A prick of thorn in the forest is painful for an amateur trekker, but the joy of discovering something invaluable makes one forget the pain endured in the bargain. It was one such experience I had during my recent trip to Kurnool.
An exclusive travelouge
Just when we were to begin our journey from Kurnool to Srisailam, I saw an article in the paper stating that ASI has recently discovered Neolithic cave paintings @ Ketavaram. It dates back to 6000 years old, when human kind was evolving. Cave paintings were undertaken with the help of blood of pigs and wild animals.
We began our hunt whether the cave paintings were on the same route or some other route was a jigsaw puzzle to be resolved. One waiter with confidence told me that it was near Alampur, but the paper cutting was clear that the destination is in Kurnool district whereas Alampur is in Mehboobnagar district. Next attempt another vague answer that it is on Hyderabad route around 15 kms, but newspaper report stated 22 kms. Again we desperately hunt for signs, and enroute we stop by a local tea shop and ask a person who is reading newspaper the direction to Ketavaram. Eureka, he is not much aware of the cave paintings, but he knew for sure the route leading to Ketavaram. He asked us to proceed on Srisailam route to Gangapuram 15 kms from Kurnool and watch out for a deviation to the right at a junction and travel 7 kms from their on a kuchha pucca road.
The expectation of discovery was heady, and we reached the village and found the route to caves was filled with dust from Cuddapah stone mining. It was as if we were entering into the Mining fields. We were advised by some localities to take a guide who will take us to the spot, being adventurous we refused. We traveled groping by instincts, and we reached a spot, which seemed to be likely area of the cave painting. We spotted a girl who was busy lugging farm produce to town for sales. We asked her, she in turn guide us to a sufi saints graveyard. Suddenly she spotted Ismail Bhai, who is working as labourer for a farmland nearby. Of course he agreed to show us the pathway to the cave paintings for a fee. We had to agree after coming all the way to discover.
A Trek to the hillock began which is 200 meters, circumventing the thorny bushes, which may have been installed by the ASI to prevent vandalism of the paintings. Despite all precautions I was pricked by the thorn through my jogging shoes ( REBOK ). Ismail himself was not sure of the exact location since his son and few other villagers had guided a team of archaeologists to the location some time earlier. However after scanning two rock surfaces we reached the exact spot and behold we saw the trace of the imprints of the Neolithic mankind.
Dr Chandramouli, reader in the Archaeology dept. of Pondicherry confirms that the paintings date back to over 6000 years old. Some of them he states are contemporary to the Indus Valley civilization. The eternal Knot on the pattern of Indus valley art, which has no beginning of a storyline or end is the hallmark of paintings found at Ketavaram.
Apart from the Rock paintings the traces of human settlements were found in this spot, which was obviously blessed with plenty of water fall flowing from the hillock, which is now dried up beyond recognition. The flow of water is guided to a well which is dried up due to lack of adequate rainfall in the region. Some of the tools used by pre-historic mankind such as jasper and chert, which is granite like stone has been found at this place. The tools recovered are scrapers, borer, blades, hacking stone, and some are so sharp that it could even cut human hair.
The subject of paintings obviously reflects the lifestyle of the Neolithic mankind. The evidence of birth of religious belief is found in the form of sorcerer who is performing a ritual before an hunting expedition begins, in order to protect them from dangers of being consumed by wild animals in the bargain for hunting deer, wild boar, or bison.
Paintings potray two deers having a friendly fued, stag and antelopes grazing in the jungle, rabbits, reptiles and frog moving around, just captured by the artist and interpreted in his own way in red ochre or pigs blood. There is a distinct painting of tribal rejoicing after a good hunt, he is celeberating a prize catch with a dance to glory on a full moon.
Of course there is lot of wear and tear to the location due to vagaries of nature, we have been blessed with the traces of survival of our ancestors living conditions and their environs. But due to increased mining may be there is a lurking danger of these important heritage being lost to modern day hunters. One such cave is fully doused with black smoke erasing the traces of ancient treasure. I would imagine this would have been the darbar of the tribal chief with him being seated on a stone throne and addressing his fellowmen whenever there is an important development or announcement to be made.
The eternal feeling of adventure and trekking of experiencing the lifestyle of Neolithic mankind can be a uplifting journey. I was constrained with paucity of time to head towards my main destination of Srisailam, may be for a group of likeminded people will find a treasure trove of opportunity to discover.
