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Warangal
The Kakatiyas, who started as feudatories of the Chalukyas, became dominant rulers of the Andhra territory in the 12th century. They were enthusiastic patrons of architecture as is clear from the several temples built during their reign in and around their capitals at Hanamkonda and Warangal. The temples are built in a distinct architectural style derived from late Chalukyan archetypes and are recognizable by polygonal floor plans and intricately sculpted ceilings and pillars in the mandapam. The few Islamic buildings within the Warangal Fort date from the mid-14th century when Tughlak armies occupied the fort and from the 16th century when it became an outpost of the Bahmani and Qutb Shahi empires.


Hanamkonda
This temple (called Thousand Pillar Temple after its sabhamandapa) was built at the Kakatiya capital in 1163 during the reign of Rudradeva, the first great monarch of the dynasty. The sanctuary houses three shrines, to Shiva, Vishnu, and Surya, around a mandapa with elaborate ceilings, columns and sanctuary entrance frames in the usual Kakatiya style. The south wall of the sanctuary, seen here, has a central projection converted into a shrine with extended eave and base and towered pediments. The corners of the walls are delineated with extra ornamentation consisting of a wide band of decoration at the centre with a projecting row of flowers. Below this are images of Vishnu and at the bottom a triple moulding with a framed image at the centre. Below this a continuous row of rudrakshas separates two deep horizontal recesses.


Hanamkonda: Mandapa walls
Like the sanctuary, the exterior of the Mandapa has alternating projections and niches, carried down to the lower-walls (vedibandha) where the central recessed panel has a framed image surmounted by a pediment. The wide projection on the left and the one next to it, have images of Vishnu frames by recesses with narrow pilasters surmounted by high towered pediments.


Hanamkonda: Vishnu
This formal image of Vishnu on the west sanctuary wall, is placed inside a niche framed by multi-section pilasters, and triple pediments above a projecting eave. Vishnu is shown holding the gada, sankha, chakra and ankush and wearing a plain conical crown. On either side of the niche are pilasters headed by large pediments. Below the shrine is a frieze of alternating elephants and yalis.


Warangal Fort
In the early 13th century during the reign of Ganapatideva, the capital was moved from Hanamkonda to the new city of Warangal, which was laid out in a circular plan with three concentric rings of walls. The first ring which constitutes the Fort has high walls made of massive granite blocks laid without mortar. Inner faces of the walls have steps ascending to a path that runs along the top. Entrance gateways like the one seen here were renovated in Bahmani times as is clear from the sculpted fragments reused from dismantled temples. Here a temple ceiling fragment is placed in a niche. The image is of Vishnu carried by Garuda and surrounded by attendants. Above this some granite blocks are replaced by panels of elephants and yali.


Svayambhu Temple
At the centre of Warangal Fort is an archaeological zone containing an enclosure with the excavated ruins of a Siva Temple, demolished probably by invading armies from Delhi. These fragments, arranged in a large field, are from granite pillars, ceilings, and brackets, part of what must have been a monumental temple and sub-shrines. Seen here are multisection mandapa pillars and a sanctuary entrance frame with intricately carved capital and Siva dvarpalaka.


Columns and Ceiling Panel
The triangular block, part of a ceiling panel, has musicians, warriors and attendants around an elegant dancing Mahisamardhini image. Below this is a frieze with a row of yalis, uniformly carved. These blocks are held up by mandapa pillars with ornate scroll capitals and disc-like sections.


Linga Shrine
Unearthed blocks have been arranged to represent the layout of the original temple. At the west of the enclosure is this Linga shrine guarded by slabs with dvarpalakas carved in relief. They wear conical headgear, hold the trishul, damaru or sarpa and are flanked by diminutive attendants. The linga is placed on a platform whose moulded base has a continuous procession of hamsas. Above this is a row of yalis and finally a row of lotuses and swans. The shrine is sheltered by a block that has a panel of thick creeper circles containing hamsa and other animals, held up by large mandapa columns.


Ganesa Shrine
To the right of the reconstructed linga shrine, another set of unearthed fragments are formally arranged as a Ganesa temple. To its right is an immense but broken ceiling panel contining a krittimukha framed by dense foliage and creeper circles. Further right is an entrance torana.


Mahisamardhini and Yali
A damaged Mahishamardhini ceiling panel and one of two large rearing yali images, probably bracket figures from the mandapa, that have been placed on either side of the linga shrine.


Entrance Frame
Recovered portions of the sanctuary entrance frame. A pierced screen is formed by a pattern of empty rhombuses and hamsas. On either side of this are are columns of creepers emanating from kumbhas. The pilaster next has circular and octagonal sections at the centre, all intricately carved. Above this is a panel with Venugopala beneath a miniature torana and flanked by attendants and pilasters. A column of striding yalis to the left of the pilaster completes the composition.


Recovered Slabs
The enclosure is filled with recovered carved granite blocks like these. The two massive piers on the right were probably at the centre of the mandapa. Around it are fragments of ceilings and walls with panels of lotuses, yali, and hamsa.


Excavated Column
Trenches like these reveal recently unearthed fragments. This block probably from the mandapa wall has two rows of dancers in various poses. Surrounding them are several rows of rudraksha and krittimukha patterns. The sculpture at the bottom has been chiseled out.


Torana
These free-standing portals now at the east and west ends of the enclosure, were probably ornamental gateways to the temple complex. They have now become symbols of Warangal and Andhra Pradesh. Each portal has four pillars surmounted by miniature vimanams. Between them is a lintel composed of torana with five pendant lotus buds, regurgitated by makaras with elaborate tails. Below this is a row of nine rudrakshas and lotus buds. This ornate cross-beam has projecting sides with fully-carved hamsas standing on platforms held up by dwarfs. The projection is connected to the upright by a curved bracket on which stands a yali. The non-religious theme of these gateways is probably why they were spared by invaders.


Tank and Baths
At the south-east side of the Svayambhu enclosure, this is a square tank, probably associated with the Siva Temple. It has steps with sculpted balustrades at the centre of each side. A row of identical bathrooms surrounds the tank, each with a raised platform at the centre, and a decorated slab at the entrance. A curved water channel from each room leads to a larger main channel. At one corner of the bath lies an ornate but broken ceiling panel. At its centre is a lotus with double rows of petals contained within an eight-sided star. This is surrounded by a circle of hamsas. Around this are eight lotuses each within eight-sided stars. This in turn is framed eight figural scenes and a final perimeter of lotus buds.


Khush Mahal
This structure, said to be built over the site of a Kakatiya palace, may have been used as an audience hall by Shitab Khan, the 16th century Qutb Shahi governor of Warangal. However it was probably built during the 14th century Tughlak occupation of the fort, the only building from that period. Its sharply sloping walls are a typical feature of Tughlak architecture. The longer east and west walls of the building have a projecting parapet and six high arches framed by narrow rectangles. These admit light to the interior. A wide entrance arch on the north wall leads to a single spacious schamber inside with small storage rooms on each side. Transverse arches span the high ceiling. Broken fragments from the Svayambhu enclosure and Jain temples are placed inside the hall and near the north entrance.


Reused sculpture
A temple ceiling fragment is re-used in a window block on one of the Islamic buildings on Orugallu (a rock hill at the centre of the fort). This triangular piece, obscured by paint but quite well preserved, is either Siva Nataraja or Mahisamardhini. It is an intricate composition filled with several figures. A panel at the edge of the composition has a procession of yalis above elephants. Other structures on Orugallu include a simple Kakatiya temple with an open mandapa and porch. More sculpture fragments are displayed in front of the temple.



Photos and Text © Amit Guha