History & Culture

Destination Warangal

Bhadrakali temple in Warangal.  

Warangal, the second largest city in Telangana, is all set to spring a surprise two years from now. Pilgrims and tourists can relish the serene surroundings of the Geo-Bio-Diversity Cultural Park, the first such park in the country. Nearly 15 acres of the open space around the shore area of the Bhadrakali Temple lake is being developed into the largest Geo-Bio-Diversity Cultural Park with promenades, historic caves, suspension bridges, natural trails, nesting ground and ecological reserves.

Once the capital of the Kakatiya kingdom, the rich architectural heritage of Warangal has always been a source of inspiration. Now it promises to hold greater attraction with this ancient city being chosen by the Government of India for development under the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY). Warangal is among the 12 heritage cities in the country chosen for holistic development under the HRIDAY pilot project at an estimated cost of Rs. 40 crore.

The idea is to revitalise the urban infrastructure around the heritage assets so as to increase pride in Indian heritage. Other objectives include increased tourist flow and tourist spend and improving quality of life of the locals through sustainable heritage assets.

The other cities selected are: Amristsar, Mathura, Ajmer, Gaya, Varanasi, Dwaraka, Puri, Badami, Amaravati, Kanchipuram and Vellankanni. An outlay of Rs. 500 crore is earmarked for the 12 cities with a timeline of two years. “The scheme aims to preserve and revitalise the soul of heritage cities to reflect their unique character,” says Divay Gupta, Principal Director, Architectural Heritage Division, INTACH.

Gupta, who was in Hyderabad recently to take part in an interactive workshop on ‘Telangana and Heritage’, felt Warangal is better placed than other cities, in that the locals here have immense pride in their heritage. A Detail Project Report (DPR) has already been submitted to the government and a sum of Rs. 40 crore sanctioned. As with any heritage city, conservation architects are faced with some challenges in Warangal too. They are a lack of city signage and information kiosks, mobility bottlenecks and traffic, deteriorated sanitation facilities, faded and lost facades and tangled wiring. Gupta along with local officials is trying to address the challenges.

Warangal, about 157 km from Hyderabad, is known for its beautiful lakes, temples and rich flora and fauna. The city touched its cultural high under the patronage of the Kakatiyas who ruled from 11th to 15th centuries. This period saw flourishing of art, architecture, literature, music, dance and culinary skills.

Under the HRIDAY project, it is proposed to preserve and revitalise tangible assets such as the famous Thousand Pillar Temple perched elegantly on the slopes of the hills at Hanamkonda. It is a fine specimen of Kakatiya architecture and sculpture. The Warangal Fort is proposed to be revived and developed through integration of six major projects. They are development of Fort wall and entrance gate, moat surrounding the Fort wall, Swambhi Temple and Keerthi Thorana, Srinagara Bavi and Shitab Khan palace. The other prioritised heritage sites are: Bhadrakali Temple, Padmakshi Temple, Khazipet Dargah, Ghanpur Temple and Bhadrakali Temple lake foreshore development. Authorities plan to develop the shore area into a continuous publicly accessible river front promenade with landscape features.

This apart, Warangal boasts of many intangible assets like Sammaka Saralamma Jatara, the tribal festival, Bhatukumma, the floral festival celebrated by women and Bonalu dedicated to Goddess Mahankali. Besides, there are dance forms such as Perini Siva Tandavam, Bonalu dance, Burrakatha and traditional crafts like brassware, wood carvings, stone carvings and Nakashi art. The culinary delicacies include Hyderabadi biryani, Guddu Pulusu, Gongura Chana Dal, Mirchi ka Salan and Baghare Baigan. All these intangible assets will be showcased and promoted.

When completed, the HRIDAY project promises to revitalise the soul of Warangal to reflect its unique heritage character. Its aesthetic appeal is expected to go up.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2021 2:43:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/warangals-cultural-heritage-set-to-get-a-boost-under-hriday-project/article7507399.ece

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