Bygone splendour : a history of the Kakatiyas

The Kakatiyas ruled over Telugu country or Andhradesa for two centuries before the advent of Muslim rule in south India.Warangal or Orugallu was their capital literally meaning ,”one stone”. They ruled between 1150 A.D to 1323 A.D. Initially the Kakatiyas were military generals of the Rashtrakutas ruling some parts of Western Andhradesa in 9th century.They emerged as independent rulers only from 1163 A.D. Much of the Kakatiya history has been gleaned from epigraphic sources;copper-plates and lithic records. Nrittavalli, a treatise on dance styles of the period written by Jaya-senapati, the general and minister of Ganapatideva is also an important document.

The name Kakatiya seems to have its origin in the Goddess Kakati or Kakatamma, a village-goddess form of Durga worshipped by the early Kaktiyas.Some sources refer to Kakati as a place from where the founding ruler Venna ruled, while some say that Kakati stood for a Jaina deity.The Kaktiyas are descended from the family of Durjaya and its founding ruler was Venna. Venna was folllowed by Gunda I and Gunda II.   Gunda III followed Gunda II and participated in the war against Chalukya Bhima I, the king of Vengi and died a heroic death. His son Erra followed him with the rulership of Koravi region of the Warangal district of present day Telangana. Betiya and his son Gunda IV succeeded Erra. Gunda IV also referred to as Kakartya Gondyana was a loyal subordinate to Rashtrakuta king Krishna III and supported Dananarva to capture the Vengi throne from Ammaraja II . Gunda IV was instrumental in getting the Mangallu grant issued by Dananarva in 956 A.D. He continued with his principality in the Koravi region.The Rashtrakutas collapsed in 972 this point of time the Chalukyas of Kalyana ruled over the western and southern parts of Andhradesa and the Kakatiyas became cheiftains to them during the reign of Someswara I. Garuda Beta or Beta I was the subordinate and lived upto 1052 A.D. His son Prola I is supposed to have built  a tank Kesari Samudra, 50 km from Warangal and was a great warrior.He accompanied Vikramaditya VI, the son of Someswara I in campaigns against Konkan, Kerala, Pandya rulers.the victories gained led Vikramaditya to reward Prola I with Anumakonda region. He however died in 1075 A.D.

His young son Beta II or Bottu succeeded him and with help from his minister and wife of Viriyala chief Erranripa, Kamavasani he got the rulership of Sabbinadu. He gave full support to Vikramaditya VI and earned the title Vikram chakri.After his death in 1090 A.D., he was succeeded by his son ,but there seems to be a confusion between his father’s last date and his ascension.

Duggaraja was the son of Beta II and succeeded him. Prola II, brother of Duggaraja succeeded him who defeated Medaraja and conquered Polavasadesa.By 1139 a.D Chalukyan power had disintegrated due to internal tensions.Prola II asserted independence.Rudradeva or Prataparudra I succeeded Prola II. He is remembered for his military exploits.After death of Vikramaditya II, Prola II overthrew feudatories of the Western Chalukyas and  expanded his territory. He captured Chalukya emperor Jaila III and later released him. The Kakatiyas ruled as independent kings and Prola II died when he invaded Vengi, capital of the Chalukya kings and lost in a battle with three feudatory chiefs of the Eastern Chalukyas.

Rudradeva(1150-1196), son of Prola II succeeded him. And carried out successful campaigns against Taila(name similar to Chalukyan ruler but actually someone else), Domma, Meda and Bhima He ventured into the coastal Andhra region and brought Kurnool district under him.He was defeated by the Yadavas during an attack on Devagiri along with his nephew Ganapatideva who was taken prisoner by the Yadavas. Rudradeva is believed to have written a treatise “Nitisara” on politics. He founded the city of Orugallu and the Sri Rudreswara temple was built by him. His brother Mahadeva(1196-1199) succeeded him who ruled for three years. He was killed in a battle with the Yadavas. The other invasions on the Kakatiya kingdom was by Nagati and Kulottunga III of the Cholas. Rudra, the Kakatiya commander repulsed the attacks. Later the Yadavas released Ganapatideva who claimed and regained his throne. However Ganapatideva Maharaja was the greatest ruler of the dynasty(1199-1261 A.D). He ruled for 63 years. During his rule he expanded his kingdom and encouraged trade and improved the condition of farmers, thus improving agriculture.The areas under his control when under the petty chiefs had discouraged trade by imposing heavy duties on export and import. Ganapatideva streamlined the system and offered concessions to foreign traders. He built a magnificent fortress with mud walls at Warangal.

