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Home Cover Features Breathtaking Beauty

Breathtaking Beauty

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Breathtaking Beauty

The Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, of Ammapally, located near Shamshabad Village, built by Venghi Kings, was conferred the INTACH Heritage Award in the year 2010. Though the State Endowments Department is doing its best to ensure that prayers and rituals are carried out regularly at the Temple, more needs to be done to protect this ancient temple.

Not many would be familiar with the 800-year-old Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, of Ammapally, located near Shamshabad Village, nearly 40 kilometers from the city. Our historical scriptures state that many centuries ago Lord Ram, Goddess Sita and Lord Krishna have lived in this part of the country and there are many tales surrounding it too.

The Temple priest Satyanarayana Murthy has been in the service of the Lord for the last 23 years. “Since the day, I began serving the Lord, he has taken care of all my needs,” says the priest. He along with another priest Anveesh Sharma, who too has been here since the last eight years, serves the Lord here. He says that Lord Ram during his 14-year-exile had stayed in this area and the idols here came up after that. “Look closely at the idols, all the idols has been carved from one single stone. Lord Ram has a Kodandam (bow) in his right hand. This kind of Ram is not visible in all the temples. In all, there may be only five temples like this,” says Murthy.

Breathtaking Beauty

Giving a detailed description of the deities in the sanctum sanctorum, the priest says that Sri Sita Devi, Sri Rama and Sri Lakshmana are unique. “Each of the idols and its Makara Thoranam are beautifully carved from single black rock, the idols are not separate as in the case of other temples. One visits the Lord Rama temple here and he has the darshan of the Dashavataras (10 incarnations) too. The Dashavataras are beautifully sculpted on top of Sri Rama’s idol, in a semi-circle, which is four feet tall and that of Sri Sita Devi and Sri Lakshmana, a little less,” he says.

In the main sanctum sanctorum, you will not see Sri Anjaneya Swamy’s idol at the feet of Sri Rama as seen in many temples and pictures in circulation. This temple is also known as Kodandaramaswamy temple. “That is the specialty of this temple,” says the priest. “Sri Anjaneya Swamy’s idol is at the Dhwaja Sthambam facing Lord Sri Rama. When devotees come and pray here, Lord Sri Rama instructs Sri Anjaneya Swamy to accomplish their wishes. And for this reason, he is always waiting outside the sanctum sanctorum to take instructions from Lord Sri Rama and rush to the help of his devotees,” says Murthy.

Inside the sanctum sanctorum, no coconuts are broken, the devotee himself has to break it outside and then puja is performed by the priests. While doing the aarti, the priest assures that the devotees don’t block Lord Rama’s contact (way) to Sri Anjaneya, so that the Lord can instruct Hanuman accordingly.

There are two Sri Anjaneya idols, one orange-coloured Hanuman and other in black stone. One Hanuman is placed at the foot step of Dhwaja Sthambam and the other Hanuman is placed backside of Dhwaja Sthambam facing the temple tower as if welcoming the devotees.

Earlier, temples were located far off from human habitation, so that people would dedicate a day to prayers. Come important festivals and many throng well-known temples like the Srisailam Temple dedicated to Lord Malikarjunaswamy another name for Lord Shiva for the grand Mahashivratri festival. The Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, as the name suggests dedicated to Lord Ram, Sri Rama Navami is celebrated in a grand manner here. Every month, on Punaravsu nakshatram (as per the Hindu almanac), kalyanam is celebrated with traditional fervour. This month it falls on March 8.

Breathtaking Beauty

The temple priest shares that Sri Rama Navami is a five-day festival here. “It is a time of annual Brahmotsavams and kalyanam here. Kalyanam is performed on the fourth day, which falls on Sri Rama Navamai day,” he says. The temple is decorated on that day and the whole place comes alive with many devotees thronging the place to receive the blessings of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita. Some say that like mother talking in favour of the child to the father, the same way Goddess Sita too tells Lord Ram about the difficulties of their devotees, hence the name Sita Ramchandraswami, the goddess name coming first to the Lord. Remember Sita-Ram, Radha-Krishna or Lakshmi-Narasimhaswamy.

