Gadwal Samsthana

Gadwal’s Peda Soma Bhupala watching a dance performance, c. 1800 Telangana. British Musuem

Gadwal was one of the most prestigious of Hyderabad’s samsthanas, being among the oldest, largest, and wealthiest of them. Gadwal’s handloom weaving industry is renowned for its exquisite silk sarees and zari work. Of Gadwal’s rulers, Soma Bhupala or Somanadri was particularly well-known for having won many battles and strengthened the state. He improved the infrastructure of the town, and built a great many temples including the Chennakesava Swamy temple inside the Gadwal Fort in the 17th century. Large gatherings of scholars would be held twice a year at Gadwal, which acted as a thriving centre for the arts, and attracted pundits and poets from different corners of the state and even from other parts of the country. Gadwal was known as “Vidwad Gadwal”. Somanadri’s grandson China Somanadri or China Somabhupala was himself a poet of great repute and greatly encouraged literary activities. Mushtipalli Ramabhupala I of the Gadwal dynasty was also a Sanskrit scholar and patronized literature, music and other arts. During his reign as well, scholars and poets from distant places like Varanasi, Mysore and Andhra’s Krishna and Guntur districts would convene. His son Sitarama Bhupala was also a great patron of the arts.

Raja Soma Bhupal Rao II of Gadwal worshipping Śri Venkateśwara; Gadwal, mid-19th century
Chennakesava Swamy Temple, Gadwal. Google Images.
Gadwal’s Rulers
Soma Bhupal Rao of Gadwal seated on a terrace, his sword beside him. c. 1840. San Diego Museum of Arts


  1. District Census Handbook, Andhra Pradesh, Census 1961: Mahbubnagar
  2. Kingship and Colonialism in India’s Deccan 1850–1948 Benjamin Cohen


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