Kakatiya epigraphs bear testimony to the economic development witnessed by Andhradesa due to the cumulative effect of the steps taken by rulers and feudatories and officials from AD 1158 to 1324. Both agriculture and trade and commerce, particularly long distance trade acted as a catalyst in carrying the Kakatiya state and making it economically sound.
Cynthia Talbot writes “During the Kakatiya era, inland Andhra economy underwent considerable growth due to the extension of agriculture into uncultivated territories, the boosting of agricultural productivity through the construction of irrigational facilities and an overall rise in trade and commerce in which the temple as an institution was ultimately intertwined”.
Though the core area of the Kakatiyas was ecologically in dry zone with scanty rainfall, with soil not very fertile, the Kakatiyas paid much attention to agriculture, the main occupation of majority of its population. They employed tank irrigation as a necessary technique to provide water for cultivation.
In order to encourage more people to undertake the digging of tanks, wells and canals, tank construction was made one of the Saptasantanas which confers merit. Kakatiya epigraphs refer to more than 38 tanks of considerable size which provided water through artificial channels to thousands of acres. Of all the tanks, the Ramappa and the Pakala lakes are of large size and require special mention. Ramappa Lake adjoins the well-known Ramappa temple at Palampet in Mulug taluk of Warangal district. Gopal Reddy and P.V.P. Sastry state that this lake had a colossal bund only one side that extends over 200 feet and rises up to 56 feet.
The lake has a ring of hills on three sides. Kakati Ganapati Deva’s Senapati, Recharla Rudra constructed this lake in AD 1213. Pakala Lake in Narasampet taluk ofWarangal district is larger than Ramappa Lake, with a dam composed of laterite pebbles and earth that is one mile long from which 40 artificial channels have been extended. This lake was also constructed in the time of Ganapati Deva by a subordinate, Jagadala Mummadi, the son of a minister or Mantri.
The multitude of historical traces confirms that a boom in the building of tanks occurred in inland Andhra while the Kakatiyas were ruling. The tank foundation inscriptions are distributed throughout Telengana, the southern coastal districts, and in Cuddapah of Rayalaseema. They are more concentrated in the districts of Khammam and Warangal. Along with tank construction, we also notice the construction of temples with a tank in the interior as well as addition of a tank to the existing temples.
Cynthia Talbot observes the frequency of new temples is notably higher in the Telangana than in coastal Andhra. The temple construction also led to the growth of new settlements of people who brought uncultivated virgin land into cultivation. By these processes of tank construction and temple construction, the Kakatiyas achieved the twin objective of improving productivity by bringing new areas under cultivation and also the formation of Andhra as a regional society, noted by Talbot.
Cultivable land was classified as wet and dry land. Wet land is further divided as paddy growing land and garden land. Dry lands are those where crops like millet, sesame, indigo, mustard, castor, etc., were grown which needed less water. Forests and pastures were kept exclusively for grazing cattle. Land was surveyed and measured, where the ruler collected one-fourth to one-half of the produce as revenue. The revenue was collected either in cash or in kind. The Kakatiyas levied different taxes like tax on grazing, property tax, income tax, profession tax, marriage tax, tax on herds of sheep and tax on salt. Heavy taxation by the state appears to be the feature of Kakatiya polity.
In the Kakatiya Andhra, trade was carried on by well-organized Srenis or guilds. Both the merchants and artisans had their own guilds. Epigraphs refer to guild of weavers, agriculturists, oil pressers, mat makers, smiths, potters and jewelers. The guilds obtained a license to conduct business in a particular town or fair. Fairs or weekly markets were held regularly at specified places. The merchandise was transported by means of carts, oxen, horses, etc., and to a great extent by boats and barges through the rivers Govadari and Krishna.
Kakatiyas recognized the importance of long distance trade. One indication that they wanted to encourage maritime trade, comes from the famous Mompalli epigraph which runs as follows: “This inscribed guarantee has been granted by his majesty the king Ganapati Deva which assures and welcomes the traders from other areas going back and forth through selected area to all countries and towns. In the past, kings forcibly seized all the cargo such as gold, elephants, horses, jewels, etc., when sea-going vessels journeying from one region to another were caught in storms, wrecked and cast on shore. But we for the sake of our reputation and religious merit and out of pity for those who have incurred the grave risk of a sea voyage thinking that wealth is more valuable than life give up all but the customary tariff” Motupalli must have been the chief port of the Kakatiyas and this port was visited by the Venitian traveller, Marco Polo.
The Motupalli epigraph specifies the rates assessed on a variety of items, including scents such as sandal, camphor, rose-water, ivory, pearls, corals, a range of metals like copper, zinc and lead, silk, pepper, and areca nuts. This above list gives an idea of exports and imports from Motupalli port to other Indian regions along the coast as well to foreign territories.
One Warangal epigraph issued by merchant groups, who traded in the main markets of Warangal, refers to the same commodities mentioned above. Another epigraph notes that a number of agricultural products offered for sale in Warangal market included rice, wheat, and other grains and assorted vegetables, coconuts, mangoes, tamarind and other fruits, sesame seeds, green lentils, mustard, honey, ghee, oil, turmeric and ginger.
We have epigraphic reference to the activities of Pekkandru, a guild which was carrying on long distance trade. Besides, Motupalli, Krishnapattanam, Chinaganajam, Nellore, and Divi also played a very crucial role in fostering sea-borne trade. Thus, flourishing agriculture and surplus produce and long distance trade carried on by guilds like Pekkandru was the base for the sound economic position of Kakatiya Andhra.
