Sunday, June 27, 2010

We entered Warangal Fort and visited the Swayambhu Temple.

Just in froDSC04108nt of the Swayambhu Temple is an vast open space which is used as sort of a museum. We bought our tickets and entered. Looking inside, any emotional history and art lover would be in tears; so was i. My friend was confused with my behaviour but as he understands me, did not interrupt.

Inside are various pieces of extraordinary art which were part of magnificent temples and buildings and placed here. They were destroyed during the invasion. We cannot even identify and match two pieces to one construction.

Parts of temples and palaces aDSC04116re collected from various places in the fort and displayed in this enclosure. The ASI need to be appreciated for this. Even though they are not properly maintained, at least they are available. These are the remains of a glorious kingdom.

There are tiles that might have belonged to the floor or ceiling of a building. Idols of various forms are just strewn here and there. The one that you see in the picture should be the beam designs of a temple, now broken, scratched and in ruins. There are various idols that are broken but still has the Trip to Warangal grace. There are so many idols over here that i cannot place all the pictures here. All of them are masterpieces within themselves. It feels awesome imagining the pleasure that the craftsmen would have got when their products were being worshipped or being used inside palaces.

The most magnificent of the structures in here is the stone chariot. This should have been here all these centuries considering its size. It would be extremTrip to Warangal1ely difficult to move a structure which is on the verge of collapsing. This structure, as any others  has been almost taken down save the pillars and a broken base. The most amazing thing that you find in this and nowhere else is the use of pink sandstone.

The ASI has constructed pillars recently to support the structure. The pillars are almost 20 feet in height and are carved with amazing designs. The entire chariot is madeDSC04239 of black stone and pink sandstone is used for some of the designs as you see in the picture above.  You can see many other pieces of the chariot lying among the bushes and just  placed on a side. Some say that this construction is the throne of the king, but that is unlikely as it has wheels like a chariot.

The other significant pieces of construction are the four entrances that have been placed here. They are almost 25 feet in height and still intact without any damage. These entrances are the icons of Warangal and are decorated with minute carvings. There are pigeons, lions and peacocks on either side on the pillars.

Once should take at least a couple of hours visiting each idol and sculpture in this enclosure. You can find architecture which is very unique and cannot be found anywhere in South India. Even the broken pieces of art speak stories…

To be continued…

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Watching the entrance from a distance gives us an amazing feeling that we are about to move to the past. The entrance to the fort is huge with massive walls and bastions.   DSC04306

The fort walls are constructed of massive granite stones and are still very intact. Earlier,  the fort walls were decorated with beautiful designs on brick and plaster but they all were destroyed during the invasions. A few plaques are remaining here and there. Thick bushes grew on the top of the wall and unreachable; Otherwise there is ample space for soldiers to mount them and keep and eye. The entrances to the fort used to DSC04300be protected by stone doors then and we only see the opening without the doors now.  Three protective layers ensure the protection of what was once the inner precincts and centre of power.We passed through the walls to the Swayambhu Temple.

The Swayambhu temple is a very small temple which may seem like very insignificant but it was a very important place of worship then. There is a Siva Linga inside which is said to have emerged itself from the ground. DSC04074There is a Nandi bull of 4 feet in height which sits elegantly in front of the temple. The bull is carved with nice designs on it depicting the craftsmanship of the era. There are various idols that are placed all around the temple. Some art works are also strewn here and there as you see in the picture. They are collected from other temples in the area which were razed down during the invasion.

Watching all these we feel nostalgic and reminds us of the good old days that the place had seen. It is quite sad that those masterpieces had to bear the brunt of human jealousy and greed.

To be continued…

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We all have heard about the stories of Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi and Rani Kittur Chennamma of Belgaum, Karnataka who fought against the British Empire. We however do that know Rani Rudramba (also known as Rudrama Devi), who ruled a mighty Kingdom 600 years before the above mentioned and she was only fourteen when she took the kingdom in her hands.

This is DSC04185the glorious story of the Kakatiya dynasty which flourished for 400 years and vanished without a trace. The only remains left now are two world famous temples, some broken idols, a barren fort and numerous stories and legends about the rulers.

The story of the Kakatiya dynasty and its rulers are well known to the people of Andhra Pradesh as we all read about them during our schooling. The picture you  see here, is one of the Kirtimukhatorana (the royal entrance) and this is the icon which all identifies the dynasty with.

The trip to this place was planned iDSC04111n a short time. It was just a one day trip, so did not require much of a planning. One of my friends, Ramana came along as he was also interested to visit the place. We started from home in his car, parked it in the Railway station and caught the Warangal Express. It was a quick journey of 2.5 hrs and we reach Warangal at around 9 in the morning. We had breakfast and set off to visit the fort.