Murthy says that when he joined the temple, way back in 1995, there was hardly anyone coming to pay obeisance here. “Today, on any given day, there are nearly 200 visitors, including the locals, coming to pray here,” he says. The senior priest adds that not only Sri Rama Navami, but all festivals are celebrated here with traditional fervor and gaiety. “Even Vijaya Dashmi is celebrated on a grand scale,” he says.  The priest informs that a majority of the pilgrims who visit the temple return for the thanksgiving to the Lord for his kindness and fulfilling of their wishes. “These days many people are coming forward to celebrate their Silver Wedding anniversary here. Some couples come here to marry again in true South Indian style,” he says.  Not to forget that the temple has nadaswaram and dhol players in attendance. Many of them have been in the service of the Lord for nearly 10 years. The musicians have had their training at Srikalahasti, while the priests have trained in Telangana only.

The priest adds that for the fulfillment of vows, devotees tie some offerings in a small bundle to a tree in the courtyard after offering prayers. “The bundles are opened only after the fulfillment of one’s wish,” he says. There were many bundles of various shapes and sizes and bangles tied to the tree in the courtyard.

Giving us a little peak into the history of the temple, Murthy says that Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam was built sometime in the 11th century by the local rulers called Venghi Rajulu. He shares that the ancient temple dating back to 11th century caught the attention of the public after shooting of Mahesh Babu and Sonali Bendre Telugu movie Murari.

In 2010, Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam received the XV INTACH Heritage Award from the Governor Sri E S L Narsimhan on World Heritage Day. Today the temple is managed by the State Endowments Department, who has ensured that prayers and other rituals are carried out as per the Hindu traditions.

Breathtaking Beauty

More recently, the Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, Ammapalli, was in the news as Gudi Sambralu (Temple Festivities) was held here. It was organised under the banner of Parampara Foundation, which has deep concerns for heritage and culture.”Parampara is working towards reviving art forms in temples to connect with our rich cultural heritage,” say Dr. Srinagi B Rao and Shashi Reddy. They recently organised a two-day dance festival. On the first day it was Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant and second day it was Ratikant Mahapatra and Kiranmayee.

A visit to Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam will bring peace and contentment to all. This ancient temple is a treat for students of history. It is Sangam of all architectures. There is Rajasthani, Mughal and South Indian. It is firmly believed that only after the construction of this temple the Golconda Fort and Charminar have come up. The first thing one did after alighting form the car at the temple was visit the step well, which was very fascinating and breathtaking.  Today there is a stage in the centre where people can sit on the steps and appreciate the fine arts. The ancient architecture here speaks volumes. On all three different sides there are different kinds of architecture. Surrounded by coconut trees, this step well is of Rajasthan style popular in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Just facing the temple, there is a two-storey building that would have been a resting place for devotees after of before the darshan. Closely examine the Gopuram, it is a seven storey one. The top level of the Gopuram, built in solid stone, reflects the South Indian style. On this layer, the idols and statues in the stone are intricately detailed. The lower floors of the temple gopuram need urgent repairs and the pigeons are also spoiling it. On the front side of the gopuram, one can see Sri Seshashayee Vishnu. What is prominent that strikes you when you look at the temple is its Rajasthani style arches that are generally found in Havelis and palaces of the desert state.

An observation of the Gopuram reveals that the masonry work of the arches may have been added much later, may be during the construction of the step well in the temple compound.

Breathtaking Beauty

The temple priest says that apart from Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, in the vicinity there are Sri Mahalingeswara Swamy and Sri Anjaneya Swamy temples along with lawns spread over 9.5 acres land. People are visiting these temples too, especially on Mondays to Sri Mahalingeswara Swamy. It must be noted that there are no electricity lighting inside the sancta sanctorum and one has to see the lord with the traditional lights and the lord mesmerizes everyone with his beauty. Also in the complex was ‘Koti Rama Sthamb’, where people who had written Sri Rama Naamam had been placed.

Students from nearby areas were making use of the open space and greenery to play. Though the Endowments Department is doing its best to protect this ancient heritage structure, private enterprises must come forward to protect these monuments for future generations. To reach the Sri Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam, take the PV Narasimha Rao Expressway and reach Shamshabad Bus Station which is on the right hand side. Take a right turn along the bus station and travel straight along Rallaguda Road, till one reaches the ‘Kamaan of the Temple’ (Temple entrance arch) to the left. Pass through the arch to reach the temple precincts.

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