Islamic advances South of Vindhyas was as spectacular as the Islamic Conquest of Persia – repeated armies thrown at the advancing Muslims were destroyed and the total territory conquered in 25-30 years as like that of Persia. The numbers were not mean, the fights were not one sided, but the Muslim armies bulldozed their way to the tip of Indian Peninsula. Though the world is made to remember the speed with which the Southern Kingdoms – Yadavas, Kakatiyas, Kampili, Hoysalas and Pandyas fell to advancing Islam, an important fact is left out – the reclaiming of territory was equally fast. A timeline of Warangal makes one wonder if there is an invasion, first of all.

1303 – First clash between Kakatiyas and Delhi Sultanates: Delhi Sultanate Armies Destroyed
1309/1310 – First Islamic Victory of Delhi Sultanate over Warangal
1323 – Conquest of Warangal
1327 – Rebellion in Warangal gains ground
1336 – Delhi Sultanate Armies ejected from Warangal. They make their next appearance in 1650s

It is surprising to notice that the decisive defeat of the Kakatiyas was not decisive enough and the Tughluq armies had to beat a hasty retreat in less than two decades, never to see the territory till the rule of Aurangzeb some 350 years later. In fact, it was a complete victory for the Muslims – the Kakatiya Emperor Prataparudra, who was at the zenith of his power, is captured along with many top ranking leaders, the most prominent one being Nagaya Ganna, the Governor of Warangal Fort. Prataparudra committed suicide by drowning into Narmada and with him ended the empire. Or so it seemed.

In fact, Kakatiyas were a tough nut from the start. The first expedition sent under Malik Fakhruddin Juna and Malik Jhaju(some versions state that Alauddin Khilji’s brother led the army in person) from Bengal in 1303 was a disaster with Kakatiya armies, under the command of Pothuganti Maili defeated the Muslim armies at Upparapalli. Only fragments fled back. A Telugu inscription talks about the invasion as a matter of fact and nothing more.

Another cursory reference comes from Velugotivari Vamsavali. Clearly, this wasn’t even something worth talking about for the Kakatiyas.

This massive a defeat was but a cue for Devagiri to rebel. The rebellion was crushed in due time and Devagiri became a provincial seat for Delhi Sultanate.

The next invasion was under Malik Kafur in 1309 – to avenge the earlier defeat and punish Kakatiyas for harbouring Karna Deva, the king of Gujarat who fled first to Yadavas and then to Kakatiyas. Fully knowing the strength of Kakatiyas, Alauddin Khilji ordered Malik Kafur to focus on tribute and not on a decisive defeat.

The order of the Caliph concerning Bilal Dev and all other Rais is this: First I am to place before them the two negatives of the oath of affirmation. (There is no god but Allah etc.) May be, their hearts will be illuminated! But if Destiny has drawn a curtain before their eyes, and they fail to see the light, I am to offer them the alternative of having the yoke of tribute (zimma) put on their necks. If they reject this also and refuse to pay tribute, then I will not place any burden on their necks but will simply relieve their nocks of the burden of their heads.

If the Rai (of Tiling) consented,’ said the Sultan ‘to surrender his treasure and jewels, elephants and horses, and also to send treasure and elephants in the following year, Malik Na’ib Kafur was to accept these terms and not press the Rai too hard. He was to come to an arrangement and retire without pushing matters too far. Lest Rai Laddar Deo should get the better of him. And do not insist that Laddar Deo should wait upon thee, and do not bring the Rai (Laddar Deo) along with thee to Delhi, for the enhancement of thy own glory and fame.

Viswanatha Kaviraja says, whatever the option he chose, it’s ruin for the king.

