The small town of Gadwal maybe famous for its exquisite sarees, but it is also home to some really good architecture. Gadwal is one of the most under-rated places to see in Mahabubnagar, Telangana, if you are an architecture enthusiast or a fan of rural tourism, or a person interested in ethnic textiles, this is the place to be.
As a photographer, I wanted to document the weavers at work making these handloom beauties and it had been on my list of places to visit for a long time.
I had plans to spend some time there understanding the many reasons why the craft was stagnating. During my research, I came across the Gadwal fort and temple, outwardly it didn’t look very interesting due to lack of good pictures. But we decided to add it to our itinerary.
As usual, we started early in the morning, the roads are excellent and we made good time and reached Gadwal by 12:30 pm. We took a small break at Jogulamba temple where a jatara happens every Tuesday. It was really hot and not the best time for taking pictures there, so we decided to come back later during the evening.
When you are in Gadwal, you can’t miss the 32 feet cannon kept in the middle of the road at the chaurasta (crossing). It is famous cannon King Somanadri brought here after the monumental defeat of the Nawab of Kurnool. Also known as “Vidvadgadwala”, Gadwal Samsthanam was once a vassal of the Nizam of Hyderabad state and it was part of Raichur district. Before independence, a part of the revenue was paid to him.
It was one of the three well-known samsthanams, the other two being Wanaparthy Samsthanam and Jatprole Samsthanam in this region. It is also interesting in the way of its feudal lords. During the 20th century, it was one of the few regions which had a woman looking after affairs of the state. Maharani Adi Laxmi Devamma of the Gadwal Samsthanam had a passion for education and development of her subjects and is believed to have ruled Gadwal with dexterity till she shifted to Hyderabad with her family. She was the last known feudal lord in the samasthanam.
The Gadwal fort was built by the King Soma Bhupaludu (popularly known as Somanadri) in the early 17th century. It took about eight years to complete it.
It is quite strongly built with impregnable walls surrounded by a moat. Unfortunately not much of the fort remains now. Within the walls of the fort is the Chenna Kesava Swamy temple which is beautifully preserved. There is a small pond (koneru) near the temple.
The monument has since been donated to the Government Arts and Science College. When you are near the fort, you will see a lot of the students passing by. The town has the potential to become a great tourist attraction but it will take time.
How to reach
It is best way to drive there. Gadwal is about 180 kms from Hyderabad. We went by bike and it took us about four hours to reach there. It also has an excellent connectivity by train or bus. But for moving around, you will have to hire a vehicle. You can stay in Gadwal at Venkateshwara Lodge, it’s a decent place to stay with clean AC rooms. There is a Haritha Hotel near Jogalumba temple, before Gadwal.
The temple is closed during the afternoon from 12 pm to 4 pm. Plan your sightseeing in the morning or evening as it can get hot at noon.
Do visit the small saree manufacturing units and buy the lovely sarees. The prices will be much less compared to the market and you will also be supporting the weavers.
Apart from the temple and fort, you can also visit the Anjaneya Swamy temple Beechupally, Wanaparthy, Koilsagar Dam Project, Sangameshwar temple, Jurala Dam Project and nearby Chintaruvela temple.