A MAJOR dhurri-weaving centre today Warangal was described by the 13thcentury Venetian traveller, Marco Polo, as one of the principal cities of South India. It was the capital of the Hindu Kakatiya kings, who dominated this region until the beginning of the 14th century.
An ancient fort at the edge of the modern town is all that remains of this once grand city. Built during the reign of the Kakatiya queen Rucirama-devi (r.1262-89), its striking circular plan, with three concentric rings of walls, is still intact. The outer two rings, both of mud, define a circle 1.2 km (1 mile) in diameter. The innermost ring is of stone, with four massive gateways at the cardinal points. At its geometric centre, four ornate toranas (gateways), marking the sacred precinct, are the only remains of a great Shiva temple that once stood here. The toranas themselves are remarkable for their size and beauty.
A short distance to the west is the Khush Mahal, an audience hall that was built by Muslim invaders in the 14th century. Massive angled walls with slit windows define a lofty interior with vaulted arches, though the roof is quite damaged. It is remarkably similar to the Hindola Mahal in Mandu.
ENVIRONS: Hanainkonda , the site of the first Kakatiya capital before it moved to Warangal, is 3 km (2 miles) northwest of Warangal. A magnificent thousand-pillared temple here, dedicated to Shiva, was erected in 1163 by Rudradeva (r.1158-95), the first great Kakatiya king. This grey-green basalt temple, known as the trikuta or triple shrine, consists of a trio of shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. They are connected to a mandapa, now roofless, by a platform with a magnificently polished Nandi bull. The columns have sharply cut, lathe-turned shafts. A ceiling panel carved with an image of Nataraja covers the central bay. The temple’s tranquil gardens contain several small linga shrines, and an ancient well.