Kafur marched via Devagiri and crossed into Kakatiya territory at Sabar. The commander of the fort was killed and his brother was made the commander. There was no resistance till he reached Warangal – it’s possible that Prataparudra changed the plans by making Warangal the field of action. In fact, he already knew of the invasion force. First fell the fort of Hanumakonda after a long siege and using Hanumakonda as his base, Malik Kafur put Warangal under siege. Another long siege followed and Prataparudra surrendered even before the inner stone fort fell, fully knowing that it’s a raid of plunder and not of conquest. By then, Kafur himself was in dire straits – Prataparudra employed a scorched earth policy and his troops have destroyed the communication lines of Kafur’s army for more than forty days. The riches which Malik Kafur sent to Delhi were never seen in Delhi either in quality or quantity. The effectiveness of Kakatiya resistance can be noted from the fact that Malik Kafur, whose mandate was to take the three Southern kingdoms together had to rush to Delhi to get another army to attack the Hoysalas.

Incidentally, this is a borderline disaster for Alauddin Khilji. With his main army marching south, he didn’t have sufficient troops to stop the Mongols and was cooped up in Siri!! Had Siri fell, the expedition itself would have made no sense whatsoever.

Prataparudra sent tribute regularly but he stopped it when Alauddin died in 1316. Another invasion followed in 1318, under Khusrau Khan to which Prataparudra submitted. It is important to note that his strength is not depleted – he was active in Tamil Country at least till 1318. The chaos in Delhi leading to rise of Ghiyassddin Tughluq was another reason for Prataparudra to stand his ground. He used the opportunity to annex Bidar and other territories and was prepared for the next invasion, which was to come in 1321 under Ulugh Khan, the future Muhammad bin Tughluq. The fight went for eight months till a rumour spread that Ghiyasuddin Tughluq, the king in Delhi is dead. Ibn Battuta states that Ulugh Khan himself spread the rumour in an attempt to rebel against his father or abandon the unwinnable siege. A more plausible version, given by Agha Mahdi Hussain says that the older commanders like Sa’ad and Ubaid who went to Tiling along with Malik Kafur and Khusrau Khan knew the problems in attempting to take Warangal and wanted to follow the older policy of token submission and return back with tribute but Ulugh Khan wanted to take the fort and capture the king. The long drawn siege slowly increased the discontent. The Tughluq troops retreated to Devagiri and were attacked in force by the Kakatiyas. Kolani Rudra’s defeat of the Muslims is assumed to be a part of this campaign.

Even Ulugh Khan’s baggage train was plundered

and he was saved from certain destruction only after the force unsuccessfully trying to invest the fort of Kotagiri came to his rescue. The other commanders like Ubaid were made scapegoats for the disaster and were executed.

This was an unexpected defeat for Ghiyasuddin. Stung at the defeat, sent bigger army in less than four months of the first army. The speed of advance caught the Kakatiyas unawares and Prataparudra held the fort for five months till he surrendered. For a seasoned commander like Prataparudra who is monitoring every move of Ulugh Khan and spell all his career fighting, it is impossible that he didn’t provision the fort enough for the siege and let down his guard. It is more probable that the Kakatiya armies didn’t have time to repair the damaged mud fort, which stood eight months of continued bombardment decently.

This sudden advance, catching the Kakatiyas unawares is actually the reason why Ulugh Khan’s conquest ultimately failed – the king is captured but his armies are on the field. The fall of Warangal was followed by a quick conquest of Kakatiya Kingdom, which probably was through submission of the governors without a fight as hinted by Ganapanaradhya’s Swarasastra Manjari

but as it turned out, it’s only a temporary phenomenon.

All was calm till Ulugh Khan was in Warangal, which he renamed Sultanpur. He was recalled for an invasion of Bengal and Warangal was entrusted to Malik Burhanuddin, the Governor of Devagiri. Vilasa Grant of Musunuri Prolaya Nayaka gives a clear description of the state of affairs in Andhra Country –

in a hundred sinful ways, the rich were tortured for the sake of money. Merely on beholding the Parasikars (Muslims) some abandoned their lives, Brahmins were disallowed to perform their religions rites and rituals. Temples were destroyed and idols were desecreted and broken. All the agraharas, which had long been in the enjoyment for the most learned, were taken away. Forcibly deprived of the fruits of their cultivation, the husbandmen, both the rich and the poor got ruined. In that great calamity, people could not regard their money, wives and other earthly belongings as their own. The wretched Yavanas revelled always in drinking wine, eating cow’s flesh, sporting in amour and killing the Brahmins. When such is the case how could the world of living beings exist? Situated as the country was without the possibility of saviour being conceived even in imagination, the land of Tilinga, tormented in this way by those Yavana warriors who were exactly like Rakshasas, was in flames like a forest surrounded by wild fire.

