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FROZEN IN TIME: The bronze statue of Sri Krishnadevaraya
FROZEN IN TIME: The bronze statue of Sri Krishnadevaraya

K. SRIMALI

The presiding deity of this 800-year-old temple was a king!

Srikakulam in the Krishna district, (about 50 km from Vijayawada,) is famous for the historic temple of Srikakuleswara Swamy, more popularly known as Srikakula Andhra Mahavishnuvu. It has a history of at least 800 years.The interesting aspect is that unlike the presiding deities of many temples, who are usually various incarnations of the gods and goddesses from the Hindu pantheon, Srikakula Andhra Mahavishnuvu was a king who ruled the region some time in the Before Christ (B.C.) era. Though there is no corroborative historical evidence to prove this, he is widely regarded as the first local ruler and popular. Apparently, divinity came to be bestowed on him later and naturally a temple came up in his name. It is perhaps to suggest this human origin of the lord that the main idol sports a moustache! The original idols of the lord, which are taken out for procession on special occasions, date back to 1205 A.D., while many inscriptions found on the premises of the temple were of 12th century.The village and the temple, which otherwise attract fewer crowds except on special occasions, throbbed with a lot of literary and cultural activity for three days from February 9 to 11, when Sri Krishna Devaraya Mahotsavaalu was held in the temple premises in memory of the greater emperor of the Vijayanagara kingdom.The Department of Culture of the Government of Andhra Pradesh and Divi Historical Research Council floated by Avanigadda MLA Mandali Buddha Prasad joined hands to organise the events.

Historic stop

As one will be tempted to ask what has Sri Krishnadevaraya got to do with a small temple far from Vijayanagara, and why should he be remembered here for three days. According to a mix of history and legend, Sri Krishnadevaraya made a transit halt at Srikakulam in the year 1440 of Salivahana Saka when he was on his way to wage a war on the Kalinga Empire after crossing the Krishna. According to calculations made by some scholars, the year coincides with 1518 of thecalendar, while some others put it as 1519 A.D. Those who argue that it is 1518 say that the day of Sri Krishna devaraya's visit to the temple falls on February 11. The visit turned out to be an eventful one for the emperor. During the night that he spent in the temple premises, Andhra Mahavishnuvu appeared in his dreams and coaxed him to author a classic in Telugu, which the lord described as "best of the languages of the country" ("Desa bhaashalandu Telugu lessa"). The emperor, known as a great patron of literature and arts, sat down in a 16-pillar `mandapam' (a special canopied rock structure) on the temple premises and began writing `Aamuktamaalyada', his magnum opus.Without giving much thought to its importance, the original mandapam was pulled down during the last Krishna Pushkarams when the temple was renovated. It was recently reconstructed and a 400-kg bronze statue of Sri Krishna Devaraya in a sitting posture and authoring `Aamuktamaalyada' was installed there. Well-known sculptor Borra Siva Varaprasad, a President's award winner, made the statue at a cost of Rs. 3 lakhs.


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