|Warangal, Telangana, India|
View of Kakatiya Kala Toranam
|Materials||Stone and mud|
Warangal Fort, in the present-day Indian state of Telangana, appears to have existed since at least the 12th century. The fort was then the capital of the Kakatiya dynasty. The fort has four ornamental gates which originally formed the gates to the now defunct great Shiva temple which are known as Kakatiya Kala Thoranam or Warangal Gates. The feature of these historical arches has been adopted as the symbol of the Kakatiya dynasty and has been officially incorporated as the Emblem of Telangana for the state of Telangana.
Initially Warangal was under the rule of the Yadava kings in the 8th century and later it came under the control of the Kakatiya dynasty from the 12th century. Although precise dating of its construction and subsequent enhancements are uncertain, historians and archaeologists generally accept that an earlier brick-walled structure was replaced with stone by Ganapatideva, who died in 1262, and that his successors were his daughter Rudrama Devi, who ruled till 1289, and then her grandson Prataparudra II. Under Prataparudra II's powerful rule, this came to be known as a "Golden Age". But 20 years later his kingdom, was conquered by the Sultans of Delhi.
Ganapatideva, Rudramadevi and Prataparudra II all added to the fort's height, and they built gateways, square bastions and additional circular earthen walls. This places the construction towards the end of the Kakatiya period. A sixteenth century text titled Paratarudra Caritramu (Deeds of Paratarudra) chronicles some details about the construction of the fort.
In 1309, Malik Kafur (a prominent military figure and first Hindu general of Alauddin Khilji) attacked the fort (with a large force of 100,000 men) and surrounded it while Prataparudra II and his people had secured themselves within the formidable fort and battled bravely for many months with the invading army. As the siege could not be lifted for more than 6 months, Pratapruda II agreed to a truce with Kafur, by which he gave in reparation all the wealth that he had accumulated. This included the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond. This siege has been chronicled by Amir Khusrow, who has recorded that the outer fortifications consisted of a strong outer hardened mud structure with a deep ditch in front, which had to be filled with dirt before the army could surmount it. The inner fortress was built of stone and surrounded by a moat that the Muslim soldiers swam across. The forts described by Khusrau correspond to the two inner circles of fortifications that exist today. When Kafur finally left the fort in March 1310, he carried away the bounty on one thousand camels. The conditions of forging peace with the Delhi Sultanate included a clause that Pratapa Rudra would pay an annual tribute and that he would bow every day towards Delhi as a tributary king denoting his subordinate status to the Sulatan of Delhi. After Kafur's departure Pratapa Rudra started ruling again and during this time some of his vassal chieftains had declared themselves independent rulers of their fiefdoms. But in 1311 Pratapa Rudra had to support the Sultan in invading the Tamil country of the Pandyas at Kanchipuram, which he did, and he also succeeded in getting the vassals back under his control.
Again in 1318 as Pratapa Rudra had willfully ignored paying the annual tribute to the Sultans of Delhi, the Warangal Fort was attacked and held in siege. The superior military power (superior implements to lob stone missiles and many other similar tools) of the Sultan's army forced Pratapa Rudra to again sue for peace. The invaders had even put up a 450 ft earthen ramp across the moat which enabled them to breach the stone walls of the fort and capture the fort. He again paid a huge tribute in the form of a contingent of horses and elephants to the Sultan, which became an annual fee to be paid to the Delhi Sultanate. After he sued for peace, the Sultan bestowed on him a "mace, a decorated robe (qaba) and a parasol". And again he had to bow towards the Imperial capital of Delhi as a mark of his vassal status.
Again in 1320, when Pratapa Rudra defaulted on his annual payment to the Delhi Sultans, the then ruler of Delhi who had replaced Khilji, Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, sent his son Ulugh Khan to recover the dues. For a third and final time, the fort was attacked by Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq (r.1325-51), who held siege over the fort. Due to internal dissensions, Ulugh Khan had to retreat to Devagiri. This was only a temporary respite. Ulugh Khan came back in 1323 with 65,000 mounted soldiers carrying archery, attacked the fort, and plundered and destroyed the capital. For the Muslim invaders, it was a practice while conquering Hindu Kingdoms to desecrate the Hindu temples. In keeping with that tradition the Muslim general Ulugh Khan ordered destruction of the great Svayambhusiva Temple where the State deity had been deified. Now what is seen of the temple are remnants scattered around in the fort. Then the Tughluqan authorities built an enormous mosque to one side of the fort which has since been demolished. Pratapa Rudra, who had surrendered and was sent to Delhi, died on the way on the banks of the Godavari River. It is said that he committed suicide in 1323. The capital of Warangal was then renamed as Sultanpur, and from 1324 to 1332 imperial coins were minted there. They managed to hold Sultanpur until 1335, when the local Nayakas (72 of the chieftians) formed a union and took control. Following the end of the rule of the Delhi Sultans, 72 chieftains of the Musunuri Nayaks formed an alliance and took control of the Warangal Fort and reigned for fifty years.
