Warangal in present-day Telangana is one of the best heritage cities in India. Once the capital of the mighty Kakatiya dynasty, it is home to many grand monuments. One of them is the Warangal Fort.
The name Warangal is derived from the Telugu word Orugallu – ‘Oru’ means one and ‘gallu’ means stone. Orugallu was the capital of the Kakatiya rulers from the 12th to the 14th centuries. According to historical records, Warangal was built by the Kakatiya ruler Prola Raja in the 12th century.
The Kakatiyas built several architectural wonders like the famous Warangal Fort, and Swayambhu Temple that stand to date.
The Warangal Fort and its Kakatiya Kaka Thoranams or 'gateways of glory' are included in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The gateways were originally the entrances to the now-ruined Swayambhu Shiva temple.
The Kakatiyan arch has been officially incorporated into the emblem of Telangana after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
There are interesting legends about the origin of Warangal. One legend says that a cart taking goods from Orugallu to Hanamkonda (the then capital of the Kakatiya dynasty) struck a rock and turned turtle. When its axis, which was made of iron, touched a rock, it turned into gold.
The then ruler, Prola II, visited the spot and saw a Shiva lingam emerging out of the rock. He built a temple around the lingam which subsequently came to be known as Swayambhu Shiva temple.
Prola’s son and successor Rudradeva further built Orugallu in the 13th century. His nephew Ganapati Deva shifted the capital from Hanamkonda to Warangal.
The Warangal Fort, located about 150 km from Hyderabad, is the main attraction of the city. It is famous for its graceful and finitely carved arches and pillars and four large stone gateways, also called Warangal Gate.
The fort was constructed in the 13th century under Ganapati Deva. The structure is spread over 19 km between Warangal and Hanamkonda.
The construction of the Warangal Fort began under Ganapati Deva in the 13th century. The fort is built on a hillock called Ekashila.
Ganapati Deva’s daughter Rani Rudrama Devi, who was his successor and ruled despite opposition from some nobles within the kingdom and enemies in neighbouring states, made the fortifications stronger. Her grandson Pratap Rudra Deva also made considerable additions to the fort.
Although now in ruins, the finely carved sculptures and stonework are a reminder of the skill and mastery of the artisans. Ganpati Deva fortified the fort to defend it from attacks.
The fort has three concentric walls. The innermost wall is made up of huge granite stone blocks and is 1.2 km in diameter. The stones were interlocked without the use of mortar.
The wall is surrounded by a wide moat. It has 45 massive bastions, which project outward from the wall and into the waters of the moat.
The second wall, an earthen structure, was constructed by Rudrama Devi and is 2.4 km in diameter.
The outermost wall was made of mud and has a large diameter of 12.5 km and encompasses today's Warangal district.
The fort's four gates have a richly carved arch made out of a single rock. These four gates were once a part of the great Swayambhu temple. This ornate arch was the Kakatiya Dynasty's royal symbol.
Each gate, 10 metres (33 ft) in height, has twin pillars with angled brackets and a huge lintel on top. The gates have intricate carvings of lotus buds, mythical animals, looped garlands, and birds and do not depict any religious symbols. Historians believe that this is the reason they were not destroyed by Muslim invaders.
Though the fort is in ruins, there are ornamental doorways made from black basalt with intricate patterns and motifs. Inscriptions on the pillars and walls give an insight into the Kakatiya rule.
Some pillar brackets have motifs of gaja-kesari or the lion who rules over the elephant king. The motif depicts a lady wearing the headdress of a warrior, and holding a dagger and shield. She is seated on a lion, which stands on the trunk of an elephant. The warrior is believed to be Queen Rudrama Devi.
(The picture featured at the top of this article has been sourced from Wikimedia Commons)