Architecture The Kala Hanuman temple at Rambagh shows the evolution of temple architecture in Hyderabad. Serish Nanisetti

S affron is the colour usually associated with Lord Hanuman. Most of the idols and images of Hanuman are in saffron and even the tilakam people apply in the temple is saffron. But Hyderabad has a rare idol of Hanuman in black. The Kala Hanuman temple in Rambagh, just off the PVNR Expressway, is rock hewn marvel that has a story about evolution of temple architecture in Hyderabad.

The entrance to the temple precincts is from the north, the temple doorway is to the east and the Rajagopuram opens to south. Once inside, the temple takes you back in time with its design, layout and architecture that harks back to Qutb Shahi architecture as well as south Indian temple architecture. The influence of Qutb Shahi style can be seen from the koneru or the well which is a square stepwell (the water has now reached the brim). There is a pulley system for drawing the water and strangely enough there is a place for bath and for change clothes which is not found in most Indian temple wells.

From inside, if you look up, the rajagopuram appears like a jigsaw puzzle with black hewn rocks stacked one on top of the other with a very little mortar binding them. A huge bell painted in saffron completes the symmetry. From the outside, the rock carvings are drawn from Hindu mythology.

“This temple is nearly 400 years old as it dates back to the time when Qutb Shahis ruled here. My great grandfather was a priest here,” says the priest sitting there as his grandson offers naivedyam to the standing idol of Hanuman in black with a twirled moustache of gold. The garbgraha (sanctum sanctorium) is a small structure which is now covered with vitrified tiles. “This is the oldest part of the temple,” says the priest as he switches between Marathi and Telugu.

Opposite the Hanuman temple, a flight of steps takes you to the Ananta Padmanabha Swamy temple. From outside this part of the temple appears like a pile of rocks only.

The exact date of the construction of the temple might be speculative but a huge baobab tree on the other side of the road gives an idea about the age of the temple (most of the African baobab trees date back to about 350 years from the time Malik Amber made a name for African cavalry). Ironically, the locals worship the baobab tree as well.