Lets talk about the history of Warangal for a while.

The early history of Warangal is not known. Some historians regard them as Suryavamsi Kshatriyas, while some others connect tDSC04122hem to Icchakuas of Andhra Pradesh. They are in some versions connected to the Sudra dynasty. These opinions are based on some inscriptions found in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. The Kakatiyas ruled in Telangana as subsidiaries of the Chalukyan kings. After the decline of the Chalukyas, they declared independence and moved their capital from Hanumakonda to Warangal.

Warangal and Hanumakonda as legend goes is linked with the dynasties of Great Vishnukundins and even prior to it also of the Buddhist periods of Indian History. Warangal is also known as Orugallu (Oru means one and Kallu means stone), and Ekasila Nagaram (a city made out of a single stone). From the middle of the 12th Century up to two hundred years, this area is ruled by the Kakatiyas or Ganapathis  making Warangal as Capital City.DSC04142

Prolaraja is supposed to be the earliest kings of Kakatiyas. Rudra and Mahadeva succeeded as kings after Prolaraja. There after Ganapati became the king. Ganapati ruled for 62 years

Ganapati ruled for all total 62 years. Ganapati declared his daughter Rudramba as his successor. She had already been helping him in the administration of the kingdom. Ganapati was succeeded by his daughter Rudramba. In her early reign, she remained busy in the struggle with the neighbouring king.

It appears that Rudramba was succeeded by Pratapdeva who ruled for 4 years. No significant event took place during his reign. HDSC04161e was succeeded by his son Pratapa  Rudradeva, who was a very powerful ruler. A famous scholar named Vaidyanatha wrote `Prataprudriy`, which has immortalized Pratapa Rudradeva, who  is famous for his efficient administration.

The invasion of the Muslims was the chief cause of the decline of the Kakatiya dynasty. Rudradeva was attacked and defeated by Malik Kafur. Thereafter Bahmani Sultan Ahmad Shah conquered and occupied the kingdom of the Kakatiyas. Bahmani Sultanate later broke up into several smaller sultanates, of which the Golconda sultanate ruled Warangal. One of the branches of this dynasty ruled for some more time in Baster.

With the history of the place known, we enter the fort.

To be continued…

Monday, June 7, 2010

On the way from Nandi Hills towards Bangalore near the International Airport, you will find a structure which will seem to be a prison with high walls. On a nearer look once will understand that its a fort.

DevanaDSC05649halli, located at a distance of 35 kms. towards north of Bangalore is a fast growing suburb having and antiquity right from pre-historic times down to the period of Tipu Sultan. It was part of Gangawadi and later came under the rule of the Rashtrakutas, Nolamba, Pallavas, Cholas, Hoysalas and the Vijayanagara rulers. During the time of Vijayanagara rule, one Malla Baire Gowda of Avati, a feudatory constructed the fort in 1501 AD with the consent of Devaraya at Devanadoddi - the earlier name of Devanahalli. Subsequently, in 1741 AD the fort passed into the hands of the Wodeyars of Mysore, which wDSC05644as conquered many times from the Marathas and later came under the control of Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan. The present fort is ascribed to Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan, and it was the favourite hunting place for Tipu, which incidentally was his birth place as well.

The roughly oval east oriented fortification veneered with dressed masonry has as many as 12 semi-circular bastions at regular intervals. As we near the fort, we see a road passing under DSC05651the massive construction. The outer walls are made of heavy stones will a brick lining on the top. The fort is provided with entrances at east and west decorated with cut plaster work.

Once we pass through inside the fortification, there are steps on the left and right to move to the battlement area. As we move up the stairs, we see a long corridor on each side where hundreds of soldiers can be deployed during emergency. The inner side of the walls are constructed in brick and still intact. There are gun points through which the outside can be kept an eye on. The Devanahalli village still exiDSC05637sts within this fortified area.

There is one temple probably of the 17th century inside dedicated to Lord Siva. It is a recent construction without much wear and tear. Even the architecture resembles the Vijayanagara style, it is more kind of an imitation than built at in that era.

We just had a small break near the temple and moved on to visit a place so important but it is thrown just on the road side withouDSC05664t any importance or care. This is the place where the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan was born.

This memorial, located at about 150 mts. south west of the fort, is traditionally identified as the spot where Tipu Sultan was born. A four pillared arched structure which rests on a square platform within a masonry enclosure having entrance from the east are the only remains available.

There is nothing more to visit in this importance place called Devanahalli and we head back home in the scorching heat…

Sunday, June 6, 2010

As weDSC04487 pass the gate towards the hill, we need to ascend some steps and we again come to a steep road up. It would be painstaking to walk the road especially for someone like me who carry some extra pounds.

