Close to Hyderabad is Warangal which is famous for the Warangal Fort built in 12th century by Kakatiya dynasty. And when you visit this fort listen closely because here pillars and ruins tell a story.
On a wet weekend, when the rains were thrashing around the city of Hyderabad, I decided to brave the stormy weather and head to the 12th century Warangal Fort built by the Kakatiya dynasty . As the fury of the rains reduced, we found our way towards Hanamkonda, a town located 10 kms before Warangal, the original capital of the dynasty. However for the present day traveller, it seemed like a seamless stretch until the roads led to a fortified stone wall which opened out.
Sights from Warangal
Embellished sculptures and pillars dot the scene.
The arches were embellished with sculptures and yalis carved in stone. We were inside the old Warangal Fort. An entire settlement lived here. Posters of local heroes and politicians jostled for space as young couples, probably students found privacy in the temples atop a small hillock overlooking a lake.
The first thing that I noticed were four tall stone pillars, which were more than 30 feet high and they symbolised ‘Gateways of glory’ called Kirti Thoranas. A Shiva temple, sculptures of elephants, nandi and yalis, broken carvings and even an old throne lay enclosed by the kirti thoranas , opened to the sky. The temple here is said to be the ‘Swayambhu’ (meaning self-incarnated) and was worshipped by the famous Kakatiya ruler Prataparudra.
The fort had three concentric fortifications, two walls and there was a trace of the third. The four gates faced the cardinal directions of which the east and west gates are still in use. With 45 towers and pillars spread over a radius of 19 kms, there was also a moat surrounding the fort. But all that we saw today were just some ruins. The fort was largely destroyed by Malik kafur as the dynasty fell eventually to the Delhi Sultanate.
A brief history
Pillars are all that are left of the grand Kakatiya reign.
I walked over to the map and read a bit of history. The reign of the Kakatiyas is believed to have begun around middle of the 7th century fused with the advent of Buddhism in the town has been mentioned in the journals of many travelers including Hieun Tsang and Marco Polo.
Warangal seemed to have several names – Kakatipura, Ekasilanagaram or Orugallu or Orukal, referring to the one single boulder or hillock where the fort is located. The map says that the fort built in the 12th century by Prola Raja and his son Rudra Deva, but it was ruled by Ganapathideva. The most important ruler of the Kakatiyas is not a king, but queen Rudramma Devi who held forth from here in the next century.
We walked around taking in the sights of the old village. A couple of vehicles plied on the road as school kids walked past us. The fields were lush and swaying in the breeze. The silence was soothing as we spent some time lost in the annals of history.
Warangal is 140 kms from Hyderabad and can be accessed by road or rail. Trains and buses ply regularly from Hyderabad. It is about 3 hours by road and best time to visit will be in winters and post monsoons.