AP govt. is determined to salvage this heritage site, but the onus is on the villagers to safeguard this place. I told Ismail Bhai this is your khazana or road to prosperity please protect it. One never knows, this spot in future will attract hundreds of tourists, and maybe you villagers will benefit in the form of a concrete road upto the spot, instead of the current devastated road connection. The value of the land may even jump up multi fold once the destination becomes popular among tourists. Maybe Ketavaram is destined to become backpackers paradise in future. I can only imagine staying in a tent on a full moonlight and having my dinner in the open air @ ketavaram. Maybe AP tourism will pave way for such an opportunity.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
One fine afternoon ( april 1985 ) my boss and myself were traveling across the Srisailam town. He being a devout follower of Shiva got down and visited a small miniscule looking temple with huge tree. He said it was one of the famous jyotilinga places in India. I was not impressed by the structure which was simple to the core. It is believed that tigers and used to freely roam around the temple premises. The temple itself was opened to piligrims two days in a year on the Shankranti and Mahashivaratri days in a year. No wonder my boss prayed outside the temple and just circumbulated the tree and returned quickly to continue the journey towards Hyderabad. It is fact that Srisailam was re-discovered with the 52 kms ghat road was re-linked to the world thanks to the dam construction at Srisailam.
Srisailam is named because of sacred Bilva trees availability in abundance, surrounding the valley and hills of Nallamalai. The plateau is in the form of Sri Chakra. Rajeev Gandhi tiger sanctuary is housed in these Nallamalai ranges, surprisingly devoid of any safari. Srisailam is located at an altitude of 476 meters.
The presiding deity of this holy shrine is Lord Shiva known as Mallikarjuna. The Mahalinga is believed to be Svyambu Linga or naturally formed cylindrical stone. Srisailam is also know as the Dakshin Kasi in view of the flowing Krishna river in a deep gorge like valley. The river flows from Alampur in Mehboonagar district to Srisailam and beyond towards Nagarjunsagar.
The dam on this river was commissioned by J.Nehru on 24th July 1963. The dam has a height of 791 feet and width of 1680 feet. It produces 150 MW and 110 MW at peak power generation. The dam is supposed to have displaced 117 villages, out of which 86 villages got submerged, who were re-located. 26784 familes were displaced and re-habilitated.
After the construction of the Srisailam dam the roads leading to the temple have been well laid out. One route passes through Alampur, Atmakur, Dronala, Chintala, Shikaram and Srisailam which is approximately 165 kms. Another route which originates from Kurnool, Atmakur, Dronala, Chintala and Srisailam, which is 182 kms. The next route is down south one can travel to Ananathpur, Tadipatri, Nandyal, Giddalur, Markapur cross, Dronala, and Srisailam. The last approach is from Hyderabad to Srisailam. The nearest railway head is Markapur, and the distance is approximately 85 kms.
According to Talagunda inscription Mayursharma went to Kanchi ( Pallava capital ) to pursue his vedic studies along with his guru. He was humiliated and insulted by a Pallava guard. In a swift rage, he decided to give up his Brahminic studies and took to sword to avenge his insult. So goes the inscription :
“ The hand dexterous in grasping the kusha grass, fuel and stone, ladle, melted butter and the oblation vessel, unsheathed a flaming sword eager to conquer the land “
Mayursharma retreated to Shriparvatha ( Srisailam ) and began to prepare for the battle against the Pallavas. He thus carved out a niche and ultimately the Pallavas were compelled to recognize his warrior like qualities. Thus Mayursharma carved himself Kadama Kingdom ( 345 – 365 ) In honour of the Lord he established a small temple at the place of his reformation. The Shikara or the simple gopurams adjescent to the main temple points to Kadamba architecture.
Due to the proximity of Nagarjunakonda to Srisailam some historians claim that Ishvaku dynasty may have contributed to the growth of Srisailam which was unlikely since they were followers of Buddhism to a large extent.
The Chalukya emperors too extended their patronage to the temple according to inscriptional evidence. Pulakesi II ( 609 – 642 ) seems to have installed one of the 4 gopurams in the temple. Srisailam formed a nucleus during the reign of Vinayaditya ( 680-696 ) Since Chalukyans were firm believers of Shaivism it can be safely assumed that they donated large sums for upkeep of the temple.
