Thousand Pillar temple in Warangal - the iconic Rudreswara Temple of the Kakatiyas

Located in the heart of Warangal, the erstwhile capital of the region during the Kakatiya dynasty, the Thousand Pillar Temple is considered to be one of best created during the golden period of the Telugu country.

Built by king Surya Deva in 1163, the temple has three presiding deities - Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. Right outside, there is a majestic Nandi too which adds both to the beauty as well as grandeur of the temple complex.

Entrance to the Thousand Pillar temple in Warangal
Nandi outside the main temple complex

The original name of the temple is Rudreswara Temple after the king under whose reign it was commissioned and constructed.
Does it really a have thousand pillars?
Though it’s called the thousand pillar temple, the temple actually doesn’t have 1000 pillars and the number actually is a little over 300. The name comes from the travellers who were amazed to see so many pillars and started calling it the Thousand Pillar Temple and somehow the name stuck.

My visit to Thousand Pillar temple

My hotel (Hotel Ashok) was less than a kilometre away from the temple so I decided to walk there at the break of dawn. The place was literally empty at that time when I reached, but within the next hour many more travellers and pilgrims came over.

That's me walking around the temple complex

I didn’t know this earlier, but the temple is now a living temple - which means prayers are offered regularly now. This also means that no photography is allowed inside the temple but you can take pictures outside. I had left my DSLR back at the hotel itself, so used my iPhone and GoPro and was rather happy with the result. It’s so much easier to carry your camera in your pocket :)

Temple priest

Another part of the temple is undergoing restoration and it will soon be open to public. I would actually love to com back and see it once it’s ready - it will be quite a sight to behold when both structures are complete, or as complete as they can be now.

Architecture of the temple

The temple is built in the typical Chalukya style, and that’s because artists from there were called in to build it. The Chalukya sculptors were known far and wide for their skills and this is another example of their exemplary work.

The inside of the temple is all build in black granite and the carvings are mesmerising. Unfortunately, most of the human figures are defaced, but with some imagination it’s certainly possible to imagine how magnificent this place would’ve been in the past.

Typical Chalukya style temple
Ceiling of the temple
Ganesha on the wall
An image of Vishnu outside

The pillars stand out for their richly carved designed and perfectly circular designs. As it turns out, there were turned on a lathe to get these perfect shapes.

The Shikhar is no longer there, and I didn’t find any information about it. But it must certainly be a part of the original temple back in the days.

Destruction of the temple

The temple lived as long as the Kakatiya dynasty ruled the region. Built in the 12the century, the temple was desecrated by the Delhi Sultanat in the 14th century after the last king was defeated and the region brought under direct control of Delhi. Not just this temple, but all the others in the region also met the same fate when the winning army returned back to the base after plundering and destroying the Warangal fort.

Left in ruins after it's destruction...

Practical details

Timing: 5am to 9pm (all days of the week)
Entry fee: free
Camera fee: ₹25 (photogrpahy not allowed inside the temple)

To reach: Warangal is easily reachable by road from Hyderabad - the journey takes about 4 hours. Regular buses and trains also connect the two cities.

To stay: stay at the Hotel Ashoka - it’s one of the better ones with all modern amenities. I had a really stay there and recommend it based on my personal experiences.

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