Gateway & Part of Temple Ruins (1875). Image Source: The British Library Online Gallery
The exact origins of the dynasty are unclear. Some historians trace the origins of the Kakatiyas to a Gundaya who died fighting for the Rashtrakutas against the Eastern Chalukyas in the 10th Century. The story is that the Rashtrakuta king was so pleased by his sacrifice that he put Gundaya’s son, Eriya in-charge of a region that wasn’t even in the Rashtrakuta dominions. Eriya still managed to carve for himself a kingdom in the Eastern Chalukyan domain. His grandson, Kakartya Gundyana, helped the brother of a Eastern Chalukyan king take over his brother’s throne and made good with the Chalukyas as well. And like anyone who has ever started a successful kingdom has ever done, he defected to the Western Chalukyas when the Rashtrakutas were defeated and his successors Beta I, Prola I, Beta II and Prola II (yes, they were called that) were all in the service of the Western Chalukyas. It is Kakartya Gundyana that the kingdom is supposedly named after (Kakartya = Kakatiya); but it is more likely that they derive their name from either the Goddess Kakati (Durga) or their place of origin, Kakati. But then again, we don’t quite know where that is either.
Other historians give the Kakatiyas Western Chalukyan origins – they mark the beginning of the dynasty from Beta II who was in the service of Vikramaditya VI, the greatest Western Chalukyan king, after whom, as we’ve seen before, the decline of the dynasty began. But it is generally agreed upon that Beta I and Prola I played a vital role in Chalukyan victories over the Cholas – Beta I was given the title ‘Chola Chanu Vardhi Premathana’ (He who churned the Chola army ocean). Anumakonda-Vishaya (Hanumakonda), which eventually became the first Kakatiya capital under Beta II, was thus given to them as a token of Chalukyan appreciation. Around 1075 CE, Beta II succeeded his father, Prola I, but he and his son, Durga Raja, ended up doing some kiri kiri that really pissed Vikramaditya off – they were was almost kicked out and would have been, if it weren’t for some last minute jugaad and a few prostrations. Beta II’s other son, Prola II, took over after him and things couldn’t have been better for the Kakatiyas.
Feudatories play a major role in the expansion and administration of any major kingdom. They are also the first bunch of people waiting to take over your kingdom at the slightest indication of weakness. The weakening kingdoms on either side of the Kakatiya territory meant they could declare independence and begin consolidation of territory. It also meant that other feudatories could do the same but Prola II not only successfully defended and expanded his kingdom, he went one step ahead ahead and kidnapped the Western Chalukyan king, Tailapa III. Yes, he kidnapped his king. The confusion that ensued accelerated the decline of the Chalukyan kingdom and confirmed the sovereignty of the Kakatiyas. One could say the kingdom was Prol-y out of its Beta phase now.
It was only during the reign of Pratapa Rudra, the last Kakatiya, that the kingdom was invaded by armies from the North. His predecessors could thus expand the kingdom to cover most parts of the Telugu-speaking land. The 200-odd years of Kakatiya rule gave us a fort that would change the course of Deccan history, a queen who was arguably India’s first Iron Lady, and a monument that would forever become a symbol of everything Telugu. Once a center of major power in the South, Warangal is now just a town near Hyderabad; but go visit the crumbling fort and you will see that there is more to all of this than just faceless names or irrelevant dates.
Dr. P.V.P. Sastry. (1978). The Kakatiyas of Warangal.
Durga Prasad. (1988). History of the Andhras.
Ghulam Yazdani. (1961). The Early History of the Deccan.