All I remember of history classes in school is the teacher’s mind-numbing, boring drawl and my own gum-stretching yawns. Last-minute frantic memorizing did get me past the examinations but the books never managed to instil in me any of the wonder that Indian history can in young minds. As an adult, though, I have had the chance to travel and historical destinations have slowly become favourites.

So when my friend wanted to visit Telangana to introduce her 12-year-old daughter Sriya to the state’s history and culture, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to create the ideal classroom for her. For though I was a Hyderabadi, I hadn’t ventured into the erstwhile Kakatiya stronghold of Warangal—despite the fact that its opulence finds mention even in the diary of the world famous 13th century traveller Marco Polo.

Starting early on a Saturday, we drove out of Hyderabad into pale-brown rocky terrain. Warangal lies 145km north-east of the city, so it doesn’t take more than 3 hours. Our first stop was the town of Bhongir (50km), where the 10th century fort, a Chalukyan relic, doesn’t attract too many visitors. Perched atop an enormous, isolated hillock, the little-known fort was our first hook on this historical tour. An easy climb rewards you with scenic views. The two entry points of the fort are protected by massive boulders.

We were now in the Warangal region. The city was originally known as Orugallu. Oru means one and gallu is the local word for stone—it refers to the single boulder or hillock where a prominent fortress of the Kakatiyas was located. Starting out as feudal lords of the Chalukyas, the Kaktiyas eventually became the rulers, ushering in a golden era between the 11th and 14th centuries. Today, Warangal’s three towns—Hanamkonda, Kazipet and Warangal—make up a triangle.

We started the exploration from the star-shaped Thousand Pillar Temple situated between Hanamkonda and Warangal, which are 3km apart. Built by the Kakatiya king Rudra Deva in the 12th century, it has, as the name suggests, 1,000 intricately carved pillars. Its leading deities are Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. A monolithic Nandi carved out of granite is an additional highlight.

The Warangal Fort was our next stop. Constructed in the 13th century during the reign of king Ganapati Deva, it was the seat of power. Today, the damaged sculptures, ruins and blocks give it the feel of an open- air museum. Sriya looked in awe at the 30ft-tall entrance portal, curiously examining a block sculpted to show a mythical creature with bulbous eyes and an ornate mane. The image was repeated often. Unable to answer her query on it, we filed away the question till we could find someone to tell us more about it.

We had spent pretty much the whole day in the company of statues, sculptures, blocks and pillars. We decided to reserve a visit to Palampet for the next day.

Palampet, 70km from Warangal, is home to the Ramappa temple. Built in characteristic Kakatiyan style, it has a high star-shaped platform and is perhaps the only temple to be named after its builder, Ramappa. The temple priest explained that the lion-like creatures on pillar brackets were yalis, or guardians of the temple. The bricks used to build the roof, he told us, were so light that they would float on water.

Sriya was fascinated. And I wished my history lessons had been as engaging.

Weekend Vacations offers suggestions on getaways that allow for short breaks from metros.

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