India’s youngest state Telangana has been a front runner in a lot of things. Be it the boom in the IT sector in Hyderabad or tourism. One of the latest additions to Telangana’s tourist circuit is the Ramappa Temple, it earned the coveted UNESCO’s world heritage site tag last year.
While I haven’t seen the tourism department talk much about it, I decided to drive from Hyderabad to Ramappa temple a few weeks ago. In this blog post, I’ll share my experience of visiting the Ramappa temple, a world heritage site in Telangana.
History of Ramappa Temple
Back in the 12th century, Warangal was the capital of the Kakatiya Dynasty. The dynasty ruled modern-day Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, parts of Karnataka, and Odisha. During the reign, the rulers brought the Telugu-speaking regions closer. Art and culture flourished and a lot of reservoirs, temples, and other important buildings were built. Kakatiyas also had a distinct architectural style that set them apart from the rest. Modern-day thousand pillar temple, Warangal fort, and Ramappa temple are great examples of this.
Rudreshwara temple popularly known as Ramappa temple is named after the person who created it – Ramappa. The only temple in India that is named after the person who built it. Built in the 13th century, the Ramappa temple used materials that were way ahead of its time. For instance, most of the base of the temple is built using special floating bricks – sandbox as it is called! This was an engineering marvel in itself, using a porous material like sand to make a base of a temple was unheard of. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple complex has three other temples within it.
An Architectural Marvel
One of the many things that you’ll find interesting at the Ramappa Temple is the platform on which the temple is built. Built using floating bricks, the star-shaped platform is just above 6 feet in height. The beautiful temple stands tall and firm on the platform. The main sanctum has intricately carved pillars and ceilings that will leave you in awe. As you enter the main sanctum, you are greeted by life-size sculptures of female dancers.
There are four main pillars inside the sanctum that are laced with sculptures of architectural excellence. In fact, the roof also has ornate sculptures that depict puranic stories while the central part of the roof has lord Shiva in the tandav pose. The doorway to the main temple is another fine work with jalis, Natrajas making it the most ornate doorway at any temple in Telangana.
On the outside, scores of elephants for the base of the temple. Like many other temples that I’ve visited in the past like the Sun Temple in Modhera, elephants, and lotus form the base of the temple. If you notice closely, you’ll see that the expressions of the elephants are varying. There are also 3 devakostas on the three sides of the temple meant for other deities.
The Vimana or the spire is one of the most distinctive features of the Rampappa Temple. There’s also a small Mandapa that houses a dolerite pillar on which is engraved an inscription of the famous Recharla Rudra. This inscription is the major source of information, which informs about the temple.
Lastly, what you cannot miss are the shiny black brackets on the roof of the temple. There are a total of 38 bracket figures that support the roof of the temple. These are made from dolerite which is an igneous, crystalline black rock. As per the experts, this is a tough rock to carve. However, once carved and polished, these look magical. And that’s what I feel is the highlight of Ramappa Temple.
These 38 bracket figures demand your attention thanks to the shine and polish. At first, I thought that these are added by the ASI later on, but only after I read about the temple, I realized its importance. It’s been over 800 years and these brackets shine better than a brand new car!
There’s also a sculpture of Nandi overlooking the temple. It is one of the largest that I’ve seen in the recent past. It’s preserved in a good condition and is housed within a small building itself. There’s also another small temple besides Rudreshwara temple which is quite similar to the main temple but much smaller in size. While the main temple is a live temple – people worship here, this small one has nothing. Lastly, there’s a small room at the corner which is presumed to be a kitchen based on what I read about the temple.
My Experience at the Ramappa Temple
In my previous blog post, I mentioned my Hyderabad to Ramappa temple road trip. So read that if you want to know more about the roads and drive to the temple. Once you reach the temple, you have to pay Rs 50 for parking. There’s an open parking area which is basically a ground. As you walk towards the temple, you’ll see some small stores selling food, beverages, and toys.
Surprisingly there’s no ticket counter yet, so you’re free to enter. There are clean washrooms on the left side and there’s a lot of greenery around. There’s a small shoe rack before you enter the main temple area. Since this is a worshipping temple, I’m guessing that’s the reason why they ask us to remove our footwear.
After that, you have to walk barefoot on the ground that is laced with stones and pebbles. It’s a pain to walk, especially on a sunny day when the ground heats up. There are no walkways made inside the temple complex making it difficult to walk.
There were no official tour guides or details about the temple to help the tourists. There wasn’t even a tourist office there. While I understand that it has received the UNESCO tag recently, the temple has been there for a long time and it’s sad to see its state of it. There is some construction work going on, however, it isn’t what a UNESCO world heritage site deserves. Rani ki Vav and Modhera Sun temple are fine examples of how world heritage sites need to be protected and maintained.
In fact, there’s a list of recommendations made by UNESCO that the Telangana State government needs to implement/submit before December 1, 2022. As per a news report by Hindustan Times, the changes requested are nowhere close to being complete.
Ramappa Temple – Worth a Visit
I might have spoken a lot about how the temple isn’t managed well by the authorities, but that doesn’t take away anything from Ramappa temple in itself. The temple is beautiful and the intricate roof carvings will leave you in awe. The sandbox technology of floating bricks used almost 1000 years ago still amazes me. And those shiny black brackets (shinier than the Filmfare lady) are a treat to the eyes.
So if you have a day or two at hand, plan a trip to Ramappa temple. If you love architecture and buildings and are a history buff, you’ll surely love the temple.