Sunday, January 11, 2009
Chalukyan Art exposed at Alampur
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.
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