Have you ever heard of Tadipatri?
As for me, I had never heard of Bugga Ramalingeswara temple or the Chintala Venkataramana Swamy Temple. I haven't even heard of a place called Tadipatri!
One of my travel friends pointed out these temples' beauty and asked if I was up for a road trip.
How can I ever deny a road trip? And then I went on to explore the magnum opus after being awestruck by its beauty on google. It looked so majestic and beautiful. I have never seen anything like this before !!
The Hoysala temples' sculptures are a class apart, and the Dravidian temples lure you by the majestic gopurams.
But, the Tadipatri temple had its distinct and unique features. The temples are made of black stone, probably granite. It is not easy to work on granite at all!
I was super excited about the structures, and the road trip was a cherry on the top. Tadipatri temples can be included on a day trip from Bangalore or as a weekend trip paired up with Gandikota.
Journey From Bangalore To Tadipatri
It was a bright Saturday morning when we set out to Tadipatri. We had rain until we reached Bangalore airport and past that, but it was super hot the moment we entered Andhra!
Amusing to see how imaginary borders change everything in a minute. The language gets different; the dressing style does, and so does the weather.
The National Highway 44 was pretty cool to drive on, and the fresh monsoon had left the hills with a tinge of green. Windmills start to dot along the way, making it more picturesque.
The newly opened KIA motor industry pops up on the way, and so do many signboards in the Korean language. I was surprised to see that a whole Korean community has cropped up in the middle of nowhere. There are Korean departmental stores, apartments, Korean real estate brokers, so much fun to see this!
We drove past Anantapur, and finally, Tadipatri emerged.
Tadipatri was a small enough town. And it was easy to follow the maps to both the temples as they are just a couple of kilometers apart. Both of these temples were built during the Vijayanagar era, and the styles of the temples are reflective of that.
Chintala Venkataramana Swamy Temple
As the name suggests, this is a Vishnu temple. It is said that the Lord appeared here by emerging out of a tamarind tree (called Chintala Chethu in Telugu). Hence, it got its name Chintala Venkataramana Swamy, also known as Chintalarayaswami.
There is a myth attached to the temple. And it goes like -
One day, when the farmers were working in the fields, they heard a loud thud, and when they looked around, they noticed that the Chintala tree had broken, and in its place was Lord Venkateswara's statue. And that night, Lord appeared in the dream of Thimmanayaka, who was at Gandikota, and asked him to build a temple for Him.
The statue in the sanctum sanctorum is nearly 10 ft high. But, it is not sure if this giant statue emerged from a tree or it is just a mythological story. Anyways, today it is famous as the Chintala Venkataramana Swamy Temple.
As I entered through the gates, even the garden around the area had pillars carved beautifully. There stood a pillar that could have served as a balance (weighing scale).
It is surprising that In many temples even now, a balance is used where devotees sit on one side of the balance and some offerings for God are placed on the other side. The temple's main tower was whitewashed, and it was standing over a stunning black granite structure. This is unique to this place!
The black stone is still harvested from around and sold. And these temple walls are all made of granite. Granite or such black stone is very tough to work on, and to see such work done on such hard rock is fascinating to watch! This truly is a marvel!
Inside the Chintala Venkataramana Swamy temple, Tadipatri
When we pass through the doors, we come across a vast temple complex. A model stone chariot stands just behind the Dhwaja Stambha, the flag pole. The chariot is similar to what we would see in Hampi.
The stone chariot also serves as Garuda mandapam as Garuda always faces the Vishnu shrine. Passing through that, we enter into the 40 pillared Ranga Mandapam. The pillars are ornate. As historical as it can be! We witness the dancing lady figurines on the pillars, apsaras, mythical figures, and pillars similar to musical pillars.
There is a place to sit and small community games to play in the corridor. This mandapam is attached to the next room adjoining the sanctum sanctorum. From here on, photography is not allowed.
As fascinating as the temple architecture is, so are the myths attached to it. It is said that once a year, the sun rays pass through the main temple gopuram, through the holes in the stone chariot, through the entrance of the mandapam, and fall at the feet of the Lord!
It is an engineering marvel to think that they have devised it this way. How did they even test such once-a-year phenomena? How can we be sure? But, still, it is a great surprise.
After a satisfying darshan of Lord Chintalarayaswami, there is plenty of stuff to see around the temple.
How can one not find the two epics of our Indian History on any Indian marvel !! The walls are adorned with stories from Mahabharata and Ramayana. One can read complete Ramayana on one side, right from Rama's birth and the three brothers till Sita is rescued. And then there is the story of Lord Krishna as well.
Walking around the temple, we will come across a shrine for Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess Padmavathi). And there are smaller shrines around the corridor. When we come around the temple, we will notice how even a Tulasi Madam is given so much importance and carved so intricately !!
Chintala Venkataramana Swamy temple is more crowded. The other temple is only a kilometer away. Yet this one is more crowded, and more folks were thronging the place to do pooja. The temple is open from morning 5 am to 11 pm and opens again from 4 pm to 8:30 pm. No entrance tickets are needed to witness this beauty!
Bugga Ramalingeswara Swamy Temple
Just a kilometer away from the Chintala Venkataramana Swamy temple is the Bugga Ramalingeswara temple.
While approaching the temple, we get to see the dry river bed of Penna. The ASI also maintains this temple. Within the temple complex is an old temple chariot. Even the base of the temple chariot has stone carvings! It made me wonder how they would have pulled this heavy chariot!
In the front are the main entrance of the temple and an unfinished temple gopuram. It is in an odd shape, and then I thought that the brick structure should have been constructed later by ASI to support the gopuram. The entrance is monumental, and sculptures are running all around the doorway.
Just as one enters, one must make sure to turn and admire the entrance gopuram. One would be taken aback by the beauty of the black stone. So was I!
The work on the stone was exquisite. One is completely taken aback. It is much more massive than the Chintala Venkataramana Swamy temple. I would do an injustice to the beauty by trying to describe it in words !!
Origin of The Bugga Ramalingeswara Temple
The Bugga Ramalingeswara temple gets its name from the perennial water source that comes out from under a Shiva Linga. Bugga in Telugu means it keeps on flowing.
There are different stories about its origin !! History on the internet says this temple was built by Ramalinga Naidu, which explains the second part of the name. But the board erected by the ASI states this temple was constructed by Thimmanaidu in the 16th century.
It is also believed that Lord Parasuram did His penance here.
The same mythological story is not very clear because the priest said, Lord Ram, himself, instilled this Shiva statue and prayed. Ram installed the Linga, and hence it gets its name Ramalingeshwara.
Therefore, there is a shrine for Rama and Sita and Lakshmana, a shrine for Lord Shiva, and you can notice the water oozing out from under the Lingam, and there is a shrine for his consort, Goddess Parvati. With the river having dried up for ages, it is indeed a wonder that the water continues to ooze out the Lingam !!
The shrines are close by. The Mandapam through which we reach the shrines is filled with musical pillars. Look up, and there are strains of frescoes still left !! I wish it were all intact; it might have looked colorful, could have been even some story depiction. But, alas, it wasn't!
As we walk around, we come across a southern entrance. This must have been the main entrance because it has the Nandi seated at the entrance facing the Lingam shrine, and then there is also the Dwajasthambam (flag pole) just next to the Nandi.
The temple entrance leads directly to the river. The doorway has garland-like designs made of stone. The scenic beauty fills one with absolute awe.
Everything comes to a standstill when we further walk and reach towards the east entrance. We are left wondering how someone can develop such creativity and construct something so magnificent !!
It is much bigger and better than the pictures. A picture cannot be an alternative to visiting this place!
The mammoth granite temple's gopuram entrance stands unfinished. It is bigger and better than the one at the west entrance.
It is said that an architect called Yallanchari was brought from Varanasi to design this temple. But when the temple's pandits feared that the temple might exceed in beauty than the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Kashi, they urged the king to stop the construction. They were afraid they might get cursed, and Pennar might run dry. So the temple construction was halted.
And hence this is the story attached to the unfinished gopurams at the Bugga Ramalingeswara temple.
Pennar is still dry, though, and nobody knows when water was last spotted!
The temple walls are not as ornate as the gopurams, but it still bears the stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Gopurams also have stories from the Skanda Puranam.
How can someone ever wish to leave such a place?
The fluttering pigeons, the black stone marvel, the temple bell ringing through the air; it was all so serene that I would have sat there for eternity!
Tadipatri is an offbeat place, and there was hardly anyone around apart from the town folks. So, when I was taking pictures and shooting videos, they started looking at me with surprise and amusement!
Here is also a short video touring around both the Tadipatri temples
How To Reach Tadipatri
The way I got there was that I went from Bangalore to Tadipatri. Tadipatri to Bangalore is about 270 km in distance, so I took the NH 44 and went up to Anantapur. From Anantapur, Tadipatri is about 50 km.
It is also covered as a trip from Tirupati, which is also about the same distance as Bangalore. Food and restaurant options are available at Tadipatri. The next best option is to enter Anantapur town. On the highways, I spotted one huge food court, and the rest were small dabbas.
Other Places of Interest Near Tadipatri
- If we travel from Bangalore, we can pair it along with Lepakshi; a fantastic monolithic Shiva statue heaped with many mythology stories.
- Devanahalli fort, Nandi hills, and some vineyards also come en route.
- While googling about Tadipatri, I came across a Gooty fort, which is also nearby, but I could not visit it due to a lack of time.
- The other place of interest that everyone had suggested was Aluru Kona. It indeed looks nice nestled in hills.
- We can make this trip a weekend trip by pairing Tadipatri with Gandikota and Belum Caves. While these two are famous, Tadipatri is the offbeat that we can add. .
Read more about Gandikota and plan your trip to Gandikota here - Gandikota Fort, the Grand Canyon of India