Kakatiyas ( 953 – 1323 ) seem to have contributed to the development of the temple to a large extent. Several administrative procedures were adopted by regulation of the temple temple management was undertaken during their reign. Prataprudra the last king of the kakatiyas, according to inscription dated 1313 AD, gifted 70 villages to Srisailam temple for maintainence of the temple expenses incurred.
Reddy Kings succeeded the Kakatiyas from 1323 AD. It is stated in incriptions that in 1378 AD, a mantap was constructed for the purpose of offering their own heads to the Lord.
The inscriptions state “ How wonderful it is that here, in this mantap premise, hosts of kongaviras highly excited with religious fervour, chopped off their heads, tongues as an offering to the Lord. The next moment they shine with three eyes, ten arms, five faces and five tongues and become the eight bodied. “ Anavema’s father is credited to have constructed the flight of steps to Patalganga. Anavema Reddi ( 1364-1386 ) is credited to have constructed Virasiromandapam.
Srisailam came under the reign of Harihara Raya II ( 1377 – 1404 ) who defeated the Reddis and took over their territory of Srisailam and adjoining coastal Andhra districts. The earliest inscription related to Vijaynagar era mentions that Kadamba princess Vithalamba, queen of Harihar II registered the construction of flight of steps by her order. 1393 AD. Since the construction was completed in 1345 it is assumed that she renovated and strengthened the previous structure. Krishnadevarya ( 1509 – 1529 ) commissioned the intallation of Gopuram and row of mantaps in front of the temples.
In 1674, Chatrapathi Shivaji, the Maratha king visited Srisailam to pay homage to Lord Mallikarjun. He commissioned installation of Gopuram on the Northern side of the temple. The Marathas protected the shrine for a brief period, later it came under the Moghuls. The Moghuls placed the temple under the jagir to Nawabs of Kurnool. After the fall of Moghuls it was taken over by Nizams. The Nizam in turn ceded the Kurnool district to East India company in 1800 AD. Major Munro took possession of the district and entrusted the management of the temple to Pushpagiri math.
In 1929 the management of the temple was handed over to a committee and than in 1949 the temple came under Endowments Department. When the road was constructed connecting Srisailam to the mainland during 1950s the pristine glory was restored.
GATEWAYS TO SRISAILAM :
Before the well laid roads were connected from 4 different directions to Srisailam Piligrims were depended on the four gateways. They are :
TRIPURANTAKAM : Before the construction of Guntur-Guntakal railway line, piligrims from coastal Andhra used to pass through this place for their onward journey to Srisailam. It they proceeded by foot they need not pass Dornala which is a circuitous route, instead they can trudge to Erragondapalem, Teluguayacheruvu and reach Chukkalaparvatam, and reach Srisailam.
The presiding deity in this temple town is Tirupurntakadeva, with Goddess Tripuansundaridevi. This place is also known as Kumargiri. The temple walls contain more than 100 incriptions, which belong to Chalukyas, Kakatiya and several local chieftains. In 1289 AD. Kayastha chiefs revolted against Kakatiya queen Rudramadevi and proclaimed independence. This is recorded in lengthy Sanskrit inscriptions on the wall of the temple.
SIDDAVATAM : It is a taluk in Cuddapah district of AP. Piligrims used to visit this temple town and than proceed to Srisailam via Dornala. The presiding deity is Jyothi Siddhavateswara.
Pusphagiri is also on the banks of the river Pinakini. It is located 12 kms away from Cuddapah. The antiquity of this place refers to Ishvaku period. An inscription in Nagarjunakonda refers to Pusphagiri, where certain Buddhist is said to have built a stone pavilion called Silamandapa. The Rashtrakuta inscription of Krishna II ( 878 – 914 ) clearly mentions this place as southern gateway to Srisailam.
On the left bank of Tungabhadra river is the Mehbubnagar district where the Western gateway is located. The Nava Brahma temples are located which belong to the Chalukyan era. A detailed study on Alampuram can be referred to Alampur post in my blogspot.
The fourth gateway is located 6 km away from Achampet in Mahabubnagar district. It is situated on the edge of the hill forming vast plateau. The present bus route does not touch this place, it deviates 3 km away from this place. The presiding deity in this place is called as Sri Parvatha. The Velama king Madanayaka constructed a pathway covering nearly 50 kms from this place to Jatararevu which is on the banks of river Krishna. After crossing the river by ferry the piligrims have to climb up the Chukkala-parvatham and walk about 4 km to reach Srisailam.
