Ramappa Temple also known as the Ramalingeswara temple is located in Palampet village 77 km from Warangal in the Indian state of Telangana. The temple is a marvelous example of Kakatiyan creative genius, with beautiful art, intricate carvings adorning the walls, pillars and ceilings. The roof of the temple is built with bricks, which are so light that they are able to float in water.
According to inscriptions the temple was built in 1213 AD by Recherla Rudra, an army general of Kakatiya ruler Ganapati Deva. The temple is known by the name of the architect Ramappa, who built it. It took 40 years to build this temple. Lord Shiva is worshiped in this temple as Ramalingeswara. The hall in front of the sanctum has numerous carved pillars that have been positioned to create an effect that combines light and space. The temple had remained intact even after repeated wars and natural disasters. There was a major earthquake during the 17th century which caused some damages to the temple.
The temple stands on a raised platform with lateral porched entrances on three sides. The main entrance faces east. The sanctum contains a black basalt linga installed on a high pedestal. Over the ceiling of the main hall is depicted the scenes from Ramayana, Siva Purana and other mythological narratives. The striking peculiarity of the building lies in the arrangement of bracket figures, above the kakashasana level decorated with slender graceful madanikas, Naginis etc. in different poses.
There are two small Shiva shrines on either side of the main temple. One of them has an enormous Nandi within, facing the shrine of Shiva which is in very good condition.
About a kilometer away from the temple is a lake known as ‘Ramappa Cheruvu’. The lake was constructed in the 13th century and is a magnificent example of irrigation work of Kakatiya Rulers. It is spread over an area of more than 82 square kms with lush greenery all around. The lake is overlooked by beautiful hills in the background providing spectacular views.
How to Reach:
From Warangal and Hanamakonda, there are frequent bus services to Mulugu which is at a distance of 50 km. From Mulugu there are frequent buses available to Palampet which is at a distance of around 20 km. The temple is around 500 meters from here.
Shravanabelagola is a city located near Channarayaptna of Hassan District in the Indian state of Karnataka. The Gomateshvara statue at Shravanabelagola is one of the most important tirthas (pilgrimage destinations) in Jainism. The town is a prominent centre for Jaina art, architecture, religion and culture for over 2,300 years. It is a town of ponds and temples. The name of this holy center is derived from the pond called ‘biligola’ (white pond) between two hills. It is believed that Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Dynasty and the Maurya Empire died here in 298 BC after he became a Jain monk and assumed an ascetic life style.
Shravanabelagola has two hills, Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri. The 58 feet tall monolithic statue of Gomateshvara (it is also referred as “Bahubali” by the Jains) is located on the Vindyagiri Hill. It is considered to be the world’s largest monolithic stone statue. The statue is carved beautifully from a single block of rock with accurate sense of proportion and expression. Gomata has curly really nice hair in ringlets on the head and long, large ears. His eyes are open as if viewing the world with detachment. The facial features are perfectly chiseled with a faint touch of smile at the corner of his lips and embody calm vitality. There is an anthill in the background which signifies his incessant penance and from where emerges a snake and creepers which twine around both his legs and his arms culminating as cluster of flowers and berries at the upper portion of the arms. The posture of meditation, of the digambara (nude) statue is known as ‘Kayotsarga’, symbolizing renunciation, self-control and subjugation of ego as the first step towards salvation. It represents the complete victory over earthly desires and needs that hamper spirtual ascent towards divinity.
The statue at Shravanabelagola was voted by the readers of “Times of India” a leading daily, as the first of the Seven Wonders of India by scoring 49% votes.
The base of the statue has an inscription in Prakrit, dating to 981 AD. The inscription praises the king who funded the effort and his general, Chavundaraya who erected the statue for his mother. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is anointed with water, turmeric, rice flour, sugar cane juice, sandalwood paste, saffron, and gold and silver flowers.
