Hyderabad

As Ramappa Temple gets coveted tag, village hopes for change in fortune

The Ramappa Temple was anointed a UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 25.   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

A mini-bus with an Andhra Pradesh number plate is stopped by the police just outside the Ramappa Temple for a check while a dusty car with a Karnataka number plate zips to the parking lot. A day earlier, about a dozen young girls and women from Kakinada arrived on a hired bus to see the World Heritage Site.

Inside the Ramappa temple, men and women gawk around in astonishment, touch the smooth stone sculptures, pray intently and speak in dozen different languages. Outside the disused eastern entrance, a family has brought in a tractor and the priest struggles to crack open the ash gourd to complete the puja.

On the surface, nothing has changed. But the small village of Palampet is abuzz with the conversation of UNESCO World Heritage Tag. Crews of journalists have stationed themselves in the village and have spoken to the farmer, the priest, the grizzly-old peanut seller at the western entrance, and any other person willing to talk.

“We used to have pucca shops here. To get the UNESCO tag, they demolished our 20-year-old shops two years ago. Then COVID-19 struck, shutting down our livelihood. Hopefully now, our business will improve and we can get back to normal life,” says Raghu Raju, a shopkeeper who stocks everything from bangles to toys.

“Tourists used to come only occasionally, and children from schools and colleges were our biggest business. But the pandemic has closed that avenue. Sadly, people who come to pray don’t buy anything,” says Mr. Raju, who lives in the village of Palampet and comes in the morning to open his shop.

Earlier, families used to live and sell goods outside the western entrance, but demolitions to clean up the area and create parking spaces mean that the village life has been disrupted.

“Don’t photograph God. It is prohibited,” says an Archaeological Survey of India official at the site as a woman nods and proceeds to video-call her family from inside the main temple. The temple is usually not crowded on Wednesdays; people mainly come during the weekends and on festivals. The main festivals include Maha Sivaratri, Girija Kalyanam and Ekadasi. “On an average, we used to get 300 to 500 people daily. The number goes up to a few thousands on weekends. The biggest rush is on Sivaratri when more than 30,000 people turn up to pray during abhishekham,” says the ASI official.

Outside the temple, while people admire the sculptures and the skill of craftsmen, newer stories are being created. “The Kakatiyas had contact with Egyptians. You can see the sculpture of a Pharaoh here,” says a TV announcer pointing to a soldier holding a square battle shield. It doesn’t matter that the Kakatiyas ruled in the 12th and 13th century.


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 6:51:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/as-ramappa-temple-gets-coveted-tag-village-hopes-for-change-in-fortune/article35636027.ece

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