Jun 24, 2017

Kush Mahal ~ Shitab Khan Mahal, Warangal Fort

March 17, 2017

Within the walls of Warangal fort are several spots to see. The prominent ones are-
1. the open-air museum of Kakatiya Keerthi Thorana & other sculptures,
2. Ekashila Gutta and
3. Kush Mahal

Having visited the first two items, we arrived at Kush Mahal around 11-45 AM. It 
was warm and sultry. I found a shady spot under a small tree to park our car. Washed of the sweat and heat with a liter of water and wiped myself.. ah, it felt refreshing. I was ready to enter this edifice with high arches. At the first sight, the building looked like a military barrack, it took some time to accept this as a palace. Going by its arches, this was built by Muslim rulers.

The building front has a collection of ancient sculptures of Kakatiyan times including an inscription or two.

The north-facing structure is built on a 4 foot high platform. In plan the building is rectangular; 53' wide x 140' long. The front elevation has one large arch may be 40' high and a steep-stairway to the roof. Overall building height is approximately 50'. The side elevation is dominated by seven arches - six tall and one short. The building has fourteen tall arches in all, allowing lot of light and air-flow. The building was said to been an audience hall.

This is the eastern side is a pair of wedges and a tank. It seems the tank was used to store water, Coming to the wedges, it's possible a ramp existed here.. probably to move heavy items into the building.

View from the platform. These walls are built of finely dressed blocks. Notice the alternating thin and thick layers in the wall.. there has to be reason for it.

It is said that Khush Mahal was raised over the ruins of a Kakatiya palace; built during Tughlak reign in 14th century. However, according to some it was built late 15th Century by Shitab Khan - the Governor of Warangal appointed by Qutub Shahi Dynasty. Shitab Khan, also known as Chitapu Khan, was originally Sitapathi Raju of Boya community who has served in the army and rose to the position of governor. It is said he used the title in inscriptions but never converted to Islam.

The interior is a single hall with arches connecting the columns on either sides. The interior is well lit and ventilated. Probably, the governor met his administrative and military officers here.

On the other end of the hall is a rectangular pit, seems like a water tank. I'm guessing this tank was connected to the smaller tank on the eastern site. Probably, water was supplied from the nearby lake next to the monolith within the fort.

The interior has a collection of small sculptures, a dozen or so. I took pictures of only two.. one standing and one sitting. The standing character is four-armed Vishnu, you can see Chakra on the left shoulder, the Shankha is missing. Take a close look at the idol, the detailing is fine. The sitting idol also has Shankha and Chakra; wearing a necklace; and hair tied in a bandana. The former is definitely much older than the latter.

Turning the attention to the sculpture collection outside. A pillar with inscription on all four faces. Surely, this pillar would carry important information related to Kakatiyan times.

Lot of broken idols, surely work of Muslim soldiers. In spite of the damages, these idols are not an eyesore. A damaged pillar with more edicts.

The caretakers have given special care to the lions. Here's a collection of finely sculpted and polished Simha.. the icon of Kakatiyas. These are definitely pieces of some temple.. these pieces are fitted at the entrances, close to the roof, as if they are guarding the temple.

Notice the stone mesh in the wall.. even that has been torn out from some temple. I wonder how many beautiful temples the Muslim rulers destroyed. How could they even feel like damaging some so beautiful. This reminds of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan - how Taliban bombed them to pieces. Sadly, the community is same.. always destructive. Will they ever learn to respect other religions and cultures?

I went up the steep stairway to the roof which is quite plain but offers a great view of the surroundings. The building was designed to be tall enough to serve as a watch tower as well. On the eastern side side, the summit of the monolith is visible - the watch tower and the temple are clearly seen.

On the northern side.. the northern gate is seen though partially hidden by trees.

Before closing this line, I would like to quote few lines from the article on Kush Mahal in warangaltourism.in - An audience hall, Khush Mahal structure resembles the Diwan-i-aam’ of Tughlaqabad, which is also a public audience hall. One can also find architectural similarity between Khush Mahal and tomb Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq of Delhi.

