At Alampur, we stumble upon a bygone world full of temples
Armed with Google on-the-go and numerous pictures of a temple in ruins, a blue river and coracles (saucer boats), we travelled to Alampur in a car from Kurnool. Our cabbie was rather unenthusiastic about our long itinerary. He scoffed at most places we wanted to go to. He was of the opinion there was nothing of value to see at Alampur. However, he was proved wrong.
Located 30 km from Kurnool, Alampur has temples that date back to the 6th Century. The confluence of rivers Krishna and Tungabhadra add significance to Alampur. The Nava Brahma temples — Taraka, Swarga, Padma, Bala, Garuda, Arka, Kumara, Veera and Viswa Brahma — are built around the banks of the Tungabhadra.
These temples were constructed during the reign of the Chalukyas (6th to 12th Century), popularly known as Badami Chalukyas. Alampur has been under the rule of the Shatavahana Ishvakus of Nagarjunakonda, Rashtrakutas, Kalyani Chalyukyas, Krishnadevaraya, Kakatiyas and Qutub Shahis of Golconda as well.
The Nava Brahma Temples carry the immense weight of history; the architecture hides many tales. Mythological stories are carved on the base blocks of the temples. The Brahma temples have shikharas (spires) adorned with miniature architectural elements. The walls of the temple have rich carvings and ornate screen windows. On either side of the entrances of the temples are stone-carved dwarabpalakas (guards). The bala Brahma temple works as the main shrine and regular temple rituals are performed here; according to the locals, this temple is said to have a continuous record of ritual worship from Krishnadevaraya’s era. The Arka Brahma shrine is in ruins, but the Vishwa Brahma and Swarga Brahma shrines offer a peek at the glory of the past. Interestingly, there is also a mosque adjacent to the temples.
While the historian in you enjoys the rich heritage left behind by glorious kings and queens, the poor maintenance leaves you saddened. Nothing has been done to prevent visitors using the complex as restrooms or as a place to rest.
The town itself is rather small; you’ll do better on foot. Jogulamba Temple is part of the Shakti Peethas and is usually crowded; a few pilgrims come by foot all the way from Karnataka to pay obeisance. A dyke surrounds the temple premises; climb it to get a bird’s eye view of paddy fields and the greenish-blue Tungabhadra that’s fast drying. Or, walk over to the riverside and dip your feet in the water. Local fishermen can be coaxed into taking you on a small ride in the saucer boats.
By the banyan
Another place of interest near Alampur is Pillalamarri (Mahbubnagar district), which roughly translates to ‘children’s banyan’. Located at about 130 km from Alampur, it houses a banyan tree supposed to be more than 800 years old. It is said to cover over three acres, of which only one acre has been developed by the State Tourism Department. The locals say that a few years ago, the tree had such thick foliage that one couldn’t see the sky above. From a distance, it looks like a hillock; needless to say the tree is majestic in its structure. The State Tourism flyer says that more than 1,000 people can take shelter under this tree. There are science and archaeology museums to keep kids interested.
Take a train or a cab to Kurnool, about 212 km from Hyderabad. There are frequent buses from Kurnool to Alampur. Avoid travelling to Alampur in summer, the stone pathway could be too hot to handle.
Where to stay
Kurnool has good hotels and restaurants.