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  Warangal Fort
Warangal Fort

The Warangal Fort has impressive and beautifully carved thoranan arches, and pillars inside are spread over a radius of several hundred meters between Hanamkonda and Warangal, the impregnable fort was popularly known as the seat of power. The fort consists of seven towers , with a radius of 8 kms. The main fort has 45 towers, and a temple of mother earth is in the middle of the fort (Swayam Bhudevi Alayam). A legendary master piece known as Khush Mahal built by Shittabh Khan (Reign 1504-1512 is situated close to the glorious Warangal Fort. Even today, the beautifully carved gateway located within the fort-the famous 'Ekashila'- symbolises the Kakatiya empire and Warangal like the Charminar does for Hyderabad.

Warangal Fort, in the present-day Indian state of Telangana, appears to have existed since at least the 12th century. The fort was then the capital of the Kakatiya dynasty. The fort has four ornamental gates which originally formed the gates to the now defunct great Shiva temple which are known as Kakatiya Kala Thoranam or Warangal Gates. The feature of these historical arches has been adopted as the symbol of the Kakatiya dynasty and has been officially incorporated into the Emblem of Telangana.

Initially Warangal was under the rule of the Yadava kings in the 8th century and later it came under the control of the Kakatiya dynasty from the 12th century. Although precise dating of its construction and subsequent enhancements are uncertain, historians and archaeologists generally accept that an earlier brick-walled structure was replaced with stone by Ganapatideva, who died in 1262, and that his successors were his daughter Rudrama Devi, who ruled till 1289, and then her grandson Prataparudra II. Under Prataparudra II's powerful rule, this came to be known as a "Golden Age". But 20 years later his kingdom, was conquered by the Sultans of Delhi.

Ganapatideva, Rudramadevi and Prataparudra II all added to the fort's height, and they built gateways, square bastions and additional circular earthen walls. This places the construction towards the end of the Kakatiya period .

In 1309, Malik Kafur (a prominent military figure and first Hindu general of Alauddin Khilji) attacked the fort (with a large force of 100,000 men and surrounded it while Prataparudra II and his people had secured themselves within the formidable fort and battled bravely for many months with the invading army. As the siege could not be lifted for more than 6 months, Pratapruda II agreed to a truce with Kafur, by which he gave in reparation all the wealth that he had accumulated. This included the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond. This siege has been chronicled by Amir Khusrow, who has recorded that the outer fortifications consisted of a strong outer hardened mud structure with a deep ditch in front, which had to be filled with dirt before the army could surmount it. The inner fortress was built of stone and surrounded by a moat that the Muslim soldiers swam across. The forts described by Khusrau correspond to the two inner circles of fortifications that exist today. When Kafur finally left the fort in March 1310, he carried away the bounty on one thousand camels. The conditions of forging peace with the Delhi Sultanate included a clause that Pratapa Rudra would pay an annual tribute and that he would bow every day towards Delhi as a tributary king denoting his subordinate status to the Sulatan of Delhi. After Kafur's departure Pratapa Rudra started ruling again and during this time some of his vassal chieftains had declared themselves independent rulers of their fiefdoms. But in 1311 Pratapa Rudra had to support the Sultan in invading the Tamil country of the Pandyas at Kanchipuram, which he did, and he also succeeded in getting the vassals back under his control.

Again in 1318 as Pratapa Rudra had willfully ignored paying the annual tribute to the Sultans of Delhi, the Warangal Fort was attacked and held in siege. The superior military power (superior implements to lob stone missiles and many other similar tools) of the Sultan's army forced Pratapa Rudra to again sue for peace. The invaders had even put up a 450 ft earthen ramp across the moat which enabled them to breach the stone walls of the fort and capture the fort. He again paid a huge tribute in the form of a contingent of horses and elephants to the Sultan, which became an annual fee to be paid to the Delhi Sultanate. After he sued for peace, the Sultan bestowed on him a "mace, a decorated robe (qaba) and a parasol". And again he had to bow towards the Imperial capital of Delhi as a mark of his vassal status.

Again in 1320, when Pratapa Rudra defaulted on his annual payment to the Delhi Sultans, the then ruler of Delhi who had replaced Khilji, Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, sent his son Ulugh Khan to recover the dues. For a third and final time, the fort was attacked by Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq (r.1325-51), who held siege over the fort. Due to internal dissensions, Ulugh Khan had to retreat to Devagiri. This was only a temporary respite. Ulugh Khan came back in 1323 with 65,000 mounted soldiers carrying archery, attacked the fort, and plundered and destroyed the capital. For the Muslim invaders, it was a practice while conquering Hindu Kingdoms to desecrate the Hindu temples. In keeping with that tradition the Muslim general Ulugh Khan ordered destruction of the great Svayambhusiva Temple where the State deity had been deified. Now what is seen of the temple are remnants scattered around in the fort. Then the Tughluqan authorities built an enormous mosque to one side of the fort which has since been demolished. Pratapa Rudra, who had surrendered and was sent to Delhi, died on the way on the banks of the Godavari River. It is said that he committed suicide in 1323. The capital of Warangal was then renamed as Sultanpur, and from 1324 to 1332 imperial coins were minted there. They managed to hold Sultanpur until 1335, when the local Nayakas (72 of the chieftians) formed a union and took control. Following the end of the rule of the Delhi Sultans, 72 chieftains of the Musunuri Nayaks formed an alliance and took control of the Warangal Fort and reigned for fifty years.

The fort then came under the control of the Qutb Shahi dynasty of Golconda and later under the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

There were later modifications between the 15th and 17th centuries to the fort, mainly with the addition of barbicans to the four gates in the stone wall and the creation of gates in the outer earthen wall.

Remnants of the structure can be seen today near the town of Warangal, which was the Kakatiya capital.

The Archaeological Survey of India has listed the remains as a Monument of National Importance.

Warangal Fort

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