The first historical figure of this dynasty of rulers was Beta (A.D 1000-AD 1030) who was a feudatory to Vikramaditya VI of Kalyani. His father was Prola I of whom we know little. Beta is known to have assisted Somesvara I Ahavamalla in his wars; he received from that emperor the Arunakonda Vishaya as fief; like the Yadavas under Bhillama, the Kakatiyas under Beta also were awaiting an opportunity for independent rule.
During the reign of Vikramaditya VI (Western Chalukya) they added Sabbi (1000) to their territories and were making still other additions. His son was Tribhuvanamalla Beta II (AD 1075- AD 1110).
His son Prola II (AD 1110-AD 1158) exploited the confusion caused by the decline of the Western Chalukyas and the disorder in the Vengi province after the death of Kulottunga I; and he carved out a principality between the Krishna and the Godavari with its capital at Anumakonda. He acquired enough strength and courage to interfere in the affairs of the empire; he captured Taila III of Kalyani about 1155 when the Emperor attacked the Kakatiya capital; he released the invader out of considerations of mercy and loyalty only. Prola II had two sons Prataparudra and Mahadeva; he was succeeded by his first son Prataparudra who ruled from 1158 to 1196.
This reign period according to some Scholars was 1162 to 1185. During his reign also the hostility between the Western Chalukyas and the Kakatiyas continued; but always to the advantage of the Kakatiyas. Taila III is said to have died of “dysentery caused by his fear of (Pratapa) Rudra’ (1163). Prataparudra I
Prataparudra I founded the city of Warangal and made it his capital. He was a great king and a successful general; he considerably extended his kingdom, mostly at the expense of the Chalukyas. He was a patron of learning, he built and generously endowed temples and his administration was beneficent. He was the author of a Nitisara in Sanskrit and Telugu.
He was a believer in Vira Saiva principles and he patronised Somanatha, an author who contributed much to Vira Saiva literature. Nannechodu, a Telugu Chola chief of Kalahasti, wrote the Kumarasambhava “the first contribution of a naturalised southerner to Telugu literature”.
Prataparudra was succeeded by his younger brother Mahadeva (AD 1185-AD 1199). He clashed with the Yadavas of Devagiri and was defeated by Jaitrapala. In this struggle Mahadeva died; his son Ganapati was captured and imprisoned by the Yadavas; but the Yadava later liberated Ganapati and restored the kingdom to him. Ganapati
Ganapati is a great name in Kaatiya history. He ruled from 1199 to 1262. The Kakatiyas rose to their fullest height in the 12th and 13th centuries. But at the end of the twelfth century there was a severe set back during Mahadeva’s rule. The dynasty again became powerful under Ganapati, Rudramba and Prataparudra II.
It has been noticed above that Ganapati became ruler at the instance of Jayatrapala Yadava. In fact this Kakatiya owed his throne to that Yadava. But Ganapati and Singhana were not on good terms and fought each other and claimed victories over each other before 1235. The Kakatiya took advantage of the disruption of the Chola Empire and about 1250 reached as far south as the Tondaimandalam and occupied Kanchi. But his success was short lived for it was also the period when Jatavarman Sundara Pandya had become the most formidable power in South India.
He conquered as far as Nellore pushing the Kakatiya back northwards beyond Nellore. The long reign of Ganapati lasting for more than six decades was the longest of his line and he was the greatest ruler of his dynasty. His rule was conducive to the prosperity of his realm. He looked after the welfare of his subjects, providing irrigation tanks to the peasantry, built temples and patronised learning. He pursued an elightened commercial policy. His Motipalli pillar inscription dated 1245 records an order assuring protection to merchants engaged in foreign trade.
This edict is very important for students of economic history. It reads: “Formerly kings used to take away by force the whole cargo namely gold, elephants, horses, gems etc. carried by ships and vessels which after they had started from one country to another, were attacked by storm, wrecked and thrown on shore.
But we have remitted everything (all taxes) except the customs duty. The rate of this duty is one in thirty on exports and imports-sandal, country camphor, Chinese camphor, pearls, rose water, ivory, camphor oil, copper, zinc, lead, silk threads corals, perfumes, pepper, all silks and arecanuts”.
