New abode for Jogulamba nearing completion

Hyderabad Sept. 21. Not often does a temple cause the kind of pre-inauguration ripples as in the case of the Jogulamba temple in Alampur in Mahabubnagar district. The temple was in the limelight for 30 years for the objection raised by the Archaeological Survey of India against any renovation, and for the sheer effort made by the State Government to persuade the Centre for clearing the renovation work.

Now, a new temple has been constructed at a cost of about Rs 1 crore for Goddess Jogulamba and it has been decided to re-install the Goddess in the new temple on October 15 as per the muhurtham fixed by the Kanchi Sankaracharya, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi. The consecration event will see the largest religious convergence in recent times and is expected to bring in good fortune for the State, ending its dry spells and droughts.

Behind this monumental work is a wonder man from Tamil Nadu, an obscure personality shunning publicity and pomp who infuses life into stone. S.P. Perumalachary, Sthapathi, Endowments Department, toiled for one and a half years with a retinue of 100 sculptors from his State, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, to give the temple its stately stature. He has sacrificed much of his time for the structure and is often found at the site coated with a layer of stone dust.

The culture and heritage of the State would have suffered a void but for him, as he was instrumental for many outstanding contributions such as the renovation of the Rama temple at Bhadrachalam and the carving of the Buddha statue in the Hussainsagar.

He has an ambition to make yet another superlative monolith statue of Lord Krishna from the granite block left abandoned at Raigir hill in Nalgonda district from where the boulder for the Buddha statue was obtained.

The ancient Alampur shrine is the only one of its kind in the country, being one of the "ashtadasa" (18) peethams (four of them in Andhra Pradesh alone) with Adi Shakti here assuming "ugra rupam" as Jogulamba. Her benevolence behind the terrifying posture, however, has been too well-known to devotees through centuries. The complex on the picturesque bank of the Tungabhadra which has been drawing crowds for generations comprised two structures, one of the Mother and the other of Her consort, Lord Siva, who also has an uncommon name here, "Balabrahmeswara." The Bahmani sultans destroyed the complex in the 16th century but that of Balabrahmeswara escaped unscathed. According to history, Adi Sankara visited the place and restored the Mother in a small room of Her consort.

The Endowments Commissioner, D. S. Murthy, said the devotees thronging the shrine long cherished a dream to reinstall the Mother at the original place, attributing "bad happenings" in the State to Her being confined to a congested room. However, the ASI objection after declaring it as protected monument came as a stumbling block to any effort for restoration till the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, took up the issue with the Centre and succeeded.

The reconstruction with a sanctum sanctorum covered by a "gopuram" and a cloistered mantap has been done as advised by a committee formed with representatives of Kanchi, Sringeri peethams, Sri Satyasai Trust and the Nagarjuna group.

It was Perumalachary's imagination again that the new temple resembles what the original one would have looked like— typical Chalukya design and style, compact with block on block, ornate carvings all over and a five-storey spire majestically standing on the bulk. For matching into the original pink colour in which loose ancient blocks were found, Perumalachary had a quarry of the same stone opened at Uyyalawada in Kurnool district. Braving warnings of bad auguries, the Sthapathi moved "Ammavaru" recently to the new premises as a prelude to the "punapratishta" next month.

Future plans include construction of an approach road, compound wall, yagnasala, rest-house, water supply and "jalagundam."

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