One may call this exaggerated, but repeated mention of such depredations in other works like Simhadri Narasimha Satakam and Madura Vijayam convinces one to accept them at face value. This state of affairs was not to stay for long.

The surviving Kakatiya Nobles joined hands and rebelled en masse against the ruling Tughluqs under the overall command of Musunuri Prolaya Nayaka. There was a parallel rebellion in Gutti. The rebellion started in 1325 and by 1326, the coast was freed of the Muslim yoke as attested by Mallavaram epigraph of 1325 and Santamagulur inscription of 1326. Kolani Rudra, a pivot in the rebellion is last heard of in 1326. It is possible that either Musunuri Prolaya Nayaka succeeded Kolani Rudra as the overall in charge or he held the overall command from the start. One would notice that, at Santamagalur, Kolani Rudra sent a powerful message by saying Prataparudra is still his overlord even after he disappeared from the scene three years ago.

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Around that time, Bahauddin Gurshasp, a cousin of Muhammad bin Tughluq and the Governor of Sagar rebelled and fled South – Kampiliraya gave him shelter. Accordingly, Kampili was invested in 1327 and Kampiliraya died protecting his guest. Gurshap was executed and the straw stuffed head of Kampiliraya was sent to Delhi. In fact, Tughluq was forced to send three armies against Kampili before Kampili fell. When Tughluq returned back to Delhi by 1329, whole South erupted into a rebellion. Araviti Somadeva captured all the fortresses in the Krishna-Tungabhadra doab, the Kakatiya Nayaks burst into Telangana from the coast and Hoysalas refused to pay the tribute. Two brothers Harihara and Bukka rebelled in Kampili and founded the Vijayanagara Empire and parallel to this, the Governor of Mabar, Jalaluddin Hasan rebelled in Madurai, all happening by 1335-1336. In a fit of violent rage at these successive revolts in the south, Muhammad Bin Tughluq led his armies to Warangal to bring the affairs under control but had to beat a hasty retreat to Devagiri due to the spread of plague in his camp. He split Telangana into two – with headquarters at Warangal and Bidar. Both of them were to report to the Wazir of Devagiri, Qawamuddin. Nagaya Ganna, now Malik Maqbul, was made the governor of Warangal. He has already proved his worth in Northern Campaigns. At the same time frame, exactly in 1333, Prolaya Nayaka died/handed power to his cousin Kapaya Nayaka. Warangal Fort was put under siege immediately after the flight of Muhammad bin Tughluq and the fort fell by 1336. Malik Maqbul had to flee to Devagiri. It is interesting to note that Malik Maqbul’s son Kamma Nayaka supported Prolaya Nayaka and Kapaya Nayaka against his father.

Kapaya Nayaka made Warangal Fort his base and appointed governors all over the territory. When Muhammad bin Tughluq was engaged in the North after the general rebellion in the south, in 1347, there was a rebellion in Devagiri which ultimately led to the formation of Bahmani Sultanate by a Hindu convert Hasan Gangu. Kapaya Nayaka actually helped the rebellion in the assumption that he will provide extra-depth from Delhi and in the hope of collaboration. But, Gangu turned his arms against Kapaya Nayaka forcing him to sign a treaty surrendering territories till Kaulas. The death of Muhammad bin Tughluq freed Hassan Gangu of all his fears of an invasion from Delhi and that was the start of Bahamani Sultanate’s repeated attacks on Warangal. The first raid in 1350, he reached till Bhongir and the next one, coming around 1355 overran the territory almost till the coast where they were defeated and pushed back by the Reddis. The temples of Amaravati and Pillalamarri were desecrated in this raid. This invasion shook the foundations of Kapaya Nayaka’s power and practically fragmented the erstwhile Kakatiya kingdom.