Currently secondary gates Pushpagiri and Elesvaram surroundings are now submerged in the Nagarjunasagar Dam area. At Elesvaram we have inscriptions from time of Ikshvaku dynasthy. This place is located 6 km from the famous Nagarjunakonda the famous Buddhist centre. The presiding deity is Elesvaradeva.
AKKAMAMAHADEVI CAVE TEMPLE :
Inorder to visit this place one has to board a ropeway in Srisailam and be ferried away by APSTDC boat and reach this destination. On sharing basis Rs 180/- per head is charged including the Ropeway fee of Rs 30/-. The entire journey takes around 3 hours which includes trekking to and fro along with a guide provided by tourism board.
On the confluence of a hill stream called Buggavagu which joins Krishna river at this place, a natural cavern is formed with compartments to accommodate 20 persons. Some statues of Kapala Bhairavi, Veerabhadra, Mahisshamardini and others are found here.
It is believed that famous ascetic, poet, lyricist and philosospher Akkama hailed from Karnataka in the 12th century AD. Akkama a Virasaiva princess spent some years in these caves performing penance and worshipped the Shiv Ling which naturally existed in the deep dark end of the cave. Since Akkama attained spiritual knowledge from this place, the cave was named after her as Akkamamahadevi Caves.
Similarly there is another spot 6 km away called Kadalivana, named after a Bhikshavritti. Allamaprabhu, the great mystic Saiva saint and other disciples performed penance.
Both the places are generally visited by Verasaivas coming from Karnataka, particularly on the new year day, which falls on Ugadi when they perform Davanostava at Kadalivana. These two spots owing to their isolation are considered to be abods of Siddhas who are said to have practiced yogic arts like alchemy for which Srisailam was renowned in ancient times.
The Siddha cult attained supernatural powers through yogic powers and practices. They are supposed to be experts in yoga and possessed the 8 siddhas. Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Isatva and Vasikarna. The Srisailam forests became a suitable abode for performing the yogic penance. On the rocky pathway to Srangadhara matha an inscription states “ Sa ra sa pa ra ma tma “ It refers to a Siddha saint who possessed immense yogic powers. Atreya is said to have established a laboratory in a cave near Patalganga to convert base metals to gold. Probably it helped in discovering bronze and copper as a means of forming the statues.
VIRA SAIVISM :
It can be safely assumed that there was a wholesale destruction of evidences of all inscriptions took place before 1313 AD, during the upsurge of Vira Saivism. Fearing the aggressive spread of Vira Saivism, Isvara Sivacharya ordered the destruction of records, which may have been buried. There is a clever ploy used to connect the two sects of Siddha saivism and Vira saivism, in the bargain precious records of the Mallikarjuna temple is lost. The lingual divide of Kannada and Telugu seems to be the prime reason for the destruction.
TEMPLE STRUCTURE :
The four gopurams and the boundary wall of the temple which is filled with scenes from Mahabharat and Ramayan and other epics stories of Lord Shiva and his antics are elaborately sculpted. The war scenario is also beautifully displayed on the tablets which in 8 levels. The boundary walls represent the Vijaynagar style of architecture which can be noticed at Hazarama Temple façade and boundary walls.
Mallikarjuna Shrine : A peculiar custom in this shrine is that the piligrims visiting this shrine are supposed to bang their head in order to make their presence to the deity who is supposed to be deaf. This custom was obviously derived from the trekking of the piligrims who used to utter Lord Mallikarjun to help them transverse the jungles which were infested with wild animals and complete their journey without any incident.
The main shrine represents the Kadamaba architecture with simple gopurams. Later on the Chalukyan and Kakatiya and Vijaynagar kings added during the multiple renovations carried out. The credit of construction can be safely attributed to Mayursharam ( 345 -365 AD ) who began his journey from this very holy place.
The loss of original inscriptions points to the fact that the cover up was undertaken to discredit the original builder Mayursharma of Kadamba dynasty. The gopuram which of simple structure in stepped pyramid is distinct style of Kadamba architecture. The incorporation of Nandi images on the upper most platform is a subsequent development during the Chalukyan era.
