince that if he was willing to join him he would supply him the means of taking posesession of the whole of the kingdom of Golconda, and that he ought not to lose so good an opportunity of increasing the Mogul Empire, the succession to which affected him as well as the other princes, his brothers. But he did not receive a favourable reply from Sultan Shuja, who let him know that he did not trust the word of a man who was capable of betraying the King and might readily betray a strange prince whom he had attracted to his interests in order to accomplish his own revenge, and consequently he need not expect his aid. On receipt of this refusal of Sultan Shuja, Mir Jumla wrote to Aurangzeb, who was then in his government of Burhanpur, and he, not being so scrupulous as his brother, accepted the offer which was made to him.
While Mir Jumla advanced his troops towards Bhagnagar, Aurangzeb marched with his by long stages toward the Deccan, and the two armies having joined, they reached the gates of Bhagnagar before the King had time to put his affairs in order. He only succeeded in taking refuge in the fortress of Golconda, which Aurangzeb besieged after he had pillaged the town of Bhagnagar and removed all that was of much value from the palace. The King, seeing himself so hard pressed, believed that he would soon have to yield; and in order to avoid this hurricane, which threatened his complete ruin, sent back the wife and children with every honour to Mir Jumla
There is both virtue and generosity in India as in Europe; and I shall give a noteworthy example of it in the person of the King of Golconda. Some days after the enemy had laid siege to the fortress, a gunner perceiving Aurangzeb upon his elephant visiting the outworks, while [] the King was on the bastion, said to the latter that if His Majesty wished he could destroy the Prince with a cannon ball, and at the same moment he put himself in position to fire. But the King, seizing him by the arm, told him to do nothing of the sort, and that the lives of princes should be respected. The gunner, who was skilful, obeyed the King, and instead of firing at Aurangzeb, he killed the general of his army, who was farther in advance, with a cannon shot. This stopped the attack which he was about to deliver, the whole camp being alarmed by his death. Abd ul-Jabbar Beg, general of the army of the King of Golconda, who was close by with a flying camp of 4,000 horse, having heard that the enemy were somewhat disordered by the loss of their general, at once took advantage of so favourable an opportunity, and going at them full tilt, succeeded in overcoming them; and having put them to flight he followed them vigorously for 4 or 5 leagues till nightfall.
A few days before the death of this general, the King of Golconda, who had been surprised, seeing himself pressed, and supplies being short in the fortress, was on the point of giving up the keys; but, as I have above related, Mir Ahmad, his son-in-law, tore them from his hands, and threatened to slay him if he persisted any longer in such a resolution; and this was the reason why the King, who previously had but little liking for him, thenceforward comceived a great affection for him, of which he daily gave him proofs.
Aurangzeb having then been obliged to raise the siege, halted some days to rally his troops and receive reinforcements, with which he set himself to besiege Golconda. The fortress was as vigorously attacked as it was vigorously defended; but Mir Jumla, who still retained some regard for the King, and, as some persons say with good reason, without proclaiming it openly, did not wish to allow Aurangzeb to proceed to extremities, and by his diplomacy secured a suspension of hostilities for some weeks. Shah Jahah, father of Aurangzeb, had formerly [] received kind treatment from the King of Golconda, with whom he had taken refuge [in 1623] when he had lost the battle with his elder brother [Shahryar] against the Emperor Jahangir, their father. Jahangir, having got the elder brother into his power, caused his eyes to be put out; but Shah Jahan, the younger brother, being better advised, took to flight, and the King of Golconda having received him with kindness, they bound themselves together in close friendship-- Shah Jahan swearing to his host that he would never fight with him on any pretext. Mir Jumla, who knew that it would not be difficult to bring two kings who were friends to an understanding, little as Aurangzeb was inclined to give way, and wishing, moreover, that that prince should find it advantageous to himself, communicated secretly to both of them what he planned in order to secure a lasting peace.
He managed that the King of Golconda should first write to Shah Jahan in very civil terms, praying him to become arbitrator between himself and Aurangzeb, placing his interests entirely in his hands, and promising to sign a treaty in whatever terms he pleased to frame it. With similar address Mir Jumla persuaded Shah Jahan, on his side, to propose, as his response to the letter of the King of Golconda, the marriage of the latter's second daughter to Sultan Muhammad, son of Aurangzeb, on condition that after the death of the King, the father of the Princess, his son-in-law, should inherit the kingdom of Golconda. This proposition having been accepted and the articles signed by the two kings, both the peace and the marriage were celebrated at the same time with much magnificence.
As for Mir Jumla, he quitted the service of the King of Golconda, and went to Burhanpur with Aurangzeb. Soon afterwards Shah Jahan created him first Minister of State and Commander-in-Chief of his armies, and he powerfully aided Aurangzeb to [] ascend the throne by defeating Sultan Shuja. For Mir Jumla was a man of great intelligence, who understood equally well both war and the affairs of State. I have had occasion to speak to him several times, and I have admired the firmness and the promptitude with which he responded to requests presented to him, giving his orders in every direction, and signing several dispatches as if he had but one sole matter to attend to.
The third Princess of Golconda was promised to Sultan Sa'id, another Shaikh of Mecca, and the matter had so far advanced that the day was named for the marriage. But Abd ul-Jabbar Beg, general of the army, went to the King of Golconda, with six other nobles, to turn him from his design; and they so managed it that the marriage was broken off, and the Princess was given to Mirza Abd ul-Hasan, a cousin of the King, by which marriage there are two sons. This has entirely destroyed the claims of the son of Aurangzeb, whom his father now keeps in prison in the fortress of Gwalior, because he betrayed his interests in favour of Sultan Shuja, his uncle. This Princess would have been given at first and with no difficulty to Mirza Abd ul-Hasan if he had not been a debauchee, but for this reason the King ceased to regard and respect him; since his marriage he has reformed.
At the present time
the King of Golconda does not so much fear the Moguls, because, as is the
case in their dominions, [] money does not leave his country,
and he has amassed much to carry on war. Besides, he is greatly attached
to the [*Shia*] sect of 'Ali,
to the extent of not wearing a cap like the other Musalmans, because they
way that 'Ali did not wear one, but another kind of headdress; and for
this reason the Persians, who arrive in India in great numbers to seek
their fortunes, prefer to go to the King of Golconda rather than to the
Mogul. It is the same with the King of Bijapur, whom the Queen, sister
of the King of Golconda, has been carefully to bring up in the same sect
of 'Ali, who attracts many Persians to his service.
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