By this time, Kapaya Nayaka joined hands with Vijayanagara and an invasion force under Kapaya Nayaka’s son Vinayaka Deva with the aim to retake Kaulas was sent. The invasion was a failure and Warangal Fort itself was invested. Kapaya Nayaka was forced to sue for peace.

Next raid in 1362 was against Vinayaka Deva who was surprised and captured at Palampet Fort. He was executed. The treatment meted out to Vinayaka Deva made the people openly rebel forcing the Bahmani Sultan Muhammad Shah to burn his baggage train on his retreat to Kaulas only with the costly spoils. One third of his army was destroyed and he was injured – only the arrival of a rescue force saved the day.

The next raid, coming in 1364 was with the motive of conquest. But, a pact of peace was signed as Muhammad Shah wasn’t able to achieve anything meaningful even after two years. The borders was fixed at the mud fort of Golconda and Muhammad Shah returned with much tribute and the Kakatiya Turqoise Throne, which later became famous as the Bahmani Throne, Takht-i-Firuzi. After this, Muhammad Shah didn’t raid Warangal again.

But, Kapaya Nayaka’s end came from a different theatre. Recherla Singama Nayaka using the Bahmani diversions of Kapaya Nayaka started to expand in both the directions, extending till Srisailam on one side and Elesvaram on the other. In one of these campaigns, Singama Nayaka was assassinated at Jallipalli and his sons Anavota Nayaka and Mada Nayaka razed Jallipalli to ground. They partitioned the kingdom among themselves and the twin kingdoms of Rajukonda and Devarakonda acted in tandem till the last. Next, Anavota Nayaka turned his arms against Kapaya Nayaka killing him at an engagement in Bhimavaram near Warangal in 1368. The capital of Rajukonda was shifted to Warangal and stayed thus till the last. The rebellion against Kapaya Nayaka was their greatest mistake – their existence was at stake and they had to fight everyday to ensure they aren’t subdued. Conquered they were, the rulers ultimately shifted to Vijayanagara Empire. 

While we focus on those who led the fight, there is not much information over the doyens of Kakatiya Empire who disappeared from history with the fall of the Empire – how many are captured, how many surrendered and faded into history, there is no information. A few names amongst them are –

Induluri Annayadeva, Kolani Gannaya(Tripurantakam), Adidamu Mallu(Nellore), Gona Vitthala(Raichur) – Tripurantakam Campaign 1289-1294
Mahadeva II, Ruler of Nidadavolu Chalukyas and Prataparudra’s Father. Last record 1306.
Devakumara – Prataparudra’s brother. Last record 1297. Is he Annama Deva of Bastar?
Somayadula Rudradeva – Supreme Commander of Forces. Last record 1297
Manuma Gandagopala – Field Commander, Pandyan Wars. Last record 1297
Gundaya Nayaka – Gajasahani. Last record 1299
Somaya Nayaka – Governor of Tripurantakam. Last record 1309
Jutteya Lenka Gonkaya Reddi – Commander of Pandyan Wars. Pushed Hoysalas out of Chandragiri belt. Last record 1311.
Machaya Nayaka – Gajasahini. Last record 1311.
Pothuganti Maili – Destroyed the Khilji army in 1303. Last record 1311.
Telungu Bijjana – Kakatiya Commander. Last record 1311.
Erraya Lenka – Gate Keeper of the Royal Quarters. Last record 1314.
Kotikanti Raghava, Prolaya Annaya – Kampili Wars, circa 1315.
Somaya Lenka – Commander. Last record 1318
Muppidi Nayaka – Commander of Pandyan Expedition. A poem mentions that he was succeeded by the Muslims in Nellore.
Devari Nayaka, Gopalavardhana/Bolneningaru, Induluri Rudra, Recherla Erra Dacha, Recherla Nalla Dacha – Pandyan Expedition 1319.
Jutteya Lenka – Governor of Southern Districts. Last record 1319.

It is sad to note that there are not many parallels in the world history where a powerful kingdom collapsed from the peak of it’s power in less than a decade and as like in the other cases like that of the Incas or Sassanids, there is no information whatsoever over what happened to the leaders of the collapsed kingdom.

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