Main shrine pyramid is now covered in gold plate upto the lentil portion. This may help in prevention of water seepage and convert the donation of gold by pilgrims. There are some scholars hell bent on attributing the shrine to Kakatiya Kings in the 10th century.
There are many minor shrines which can be credited to Kakatiya kings. The Mukhamandapa was presented to the god by the Vijaynagar king Harihara II in the saka year 1326 which corresponds to 1405 AD.
Virasiramandapa is another important structure. It was obviously built by Anavema Reddy of Kondavidu in 1378 AD. This was a sacrifical mantap wherein people donated their tongues, finger etc to attain the supreme form. Human sacrifice too seems to have prevailed which seems to have been disbanded and now this mantap serves as the queue formation before entering the main shrine.
Nandi Mantap : Adjescent to the Reddy mantamp is the Nandi mantap where a medium size bull faces the main shrine.
Bhramaramba shrine stands in the back courtyard of the main temple. The goddess belongs to the early Sankara period. The goddess is considered to be one of the 18 shaktis. It is reliably learnt that Chatrapathi Shivaji visited and worshipped this deity in the form of Durga and ordered some renovations in 1674.
Vriddha Mallikarjuna : This shrine was worshipped by Princess Chandravti who worshipped the Linga. The compound boundary walls contain different form of Linga, known as Vayu Linga, Swarga Linga, etc. These Lingas seem to have installed by different kings in their dedication to the lord. The same compound contains various artifacts which were retrieved in the demolition and renovation of the ancient temple.
TEMPLE WALLS :
Lingayya is stated to have constructed the temple boundary wall which is the most impressive structure in 1515 AD, which exactly coincides with the period of Krishnadevaraya’s reign. The bottom row of the wall depicts horses and elephants. War scenes are displayed in the third row, A number of Shiva legends like story of Arjuna penance, story of Chandravati, penance of Lord Shiva and his marriage to Parvathi, worship of Siva by the rishis etc are beautifully potrayed.
FOUR GOPURAMS :
The main gopuram is called as Krishnadevaraya gopuram which seems to have been constructed during his reign in 1514 Ad, the northern gopuram is dedicated by Shivaji in 1674. The other two gopurams seems to have been constructed by Kakatiyas and the Reddy kings.
Overall a visit to Srisailam is soul freeing experience if one visits the Shikaram temple and prays from the peak of the temple gopuram. The visit to the main shrine and tapping one’s head on the Linga is a unique experience. One can see foreigners now have started flocking Srisailam due to the close proximity to Hyderabad.
TRIBAL MUSEUM :
A tribal museum is located at the enterance, of the main circle. One can witness the rich heritage of the tribals livelihood in and around Srisailam forests. One has to pay an enterance fee of Rs 7.
SAKSHI GANAPATHI :
A small shrine is located about 3 km from Srisailam which is frequented by piligrims enroute. The Lord Ganesha keeps track of the people visiting the pilgrim centre. This is the primary reason why it is named as lord with evidence. The sculpture of this deity is exquisitely etched with Lord Ganesh holding a book in his right hand and pen in his left hand in such a way as if he is jotting down the names of all the pilgrims visiting the Lord.
One has to be careful with their footwear, it is better to keep costly footwear in the room and trudge barefoot to the temple. There is every possibility of one’s footwear being switched for a cheaper brand. It is projected that this temple is bound to catch the fancy of piligrims with Sabrimalai piligrims flocking in huge numbers every year. It is poised to become the second richest Lord after Tirupati due to the donations of the Piligrims. It is advised that all donation has to be deposited in the official Hundi so that the temple develops by leaps and bounds. The Mineral water is sold at a premium, it is better to carry the mineral water from the base town such as Kurnool, Ananthpur, Nandyal, Guntur or even Hyderabad. One of the basic facility of Urinals are lacking for the public, which is surprising, unlike Tirumala where plenty of urinals are provided around the temple. Now the temple is directly under the AP govt. administration therefore red tapism is quite visible in the administrative procedure, a TTD type of trust would go a long way in promotion of the temple and building infrastructure to Pilgrims and tourists.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
The name Alampur sounds Islamic. Alam in Arabic means Flag. According to many Historians, there is nothing even remotely connoting Islamic influence, but it is converted name of Halam which means plough. Hamalapura was converted to Alampur. But historical evidence points to the invasion of the Bahamani Sultans armies into the town to plunder the wealth of the temple. In most probability the town coincided with the name of Sufi Saint and Amalapuram was converted into Alampur. It can also mean the triumph of the invading army who erected their flag over the town.