His daughter Rudramadevi succeeded him. She was  the first woman ruler in South Indian history. She used to wear male attire and conduct her royal duties. In fact her father gave her the name Rudradeva Maharaja. She had the title of Raya-gaja-kesari. She married Virbhadra, an eastern Chalukya prince. She succeeded the throne when her father died in 1261. During her tenure invasions continued. The kings of Orissa wrested the Godavari valley and the Vengi country. The Kakatiyas resisted the invasion of Mahadeva, the Yadava king. The eastern Ganga king Bhanudeva I in 1274 advanced upto Daksaramam on the Godavari but the Kakatiyas defeated him. Rani Rudramadevi faced some internal troubles too. Ambadeva, Kakatiya feudatory with headquarter at Valluripattna allied with the Pandyas and annexed Kurnool and Cuddapah. He restored at Kurnool Manuma-Gandagopala who had been removed by Ganapatideva. Later in 1287 A.D. along with Prataparudra, her grandson she defeated Ambadeva.Adidam Mallu commanded an attack on Manuma-Gandagopala who was killed. His successor in Nellore Raja Gandagopala who joined the Pandyas was also defeated.In 1294 the Kakatiyas attacked  the Yadavas and captured the Raichur doab. She lost her life along with her general Mallikarjuna Nayak in the battlefields. She had married Chalukya Virabhadra and had three daughters Mummadamma, Rudramma and Ruyamma. Rani Rudramadevi was succeeded by her grandson Prataparudra who was the son of Mummadamma and Mahadeva. Prataparudra(1289-1323 A.D.) was the last ruler of the dynasty.He managed to defeat the Kayasthas,Manumaganda-gopala,Pandyas and the Yadavas.the Kakatiya kingdom expanded under his rule upto Kanchi and till the southern part of Orissa. His reign was marked by repeated Muslim invasions which started in 1303. However the first one failed. In 1309 Malik Kafur invaded Warangal and forced Prataparudra to pay a huge  indemnity. Another invasion took place which was led by Khusrav Khan. These two invasions happened during Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq’s rule. In A.D 1321-1322 Ghiyasuddin sent his son Ulugh Khan(later called Mohd. bin Tughlaq) with a large army to Warangal. However the seige of the fort lasted for six months and Ulugh Khan went away to Devagiri. However he came back in 1323 and after a seige of 5 months Prataparudra surrendered and died as a captive on being taken to Delhi in the same year. Thus ended the Kakatiya rule over Telugu country. Mohd bin Tughlaq extended his hold over the kingdom from Godavari to Nellore upto Cudappah.

The Kakatiyas are remembered not only for military pursuits and achievements but also for their architectural edifices and splendorous temples.The Warangal fort with its impressive thoranas  and  two walls was mainly built during the reign of Ganapatideva Maharaja who wanted to build a cosmic pattern fortress. It was completed by his daughter Rani Rudramadevi. The fort had 45 towers and pillars, probably a third wall spread over a radius of 19 km. The remains of the  swayambhu temple are at the centre with four pathways leading to it with lofty gateways or thoranams called keerthithoranams which are still visible today. The architecture has evolved from the later Chalukyan style but are representative of  Kakatiya architecture. The other famous temples at Hanamkonda and Palampet at  a distance of 12 and 65 kilometres respectively are the Veyi Stambha gudi( 1000 pillared temple) and Ramappa temple.image001

Warangal Fort remains, Warangal

Pic : Isha Vatsa

The thoranams were an important part of the temple architecture of the Kakatiyas which lend the enclosed temple additional grandeur. The plan of any temple depends on its spatial arrangement. The keerthithoranas are present at four cardinal points of the temple. These thoranas resemble the ones at Aihole, Karnataka. The thorana is large, massive and has double pillars on each side and the extreme ends of the lintels are decorated with hamsas with makaras at the centre. Overall the thorana is highly decorated structure with flower designs and geometric motifs and is very imposing to the onlooker gazing upon it.


Keerthithoranam, Warangal Fort, Warangal

Pic : Isha Vatsa

Kakatiya architecture has other pillars termed nandisthamba, nagastambha, garudasthamba and dipastambha. The great Swayambhu temple located in the centre has elephants, horses, hamsas and gajavalas on its adisthana (on which the temple stands). Honeysuckle motifs adorn the padmajagati and kapota layers which are components of the Kakatiyan temple namely Upapitha, adhisthana,padmavarga and vimana. A workshop maintained by the rulers existed in Warangal which employed sculptors  and temple builders bought their work. All over Telangana their work can be found in ceilings, pillars, doorjambs, friezes and lintels.


Kakatiya sculpture,Warangal

Pic : Isha Vatsa


Ramappa temple, Palampet

Pic : Isha Vatsa

References :

The art and architecture of the Kakatiyas by B. Satyanarayana Singh, Bharatiya Kala Prakashan, New Delhi, 1999.

Temples of Telingana by M. Radhakrishna Sarma, Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi,1972.

Concise history of Ancient India by A. K Majumdar,Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi 1977

Posted by : Soma Ghosh



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s