Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The ruins of the Kakatiya Empire, at Warangal Fort near Hyderabad

These are the ruins of the grand Swayambhu Temple at Warangal Fort. Simply fabulous. Poetry in dolerite.

The Archaeological Survey of India has tried to reconstruct / reimagine the original temple partially; in addition, they have also placed other artefacts found nearby, to make a sort of grand open-air architectural ruin. 

The Kakatiyas were Jains originally, but converted to Saivism (worship of the Hindu god Siva). In Warangal, we see the worship of Harihara; half-Siva and half-Vishnu. In the Harihara statue in the photo above, you can see the damru of Shiva in the right hand, and the conch of Vishnu in the other.

The Kakatiyas were Telugu-speaking and they ruled Andhra Pradesh for 300 years, from 12th to 14th century. The Kakatiyas were defeated by the armies of the Tughlaqs of Delhi, and their kingdom at Warangal was ruined. But even what little remains is very impressive. Here is one section of the ruins. You can click on it for a larger view.
On each of the four sides of the temple, there is a grand square gateway, a torana, which is typical of Kakatiya architecture. They have beautiful carved swans mounted on top. The toranas have survived, making me wonder why the temples and palaces were destroyed but the toranas left intact. Perhaps some belief or superstition?

To imagine the size of the torana, see the garden bench at the bottom right of the photo, that will give you a sense of proportion. I was really saddened to see the headless swans on the ground. Such destruction!
The Kakatiya torana is famous in Andhra Pradesh. It is represented in state tourism brochures, and copied and used in many forms and variations by many institutions. Here is the entry road from the highway into Kazipet, see the grand torana that they have made, this one is of course, not dolerite rock, it is just concrete, but it is still attractive! Of course, the local bill stickers have not spared it!!

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