Part 8: The Daulat-Khana

The Hilltop Palace in the Fort of Daulatabad, by Carl Lindquist

Strong similarities in the design of the hilltop palace and the Daulat-Khana are revealed in a plan of the northwest end of this larger building, seen in the photograph to the left. In order to provide a thorough study of the hilltop palace’s form and function, it is necessary to look at the Daulat-Khana in some detail.
The completion of the Daulat-Khana is conclusively dated to the year 1636 by a reference in the official court histories of Shah Jahan, quoted earlier. Today only a bare shell of the building remains, a state which contrasts with the hilltop palace’s impressive preservation. Its courtyard is much more vast than that of the hilltop palace, equaling about 45 meters in length and width, compared to the smaller building’s courtyard of about 14.5 meters. These larger proportions are explained by the courtyard’s original function as an imperial garden. The rooms within the burj area of the Daulat-Khana are fairly close in size to those of the corresponding section of the hilltop palace. However, the Daulat-Khanacomplex as a whole originally contained a vast number of rooms placed around the central courtyard, a feature which allowed it accommodate a large imperial entourage. 

Its basic design consists of an octagonal burj, facing northwest, which was originally surfaced in white plaster, attached to a square open courtyard surrounded by rooms. Very little of this courtyard and the adjacent rooms exists today. The burj area also has suffered much destruction. Its walls are nearly devoid of plaster, its ceilings and walls have crumbled in places, and many of the pillars in the cloister have fallen. Nevertheless, enough of this section remains to reconstruct its floor plan.

The area is accessed through an arcade of pillars supporting five pointed arches which are open to the courtyard. Here is found a forechamber measuring 7.2 meters in width and 16.3 meters in length. In its center is a rectangular fountain. Like the hilltop palace, its back wall contains bas-reliefs of cusped arches and circular medallions. These are in a poor state of preservation, and are the only extant remains of ornate plaster work within the Daulat-Khana. At both ends of the forechamber are three doors leading to an octagonal room measuring approximately 5.8 meters. On each of the room’s eight sides is a doorway. Three lead to the forechamber, and three on the opposite side lead to no-longer extant portions of the palace. One door provides access to the courtyard, and the door on the opposite side leads to a small room adjacent to a staircase ascending to the roof.

The back wall of the forechamber contains five doors leading to the burj. As with the hilltop palace, the three central doors lead to an octagonal room. To the left and right of these three doors are entrances to the cloister.

The length and width of the octagonal room measures approximately 7 meters. On each of its eight sides is a door, five of which lead into the cloister. Each of the five sides of the cloister measures about 7 meters and contains three windows formed by pillars supporting pointed arches; many of these windows in the cloister are no longer extant. The width of the cloister from wall to window is about 3.2 meters. This portion of the structure is above the fort’s moat at the rear of the Mahakot; this arrangement is consistent with Shah Jahan’s preference for his imperial chambers to be placed at the back of forts and to overlook water. 

Overlaid with a grid of squares whose sides equal 10 Shah Jahani gaz, as seen in the lower diagram, alignments and intersections exist in many of the same places found in the plan of the hilltop palace. For example, alignments can be found along the angled sides of the cloister and through the angled passageways of the large octagonal room, the center of which is a point of intersection on the grid. These similarities in technical design and floor plan demonstrate that the two buildings were constructed using a closely-related architectural plan.