An abundance of history defines Warangal and unlike the dull lessons you were made to
An abundance of history defines Warangal and unlike the dull lessons you were made toendure in school, this experience is very enriching. A view of the stunning 45-ft stone gateway to the Warangal Fort as you drive in is guaranteed to leave you awestruck. Known as the hotbed of the revolutionary movement in the 1980s and 1990s, Warangal seldom seems to make it onto a tourist’s itinerary. But give it a couple of days and you are sure to be surprised by the wealth of architecture and exquisite sculptures the place offers.
The idea is to hit the highway from Hyderabad with your music player in hand for there is no shopping mall, no silicon or tech city to rave about, no pubs with the latest music to hop into and no particular touristy detail you have to memorise for the benefit of friends later on. It is time to just let Warangal’s rich history take over. There are lakes, there are temples, there are fabulous idols of Shiva, there are Nandis whose eyes seem to follow you around, there are students all over the place full of optimism and cheer and there is this feeling of strengthening of faith as you walk down some very quiet lanes of this place once known as Orugallu.
NH202 bisects the twin cities of Hanamkonda and Warangal, first entering Hanamkonda on the way in from Hyderabad before turning right to Warangal. After the Thousand Pillar Temple, at the Mulugu Road Junction, NH202 turns left to exit Warangal. Continue straight from the junction to enter the heart of Warangal. The railway station and Bhadrakali Temple are down this road. Warangal Fort lies south of the railway station.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Within the twin cities of Hanamkonda and Warangal, the obvious places to visit would be a whole lot of temples and of course the Warangal Fort. Getting an early start from your hotel room in the morning would enable you to be part of the aarti and puja. While at the fort and the Thousand Pillar Temple, take your time to study the figurines, lotus-shaped emblems, swans on arches, the lovely Kakatiya ladies with varied emotions on their faces and the architectural marvels on star-shaped platforms. Warangal is mildly pleasant in winter and really hot most of the year. Even so, the hustle and bustle of tourists is more during summer holidays. Wearing a cap could be a good way to beat the blazing sun.
Thousand Pillar Temple
Do not count the few odd pillars here and there and wonder what the name is all about. Instead look inside the temple. Built in 1163 by the Kakatiya king Rudradeva, the temple rests on a star-shaped platform about 7 ft in height and is evidence of the evolved nature of Kakatiya architecture. It is in Chalukyan style and has three shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. Lord Shiva is the presiding deity and a large number of people visit this temple every day. Many of them flock here with coconuts, flowers and agarbatti to invoke divine blessings. Black basalt and granite is used in most Kakatiya temples as it was widely found in the region. Indeed, it still is. A 6-ft-high Nandi facing the temple is worth posing beside for a snap. Inside the temple is a circular natya mandap. The pujari will proudly tell you that is where the Kakatiya warriors used to perform the Perini Shiva Tandavam before going to war and also afterwards to celebrate victories. The temple comes to life during the Shivaratri festival in February when devotees walk on fiery embers as a mark of faith.
Sample the laddoo and pulihora (tamarind rice) prasadam and you are bound to go back and buy some more.
This one is not so much about the architecture as about Kali. Located on a hilltop, it is noted for its stone image of Goddess Bhadrakali in a seated posture. The goddess with eight arms, a weapon in each, wears a captivating, fierce expression. Women throng this temple in huge numbers seeking strength from the devi to fulfill their wishes and fight obstacles. You are considered lucky if you can pick up a few glass bangles and flowers which are offered to the deity and distributed later.
Timings 5.30am-1.00pm & 3.00- 8.00pm
The Hydri Darwaza at this 13th-century fort’s entrance is so beautiful that you just have to stop and run your fingers over the ancient boundary wall. The four massive stone gateways are replicated and used in most Warangal government offices, hotels, function halls, the Kakatiya University and even private houses. Yet when you look at the original thing, it takes your breath away. Inside there is an open museum where the State Archaeology Department has put excavated figurines, pillars, Ganeshas, Lord Shiva idols, Nandis, lotus emblems, Hamsathoranams and domes. Basically several pieces of history depicting the Kakatiya rule. There is a crumbling Swayambhudevalayam (a Shiva Tem ple) worth taking a peek at. Built by Shitab Khan, the Khush Mahal located inside the fort houses masterpieces of the Kakatiya time such as Jain idols, Naga Bhairav, Vishnu and Mahishasura. The most interesting, however, are cannon balls of those times, some weighing 1.5 kg and others even 25 kg!