Alampur is a legacy of Chalukyan empire. The finest temples were constructed by the Chalukyan emperors. The Nava Brahma temples have close resemblance to the temples at Pattadakkal, which symbolized the pinnacle of temple building in India. The following Chalukyan Kings are credited in the inscriptions and evidence found in the premises of the temple. They are Vinayaditya ( 680 – 696 ) Vijayaditya ( 696 – 733 ) & Vikramaditya ( 733- 746 ) & Kiritivarman ( 746 – 753 ). These temples seem contemporary to the Pattadakal temples. The scale and grandeur is lesser, than the former. However the architecture is bewitching and appealing to the tourist.
Chalukyan emperors were great builders probably due to the inheritance of artisans from ajanta period. The migration of the artisans made it possible due to abandonment of Buddhist culture which was on the decline. Basically the Chalukyan art symbolizes the revival of Hinduism in general.
Alampur is situated geographically north east of the Kurnool approximately 28 kms from the base town. One has to take deviation on the NH 7 after traveling nearly 14 kms. One should keep a watch it is just at the beginning of Alampur division in Mehboobnagar district. An Arch symbolizes the entry to Alampur. Alampur is known as the western gateway to Dakshin Kashi ( Srisailam ). The Railway station is situated 10 kms away, which is connected from Secundrabad to Dronachalam route. It is better to use Kurnool as the base town for accommodation. Otherwise piligrims can stay in choultries attached to the temple.
The two mighty rivers Tungabhadra and Krishna have a sacred confluence at Alampur. It is believed many a times the river seems to have flooded the temple premises. This precisely compelled the govt. of India to build a dam like structure to prevent flooding of waters into the temple. The construction of the Srisailam dam seems to have immersed some of the temples down stream and it had to be relocated from YellalaVillage to higher plateau, which is enroute to the main town.
Alampur was invaded by the Bahamani Sultans, after the fall of Vijaynagar empire in the battle of Talikota in 1565. Ibrahim Quli Kutub Shah ( 1550 – 1580 ) escaped from the persecution from his brother Jamsheed and took asylum in Aliya Rama Raya in 1543. Thus he escaped death from his brother, who had killed his own father and blinded his brother to ascend the throne. He lived and enjoyed the royal patronage of the Vijaynagar King, during the 7 years he was lured by the treasures and wealth base of the Vijaynagar empire. After his brother died he took over the reign of Golconda. He rallied against his own protectors in the Battle of Talikota by a confederation of 5 Bahmani Sultanates. He killed his own mentor and paraded the head of Aliya Rama Raya. . His army plundered the wealth in the temples of Hampi, Penkonda, Cuddapah, Kurnool and Alampur
Some of the temples of Alampur have been partially damaged to build a mosque adjescent and the compound wall for the enclosure is common. It is really a rare phenomenon. However the communal harmony speaks of the diverse culture prevailing in the town. There is trace of vandalism on the temple façade, which may have taken place during the British period by art collectors, who have siphoned off the masterpieces.
Amalapuram was a seat of learning right form the olden days. It is known as Brahmapuri University where the scholars used to learn the religious scriptures. The four Shaivism schools Kalamukha, Lakhulisa, Pashupathinath and Bhairavi cults were followed and taught to students. Many of the Acharayas like Brahma Rasi, Eresana Rasi, Vidya Rasi, Lakshabhrama, Someswhwara etc are mentioned in the inscriptions. Currently there is residential school wherein Sanskrit, Vedas and other hindu scriptures are taught. The school is maintained by the temple.
A well endowed Museum has been opened up by ASI. There are several statues, idols of god and goddess and inscriptions which are mainly in Kannada. The chronological order of the times has been maintained. The museum remains open between 10 – 5 pm. Normally in other places it is opened between 8 am to 6 pm with entry closed at 5.30 pm, I hope the ASI corrects this glaring disappointment to some tourists who travel all the distance.
The Nava Brahma shrines located at Amalapuram are :
1. Bala Brahma : Bala Brahma is the main temple where priest conduct ritual and daily worship. It indicates that the evolution of the temple, with most of its sculptures lost due to vandalism. There are some minor statue of deities around the central shrine. The name obviously indicates that it is a kid temple dedicated to the Lord. There is sufficient ventilation in this temple.