We walk along and reach the top of the hill where there is more walking to be done. There are rocks everywhere and one has to walk on for 15 minutes to reach a flat patch of rocks which we have to ascend. The rocks are wDSC04500ith dew and slippery to walk during early morning, so be careful while walking.  

Then we reached the place where everyone on Nandi Hills wants to visit early in the morning. After climbing up the man made steps shown in the picture here, we reach the summit where we can relax with a cup of hot tea. There is an old temple dated somewhere around 16th Century, which will come to laDSC05553ter. Now we walk a little further where every visitor to Nandi Hills would want to be early in the morning.

We reach the edge of the hill where there is a vast valley in front and we face the rising sun. The Sun rises from within the clouds cover the valley and the nearby small hillocks. It is one scenery that is best viewed than said about. As the sun rises, the clouds become visible more and there is a cool breeze that refreshes the people. DSC04534

This is one scene that fascinates even me, who prefer historical monuments over scenic beauty. We stayed there for almost an hour and started roaming around. The best way to move around is reach one end of the outer wall and walk along it and that's what we did. It is a nice trek with ups and downs. We became kids and climbed trees (Yes i did too.. :) ). The outer wall on the hill was built during Tipu Sultan's period and it is still very intact. There are some places where the wall fell and is is a littDSC04708le dangerous to go go to the end as there is slippery dry land. There are small crevices within the wall for every 100 metres or so probably for the soldiers to keep an eye outside. There are round bastions from place to place where the soldiers could hide them selves during attacks.

The whole view outside was amazing till noon when the clouds slowly lifted. We reached a place where again every visitor would visit. It is a small gap in the wall and we need to pass underneath it to go the edge of the hill. There are no barricades and its very dangerous.  This place is exactly in the middle of the circumference of the wall. We took some pictures and moved on.  We rested in a shady place for some time and started off again. There are two triDSC04749butaries which are said to be starting from this hill but it did not seem likely after visiting the place. That water is more of a drain than a river. After some walking again, we reached the Nellikai Basavanna statue.

The idol of Nellikai Basavanna (Bull) measures 10 feet in length and 6 feet in height and carved in Chola style. This is called Nellikai Basavanna as there is a Nellikai Tree (Phyllanthus Emblica) in front of the statue. It is through this that this hill was named after (Nandi means Bull). It was noon then and we were really tired of the trekking. We came back to the point where we started, had some nice lunch and moved on to visit tDSC04760he old Vishnu temple on the hill.

This temple is old but raw. Not much of an art and architecture can be found here. With my knowledge of old architecture, i date this one to 16th century. The temple is clearly reconstructed in the 19th century as you can find cemented joints. As any  hilly place, this temple is also infested with monkeys. So please be careful not to carry any eatables with you as they snatch them sometimes injuring people in the process. There is a pavilion around the temple which offers a cool atmosphere during summer. The inner architecture is fairly decent with some beautiful sculptures on the pillars. We had a darshan and moved on to DSC04635the Tipu’s Lodge.

Tipu’s lodge is a rectangular two-storied structure built in east west orientation measuring 12 x 7 mts. and is situation within a fortified area on the summit of the hill. Constructed of brick, mortar and wood, it has a series of compartments. Towards the eastern end there is a flight of steps leading to a verandah which in turn leads to the room built at north.

This building is now in a bad condition and its high time that the local government takes steps for conservation of this landmark monument. There are stone arches to this building and even though the building is plain and simple, it looks good. The rDSC04627ooms are all locked and inaccessible to the general public. A close look inside the rooms through the windows suggests that the rooms are empty with very simple designs inside.

The walls accommodate niches and originally appears to have been decorated with paintings. The verandah has pierced balustrades. Tipu Sultan is said to have stayed in this building whenever he visited the place during expedition/hunting.We spent some time exploring the place and moved on the most fearsome place on Nandi Hills, the Tipu’s dDSC04777rop.

Tipu Sultan is not only feared by others for his valour but also for his anger. He is known to feel pleasure when his enemies spies are killed. Tipu’s drop is the highest point of the hillock where there is a steep drop to the base. Tipu used to get the spies dropped down this and so the name. In all probability, a person used to die even before hitting the grouDSC04793nd as the outer side of the drop is laden with rocks. This is one place where it is most dangerous as the ground is steep and there are no supports to hold. Be very careful as tourists are known to have gotten killed here.

Nandi Hills is often busy all through the year except in mid summers. People come for drives with friends, have a small barbecue and a couple of beers to go with.

It was around 3 in the afternoon and we decided to return back to Bangalore. We had tea and bid goodbye to the most nearest tourist destination from Bangalore,  Nandi Hills.