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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Brightest star in the galaxy of temples Ramappa Temple, Telangana

Rudreswara temple popularly known as Ramappa temple, is a Kakatiya style Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, located in the State of Telangana. An inscription in the temple says it was constructed in the year 1213 CE by Recherla Rudra—a general of Kakatiya ruler Ganapati Deva (1199–1262 C.E.). Located in the vicinity of Ramappa Lake, the Ramappa Temple complex which consists of three shrines of God Shiva was constructed between 1212 and 1234, designed by an architect Ramappa—after whom the temple complex is named. It is said to be the only temple in the country which is known by the name of its sculptor, whose name was Ramappa.

Structure & Architecture

Ramappa Temple stands on a 6-foot (1.8 m) high star-shaped platform. The hall surrounding the sanctum has numerous carved pillars that have been positioned in such a way that space and light in the temple are found to be spacious and ample respectively. The main structure is in a reddish sandstone, but the columns around it have large brackets of black basalt which is rich in iron, magnesium and silica that have carvings such as mythical animals, dancers and musicians, typical masterpieces of Kakatiya art, known for their delicate carving, sensuous postures and perfectly chiselled bodies.

The roof (garbhalayam) of the temple is built with bricks, which are so light that they can float on water. There are two small Shiva shrines on either side of the main temple known as Kameswara Swamy and Koteswara Swamy.  Inside the main temple, Shivalingam has been placed at a height of 9 feet in garbhagriha. At the entrance of Garbhagriha, one can see carvings on the walls, showcasing various dance forms as well as different musical instruments. Its ceiling consists of carvings, depicting scenes from Hindu epics Ramayana, Shiva Purana and various other ancient texts. There is an enormous Nandi at the entrance of the temple, facing the shrine of Shiva that captivates the attention of the pilgrims. The temple’s sculptures of high artistic quality elaborately depict regional dance customs and Kakatiyan culture.

The innovative construction techniques of building structures using sand-box technology, light weight porous floating bricks and other traditional methods, and the commendable sculptural efforts in chiselling the very hard dolerite rocks to get the everlasting metallic polishes are very well displayed and are mostly intact at Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple even today, which is something remarkable and unique.

The temple was constructed using five types of local material, like sand for foundation, clay for bricks, dolerite and sandstone for sculptures, granite for columns and beams, which are all retained in their original composition. The Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple is well protected from natural disasters due to its unique construction techniques. Undoubtedly special care appears to have been taken by the sculptors of those days for protection of the wider visual setting around the temple compound that will last several centuries.

Sandbox Technique:

This technique involves filling the pit — dug up for laying the foundation — with a mixture of sand-lime, jaggery (for binding) and karakkaya (black myrobalan fruit) before the buildings were constructed on these sandboxes. The sandbox in the foundation acts as a cushion in case of earthquakes. The fact that the temple remained intact even after repeated wars, plunder and destruction during wars and natural disasters bears testimony to this. There was a major earthquake during the 17th century which caused some damage. Nevertheless, the temple survived the earthquake due to its ‘sandbox technique’ of laying foundation. Many of the smaller structures were neglected and are in ruins. Unfortunately, main entrance gate in the outer wall of the temple is ruined.

Culture & Dance         

The natural environment, architecture, sculpture, ritual and dance together form five elements, which complement each other in defining the temple’s grandeur. This temple stands as proof to the importance given by the Kakatiya rulers to culture, architecture and artistic creativity that brought a golden era to the Telugu speaking region of South India.

The efforts of Kakatiyan craftsmen to interpret and integrate motifs of regional dance customs and Kakatiyan cultural traditions into sculptural and textual representations in the form of Madanikas, Gaja-Vyalas, motifs on Kakshasana (sitting benches) and other carvings stand out as exceptional evidence of popular cultural forms.

 The dance poses, written in Sanskrit classic titled, “Nrutta Ratnavali “by Jayapa Senani, also appear in the sculptures at Ramappa temple. Jayapa Senani was a military commander under the Kakatiya King Ganapati-deva and his Nrutta Ratnavali has eight chapters that describe folk dance forms like Perni, Prenkhana, Suddha Nartana, Carcari, Rasaka, Danda Rasaka, Siva Priya, Kandula Nartana, Bhandika Nrityam, Carana Nrityam, Chindu, Gondali and Kolatam. Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna revived Perini Shivatandavam (Perini Dance) that almost became extinct, by seeing the sculptures in this temple. He made extensive research for 14 years and was instrumental in staging the first Perini dance performance on 26th January, 1974 by AP Sangeet Natak Akademi.  

Kakatiya dynasty:

The 12th and the 13th centuries saw the emergence of the Kakatiyas. They were at first the feudatories of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyana, ruling over a small territory near Warangal. The dynasty saw powerful leaders like Ganapathi Deva and Rudramadevi. Prataparudra I, also known as Kakatiya Rudradeva, was the son of the Kakatiya leader Prola II. It was under his rule that the Kakatiyas declared sovereignty. He ruled the kingdom till 1195 A.D. It was under the rule of Prataparudra I that usage of Telugu language in inscriptions began. Before the establishment of Orugallu/Warangal as the capital, Hanamakonda was the first capital of the Kakatiyas.

The great Italian traveller Marco Polo visited the Kakatiya Kingdom sometime during Rudramadevi’s tenure as the ruler of the Kakatiya Dynasty and made note of her administrative style; praising her leadership. Marco Polo, also supposedly called the Ramappa temple “the brightest star in the galaxy of temples”. 

Under the Kakatiya rule, the caste system was not rigid and was not given much significance socially. Anyone could take up any profession and people were not bound to an occupation by birth. The Kakatiya rule finally came to an end in 1323 A.D. when Warangal was conquered by the Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, the then Sultan of Delhi.

The Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple was identified as a protected monument in 1914 and since then it is maintained and conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The temple was granted the World Heritage Site tag for the criteria, i.e., “bearing a unique or an exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition, which is living or which has disappeared” in July, 2021. (UNESCO)

Ramappa temple, Palampet, is around 220 KMs from Hyderabad and around 70KMs from Warangal city.  Nearest railway station is Warangal and nearest airport is Hyderabad.

Reference:

  1. https://tourism.telangana.gov.in/divine-destinations/RamappaTemple
  2. https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1570.
  3. https://warangaltourism.in/ramappa-temple-warangal#google_vignette
  4. https://mulugu.telangana.gov.in/tourist-place/ramappa-temple/

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Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Ex- Senior Banker, Financial and Management Consultant and Visiting faculty at premier B Schools and Universities. Areas of Specialization & Teaching interests - Banking, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Global Business & Behavioural Sciences. Qualification- M.Com., M.B.A., A.I.I.B.F., PhD. Experience- 25 years of banking and 16 years of teaching, research and consulting. 200 plus national and international publications on various topics like- banking, global trade, economy, public finance, public policy and spirituality. One book in English “In Search of Eternal Truth”, two books in Telugu and 38 short stories 50 articles and 2 novels published in Telugu. Email id: [email protected]

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