The Vindhyagiri hill is about 470 feet above the ground and is of solid rock. It must be climbed barefoot. Tourists can use the main steps from the town consisting of dual flights of about 660 steps to the top which was cut out in the rock. You may see old people climb these steps however they are steep and it can be a hard climb. In summer the rock can get hot, so you may carry a pair of socks to be worn while climbing the steps. Old people who cannot climb can avail palanquin services. The palanquin bearers carry them on chair.
Chandragiri hill is a small hill located just opposite to the Vindhyagiri hill. It is believed that Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya dynasty, breathed his last in this hill. Steps have been cut out in this hill and the ascent is similar to that of Vindhyagiri. It is steep and hard to climb. The hill has memorials to numerous monks and shravakas who have meditated here. Chandragiri also has the tomb of Chandragupta Maurya. There are also several monuments of interest scattered around this hill.
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka lies 9 km from Obedullaganj city in the Raisen District of Madya Pradesh and 45 km south of Bhopal at the southern edge of the Vindhya hills. The entire area is covered by thick vegetation, natural flora and fauna. It falls inside the Ratapani Wild Life Sanctuary. These rock shelters bears striking resemblance to similar rock art sites such as Kakadu National Park in Australia, the cave paintings of the Bushmen in Kalahari Desert and the Lascaux cave paintings in France.
These rock shelters exhibits the traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent in the beginning of the Stone Age. At least some of the shelters were inhabited by Homo erectus more than 100,000 years age. Some of the Stone Age rock paintings found among the Bhimbetka rock shelters are approximately 30,000 years old. The caves also deliver early evidence of dance. These shelters were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. The name Bhimbetka is associated with Bhima, a hero of the epic Mahabharata. The word Bhimbetka is said to derive from Bhimbaithaka, meaning “Sitting Place of Bhima”.
The rock shelters and caves of Bhimbetka have a large number of paintings. The oldest painings are considered to be 30,000 years old but some of the geometric figures date to as recent as the medieval period. The colors used are vegetable colors which have endured through time because the drawings were generally made deep inside a niche or on inner walls. The drawings and paintings can be classified under seven different periods.
Period I – (Upper Paleolithic): These are linear representations, in green and dark red, of huge figures of animals such as bison, tigers and rhinoceroses.
Period II – (Mesolithic): Comparatively small in size, the stylized figures in this group saw linear decorations on the body. In addition to animals there are human figures and hunting scenes, giving a clear picture of the weapons they used, like barbed spears, pointed sticks, bows and arrows. The depiction of communal dances, birds, musical instruments, mothers and children, pregnant women, men carrying dead animals, drinking and burials appear in rhythmic movement.
Period III – (Chalcolithic): Similar to the paintings of the Chalcolithic, these drawings reveal that during this period the cave dwellers of this area were in contact with the agricultural communities of the Malwa plains, exchanging goods with them.
Period IV & V – (Early historic): The figures of this group have schematic and decorative style and are painted mainly in red, white and yellow. The association is of riders, depiction of religious symbols, tunic like dresses and the existence of scripts of different periods. The religious beliefs are represented by figures of yakshas (a broad class of nature spirits), tree gods and magical sky chariots.
Period VI & VII – (Medieval): These paintings are geometric linear and more schematic, but they show degeneration and crudeness in their artistic style. The colors used by the cave dwellers were prepared by combining manganese, hematite and wooden coal.
One rock, popularly referred to as “Zoo Rock”, depicts elephants, sambar, bison and deer. Paintings on another rock show a peacock, a snake, a deer and the sun. On another rock two elephants with tusks are painted. Hunting scenes with hunters carrying bows, arrows, swords and shields also find their place in the community of these pre-historic paintings. In one of the caves, a bison is shown in pursuit of a hunter while his two companions appear to stand helplessly nearby; in another some horsemen are seen along with archers.
In one painting, a large wild boar is seen. It is not known whether such large boars existed that time or humans drew it with enlarged scale.
