Tradition says Warangal fort has seven concentric walls. May be, of the seven, two are the solid walls we are seeing even today and five, sort of temporary. May be, the considered the moat as one wall. Or, may be, it’s an exaggeration in itself. Of the two concentric walls standing today, the outer, a mud wall some 20 feet high is around 8 km in circumference and the inner one, a stone one, is around 5 km in circumference. And it’s a thing to note that the inner stone fort was never taken in any of the Muslim invasions, be it by Khusrau Khan or Malik Kafur or Muhammad bin Tughluq. The acts of frustration resulting in torment of people elsewhere forced the king to open the gates either to surrender or to fight is the reason the fort fell, but it was never taken. And the scale of the fort can be said by the fact that it contains 75 bastions, each assigned to a Nayak. And again, tradition states that the fort had a total of 122 temples. And that it’s just a Sthala Durga with no natural protection and turned out to be the biggest tormentor of the Muslim armies till Hamvira Mahapatra. And don’t forget that Warangal is the only capital city which was taken back by the armies of the dismantled kingdom decisively and never to be retaken by the Delhi Sultanate.
It’s been more than fifteen years I visited Warangal fort. The story is not about the fort, but of the temple which was the crowning glory of the fort. It is said that an ox in the convoy of the Kakatiya king Prola refused to move from a spot. Intrigued, they checked what happened and came across a Sivalinga. They tried to remove it to Anumakonda, their capital city but come what may, they were not able to. So, they shifted the capital city to this place. The temple is aptly called Svayambhu Devalaya. But, there is only one catch. The Sivalinga is very small and will not serve secular purposes. So, what does the king do? He will create another grand temple with a bigger Sivalinga which will be used for official purposes. Who was that king, don’t ask me. But, my guess is, it’s Ganapati Deva himself. The original one would have been relegated to a corner, may have been the starting point of all the prayers, may be the private shrine of the rulers and what not. But, ironically, it is one of the very few religious structures which stand unmolested in the complete fort today.
Now, coming to the grander temple. It has four Toranas(archways) in the cardinal directions, forming the centres of the sides of a rectangle, between which a temple is built. The sides have a length of 480 ft(N-S) and 433 ft(E-W) respectively. Now, think about a temple having four entrances, each an imposing 33 feet arch, beautifully sculpted, both microscopically and macroscopically. It will surely be in the style of Ramappa with a conical dome over the sanctum and not of the type of Warangal thousand pillar temple, with a flat top. It is supposed to stay majestic and should be visible for a longer distance, right? It is said that this temple is comparable in size and splendour to Rudra Mala temple of Gujarat. Why compare a temple in the extreme southern areas of Chalukyas with something from it’s extreme northern areas, unless the temple in the north stands out for it’s splendour and size? The northern temple had the dimensions 300 ft by 230 ft with the central building 150 ft long. That itself gives an estimate of the size of this temple. What stands now is a pedestal some 10 feet tall. It is possible that the statue was located at on the pedestal with the temple towering considerably over the Toranas.
Now, coming to the idol. It is said that the idol is a four faced Mukhalinga, meaning the sanctum will have four doors facing the Toranas. It can be a lavish temple which the king used for official purposes, projecting his power. The existing Svayambhu Devalayam has the goddess as Mahishasuramardini. But, there’s a catch. There is no place whatsoever in the temple to place the statue of the goddess. Does it mean it was brought out from somewhere? For the grander temple, assuming there is a shrine for the goddess, there are a few possibilities as to what that statue can be – it can be this Mahishasuramardini or it can be Goddess Danteswari of Bastar who is purported to be the original goddess Kakati who was taken to the forests after the fall of Warangal or a goddess enshrined somewhere else or is lost with the temple. It is said that Kohinoor is the eye of Goddess Bhadrakali of Warangal. Unless the temple itself was clinically demolished, the current structure standing with unadorned pillars cannot be a royal temple. Surely, it’s much older than the Kakatiyas and may be, the temple was treated with reverence by the Kakatiyas and going by the fact that the goddess is a violent form of Bhadrakali which is converted into the Tripurasundari only in 1940s makes it more of a temple of masses, not of the rulers. May be, Kohinoor is the eye of the goddess. Or, may be, Kohinoor is the eye of this goddess, the one adorning the main temple of Warangal Fort.
Well, the temple doesn’t exist. There are no traces to say that there existed a grander temple. And seriously, I haven’t read of any contemporary resources which talks of a majestic temple between the Kirti Toranas. If it existed, it was destroyed with clinical perfection with nothing left standing whatsoever. Warangal is a special case. While in all the other cases, it was religious zeal,here, it’s religious zeal plus frustration plus politics. Frustration because the fort stood for more than three years of near continuous seige and politics because the destroyed Kakatiya Empire was still a potent threat as it’s armies were still on field, trying to form larger and threatening cohesive entities. What can be much better than destroying the main temple of the kingdom?
All speculations apart, does this temple exist, first of all? If yes, who wrote about it -Yadava, Hoyasala, Pandya, Kakatiya, Muslim, Indian and foreign travellers? Where are the inscriptions talking about it? Why is there no gloating about destruction of a great temple in Muslim accounts? Why is there no lament in Telugu literature and no attempt of Musunuri Nayaks and Rachakonda Velamas to bring back the city to it’s former glory? How does the attempt to build a mosque there fit into the grander picture? Or, is it that the temple was left standing, at least till the days of Hamvira Mahapatra and was destroyed only after the Bahamanis took complete control? Does that mean, by then, it became a complete derelict not worth mentioning? Or, is it the royal palace itself and the smaller temple standing today is the only Svayambhu Devalaya? If yes, where was the statue of the goddess originally placed? I guess it’s time to dig deep to try and understand what actually existed between those four arches.