Trade & Economy during Kakatiya’s Regime

Yashwanth Ramesh Gollapinni


The name Kakatiya is a very well-known among the mind’s & hearts of Telugu speaking people across globe and will remain always alive because of their strength, valour, development & welfare activities taken during their regime from 11th Century to 14th Century.  Unlike the Cholas’ & Pandians’ history through many Tamil Scriptures, a less is known to the outside world of Andhradesam, about the Kakatiya dynasty.

The Kakatiyas are a very well-known indigenous Andhra (Telugu) power, through their strength & valour the Kakatiyas really shaped the identity of Andhras (Telugu speaking people) by establishing a sovereign political & cultural authority over the whole of Telugu Speaking region. The present day Telangana, Andhra Pradesh & Southern Odisha came under their rule. During the initial days, they served as feudatories of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyani. Initially, they ruled over a small region with their capital city as Orugallu the present day Warangal. Though this dynasty  was founded by Betha Raju, who is known as Prola Raju, this dynasty came into lime light through Pratap Rudra (r. c. 1158-1195), son of Prola II, became a sovereign 1163. Among the rulers of Kakatiya Dynasty Sri Ganapati Deva (r.c. 1199-1262), is considered to be the greatest for his administration skills and also ruled for a longer period. During Kakatiyas’ regime a systematic governance seemed to have come into being with powerful subordinates & Governors under their control. This effective administration helped the Trade & Economy to flourish and had spread across the continents. The most famous construction during their regime is thousand pillar temple, dedicated to Lord Mahadeva(Shiva) near Hanumakonda, which even today stood as an epicenter of the rich culture and heritage.


During Kakatiyas’ period Trade & Economy flourished in south India & had witnessed an excellent economic progress. They paid more interest on Agricultural & Irrigation, besides other trade & commerce, which is evident from the inscriptions available and the works carried out by them.

The Kakatiyas harnessed all the natural resources & brought as much land as possible under cultivation. A large number of villages were founded either by themselves or by their subordinates. Through the epigraph and available inscriptions a record number of tanks were excavated to bring even the barren land under cultivation. The topography of the present day Telangana region provided innumerable streams both small & big, were also harnessed to fill the tanks for irrigation. This shows the forethought and vision of our great rulers of this land.

The advent of Kakatiya regime in the whole of Andhra Desam had brought over a change in setting up of Merchant Guilds, which is a non-sectarian. This shows that the Kakatiyas encouraged trades across the borders. The epigraphical evidence reveal that several merchant guilds used to carry a lot of commercial operations in the Kingdom. The Trades were broadly divided into two 1. Swadesi(Traders Within the Kingdom) and 2. Paradesi (Trades from other Kingdoms).  The market place is called Pemta or Peta, now-a-days, we can find a large number of towns with their names ending as ‘Peta’, means they are the trade hubs or centers during those days. Thus by creating employment & generating healthy economic conditions by empowering the locals. The inscriptions available on the Warangal fort of Ganapathi Deva dated to AD 1228 records the gifts made by several traders (Beharis) dealing with  variety of articles.

The major source of revenue was from land and agriculture, besides that they also encouraged exports of textiles, handcrafts, precious stones, gems, sandalwood, camphor-oil, pearls, arecanuts, Ivory, corals artefacts, non-ferrous metals, perfumes and others to many foreign countries.

The Kakatiya’s trade history will not be completed without talking about ‘Motupalli Port’(Presently in the Prakasam Dist. of Andhra Pradesh), which is a famous seaport during the Kakatiya’s regime. The inscriptions of the Motupalli Abhaya Sasanam by Shri Ganapati Deva, shows that trade were carried with many southeast-asian countries and a few countries in the present day of Europe. The Italian traveler, Marcopolo visited the famous Motupalli port during the great Rudrama Devi Period, writes like this, “It’s part of a kingdom ‘ruled by a queen’, who is a very wise woman”. Throughout ‘her forty years’ reign she has governed her kingdom well with a high standard of justice and equity’. Never was a ‘lady or lord as well beloved as she is by her subjects’. Marco is talking about Rudrama Devi of the Kakatiya Dynasty of Warangal in the present day of Telangana. This kingdom, he writes, “is a huge producer of diamonds and buckram cotton of ‘the finest texture and the highest value’ and people here live on a very healthy diet, ‘rice, flesh, fresh milk, fish and fruits’ ”. He also mentions about the diamonds, delicate cotton, finest silk clothes, muslin, and many other trading commodities and also mentioned that the Mottupalli port as a flourishing and as a gate way of trading route to the East.

During Kakatiya period period, Motupalli became a primary sea-borne international trading centre and a cosmopolitan city. As a result, the Ganapatideva took steps to ensure the security of the locals, merchants and traders from the pirate. However, its riches attracted invasion from other kingdoms, destabilizing its trade around 1100 CE. The inscriptions of ‘Motupalli Abhaya Varthaka Sasanam’, by Ganapatideva, dated 1244-45 CE, is a royal charter carved on a pillar of the mandapa in front of Veerabhadra Swamy temple in Telugu and Sanskrit. It promised by the Kakatiya Kings, the sea-borne merchants’ security of their cargoes and a minimal duty on their shipments. This testifies that the Kakatiya’s been serious about trade & economy and had also made strict laws protecting the interest of trade. These evidences show us that our Kings since time immemorial have taken a great care and promoted domestic and foreign trade through a systematic process of rules & taxation.

On another pillar of the Veerabhadra Swamy temple is a similar charter of the Reddy king Annapota Reddy in Telugu and Tamil. They recaptured Motupalli after Muhammad bin Tughlaq had taken control of the Kakatiyas after defeating Prataparudradeva in 1323 CE.

These are one of many evidences/inscriptions which show that many kings of our Akhand Bharath with their great fore-thought and vision had established a systematic trade & taxation system, which is relevant even in the today’s so called modern business era. Our ancestors have mastered in making beautiful ornaments, textiles, ferrous metals, metallurgical sciences, medical sciences, print technology, weaponry/ modern warfare, etc….Actually,

We as the sons of this great soil don’t need any new lessons from outsiders. The contributions made by Bharath Desh to the world for well-being of the mankind are so significant and in-valuable. This precious treasure has to be preserved by us, and has to be carefully passed to the coming generations, so that we can uphold our culture and preserve our rich heritage.