Sringeri is the site of the first matha (Sringeri Sharada Peetha) established by Adi Shankara in the 8th Century AD located on the banks of river Tunga. A ‘matha’ is a Sanskrit word means “cloister, institute or college” and it also refers to a monastery in Hinduism. Adi Shankara was the Indian philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta and is credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism.
According to legend, Adi Shankaracharya is said to have selected the site as the place to stay and teach his disciples, because when he was walking by the Tunga river, he saw a cobra with a raised hood, providing shelter from the hot sun, to a frog about to spawn. Impressed with the place where natural enemies had gone beyond their instincts, he stayed here for twelve years.
Sringeri is home to the historic temples of Sri Sharadamba Temple and Sri Vidyashankara Temple. The Sharadamba temple is dedicated to the Goddess of learning and wisdom. The temple structure made in wood was damaged by a fire in the early 20th century and was rebuilt in the traditional south Indian Chettinadu style of temple architecture.
The Vidyashankara temple was built in commemoration of the pontiff Vidyashankara, around 1357-58 AD by Harihara and Bukka, the brothers who founded the Vijayanagara Empire. The temple, has a number of stone sculptures from Hindu mythology. Inscriptions in the temple record contributions made by several Vijayanagara emperors but the temple was probably built on an earlier Hoysala site as it combines Hoysala and Vijaynagara architectural features. The architecture also exhibits the astronomical expertise of medieval south Indian temple builders. The main temple hall features 12 pillars designated for the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Windows and doors along the temple walls are arranged such that the equinoxes sunrise rays reach the deity. The temple was built in the year 1338 AD. It is a unique monument built entirely of stone combining both Hoysala and Dravidian architectural styles. The structure, stand on a high plinth and commands a magnificent view from the hills and their slopes all around.
The twelve pillars in the Vidyashankar temple are popularly known as Rashistambhas (zodiacal Pillars). Symbols of the twelve divisions of the zodiac are engraved on these pillars. It is said that the design of the pillars involved certain astronomical concepts like the first rays of the rising sun fall on specific pillars with the zodiacal symbol on the pillar corresponding to the position of the sun.
How to Reach & Where to stay
KSRTC Buses operates from Bangalore. It is 95 km from Shimoga which is connected to Bangalore through bus and rail routes. Sringeri can also be reached from Mangalore which is at a distance of 105 km by road. From Udupi it is at a distance of 80 km via Hebri and Agumbe.
The town has guest houses run by the temple administration of which the details can be obtained from the Sringeri Mutt web site. There are many private lodges available as well.
Yes, it sounds weird, but there is a temple of rats dedicated to Karni Mata at Deshnok, 30 km from Bikaner in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Approximately 20,000 black rats live in this temple, and is highly revered by the devotees. The temple draws devotees and visitors from across the country for blessings. You can also see tourists from around the world flocking to this small town out of curiosity.
According to legend, Karni Mata a 14th century incarnation of Durga, asked the god of death, Yama, to restore to life the son of a grieving storyteller. When Yama refused, Karni Mata reincarnated all dead storytellers as rats, depriving Yama of human souls. It is considered auspicious if the rats scamper over your feet. These holy rodents are locally called as ‘kabas’. There are few white rats in the temple which are considered to be especially holy. Please look for one of the rare white rats. It is good luck for you if you could spot one. Unfortunately I couldn’t spot one, my bad luck.
The temple was constructed in its current form in the early 20th century in the late Mughal style by Maharaj Ganga Singh of Bikaner. In front of the temple is a beautiful marble façade, which has solid silver doors built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. The image of the Goddess is enshrined in the inner sanctum.
Karni Mata Fair is held twice a year at Deshnok – the first and larger fair is held in March-April and the second one is held in September-October. During this time thousands of people travel to the temple by foot.
The temple appeared on the first season of the U.S. reality series ‘The Amazing Race’ in 2001. It featured a challenge were one person from each team had to search the temple for a clue. The Karni Mata temple is one of the wonders of Indians in the game Age of Empires III.