Rudramba Ganapati had two daughters of whom the elder was Rudramba. It was Ganapati’s wish that Rudramba should succeed him on the throne. Accordingly, she assumed the masculine title of Maharaja and ascended the throne. This was perhaps a concession to the traditional idea that women must not become rulers. She ruled from 1262 to 1296 and her reign was uniformly prosperous and peaceful.
Marco Polo, the Venetian traveller, rightly known as the prince among medieval travellers gives a very interesting account of the government of the Kakatiyas by Rudramba: “The kingdom of Mutfili (Motupalli)…. I was formerly under the rule of a king and since his death some forty years past it has I been under his queen, a lady of much discretion who for the great love she bore him never would marry another husband.
And I can assure you that during all that space of forty years she had administered her realm as well as her nusband did or better; and as I she was a lover of justice of equity and of peace she was more beloved by those of her kingdom than ever was lady or lord of theirs before.
The people are. . . tributory to nobody … it is in this kingdom that diamonds are got . . . there they are found both abundant and of large size … in this kingdom also are made the best and most delicate buckrams and those of highest price; in sooth they look like tissue of spiders web.
There is no king or queen in the world but might be glad to wear them. The people have also the largest sheep in the world and great abundance of all the necessaries of life.” These observations of Marco Polo are on the whole correct. But he erroneously thought that Ganapati was her husband.
Rudramba abdicated when her daughter’s son Prataparudra II became a major and could take over government. Prataparudra I ascended the throne in 1296 and ruled till 1326. He was the last of the Kakatiya rulers.
The Kakatiya power under him came to a close under circumstances not different from those which humbled the Yadavas. He had a reign of more than twelve years before he was carried away by the flood of the Khalji invasion. One of the first things that this king did after he came to the throne was the suppression of a rebellion in Nellore. The Kakatiya kingdom had always been coveted by the Sultans of Delhi.
Before 1308 two or three attempts were made to invade Warangal through Orissa. But the attempts did not succeed. On the other hand Malik Kafur, after the blow he dealt to Devagiri in 1309 marched on Warangal and besieged the fortress.
The fort of Warangal was defended by two walls the outer of which was in mud and the inner in stone. With great difficulty Malik Kafur’s forces took the outer wall and delivered a series of blows on the inner. Finding success and even escape impossible Prataparudra surrendered. Kafur obtained from the king of Warangal all his accumulated treasure and a promise of annual tribute. These were extracted under a threat of indiscriminate massacre of all the residents of Warangal. Firishta, the Muslim historian, says that Malik Kafur received 300 elephants, 7000 horses and cash boxes and jewels loaded on 1000 camels.
In 1313 Ravivarman Kulasekhara of Travancore marched upto Nellore. But three years later the Kakatiya general Muppidi Nayaka captured Kanchi and even marched to Trichinopoly. In 1318 Khusru Khan besieged Warangal and Prataparudra on his submission was given the usual Islamic choice of conversion, death or submission with enormous wealth. Khusru Khan after this triumph returned to Devagiri with much booty.
In 1321 Ulugh Khan (who was later to become Muhammed bin Tughlaq) invaded the Karatiya kingdom to punish Prataparudra who had not paid the promised tribute. Ulugh Khan’s siege of Warangal did not succeed at the beginning but the fort fell in 1323.
The Kakatiya king was captured and sent to Delhi. But the royal prisoner died on the way at Manthani. A Muslim governor was appointed at Warangal which was renamed Sultanpur. A second invasion in 1327 by the Sultan’s forces reduced Warangal to the position of a provincial Sultanate. The fortunes of the Kakatiya power after 1323 are obscure.
Firishta thinks that Prataparudra’s son Krishnappa Nayaka created a Hindu combination against Muhammed bin Tughlaq. Vinayakadeva, son of Krishnappa Nayaka, was captured and put to death by Muhammed I Bahamani in 1362. Thus the last vestiges of the Kakatiyas succumbed to the Muslim forces.