History & Culture

The treasures of Tadipatri

Bugga Ramalingeshwara temple

Bugga Ramalingeshwara temple   | Photo Credit: RVS PRASAD

Both the Siva and Vishnu temples have stunning sculptures and carvings

Tadipatri, a town in Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh, located on the banks of River Pennar has a long history going back many centuries. It was ruled by a number of kings belonging to the major dynasties of the Chalukyas of Kalyana, the Hoysalas and the monarchs of the mighty Vijayanagara Empire. There are two temples in Tadipatri, one for Siva and another for Vishnu, both constructed in the 16th century c.e., when the chieftains of the Pemmasani family administered this region during the Vijayanagara era.

The Chintala Venkataramana Swami temple was constructed during the time of Pemmasani Yera Timma Nayudu, son of Timma Nayudu and younger brother of Ramalinga Nayudu. The main deity is Venkataramana or Srinivasa, whose prefix Chintala indicates that this deity will remove worry. It is said that this area in Tadipatri was once a forest of tamarind (chinta) trees. When one of the trees broke, an image of Vishnu was seen inside. Yera Timma Nayudu, who was ruling over this area at that time, saw the image and received a divine bidding that a temple be constructed for this deity. It was duly done.

This temple has three entrances — one each on the north, south and east. On the east are the deepa-stambham (a tall monolithic pillar used for lighting lamps at the apex) and a two-pillar unjal mandapam which is used during the swing festival. The stone base of the east gopuram, datable to the Vijayanagara era of the 16th century, is superbly carved with many images of various forms of Vishnu, guardians of the eight directions (Ashta Dik Palakas, each on their respective vehicles), rows of elephants and horses among others. Noteworthy are the numerous carvings of parrots — stunningly lifelike, each different from the other. The sculptures of the river Goddess Ganga and Yamuna are prominently seen on either side of the entrance as in many other gopurams in South India constructed during the Vijayanagara times. The upper portion of this gopuram, built of brick and limeplaster, was in a dilapidated condition, and has been rebuilt in recent times.

HYDERABAD, ANDHRA PRADESH, 02-11-2012: Creativity at its best: The portrayal of an episode in Ramayana when Lord Rama destroys devil Tataki is brought out in one frame but depicting two different actions - the bow targeting the devil and the lower-half of the sculpture depicting when it bows down in the Chintala Tiruvengalanatha Swami of Lord Vishnu in Tadipatri of Anantapur district.
 PHOTO: K_RAMESH BABU

HYDERABAD, ANDHRA PRADESH, 02-11-2012: Creativity at its best: The portrayal of an episode in Ramayana when Lord Rama destroys devil Tataki is brought out in one frame but depicting two different actions - the bow targeting the devil and the lower-half of the sculpture depicting when it bows down in the Chintala Tiruvengalanatha Swami of Lord Vishnu in Tadipatri of Anantapur district. PHOTO: K_RAMESH BABU   | Photo Credit: K_RAMESH BABU

A unique shrine

Facing the main sanctum is a unique shrine for Garuda designed like a chariot (ratha) which is similar to the one seen in the Vittala temple in Hampi. The central sanctum enshrines the principal deity, Chintala Venkataramana Swami in a standing posture holding the conch (Sankha) and discus (Chakra) in the upper hands. The lower right hand is in abhaya hasta (reassuring devotees) and the lower left hand is in kati hasta (resting on the waist).

The Ranga Mandapa directly in front of the central sanctum, with intricately carved pillars, is of arresting beauty. One of the rare sculptures in this mantapa is the Matsya (fish) incarnation of Vishnu killing a demon named Hayagriva. The most eye-catching feature of this temple is the carvings of numerous episodes of the Ramayana on the outer walls of the principal sanctum in three tiers. Well-known episodes from the epic as also lesser known stories are sculpted here in great detail.

Goddess Lakshmi, worshipped as Anandavalli Thayar, Lakshminarayana, Varaha and the famous Vaishnava preceptor (Acharya) Ramanujacharya are also enshrined. An eye-catching structure is the Ekanta-Seva-Mandapa which is circular in shape and delicately carved. The earliest inscription in this Vishnu temple, which can be accurately dated, registers gifts in 1551 C.E. Other epigraphs belonging to the 16th and 17th centuries C.E. are also seen.

The Bugga Ramalingeshwara (Siva) temple, situated on the right bank of River Pennar was constructed in the reign of Pemmasani Ramalinga Nayudu. This temple has three entrances in the south, north and west. The intricate carvings of various deities, birds, especially parrots, many animals and floral and geometric designs found on the south gopuram are breathtaking.

The north gopuram is noteworthy because of its sculptures — those of the Ashta-Dik-Palakas, each on their respective vahana (mount) and carrying weapons; manifestations of Siva such as Nataraja and Bhikshatanamurti; and a tall figure, wearing the typical conical Vijayanagara era crown, which has been identified as Ramalinga Nayudu.

HYDERABAD, ANDHRA PRADESH, 02-11-2012: The beautifully carved out Kalabhairava on the premises of the Chintala Tiruvengalanatha Swami of Lord Vishnu in Tadipatri of Anantapur district.
 PHOTO: K_RAMESH BABU

HYDERABAD, ANDHRA PRADESH, 02-11-2012: The beautifully carved out Kalabhairava on the premises of the Chintala Tiruvengalanatha Swami of Lord Vishnu in Tadipatri of Anantapur district. PHOTO: K_RAMESH BABU   | Photo Credit: K_RAMESH BABU

The west gopuram has the insignia of the Vijayanagara dynasty, which is the boar with a sword in front and the sun and moon above, clearly carved on it. Next to this gopuram and directly in front of the main sanctum is a finely sculpted Nandi.

The main sanctum enshrines a Linga worshipped as Bugga Ramalingeshwara. The word ‘bugga’ means spring in Telugu and the Linga is thus called as there is a perpetual spring near it and is always surrounded by water. In front of the central sanctum is an ornate mantapam called the Ranga Mantapam which has sixteen elaborately carved pillars, some of which are ‘musical pillars,’ emitting different sounds when tapped lightly. The ceiling of the Ranga Mandapa is richly carved.

Goddess Parvathi worshipped as Rajarajeshwari, Rama, Chandesha and Virabhadra (a ferocious aspect of Siva who arose from the matted hair of this deity) are also seen in the temple. On the south-west corner is the Kalyana-mandapa, a characteristic feature of many Vijayanagara era temples. A few inscriptions have been discovered here which speak of gifts of land to this shrine.

Both the Siva and Vishnu temples are in active worship and are protected monuments of national importance under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 8:52:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/the-treasures-of-tadipatri/article31580660.ece

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