Jun 17, 2017

Warangal Fort - eastern gateways

March 17, 2017
It was exactly 9 AM when we reached the eastern gateway of Warangal fort, one of the largest forts of Telangana state. The fort's gateway has a curved path through it. The walls are high, approximately 30' tall and backed by massive earthen mounds.

The gateway. like any other fort has is an arched gateway. This is the inside view.  The gateway, being a checkpost has large open halls annexed to it. Those will be used as offices for security guards and also to store arms for emergency use. The arch seen here seems to be built by Muslim rulers.

Warangal was the capital city of Kakatiya kingdom which existed between 1163–1323. Orugallu was the original name of Warangal. It is said that Warangal fort was originally a brick-walled structure was replaced with a stone structure by Ganapatideva who died in 1262. Then Rudrama Devi (Ganapatideva's daughter) ruled from 1262 to 1289 followed by her grandson Prataparudra II. Warangal fort saw many enhancements when Kalatiyan dynasty was in power. The second and third rings were built around the original fort. Kakatiyas were conquered by the Sultans of Delhi and Warangal fort was conquerd by the Muslim army. Only the two inner rings have survived till date..

The fort's outer ring is approximately 2.4 kilometers in diameter while the inner ring is 1.2 kilometers. The inner wall and outer walls were protected by moats; even to this day the moat pits can be seen filled with water however, the pits have collapsed in most places. The fort has four gateways, one in each cardinal direction. It seems the eastern and western gateways were the important ones. There's one straight road running between the western gateway and eastern gateway with two inner gateways between them.

Here we are looking at the inner western gateway, fairly well preserved. The walls here have three sections- lower, middle and upper. The lower and middle are built during Kakatiyan rule, while the merlons are built by Muslim rulers.. using debris from demolished Hindu temples.

 View of the entrance from the curtain wall. Flanking the entrance are sculptures of lions, hence I would call this entrance as Simha Dwaram.

 The snarling lion of Kakatiyas.. its ready to turn around and pounce.

Somehow these lions have survived the onslaught of Muslim armies and forces of nature. We did not get to check out the other three entrances but I feel those entrances too might have a pair of lions.

A close look at the wall over the door frame. Notice sections of black stone sculptures embedded into the wall are pieces from demolished temples.

Even the merlons have been 'decorated' with stone meshes. How mean were the Muslim rulers.. the community somehow cannot tolerate any other religion or culture.

View from the curtain wall.. on the left is the bastion adjoining the entrance and on the right is the curtain wall. The curtain wall has a shoulder along its length.

Guards can watch over the entrance or shoot from the gaps between the merlons.

The inside view of the entrance. Behind me is a 90 degree turn and another doorway which in turn links to a courtyard.

This is the rectangular courtyard which is with two doorways. This complex security system is designed to confuse and trap enemy forces trying to enter the fort. Once trapped in this courtyard, the enemy forces can be forced to surrender or disseminate easily.

This is one of the gateways seemingly in its original form. We happened to see these similarly dressed siblings.. walking rather slowly.. they must be going to or coming from morning tuition classes. This road leads to the center of the fort where you can see the massive Kakatiya Torana, Kush Mahal and Ekasila Gutta. It is possible that the monolith in this fort must be the origin of the name Warangal. Monolith in Telugu is Ekasila which is also known as Orugallu or one-stone; with time Orugallu changed to Warangal.

This is the gateway in the northern direction. This also has a complex security system. Towards the right of this gateway, is a rectangular bastion built into the rampart walls. It is said that King Prtaparudra II, according to the terms with Delhi Sultans, was supposed to stand on the bastion and bow towards Delhi once a day.

Closer look at the doorway and a narrow entrance on its side. Here the merlons are rounded, these seem like the original construction from Kakatiyan times.

This is probably the bastion on which Prataparudra was to stand and bow towards Delhi. Nevertheless Prataparudra was a brave king, he tried to break away from the Muslim rulers three times before taking his own life.

Right in the center of the fort are the famous arches of Kakatiyas.  Its a big enclosure, kind of an open-air museum of Kaktiyan stone sculptures. We spent couple oh hours looking at the amazing art works.

Kakatiyans were megalomaniacs.. you can see that in their arches and Ramappa temple. We will come to them in detail in the following posts.