Part 5: Description of the Palace
The Hilltop Palace of the Fort of Daulatabad, by Carl Lindquist

Elements of Mughal Architecture

The hilltop palace contains many elements of design found in the Mughal architectural tradition.  For example, it has pointed arches with slender proportions, rooms planned around a central open courtyard, and white plaster surfaces.  Also Mughal is the octagonal burj extending from the building.  Although these features are found often in other examples of Mughal architecture, they are not alient to the Deccani architectural idiom.  This is explained by both the Deccani and Mughal styles having shared sources of influence (for example, the architecture of the Delhi Sultanate had an impact on both the Mughals and the Deccanis); and by the tendency of Mughal architecture to be surparegional, referring to its proclivity to absorb the building styles of conquered territories and to be flexible to regional conditions.  As a result, there are relatively few structures in the Deccan built in the typical Mughal style.

Architectural Form and Terminology

In published works the Mughal structure near the citadel of the Fort of Daulatabad is sometimes referred to as a baradari, although this is not a technically correct application of the term.  The literal meaning of baradari is "twelve-doored," referring to a square structure which has a tripartite colonnade on each of its exterior sides, leading into an equally open interior.  Such a design, allowing the free passage of air within a shaded area, was used as a pleasure pavilion, a site for recreation.  the structure at Daulatabad does not fit this definition because its exterior sides are closed and throughout it has a variety of rooms capable of different functions.  in design, it resembles more closely a Mughal palace rather than a baradari.

The use of the term baradari to refer to the hilltop palace likely stems from its location within the fort: Placed high on the hill, it has a cloister which commands a splendid view of the surrounding plains and hills, a feature which would make it an appropriate site for social gatherings, leisure activities, and other uses associated with conventional baradaris.

The panoramic view from the hill was certainly a consideration for placing a building in this location, and is an indication that the structure would be a suitable site for recreation.  At the same time, the large scale and variety of rooms throughout the palace indicate that it was capable of accommodating a large court audience and able to serve as the site of elaborate events. For example, there are spaces which could function as sleeping quarters, audience halls, places for private consultation, a central courtyard, and a jharoka-i-dharshan, the window from which the emperor makes official appearances to the public).  Therefore, this building should be classified as a palace.

Description of the Exterior

The ascent to the hilltop palace is precarious.  It is situated on a narrow escarpment directly below the citadel and can be accessed only by crossing a moat and bridge, then entering a long, steep tunnel carved in to the scarp (the steepness of the stairs and the narrow passageway prevent the possibility of being easily carried to the palace).  After an ascent of several hundred feet, the tunnel opens to a wide, long flight of stairs terminating in a footpath which leads into the interior of the building. 

the palace has three levels and is comprised of two distinct sections:  a square section consisting of rooms placed around an interior courtyard; connected to this section is an octagonal burj, or tower, which contains a central room surrounded on its exterior sides by a cloister.  this burj is at the front of the building and faces northeast.

The foundation and walls of the palace are built of unsurfaced blocks of brown stone.  The octagonal burj is covered with a white burnished plaster beginning at the base of the central level and extending upwards about 7 meters. Five sides of the octagon are visible from the exterior.  Each side of the cloister consists of three windows, formed by pointed arches supported on slender pillars. Above and below the series of windows are wooden eaves, known as chajjas.  White plaster battlements, many of which are no longer extant, line the top of the burj and the square section.

Description of the Interior

The building has three levels; however, the small size and undecorated interiors of the upper and lower levels indicate that these were not intended for imperial residence.  The lower level consists of small areas which may have been used for storage, and a staircase leading to the central level. The upper level contains four modest rooms, one at each corner of the square section.  A narrow corridor connects the two rooms on each side.

Entrance to the structure is gained through a lower-level door at the northeast corner, just to the left of the point where the octagonal burj joins the square section.  This square staircase proceeds toward the back of the building and terminates at a hallway on the right. A second right turn leads to the back, or southwest side, of the courtyard. The courtyard is open to the elements, and measures approximately 14.5 meters in length and width. At its center is a rectangular tank now covered by a concrete slab.

The central level has four primary interior spaces, all of which face the interior courtyard. On each side, they are accessed by a tripartite arcade.