The temple contains pillared hall with three openings. On the ceiling of the temple various postures of Shiva are engraved.
2. Garuda Brahma : The name indicates the Eagle or Kite. It is named because a Garuda is shown carrying the Lord Vishnu on the Lintel.
3. Swarga Brahma : This indicates paradise. It is one of the finest piece of architecture. It has abundance of sculptures potraying various postures of couples tending towards romance.
4. Padma Brahma : This temple has the biggest sanctum sanitorium. It is partly in ruins. The Shiv Ling is erected with highly polished black granite, one can literally see their reflection.
5. Taraka Brahma : It is built on a raised platform with a square sanctum. The Shiv Ling is missing.
6. Arka Brahma : This is a small temple with a gopuram and Khalasa missing.
7. Kumara Brahma : This temple is close to the main shrine and is fully endowed with sculptures on the façade which is a delight and epitome of perfection. This is one of the oldest structure which has retained all its original glory.
8. Veera Brahma : It partially damaged temple.
9. Vishwa Brahma : This is considered to be one of the artistic temple. It has reference to Vishwakarma or the Lord of the Universe. The sculptures are etched are in excellent condition.
Most of the temples have pyramid type of dome with a circular Khalsa on top to complete the edifice. The plan of the sanctum mostly consists of one enclosure where the Shiva Ling is located. Originally the temple complex was located inside a Fort, which are in dilapidated state. The fort seems to have been destroyed by the invading armies to Amalapuram and local residents who have used the stones for construction of their residence.
The carvings on the temple premises relate to Nataraja, Paravathi, Ugra Narashimha, scenes from Ramayan and Mahabharat, Lord Kartikeya, Dancers, Drummers, Chaturmukha, Nandi, Naga slabs and elephants.
There are twenty temples and 64 teertha ghats on the banks of river tunghabhadra and Krishna river. Some of the holy places are Ganika Siddeswara and Raja Rajeshwar temple. There are another group of temples dedicated to Lord Shiva at Papanasham, situated very close to Alampur. The temples are located at a distance 6 kms on the northern banks of the Tungabhadra river. The towers are arranged like a gopuram and crowned with Amritha Khalasa.
When Dam of Srisailam was under construction during 1955 which was subsequently inaugurated in 1963, it flooded almost 90 villages. The villagers were relocated along the Sangmeshwar temple which was flooded at Yellala village. The ASI was endorsed with the task of relocation of the temple. The dismantling of the entire temple with the marking took place. But for the campaign to save the temple for posterity, it would have drowned under the dam water. This marvelous monument is saved with all its original material brick by brick. The dwarpalikas, the crocodile water outlets on the roof, elephants, nandi, etc have been beautifully sculpted on the walls of the temple. The artisans face is displayed in a dual form, which is unique on the temple façade. It is surprising that a priest is stationed, however the temple is opened for public viewing till 8 pm which is a saving grace.
It is better to carry torch to explore the dark premises inside the temple unlike the hoysala temples which are well ventilated.
The setting sun is a lovely sight on the bathing ghat of the river sangam. The amount of water flow into the confluence is quite abundant. One can dip their foot into the waters and some do have bath in the river bed.
Alampur signifies the survival of the Chalukyan Art form, who were one of the greatest Temple builders in India. Despite most of the Chalukyan temples being located in the Badami, Aihole and Pattadakkal belt, Alampur is an extension of their artistic excellence.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Gooty town on the NH7 which almost midpoint between Bangalore and Hyderabad ( 252 Kms ) is blessed with a beautiful Fort which stands as a ruined and neglected monument. The Fort spreads over the 3 hillocks, with a lake feeding water to the soldiers stationed at the Fort. Surprising a graveyard at the enterance is filled with monument type edifices embedded with details of the soldier or colonel who have passed away or died with Cholera. This enclosure is well protected by a gate but the fort itself is left to ruin and vandalism, by the locals in search of treasures. The Fort needs urgent resurrection by ASI, otherwise it will vanish without a trace
Gooty is now an important Railway junction between Chennai & Mumbai, with locomotive brake factory, water filling station and stop over for vehicles for tea break or midnight meals. The locomotive auto emergency brakes devised are still used on the Braganza Ghat section on the castle rock section towards Goa. The Braganza ghat has 1 to 40 gradient steep ghat section which necessitates usage of AE Brakes.