The early Kakatiya rulers were adherents of Jainism of the Digambara sect. They are credited with the construction of Padmakshi temple at Hanumakonda. Though there are strong references to the worship of Buddhism, it had lost its impetus and Buddha has been identified with Vishnu and Buddhism was absorbed into Brahmanical religion. Saivism was the most predominant faith in Kakatiya Andhra; Beta II and Prola II of this lineage are known to be the adherents of the Kalamukha school of Saivism. During the reign of Ganapati Deva, the Pasupata sect of Saivism had become very popular and Visveswara Sivacharya became the Rajaguru of Ganapati Deva.
The Malakapuram inscription of Rudramadevi helps us to know about the growth of Pasupata sect and Golaki Matha activities in Andhradesa. During this period another sect of Saivism, Aradhya Saivism also emerged and Mallikarjuna Pandita was a well-known pioneer of this sect. In the past three decades, western scholars like Herman Kulke and Burton Stein have stressed that religions patronage by royalty was a critical element of state formation. Further scholars like Spencer, Brackenbridge, and Appadurai also opine that by religious patronage, kings enhanced their royal authority.
There is a view that Brahmanical rituals legitimized and conferred royal power on the kings of the Sudra community. Cynthia Talbot observes; “Contrary to what one might expect from the secondary literature, we have seen that the religious patronage of the Kakatiyas was quite limited. Altogether, the five independent Kakatiya rulers left behind only 26 inscriptions documenting their religious gifts spanning over a period of 150 years (Rudradevas – six grants; Mahadeva – one Ganapatideva independently – 14 and with Rudramadevi – one; Rudramadevi independently – 4 and Prataparudra – 4). Rudradeva, the first independent ruler constructed the Thousand-pillared temple at Hanumankonda and laid the foundation for a new capital at Warangal along with a temple to the tutelary deity of Svayambhudeva.
Ganapati Deva also built temple at Motupalli because by that time this area had become a secondary core area of the Kakatiyas. It may be suggested that the Kakatiyas regarded divine legitimation and the support of the institutionalized religion as important assets to royal authority, and not necessarily the foundation for their sustenance as effective rulers. The model of Dharmic kingship does not apply to the Kakatiya rule as the Kakatiyas understood that political interests differed from religious interests.
≫ Culture and Literature:
Andhra under the Kakatiyas witnessed considerable literary activity. Sanskrit occupied the place of pride and was the language of the educated few. Many epigraphs of this period are written in Kavya-style of Sanskrit. The noted poets who were the authors of the epigraphs of this age are Nandi, Acchitendra Antantasuri and Iswarasuri. The greatest Sanskrit poets of this age were Vidyanadha and Jayapasenani. Vidyanatha wrote Parataparudrayasobhushana. Jayapasenani was the author of Nrityaratnauali and Gitaratnavali.
Coming to Telugu literature, the most important are Tikkanna Somayaji who wrote Nirvachananottarammayatn, Mantri Bhaskara who wrote Bhaskara Ramayana, Gona Budda Reddi who wrote Ranganatha Ramayanam, Nanne Choda, the author of Kumara Sambhavama, Baddena the author of Sumati Satakam and Palkuriki Somanadha, the author of Basavapuranam, and Panditaradhyacharita. Of the above Ranganadha Ramayanam, occupies a unique place as a Dvipadakairya.
The Kakatiyas inherited the Chalukyan architecture but the distinctive feature of their architecture is the display of more indigenous art than that allowed by the texts. The architects used locally available granite and sandstone in the main structure of the Vimana and used bricks and lime in constructing superstructure. They used black granite for pillars, jambs, lintels, decorative motifs and icons.
Their temple architecture reflects great sophistication and the ‘Thousand-pillared temple’ is a landmark in the evolution of the Kakatiyan architectural style. The great Rudresvara temple was built by Recharla Rudra, the commander in chief of Ganapati Deva; in the words of Y. Gopala Reddi it marks the climax of the Kakatiyan style. The Gomateswara temple at Manthani, the Erakesvara and the Namesvara temples at Pillalamarri and the temple at Naguladu are the masterpieces of the Kakatiyan style of architecture.
About the Kakatiya sculptures, we have very little evidence to study it. Their main decoration was Kirtimukha or Krititorana. Nandis are a special feature of the Kakatiya sculpture. The Nandi images at Palampet, Thousand-pillared temple, Sambhuni Gudi, Ghanapur, Kolanupalli are some of the best examples with profuse bell ornamentation. The sculptural presence of Hamsa or swan motifs, on the gateways and friezes is to be noticed for their grace and beauty. Of the decorative sculptures, the motifs of dancers and Kolata are worth recording.
It is also suggested by scholars that, they represent the dance styles of Jayapasenani. The Narasimha temple at Parivela near Nalgonda consists of profusely carved lintels and jambs. The temples at Nandigonda contain richly furnished Mandapa pillars and ceilings.
The Kakatiyas also extended patronage to the art of painting. The traces of painting that are found on ceilings of the pillared halls of the temples at Ghanapur and Palampet bear testimony to the painting skill of that period. The defaced painting of the ‘Churning of the Milk Ocean’ found on the ceiling of the Sabha Mandepa of the Namevara temple at Pillalamarri is also a good example of their painting skill.
The Kakatiya rule in Andhra was a period of transition and ushered the beginning of an era in the 13th century. The Kakatiyas by their support of art and their integrative polity improved agriculture, commerce and trade in the interior and construction of temples in Telangana, Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra.