I had never heard of Bugga Ramalingeswara temple nor about the Chintala Venkataramana Swamy Temple nor even about a place called Tadipatri! One of my travel friends pointed out the beauty of these temples and asked if am up for a road trip and there is no way I could deny after having a glimpse of it 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 for their majestic gopurams but there was something else about Tadipatri temples that allured me. The temples are made of black stone, probably granite. It is not easy to work on granite and to see such massive structures got me excited to go on this road trip. Tadipatri temples can be done as a day trip from Bangalore or can be done as a weekend trip paired up with Gandikota.
It was a gloomy Saturday morning when we set out to Tadipatri. It was raining up until Bangalore airport and past that, but the moment we entered Andhra it was super hot! Amusing to see how imaginary borders change everything in a minute. The language gets different, dressing style does and so does the weather. The National Highway 44 was pretty cool to drive in 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 does many signboards in Koran 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 Tadipatri emerged. Tadipatri was a small sufficient town. And it was east to follow the maps to both the temples. They are just a couple of kilometers apart. Both these temples were built during the Vijayanagar era and the styles of the temples reflect 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 (in Telugu tamarind tree is called Chintala Chethu), hence it gets its name Chintala Venkataramana Swamy also known as Chintalarayaswami. 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 the statue of Lord Venkateswara. And that night Lord appears in the dream of Thimmanayaka who was at Gandikota and asked him to build a temple for Him. The thing is though, the statue in the sanctum sanctorum is nearly 10 ft high. Not sure if this huge statue emerged out of a tree or is it just a mythological story. Anyways today in this place is a beautiful temple by the name Chintala Venkataramana Swamy Temple.
As I entered through the gates even the garden around the area has pillars that are carved beautifully. There stood a pillar which could have served as a balance (weighing scale). 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 main tower of the temple was whitewashed and it was standing over a stunning black granite structure. That is the specialty of this area. 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!
Passing through the doors is a huge temple complex. A model stone chariot stands just behind the Dhwajastambha, the flag pole. The chariot is similar to what you would see in Hampi. The stone chariot also serves as Garuda mandapam as Garuda is always seems facing the Vishnu shrine. Passing through that we enter into the 40 pillared Ranga Mantapam. The pillars are ornate. There are dancing lady figurines on the pillars, apsaras, mythical figures, and then pillars similar to musical pillars. All around the corridor has a place to sit and small community games to play. This mandapam is attached to the next room adjoining the sanctum sanctorum. From here on photography is not allowed. 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?
After a wonderful darshan of Lord Chintalarayaswami, there is plenty of stuff to see around the temple. The walls are adorned with stories from Mahabharatha and Ramayana. You can read complete Ramayana on one side right from the birth of Rama and the three brothers till Sita being rescued. And then there is the story of Lord Krishna as well.
Walking around the temple you will come across a shrine for Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess Padmavathi) as well. And there are smaller shrines around the corridor. When you come around the temple you will notice how even a Tulasi Maadam 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 at 4 pm to 8:30 pm. No entrance tickets needed.
Bugga Ramalingeswara Swamy Temple
Just a kilometer away from the Chintala Venkataramana Swamy temple is the Bugga Ramalingeswara temple. While approaching the temple you get to see the dry river bed of Penna. This temple is also maintained by ASI. 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. Come in front is the main entrance of the temple and stands an unfinished temple gopuram. It looks even more in an odd shape and then I realized the brick structure should have been constructed later by ASI to support the gopuram. The entrance is huge and sculptures are running all around the doorway.
Just as you enter, make sure to turn and admire the entrance gopuram. You would be taken aback by the beauty of the black stone. The work on the stone is exquisite. You are completely taken aback. It is much more massive than the Chintala Venkataramana Swamy temple. There are actually no words to describe it.
The Bugga Ramalingeshwara temple gets its name from the perennial source of water that comes out from under a Shiva Linga. Bugga in Telugu means, it keeps on flowing. History on the internet says this temple was built by the 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 exact mythological story is not very clear. Cos the priest said, Lord Ram, himself instilled this Shiva statue and prayed. The Linga was installed by Ram and hence it gets its name Ramalingeshwara. And hence there is a shrine for Rama along with 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 you reach the shrines is filled with musical pillars. Look up and there are strains of frescoes still left. I wish it was all intact, might have looked colorful, could have been even some story depiction.
As you walk around you come across a southern entrance. This must have been the main entrance is my guess. As 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.
Everything comes to a standstill when you further walk and come towards the east entrance. You are left wondering how can someone come up with such creativity and how can someone construct something so magnificent. It is much bigger and better than the pictures. The mammoth granite temple gopuram entrance stands unfinished. It is bigger and better than the one at the west entrance. As though the best is left for you to see at the end. It is said that an architect called Yallanchari was brought from Varanasi to design this temple. But when the pandits of the temple 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 stopped. And hence you unfinished gopurams at the Bugga Ramalingeshwara temple. Pennar is still dry though and nobody knows when they last saw water in the river.
The walls of the temple are not as ornate as the gopurams. But it still bears the stories from Ramayana and Mahabharatha. The Gopurams have stories from Skanda Puranam.
I had no mind to leave the place. The fluttering pigeons, this 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 definitely an offbeat place and there was hardly anyone around apart from the town folks. So they were pretty surprised and looked at me with amusement taking pictures and shooting videos :D
Here is also a short video touring around both the Tadipatri temples
How To Reach Tadipatri
I did Tadipatri from Bangalore. Tadipatri is about 270 km from Bangalore, took the NH 44 and went up to Anantapur. From Anantapur, Tadipatri is about 50 km. It is also done as a trip from Tirupati which is also about the same distance as from Bangalore. Guess these two have the closest airport too. Food and restaurant options are available at Tadipatri if you skip that the next best is to enter Anantapur town. On the highways spotted one huge food court kinds and the rest were small dabbas.
Other Places of Interest Near Tadipatri
- If you are traveling from Bangalore, you can pair it along with Lepakshi which has a fantastic monolithic Shiva statue heaped with many stories from mythology.
- Devanahalli fort, Nandi hills and some vineyards also come enroute.
- While googling about Tadipatri found a place called Gooty fort also nearby. Which I did not visit due to shortage of time.
- The other place of interest everyone had suggested that I should have visited was Aluru Kona. It indeed looks nice nestled in hills.
- You can make this trip a weekend trip by pairing Tadipatri with Gandikota and Belum Caves. While these two are popular Tadipatri is the offbeat you can add to it.
Read more about Gandikota and plan your trip to Gandikota here - Gandikota Fort, the Grand Canyon of India