>Date: 27th June 2009
Place: Warangal, Andhra Pradesh
I woke up at 10:00 AM on that Saturday and as usual day-dreamt for about 30 mins before finally getting out of bed. Over the week, I had this plan to back-pack someplace within 200kms of Hyderabad, but the week had been hectic and I procrastinated till the very last moment. So now, another weekend was staring me in the face… As I took a shower I decided upon backpacking to Warangal for 2 days, and since I was alone, to use public transport.
My impressions of Warangal: Warangal had been the capital of Kakatiya dynasty which was in power from 12th to 14th century. Warangal also gets a constant mention in the history of Vijayanagar Empire. In the mid 14th century, like other contemporary kingdoms of south India, this kingdom too came to a virtual end with the plundering Delhi Sultanate. But, I like to believe no kingdom disappears without leaving a trace, they always break into smaller parts and coalesce with various other kingdoms. Since Vijayanagar Empire was more of a vassal state, even this broken down Kakatiya dynasty might have come under the umbrella of Vijayanagar empire. Also, there is a constant mention of Warangal forming the noth-eastern boundary of Vijayanager empire and many a times this province is lost and gained back in the tug-of-war between Bahmani sultanate and Vijayanagar empire.
Packing didn’t take much time. Anish’s mom deserves a special mention here – she prepared me a stuffed sandwich and milk which I gulped down heartily. Feeling nourished left home with strong strides by 11:45 AM.
I wanted it to be a budget travel, so took the bus from Madhapur to Koti and from there it was a 15 min walk to Mahatma Gandhi Bus stand. From here I knew (from a friend) that there were buses to Warangal every 10 mins. Took the bus to Hanamkonda – Hanamkonda, Warangal and Khazipet are sister cities. It was 1:50 PM by the time the bus finally started and in another 30 mins it crossed the city boundaries. The bus took 3 hours to traverse the distance of 150 kms – I got some work related e-mailing doneand some dozing in this time. A chat with co-passenger gave me the list of attractions of which only the ‘thousand pillar temple’ and ‘Warangal Fort’ caught my attention. Since the ‘thousand pillar temple’ was in Hanamkonda, decided to visit it the same evening. Had a late afternoon (actually evening) meal at Kanishka restaturant and was at the temple by 6 PM. The hotel and temple are within walking distance from the Hanamkonda bus-stand.
Thousand Pillar temple:
My first impression was where the thousand pillars are?! Apparently the madapam in fron of the main temple which contributed 400 of these 1000 pillars has been brought down by the Archaeological Survey of India for reconstruction and the pillars that make up the main temple’s ‘natya mandapam’ (dance floor) are large made up of multiple blocks of stone, I even read someplace that some pillars are within other pillars. Well, even so, the number 1000 is most likely used for awe.
Elephant at the entrance of the temple, the other statue at the entrance is a small Nandi.
Though the temple is relatively small it stands out for its intricate carvings. During my time inside the temple I never got tired feeling the carvings with my hand. The large pillars which support the mandapam have different designs, some are are lathe turned, some have abstract diamond shaped patterns and there are others which have symmetric floral patterns.
The temple resides the dieties – Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. Interestingly unlike other Hindu temple this temple faces south so that the Shiva linga which is facing east gets the first rays of the Sun.
It took 72 years to build the temple complex! It’s not surprising that even with the present day technology and instruments the man of today doesn’t often build anything so awe inspiring, as he lacks the most essential ingredient that the man of 12th century was so abundant with. Faith!
North-East corner of the temple. We can notice the opening in the centre which must be to let in the early morning rays onto the Shiva linga.
Settled for the night at Hotel Surya in Warangal; @ 450 Re per day, it was just ok. For dinner had Rotis with Dal and lemon juice. As it rained for most of the night it became very humid, which later became un-bearable with late night power cuts (the hotel power back-up was not functioning). Finally had a decent sleep after 2:00 AM when the power came back. Woke up at 9:00 AM, had the complimentary breakfast of idli-vada and checked out of the hotel by 10:00. Warangal Fort was about 6 kms from the hotel and it was quite easy to get a shared auto, i.e. if you know where to wait for the autos.
All that remains of this fort town are the huge gateways and some parts of the wall next to it. There are three gateways (hence three levels of fortification) with a quaint town within the last two levels.
The disappointing part is that the main palace is in ruins, but whats commendable is the ASI’s efforts in arranging the remains in a garden with each doorway, idol, and carving placed at its appropriate place. So when you go through the ruins you get a glimpse (at least using some imagination) of the real grandeur of the palace.
Four huge Sanchi type gateways enclose the Palace. The pillars which made up the interior corridors of the palace and the doorways with the elaborately carved archs are a delight to pass through. But, what takes the pride of place is the Royal hall. The Royal hall has a dance floor in the centre with the stone throne, Shiva linga and Nandi occupying the three sides. The Nandi statue and enclosure is one of the few around which is still almost completely intact, and as usual faces the Shiva linga.
Intricately carved inner wall of the Royal hall
Shiva linga. The Shiva linga’s I have been familiar till date have a smooth rounded top unlike the one seen here with a flat top.
The throne (Simhasana)
After taking sufficient photos with my 18-55mm lens I switched to the 55-200mm VR lens kit. Using the 55-200mm lens for architecture photography is something I picked up after my Hampi trip. The shallow deapth of field and narrow angle render interesting compositions sometimes.
Nandi facing the Shiva linga.
Looks like this stone might have been mounted on top of a doorway and the carving is that of Ugra-Narasimha (an incarnation of Vishnu).
Spending sufficient time at the palace ruins headed towards the nearby hillock and reached the top by noon. At the top there is a small temple with sheltered stone platforms and a watchpost. On top of the watchpost are some stones with the usual Indian graffiti of who loves whom and some names of losers. It was quite windy here and of the few people present none of them were noisy. I sat there facing the wind, savouring the moment, with no new thoughts coming in or going out. I sat there for about 40 minutes, which seemed like eternity – only possible by traveling alone.
I headed my way back to Warangal in an autorickshaw (40 Re), from there took another auto towards Hanamkonda(30 Re). Ate a hearty south Indian thali at Kanishka restaurant and left for Khazipet. Was at Khazipet by 2:30 PM; took a train (45 Re) from Khazipet to Secunderabad Railway station and was back home in Madhapur, Hyderabad by 6:30 PM by taking an auto (120 Re).