FRIDAY REVIEW

The golden Goddess of Vijayawada

of Vijayawada

Chintamani Durga at the Kanakadurga shrine.

Chintamani Durga at the Kanakadurga shrine.  

SHE BEARS the gold in her name. Goddess Kanakadurga atop the Indrakeeladri hill at Vijayawada has an allure that magnetises her devotees.

Her eight hands bear eight different weapons and she displays a sitting posture. Kanakadurga is self-manifest — Swayambhu — the natives say. She had once showered gold on a kingdom, because its king balanced the scales of justice when he punished his son for accidentally running over a boy.

Further, it was on this hill that Arjuna, also known as Vijaya, succeeded in his penance to attain Siva.

Dasavatharam... an alluring Tableau from Kondapalli.

Dasavatharam... an alluring Tableau from Kondapalli.  

Therefore this locality or wada got the name, Vijayawada. Mythology and tradition in India have always been inseparable from history.

The inscriptions of different dynasties found on the walls of the temple contribute to its historic value. Vijayawada, the heart of Andhra Pradesh, was earlier known as Bezzawada, probably because the hills there had many tunnels or Bejjams. True to its name, there are many rock cut caves and temples, an inheritance from the Buddhist culture of the Vishnukundin Kingdom between the period 420-620 A.D. Close to Vijayawada are the spectacular Undavalli caves. ``Oh! Anantha Padmanabhaswami Gudi!" exclaim the locals when asked for directions. The caves are four storeyed and at the very first cave one is greeted with an astounding sight. A reposing Padmanabha all of six metres long under the canopy of the multi-hooded Adisesha along with all the other ubiquitous aspects of this aspect of Vishnu. The walls of these caves display sculptures of the Andhra School of art. Could it be that the structure of these caves resemble the Buddhist Viharas? Whatever may be the answer, the architectural and sculptural proficiency of these caves set in verdant surroundings does make the visit worthwhile. Andhra just doesn't display temples of different ages but also vestiges of a bygone Buddhist culture.

Twenty-one miles to the north of Guntur, on the right bank of the river Krishna lies a great centre of Buddhism. Buddhism in Andhra can be traced to the age of the Buddha himself. This place was earlier called Dhanyakataka and is now popularly known as Amaravati probably in view of the Amaresvara temple here that came up later. The Mahastupa at Amaravati was one of the most stupendous monuments of ancient India. The word `Stupa' etymologists say can trace its origin to the Sanskrit root Stup-heap. A synonym of the word Stupa is chaitya. These structures were originally funeral mounds but were later on built at several places sanctified by their connection with the Buddha. This Mahastupa is known also as 'Deepala-dinne' or Mound of lamps. The Government museum here has made a miniature model of the stupa. A few metres away, the original stupa gives the flavours of a bygone era. At the archaeological site, some of the carvings excavated from the site present along with replicas of original reliefs present a fascinating exhibit. In case, one should assume that we are caught up only in past glories, Kondapalli quickly dispels that thought.

The entrance of China Tirupati Temple.

The entrance of China Tirupati Temple.  

Kondapalli, a small quiet village, sixteen kms from Vijayawada is the habitat of craftsmen engrossed in crafting toys- so simple yet so beautiful.

Sculpted out of a feather weight wood called the Poniki, the lightness of the medium contributes to the felicity in handling it. The themes are characteristically Indian drawn both from mythology and the contemporary social scene. The bright colours compulsively add cheer to its surroundings.

Thirty nine km from Eluru is a place called Dwaraka Tirumala. Local inhabitants identify the place as Chinna Tirupati the locals identify this place only by this name and one understands the reason when one enters the temple. Sri Venkateswara Swamy has another abode at Chinna Tirupati and again atop a hill. The precincts of the temple are quiet, clean and the various rituals conducted here constantly remind one of Tirupati sans the mammoth crowd. Legend has it that the temple can be dated to the Rama rajya. The five-storey gopuram is an example can be counted as one of the examples of fine architecture. A unique aspect is the presence of two idols under one Vimana Sikharam — a rare phenomenon. the only example of its kind. For the frail devotee To give solace to the weak hearted and the weak kneed who look dolefully at the steps, there is a well laid out road, fit for automobiles, that goes up to the gates of the temple. Truly, a visit worthwhile.

Recommended for you