Category Archives: Warangal

Keerthithoranam at Warangal : magnificent gateways

      The Kakatiyas ruled over Telugu country or Andhradesa for two centuries . Warangal or Orugollu meaning ‘one stone’ was their capital. They ruled between 11th and 14th centuries,1052 to 1323 A. D. They built a fort, temples and created amazing sculptures.The early Kakatiyas worshipped Goddess Kakati or Kakatamma. Early records indicate that Venna was the founder of the Kakatiya rule. They initially served as feudal chiefs of the Rastrakutas. Venna was succeeded by Gunda I. The others who followed include Gunda II, Gunda III, Gunda IV. By the end of the 10th century A.D. the Kakatiyas became vassals under the Chalukyas of Kalyani; Beta I, Prola I, Beta II, Duggaraja and Prola II. Prola II asserted independence who was succeeded by Prataparudra I or Rudradeva. Mahadeva, his son ruled for a very short time after that (1198-99).His son was Ganapati deva Maharaja who was one of the greatest Kakatiya kings. He was succeeded by his daughter Rudramadevi who died in battle. She was succeeded by Prataparudradeva (1289 -1323), the last ruler who died when captured and being taken to Delhi in 1323. A.D.

     The Warangal fort with its impressive thoranas  and  two walls was mainly built during the reign of King Ganapati deva who wanted to build a cosmic pattern fortress. It was completed by his daughter Rani Rudramadevi in 1261 A.D. 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.



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 keerthi toranas 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.

A workshop maintained by the kings 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.image002

Pic : Isha Vatsa

       Kakatiya architecture has other pillars termed nandisthamba, nagastambha, garudasthamba and dipastambha. The great Syayambhu 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.


Pic : Isha Vatsa


Pic : Isha Vatsa

       The circular fort has an outer earthen wall and an inner masonry wall. The four gateways are at the  four cardinal points. The swayambhu gudi, a temple of Siva has been partly repaired has a closed mandapa and open porch in front of which lie a group of broken images, three nandis and several lingas including a chaturmukhalinga.




      Portions of old pillars containing inscriptions lie in front of the temple.The fort complex has the temple Medrayanigudi, in which sixteen columns support the roof of the mandapa. Virabhadragudi contains two large dwarapalas and a beautifully carved nandi. Visnugudi too has an open pillared mandapa with dwarapalas. Venkatesagudi has a pillared hall and before the mandapa has a shaft of a richly carved shrine and ante-chamber. Nalasambugudi lies in the south of the fort. Near the south gate is Mulasambugudi. Towards west gate is the Erlalgudi with an open pillared hall. The north west of the fort had Tellagudi. The fort complex seems to be built in stages, the eastern structure was built by Ganapatideva, the western mandapa and the thoranams seem to have been built by Rani Rudramadevi.


      Four main toranas are monolithic and built from grey granite. The entire fort area is full of beautiful architectural pieces with rich carvings and made of black basalt, red stone and grey granite. Some of them are : a thick slab with lions, frieze with a row of elephants, pillars with dancing figures, door jamb with female dwarapalas, doorjamb with jali window,red triangular stone with large simhalata and figures in fighting postures,stone pillar with ornately carved human figures,roof slabs in red stone, lintel which may be one of the central pillars of a rangamandapa, seal with a frieze of swans etc. Some of the important motifs of Kakatiya art are gaja kesari,kirtimukha ,hamsa,alasa-kanya and kolata motifs.



Pics  : Isha Vatsa

References :

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

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

The Kakatiyas by Dr. P. V. Parabrahma Sastry, Government of Andhra Pradesh, 1978.


Posted by : Soma Ghosh