Monday 19 November 2012

The temple that was built in a day

This is a temple that legends say was built in a day. It is also the only temple in India where the Kalyana (marriage) ceremony of the deities are conducted in the  night.
This is the temple of  Rama also known as Kodandarama Swamy in Vonimitta, a small town in Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh.
Vonimitta is just 28 kms from Cuddapah and it is near to Tirupathi. It is very close to the city of Rajampet.
The Kodandarama Swamy temple is several centuries old. It was constructed in one day by two devotees, Vontudu and Mittudu. The two devotes sacrificed their lives after constructing the temple.
The sacrifice of the devotees did not go in vain. They turned into statues and even today they are  standing at the entrance of the temple. The place also is named after them-Vontimitta.
Another legend says they were thieves and that they gave water to Bukka Raya, the Vijayanagar Emperor. Pleased with this, the Raya named the place after them.
Vontimitta in Telugu also means a single hill. The Kodandarama Temple stands on a single hill. 
The idol of Rama in the temple which has three gopuras was consecrated by Jambhuvantha who also installed the idols of Sita and Lakshmana. Another peculiarity of  this temple is that there is no idol of Anjeneya or Hanuman nearby. This, the locals say, is the only temple in India where Hanuman is nowhere to be seen near his Rama.
However, Anjeneya has a separate temple near the Kodandarama Temple on a small hillock called Gandi.
The three deities of  Rama, Sita an Lakshmana in the Kodandarama Temple are carved out of a single stone or rock.
The temple is in Vijayanagar style and  the main mantapa built by the Vijayanagar kings, has a dancing Vigneshwara.
The walls of the temple and its pillars have beautiful carvings in the Vijayanagar style. The carvings are from the Ramayana and are exquisite.
There are two small ponds here- Rama Theertha,  Lakshmana Theertha and a meditation hall. Locals say Rama and Lakshmana shit arrows into the earth so that water could come out and quench the thirst of people and animals.
The temple was initially built by the Cholas and subsequently by the Vijayanagars.
The temple has  important links to Telugu and Haridasa literature.
One of the greatest Telugu poets, Tallapaka Annamacharya,   visited the temple, and has composed poems praising Kodanda Rama.
Another Telugu poet, Mahakavi Bammera Pothana,  lived here and  dedicated his magnum opus, “Mahabhagavatham”  to Kodanda Rama. Vavilakolanu Subba Rao, known as Andhra Valmiki for translating Valmiki’s Ramayana into Telugu, has also dedicated this work to Kodanda Rama of  Vontimitta. The house where Subba Rao lived is now an ashram and visitors and travelers are welcome to stay here..
Another aspect of the temple is that it is located in the very region where Kishkinda Kanda, one of the seven Kandas of  Ramayana took place. The Anjenaya Temple at Gandi is equally important for a pilgrim as it is believed that it was Rama himself  who created the figure of Hanuman or Anjaneya.
Incidentally, Tallapaka which is the birthplace of Annamacharya, who was a contemporary of Purandara Dasa, is located just six kms from Rajampet.
Annamacharya wrote 32,000 Kritis or compositions and he was a regular visitor to Tirupathi. Many of his compositions are in praise of Venkatesha or Balaji.
Tallapaka is known for its temples of  Chennakesava and Siddheswara. There is also a Srichakra, idol of Eka Tataiah , an ardent disciple of Lord Parasurama, and the Annamayya Dhyana Mandira.
The TTD has adopted Tallapaka for development on the lines of Tiruvayaru. It organises the Annamacharya jayanthi regularly.
Cuddapah is 248 kms from Bangalore by road.  It will take you a little more than five hours and you can stop at Madanapalle or Chitoor en route to Cuddapah. The Horsley Hills in Madanapalle are famous. The Rishi Vally School is located here.
There are two road routes that you can choose from. The first is Chitoor-Tirupathi-Renigunta and then left to Rajampet and further to Vontimitta. The other route is Chitoor-Rayachoti and straight onto Rajampet. There are also trains from Bangalore to Cuddapah.

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