There is a clear indication that this Fort belonged to the Vijaynagar Era in lieu of the proximity of the place to Hampi. The Fort seems to have been built by Krishnadevaraya ( 1509-1529), who is reputed to have built many a forts and temples in the area. The Fort area seems to have been mute witness to many a battles. The Fort seems to have been refurbished by Chattrapathi Shivaji ( 1666 – 1680 ). The symbol of Shivaji riding the horse on the façade of the fortress is a clear pointer that Shivaji was responsible for massive expansion of the Fort. Later the Fort seems to have captured by Tipu Sultan ( 1782-1799 ). It is obvious that some of the old temples or monument were obviously obliterated. A small mosque and a grave in the premise of the Fort points to the presence of Tipu Sultan. After the death of Tipu Sultan, the British seems to have taken over the Fort with minimum resistance without bloodshed consider the limited no of graves in the enclosure.
One of the graves in the premises points to the fact the Fort was in occupation of the British from 1817 onwards. Another grave epitaph points to the fact there was cholera in Gooty in 1824, in which many a british soldiers perished.
The Palace in the court yard seems to have been razed to ground by the British and all its wealth seems to have been plundered. The British hatred towards Tipu Sultan is well known fact since Tipu tried to align with the French to stall the progress of British East India company & empire in India.
In hope of a blessed Immortality
Herein Lieth the Remains of M W Mason,
Conductor of Ordinance on this
Who departed this life on the
10th day of May1817.
Leaving a disconsolate Widow
And Large circle of Relations & Friends,
To deplore his loss.
I heard a voice from heaven, saying
Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord,
For they rest from their labours.
Another Grave inscription or epitaph points to break out Cholera in 1824, wherein Lieutant William Grant Gordon 20th Regiment fell victim to Cholera Morbus on 16th July 1824. “ Cold my heart and dull my mind……..” so goes the epitaph.
The Gooty ( Guti ) Fort contains the following enclosures Barracks for soldiers which is ventilated from all four sides due to sultry weather, watch towers on all sides and tanks in all strategic locations. There is mosque which is built to house a saint which is in ruins and needs maintainence and repair to resurrect the original splendour. The entire wall structure of the needs urgent repair, otherwise the Fort walls will be history.
In one of the archway, the pillar are symbols of the Vijaynagar architecture is clearly visible. The domes are typical Islamic style of architecture which have been constructed with limestone, brick and mortar. Chattrapathi Shivaji’s Horse riding symbol is embossed with limestone on the main walls. It is almost in the vanishing state unless repaired.
The influence of Ashoka can also be seen the region with the find of minor rock edict in Yerraguda ( 6 km away from Gooty). This town is an important Railway junction and located strategically. The approach to the fort is through the hamlet, it is always better to undertake the trek early morning to enjoy the sunrise and it is better to carry plenty of water, since it is long trek to the peak watch tower. The entire for spreads over 10 km. A small Shiva temple is located at the enterance of the Fort, which is immersed in water when it rains heavily. The Shiv Ling is located in the adjescent mantap due to flooding of the main temple.
Overall the visit to Gooty Fort will reveal the splendour of the era which were filled with strife and warfare. It is revealation of the strategic warfare techniques adopted from the days of Vijaynagar, Marathas, Tipu Sultan and the British regime.
India travel tips
- ► 2011 (63)
- ▼ 2009 (13)
- ► 2008 (42)
- Bangalore, Karnataka, India
- Basically i am down to earth, take friendship to its logical end. It is my endeavour to create a wealth of co-operative ventures. Basically being a marketing man i have the acumen to spot winners. I am privileged to travel the length and breadth of the country, courtsey my father, who was with Indianoil, my employers such as Nutrine, Kurl-on, Hindustan Pencils, Prestige, Crystal, Bell Ceramics, Pentel, Sezal, Commander. Currently i am involved in Tourism, Booking Air Tickets, Agent for Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited and Taj Group of Hotels and a numerous hotels across India. Depending on the needs of a traveller i would recommend the destination and accommodation best suited to their budget. Humour takes me on. Let us have a win win situation for all. I love travelling for sake of adventure, photography and discovering the heritage. Life is a journey and let us enjoy our drive. Come share your travel experience on indiabackpacker.