The Heritage Town of Karimnagar

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Just before summer set in, a few friends and I went for a weekend trip to Karimnagar. It is a heritage town at about 163 KM from Hyderabad city. We availed a cheap and reliable Hyderabad Airport cab service and started out on the Hyderabad-Mancherial Highway. It took us almost three and a half hours to reach.

The city at a Glance

Although not as big and developed like a metro, Karimnagar is as urban as it could get. Many people aren’t aware of the significance of this ancient settlement, tucked in the northwestern part of Telangana. The historical town was once known as the ‘Seat of Vedic Learning’ in India, and now it is recognized as the fifth largest city of the state. Karimnagar occupied an important place in the history of the Telangana region. It was the administrative seat of the Satavahana dynasty which ruled the entire South-Central region from 300 BC to 3rd century CE. The district was also occupied later by the Kakatiya rulers.

I found the town was dotted with majestic temples, old churches, and plenty of significant monuments, some of which still exist today. The calming natural environment and the community’s deep-rooted tradition made for an aesthetic ambiance. The settlement sits on the banks of the Manair River, which adds to its beautiful cityscape.  We drove around for a while before heading to our first sightseeing stop.

Elgandal – Khilla Dho Minar

Most of the historical structures were outside the main city area. The Elgandal Fort, at about 15 KM from the town center is the most prominent structure that speaks of Karimnagar’s heritage. It was the district capital of the Nizams until India’s independence. The fortress got its name from the two minarets standing tall above its structure on two sides. Each of these pillars was as close to the Charminar of Hyderabad. The entire structure sat on a barren cliff, within a quiet area surrounded by greenery and devoid of any commercial establishment. There was a well-laid set of 300 steps to access the top of the fort and took us about an hour to climb. The old stone steps were quite steep and tiring. But once we reached the top, the view of the town and the Mainar River below and the hills around, was incredible. They say this fort had seen some powerful rulers like the Kakatiyas, Bahmanis, Qutub Shahis, Mughals, and Asaf Jahis. Surprisingly, the structure had managed to survive the wrath of time and foreign invasions.

Next, we headed to the …

Yagna Varaha Swamy Temple

The most famous and one of the most sacred temples of the Karimnagar district, this temple is dedicated to the Varaha avatar of Vishnu. While there are many temples dedicated to different incarnations of the god, a Varaha temple is very rare, this one being one of them. More than its religious significance, the temple premise stood out as a piece of ancient Dravidian architecture. The huge complex was surrounded by landscaped courtyards and housed one big temple and multiple smaller sanctums, each with carved gopurams. The innermost sanctum of the main temple housed a stone idol of the deity.

After a short tour of the temple, we headed to see another popular historical monument that Karimnagar is known for.

Nagunur Fort

At a distance of only 10 KM from the city bus station, is the important historical site of Nagunur. The neighborhood is famous for its ancient fort and associated temples. The Nagunur Fort spread across a massive area consisting of multiple temples and fort palace, flanked by a moat on one side. Most of the temples within the fort premise were in ruins, but their architecture spoke of the glorious days, the place would have once seen. The structure was built under the patronage of the Kakatiya dynasty. But some of the temples are said to date back to the Chalukyas as well. Legends say that the fortress once had about 400 temples, which got destroyed over time under geographical events and rampages led by invaders.

We roamed around the huge complex, to the point of getting lost. The most prominent temple and the only one we saw was the Shiva Temple and enshrined three idols of Shiva. It was made of red stone and displayed fines carvings of dancers and musicians.

Later in the day, we ended our trip with a tour of the Lower Manair Dam. The dam with 20 floodgates regulate the river and manage the water source for the entire district. The site seemed like a popular haunt for tourists and locals alike. Many families and youngsters were enjoying the evening breeze and the refreshing atmosphere. There were boating options around the catchment area. We took a ride down the still waters and watched the evening sun paint the sky and the river in a dark orange hue.

Sometimes, for a good break from the daily grind, all you need is a new place with refreshing vibes. It does not always have to be a fancy retreat or an exotic locale. And Karimnagar proves that in every possible way.

My Travel Recommendations:

To enjoy the natural beauty of Karimnagar, visit during or right after the monsoon.