Tucked away in a quiet lane next to Warangal’s NIT, Fathima Church technically falls in Kazipet in an area called Fathimanagar, about 5 km south of Hanamkonda. The Roman Catholic cathedral is beautifully lit, serene and with rows of glistening benches. As it is spread over a large area, whispering trees that surround the church bring about a communion with nature. Go in the evening at about 6.30 pm, in time for the service which is in Telugu, but the priest translates in English as well. There’s something about this church that seems to unite all souls in hope and in faith.
WHERE TO STAY
Warangal has a few good hotels and a host of budget lodges. Since there is a huge rush to Warangal during the summer holidays and the Shivaratri period, it would be wise to book your hotel rooms earlier. TSTDC offers Haritha Kakatiya Hotel (Tel: 0870-2562237, Cell: 099510-22203; Tariff: ₹ 1,855-3,260) with 55 air-conditioned rooms that are clean and comfortable.
Hotel Ashoka (Tel: 2578491/94; Tariff: ₹1,575) is among the older hotels in Warangal, offering air-conditioned rooms. Hotel Ratna (Tel: 2500645; Tariff: ₹1,100- 2,000) is as established and its rates are cheaper. The rooms tend to smell a bit musty here but are good enough if you are not looking for top level luxury. Hotel Suprabha (Tel: 2573888, 2574888; Tariff: ₹2,000-2,500) on the other hand, is a newer hotel. It offers Internet services, provides complimentary breakfast and travel assistance, and is ideal when travelling with family.
WHERE TO EAT
The Kanishka Coffee Shop (Tel: 2578491/ 94) at Hotel Ashoka offers decent breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Stick to the south-Indian fare and you will not be disappointed. If you want dal, rajma and roti, there is the Kadambari Restaurant, but when in Warangal do as Orugallus do and eat their traditional cuisine.
Food at Suprabha’s Snowball Restaurant is also quite good and you get the usual multicuisine menu. If vegetarian, pay a visit to their Cruise Coffee Shop and you’d not know when to stop eating. The masala and rava dosas are superb and your sambhar bowls keep getting refilled quietly. The thali meals with their amazing spread of katoris and mounds of rice are delicious.
All along the main road in Warangal, you find thelas selling mirchi bajjis. These are really spicy, but very tasty. Never mind the oil and indulge. Warangal is famous for its namkeen snack sarvapindi, made of rice flour, onions and chillies. A bit on the salty side, this snack is the perfect thing to carry while on the move.
Pakhal Lake and Sanctuary (50 km)
This man-made lake, situated east of Warangal via Narsampet, has sluice gates which, when opened, send out a roar that will definitely jar you out of your reverie. Monkeys abound in this area. But they are all friendly and lazily stretch their hands for any food you might be carrying. The area around the lake bund and the nature trail are perfect for long walks. Medicinal trees can be found in the thickly forested region. For those who prefer the safer zone of parks, there is one nearby. This is an ideal place for a day out with children.
There are several birds in the adjoining sanctuary and crocodiles in the lake, if you are patient enough for them to make an appearance.
Sanctuary timings 6.00am-7.00pm
Ramappa Temple and Lake (64 km)
Located in a village named Palampet, the Ramappa Temple was built in 1213. Made of sandstone and black basalt, this temple too is built on a steep star-shaped plat-form. Shiva is the main deity here. A madanika at the entrance shows a royal woman wearing high heels. Evidently, the culture was one of music, dance and exuberance as is brought out by various figurines. The feminine sculptures wear fierce expressions seemingly symbolic of the power women used to wield in those days. Vedic chants of the pujari echo in the temple, creating a divine atmosphere as families get comfortable under trees and below shady corners of the temple platform eating picnic lunches of vadas, sambhar and ginger chutney.
To get to Palampet, continue north on NH202 from Warangal to Mulugu, and then turn left off the highway.
The Ramappa Lake nearby offers boating facilities. Surrounded by green forests, you can even stay at the Haritha Lake View Resort Ramappa (Cell: 09912367152; Tariff ₹1,200-1,400) overlooking the lake. Although a board near the Tiger Sluice has the message ‘No Wine’, it’s not a message anyone takes seriously judging by the number of wine and vodka bottles strewn around.
When to go In winter as the rest of the year is very hot Location Warangal is a city and district in the eastern part of the Deccan Plateau Air Nearest airport: Warangal Rail Nearest rail: Warangal
Tourist Information & Reservation Centre
KPHB Main Road
Tourist Information & Reservation Centre
Yatri Nivas, SP Road
Tourist Information Centre
STD code 0870
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