By: Nikhila Henry
Warangal, the land of Kakatiyas, has ousted Hyderabad from its tag of the number one tourist destination in Telangana.
The district, with its archeologically relevant historic sites including temples, forts and caves, had over 1.3 crore tourists, including people from abroad, flocking in the last two years, even as Hyderabad remained a close second with 1.1 crore tourist footfall.
While the erstwhile Shaivaite kingdom ruled by the Kakatiya dynasty from 12 to 14 century AD, has been attracting tourists for long, it’s in the past two years that it started getting a fillip. As the majestic Thousand Pillar Temple and Warangal fort still attract tourists from across the country and abroad, several sites including Pandavalu Gutta, and Mylaram caves, the full extent of which was discovered only this year, have started attracting more number of tourists.
Officials at the Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation (TSTDC) said that the tourist footfall in Warangal is only expected to increase in the coming years as cottages and other amenities are being set up at the most popular destinations.
“We have been focusing a lot on Warangal for the past one year as tourists find it a meeting place of history and scenic beauty. Warangal, in the next few years, will be developed as an eco-tourism spot too,” said Pervaram Ramulu, Chairman, TSTDC, adding that 1.3 crore footfall could increase to over 1.6 crore in the coming years.
Tourism experts said that Warangal, unlike most districts in Telangana, has a unique mix of destinations which gives an all-round tourist experience. “From Mughal relics to Kakatiya single stone architecture, Warangal offers a blend of cultures,” said Anuradha Reddy from Intach.
Warangal houses a rare variety of tourist attractions, from the serene Ramappa and Pakal lakes to Eturunagaram Sanctuary, which is an abode for fauna, including black buck, tiger and panther. The district has the potential of being a well developed tourist spot, the officers asserted.
TSTDC is currently in the process of setting up cottages near Laknavaram lake, which is now attracting a lot more tourists than the renowned Ramappa lake.
“The island chain in Laknavaram is a famous tourist destination and we want to develop it to its full potential,” said S. Narasimha Rao, Deputy Director, TSTDC. According to the officers, the destination that attracted the most number of tourists was the rock paintings in Pandavalu Gutta, discovered in 1990.
Among the other tourist attractions in Warangal are Sammakka Saralamma temple, which is believed to be established in the honour of two female tribal chieftains, Bhadrakali temple located close to the Thousand Pillar Temple and Ramappa temple with its intricate sculptures.