There were later modifications between the 15th and 17th centuries to the fort, mainly with the addition of barbicans to the four gates in the stone wall and the creation of gates in the outer earthen wall.
The Warangal Fort is laid out in three concentric circular walls with defensive fortifications. The first structure built during the reign of Rudrama Devi was in the form an earthen embankment, of 1.5 miles (2.4 km) diameter. A moat of about 150 feet (46 m) width  was dug around the this wall and it formed the outer limits of the fort during the reign of the Kakatiya rulers. Another wall built to protect the fort after the earthen wall and the moat was a fortified inner stone wall of about 0.75 miles (1.21 km) diameter. It was the central part of the Kakatiya capital, called the fort. This wall was built with dressed huge granite stone blocks of very large dimensions. These stones were not in any regular shape, but were closely fitted without using any type of mortar. The height of the wall was increased to 29 feet (8.8 m) during the reign of Rudrama Devi from the structure which had been built earlier by Ganapati Dev. The wall has been fortified with 45 very large sized rectangular bastions (also known as towers), which measures 40–60 feet (12–18 m) on a side; these extend beyond the face of the wall up to the waters of the moat. There are also 18 stone steps laid over a gradual slope built on the inner slopes of the earthen wall as an access to the ramparts. As these steps covered the entire core area of the fort they permitted easy and quick access to the soldiers from any location in the fort including the top of the ramparts in times of war. The king, Pratapa Rudra, had used these steps to go to the rampart in 1318, attired with qaba to bow towards Delhi, in honour of the Sultan.
There is also a third ring of fortification in the form of a mud wall of 12.5 kilometres (7.8 mi) diameter that encloses the present city of Warangal.
Ruins in the fort
The area within the fort has an axial road laid in an east-west direction where there is now some human habitation. The central part of the fort has been identified as the archaeological zone where the ruins of the great Shiva temple are now seen with only the freestanding "Entrance Portals" or gates on the four sides. Each gate has twin pillars with angled brackets over which lies the huge lintel; the height of this gate is 10 metres (33 ft). The gates have extensive intricate carvings of "lotus buds, looped garlands, mythical animals, and birds with foliated tails". It does not depict any religious symbols which is said to be the reason for its preserved condition and not getting destroyed by the Muslim invaders. Of the four gateways (local namecharkamou), the northern and southern ends are 480 feet (150 m) apart. The eastern and western gates are a distance of 433 feet (132 m) from each other.
While the Shiva temple has been completely destroyed, there are many ruins of "wall slabs, brackets and ceiling panels", some of which are exhibited now in an outdoor museum. There are still some standing pillars ("temple spoilia") that the Bahamanis earlier used to build a mosque, which remained incomplete. Also seen among the ruins is a relic of a mihrab.
The original deity of the temple was a linga with four faces of Shiva, which is now deified in a separate shrine to the south of the fort complex, where regular worship is offered. Archaeological excavations in the area have also unearthed many small shrines, built in a series, deified with a votive linga.
Seen with 150 metres (490 ft) of the archaeological zone is the Kush Mahal, which is a public hall built in the 14th century by the Delhi Sultans, who had captured the fort. The mahal, which is rectangular in shape, is built with huge sloping walls, sliced by six arched openings on each of its sides. There was once a timber roof over this mahal, supported by five transverse arches built of stones. There are approach steps on the northeast corner that provide access to the top of the structure, which has scenic views of the entire fort complex.
Within the archaeological zone, to its south, there is a big water tank. Within this tank is a distinctive natural rock formation that protrudes above the water surface. This is called locally as Orugallu (meaning: single Rock) in Telugu which gives its name as "Warangal" to the fort. There is a small temple built over this rock. There are many other temples and water ponds in the entire fort complex. There are also three large granaries close to the south gate of the fort.
Just outside the central fort the mud wall, which is the second circle of the fort complex in the northwestern part, has within it the Lanja gudi ('gudi' means "shrine"), which consists of three small temples; but the linga deities have been removed and they are to be seen scattered nearby.
There are many inscriptions on the ruins of the wall of the main temple recording the gift of a Kakatiya king, on pillars, on a stone outside the fort, and at many more places, all in Telugu language.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Warangal Fort.|
- Wagoner, Phillip B.; Rice, John Henry (2001). "From Delhi to the Deccan: Newly Discovered Tughluq Monuments at Warangal-Sult̤ānpur and the Beginnings of Indo-Islamic Architecture in Southern India". Artibus Asiae 61 (1): 77–117. doi:10.2307/3249963.(subscription required)
- Sardara, Marika (2011). "The Early Foundations of Golconda and the Rise of Fortifications in the Fourteenth-Century Deccan". South Asian Studies 27 (1): 25–50. doi:10.1080/02666030.2011.554267.(subscription required)