In Game History Edit
Golconda was promised to Caine by the archangel Raphael, patron of all healing, while he was exiled in the Land of Nod. Although Caine never achieved Golconda, the way to Golconda was supposedly achieved by Saulot after traveling to the East, studying under Hindu gurus.
After achieving enlightenment, which resulted in a third eye in the middle of his forehead, Saulot preached Golconda and taught the path to his clan, the Salubri. From this time onward, Golconda and the Salubri were closely linked, with many Salubri (such as Mokur) becoming teachers on the path to Golconda.
As a mystical state, how Golconda is achieved is somewhat vague, however a rough outline of events has been developed in the Vampire supplements (notably Chaining the Beast).
To start a quest for Golconda, a character must find out about Golconda, as the topic is not that commonly discussed in the Camarilla (and not discussed by the Sabbat). Golconda lore is rare, and like most things, can be used to trap an unwary vampire. Inconnu are generally assumed to be the experts on Golconda (as they're assumed to be just about everything else), but Inconnu are notoriously hard to find. From this point on, the character presumably has a guru to guide him.
Following this, the vampire must regain Humanity and feel remorse. Mechanically, this is expressed by keeping Humanity above 7 and by spending Willpower to avoid frenzy under all circumstances. During this time, the vampire makes amends for his crimes as extensively as he can. Canonically, a character cannot achieve or stay in Golconda unless his humanity remains at at least 7, and Paths of Enlightenment are generally assumed to not count, though exceptions may exist.
At this point, the character is guided through a suspire, which is a vision quest of some kind where the character deals with his state as a vampire. The suspire is a test, which the character may fail. If the character passes his suspire, then he achieves Golconda. If he fails, he will never achieve Golconda. Characters who fail their suspire are likely to fall into wassail and be lost forever.
Golconda is only vaguely defined in the Vampire rules, and it is generally left up to Storyteller interpretation. Golconda is generally recommended as the focus or apex of a chronicle, rather than an interim goal ("one of us must reach Golconda to defeat the Tremere's evil scheme!").
The word Golconda was originally the name of an ancient city in India famed for its wealth of diamonds, and eventually the word came to be used generically as a synonym for wealth. When Danava mystics first applied the word Golconda to the transcendence beyond the feral vampiric state, they were referring to the "spiritual wealth" that this transcendence brings. Golconda is not the first word that the Danava mystics used to describe this transcendent state, but due to proselytizing by Saulot and other Salubri it is the word most well-known to Western Cainite vampires.
If Golconda is achieved, several suggested benefits are outlined in the rulebooks. The most common ones are a lack of frenzy (characters in Golconda do not frenzy at all), reduced blood consumption (down to a point a week) and the ability to learn Disciplines without generation limits. Other options include returning to humanity, being free of one's clan weakness, and leaving behind vampirism entirely.
Assuming that a character is still a vampire, the benefits of Golconda are rescinded if humanity drops below 7.
Out Of Game History Edit
Golconda is arguably the messiest concept in Vampire, and has gone through several large revisions as the game developed. In First Edition Vampire, Golconda was portrayed as an unadulterated good, and relatively easy to achieve. Chicago by Night has at least two characters in Golconda, one of whom achieved it in less than a century; A World of Darkness had something akin to a formal Golconda training school at Huneadora Castle; and the Children of Osiris' approach to enlightenment is negatively compared to Golconda.
This changes with the second and revised editions, where Golconda becomes both progressively rarer and darker. In Revised, the exact state of Golconda is left up to Storyteller interpretation, with strong suggestions that a vampire in Golconda is not necessarily a nice vampire. Concurrent with this change are characters such as Rebekah falling out of Golconda and other characters such as Mahatma searching for Golconda for millennia without success.