Middle Kingdoms of India, Part 83

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BY: SUN STAFF - 21.6 2021

Kakatiya Kala Thoranam (Warangal Gate)

A serial presentation of India's great history, religious movements and temple architecture.

The Kakatiyas

'The Kakatiya dynasty was a South Indian dynasty that ruled parts of what is now Andhra Pradesh, from 1083 to 1323 A.D. They were one of the great Telugu kingdoms that remained in power for centuries. Three new fledgling kingdoms arose out of the ruins of the Kakatiya empire, namely the Reddy kingdom, Padma Nayaka Velama kingdom and the great Vijayanagara Empire. [110a-b]

Historic sources relating to the Kakatiya dynasty are sparse. Of those that are available, the most prevalent are ancient inscriptions that mainly document matters relating to religion, such as donations to Hindu temples. These records are particularly abundant for the period 1175–1324 A.D., which is the period when the dynasty most flourished, which the records indicate. The probability is that many inscriptions have been lost due to buildings falling into disuse and also the ravages of subsequent rulers, most notably the Mughal empire in the Telangana region.

The Kakatiyas capital city was at Orugallu [110c] in the dry uplands of northern Telangana on the Deccan Plateau. From there they expanded their influence into Coastal Andhra, the delta between the Godavari and Krishna rivers that feed into the Bay of Bengal. According to Rao and Shulman, the latter contained a high proportion of Brahmins while the former was the haunt of "peasants, artisans and warriors".[110d]

The area of land under Kakatiya control reached its zenith around the 13th Century, during the rule of Ganapati Deva. By this time, South India and the Deccan were essentially under the aegis of four great monarchies, of which the Kakatiyas were one. [110e] These four dynasties were in a constant state of warfare with each other, with the Kakatiyas eventually exercising control from close to Anagondi in the west, to Kalyani in the northeast, and down to Kanei and Ganjam district in southern Orissa. [110f]

Ramappa Temple

A notable trend during the Kakatiya dynastic period was the construction of reservoirs for irrigation in the uplands. Around 5,000 of these were built by warrior families subordinate to the Kakatiyas. They dramatically altered the possibilities for development in the sparsely populated dry areas. Many of these edifices, or tanks, are still used today, including the large examples at Pakala and Ramappa. [110g]

Another notable architectural feature of the dynasty relates to temples. Even before the arrival of the dynasty, there were large, well-established and well-endowed Vaisnava places of worship in the relatively populous delta areas; however, the temples of the uplands, which were smaller and less cosmopolitan in origin and funding, did not exist until the Kakatiya period.

In the lowlands, where Brahmins were numerous, the temples had long benefited from the citizenry's desire to build social networks for the purposes of domestic and foreign trade, as well as for obtaining grazing rights in the face of competition. In the uplands, the endowment of the buildings was often associated with the construction and continued maintenance of reservoirs, and enabled a different type of networking based on political hierarchies. The strengthening of those hierarchies, which was achieved in part by donating land for the temples and then attending worship, was necessary as the inland agrarian society grew rapidly in number and location. [110h]

Kakatiya monarchs claimed to be descended from the Sun. They were Suryavanshis and descendants of Ikshvaku lineage, which is the same lineage that Lord Rama of Ayodhya appeared in, as did Gautama Buddha. [110i] The regnal dates of the early rulers are unknown. In order, they were: Venna, Gunda I, Gunda II, Gunda III and Erra.'

 

FOOTNOTES:

[110a] Chenchiah; Bhujanga (1 January 1988). A History of Telugu Literature. Asian Educational Services. pp. 24, 25. ISBN 978-81-206-0313-4. Retrieved 28 August 2011.

[110b] P. Sriramamurti (1972). Contribution of Andhra to Sanskrit literature. Andhra University. p. 60. Retrieved 28 August 2011.

[110c] Rao & Shulman (2012), p. 17

[110d] Rao & Shulman (2002), p. 4

[110e] Eaton (2005), p. 13

[110f] Ventakaramanayya (1942), pp. 1–2

[110g] Eaton (2005), p. 14

[110h] Eaton (2005), pp. 14–15

[110i] Ventakaramanayya (1942), p. 1