Hyderabad: The iconic Kirti Toranam (arch of victory), one of the most outstanding architectural works of the Kakatiya empire, stands tall even today on the four sides of the Swayambhu temple in the Warangal Fort.
The toranam is the official emblem of the Telangana state and replicas of the arch made of brass, silver and other metals have become souvenirs.
While most of the fort, sculptures, statues and structures were razed by marauding armies of the Delhi sultans, the Kirti Toranams with their rich carvings and inscriptions have survived.
The bits and pieces of a Kirti Toranam dating back to pre-13th century were found strewn on the northern side of the famed Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy temple in Ainavolu (also Inavolu, Ayyannavolu) in Warangal district, 160 km from Hyderabad.
A heritage lover who saw the pieces in the bushes near the temple last year informed Ms N.R. Visalatchy, director, department of heritage, who immediately asked deputy director, engineering, B. Narayana, to visit the place and take steps for its restoration.
“We found pieces of the 32-ft-tall toranam. Some of them are intact, while others are missing. It looks like the stone pieces are much older than the 13th century and majestic Kirti Toranam at the Warangal fort. These may be the first toranams to have been carved out since they lack the intricate work of the arches subsequently set up at the Warangal fort,” Mr Narayana told this newspaper.
He added, “We took Stapathi Laxminarayana to the spot and he said that it could be restored to its past glory. There are four toranams in Warangal fort and three in Inavolu village.”
After six months of painstaking effort, the toranam, weighing 123.36 tonnes, has been restored. Each pair of pillars carries the load of 37.12 tonnes.
The Kakatiya rulers might have planned to build Kirti Toranams on four sides of the Mallikarjuna Swamy temple but only three were started. While the toranams facing east and south were completed, the TS government has now completed the one facing the north. It is said that the historical Kakatiya toranam were initially constructed at Inavolu and later at Warangal fort.
The Sri Mallikarjunaswami temple, located to the south of Inavolu, 19 km from Warangal and a protected monument of the heritage department itself has a rich history.
Hundreds of pilgrims visit this famed temple where the Mallikarjunaswami festival is celebrated from Sankranti (January) to Ugadi (April). Devotees from Telangana state, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and other places visit the temple.
The idol of Lord Mallikarjuna or Mallanna, is six-feet high in a sitting posture and faces the east. This is flanked by images of his consorts, Balije Medallamma and Golla Ketamma.
The temple is open 24 hours and scores of makeshift shops, hotels and other businesses have come up around it. Dance troupes, magicians, snake charmers, fortune-tellers and gamblers add to the colour.
According to historians, Inavolu was an important place during the Kakatiya regime.
According to Kase Sarvappa’s Siddeswara Charitram, Kakatiya Rudradeva built the temple of Mailarudeva at Inavolu. An inscription near the dwaja sthambham of the temple describes the genealogy of the Velama chiefs of the Recherla family and records the gift of the village of Ayyanavolu Guruvara, Sravana Su 15, 1291 (Thursday, July 19, 1369) to Lord Mailaradeva. From this it is surmised that the temple complex dates to the 12th and 13th century. It is said the temple was built by Ayyanna Devudu, a Kakatiya minister, hence it is called Ayyanavolu temple.
According to Mr Nagabala Suresh Kumar, who dvelved into the forts of Telangana and published a book, the Kakatiya rulers were known for their architectural masterpieces.
Historical evidence shows that Kakati Venayya (750-768) ruled the fort area of Warangal followed by Gundaiah, Erraiah, Betaraju, Prolaraju, Durgaraju, Rudradevudu, Mahadevudu, Ganapathi Devudu, Rudramadevi and others. Prataparudrudu (1289-1323) was the last king....