Ramappa Temple

Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple is located in Palampet village of Venkatapur Mandal, Mulugu district, Telangana State, India. Ramappa Gudi (Temple) is situated 18° N, 79° E and 612 feet over sea level in a valley surrounded 3 sides by cotton, rice fields and mountain on the other side is a magnificient monument dating back to 1213 AD. It documents the glory and grandeur of the Kakatiya kingdom. 

Historians and art enthusiasts regard this temple as the brightest gem of Kakatiya architecture and treasure house of medieval architecture.

The main presiding deity of Ramappa temple is Sri Ramalingeswara Swamy and is dedicated to Lord Shiva is a single-shrine temple, amidst picturesque surroundings. 

Located at the foothills of a forested area and amidst agricultural fields, close to the shores of the Ramappa Cheruvu, a Kakatiya-built water reservoir, the choice of setting for the edifice followed the ideology and practice sanctioned in dharmic texts that temples are to be constructed to form an integral part of a natural setting, including hills, forests, springs, streams, lakes, catchment areas, and agricultural lands.

On 25 July 2021, the temple was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Ramappa Temple was built in 1213 AD by Recherla Rudra commander of Kakatitya Ganapatideva. Though the presiding deity here is Ramalingeswara Swamy, the temple was named after the sculptor Ramappa, who completed the task in 14 years. Built with sandstone and a sandbox foundation, the temple has decorated beams and columns made of granite stone.

Floating bricks
The building features decorated beams and pillars of carved granite and dolerite with a distinctive and pyramidal Vimana (horizontally stepped tower) made of lightweight porous bricks, so-called ‘floating bricks’, which reduced the weight of the roof structures. 

The temple’s sculptures of high artistic quality illustrate regional dance customs and Kakatiyan culture. 

Arts flourished in Telangana, during Kakatiya Dynasty and among the important and exquisite monuments of the State, Ramappa Gudi popularly known as Ramappa Temple, is an archaeological wonder.

The Temple is surrounded by a stone compound wall and has two low entrances, one towards the East and the other to the West, The main entrance gate facing east in the outer wall of temple is now ruined, so one can enter through small west gate only.

Advancing from the eastern entrance, the visitor first notices the remains of a ruined Nandi Mandapa (Pavilion). In front of the Nandi Pavilion stands the main temple which is of a cruciform plan stands majestically on a platform 6’ 4" high star-shaped platform. The plinth of the platform instead of being plain has been divided into foliating surfaces which give a very pleasing effect to the general appearance of the monument. The platform affords a space ten feet wide all round the temple, forming a sort of promenade for the devout pilgrims whence they can perform Pradakshina and gaze on the long panels of figures which adorn the exterior of the building.

The main entrance, like in any typical Hindu temple, faces east with balustrade steps and porched openings on three entrances on the east, south and north with two six feet high female figures on either side of the three entrances total 12 life-sized dancing girls, with different voluptuous poses fixed at an angle on high brackets. Carved from black basalt, some of these figures are ornate with decorative jewellery while others are simple. All of them are tall, ferocious and noble, carrying swords, arrows and bows, and are called Madanika, Nagini, Alasakanya and Salabhangika. There are red sandstone dancing figures on all sides of the temple. On the outer-walls there are carved figures of animals and war scenes in the same red sandstone. These carvings are of a very heterogeneous character, and consist of gods, goddesses, warriors, acrobats, musicians. 

The temple consists of a shrine cell, garbhagriha and antarala or an ante chamber (a smaller room or vestibule serving as an entryway into a larger one) and a hall of audience called Ranga Mantapa. 

The Ranga Mantapa (hall) measures 41 feet each way and has a square apartment (18'x 18’) enclosed by four exquisitely carved pillars. 

The decorative design on the pillars is so meticulous that only a fine needle can go through the lattice work. One wonders at the fine workmanship of the artisans with the meager available resources. In the middle, the place for musicians and singers to recite the holy hymns. A platform about 3 feet high runs round the hall, and on it have been built eight small cells for the images of the presiding deities. The ante-chamber measures 15’ 8’’ and 14’ 10’’. The sanctuary is entered by another richly carved doorway encloses a space 15’ 8" square, at the centre of which stands the mystical linga, the emblem of cosmic energy, on a high pedestal of black basalt.

Perini Dance 
The sanctuary doorway has carvings of Perini Dance Poses and Krishna’s flute which looks like tree trunk, when hit with finger nails make the sound sa-ri-ga-ma. Inside the temple is a magnificent display of sculptures depicting scenes from the early myths, the Ramayana, the Puranas, and the later Hindu texts. The arrangement of the columns has. divided the ceiling into several compartments, each of which is superbly carved, the decorations consisting of a variety of floral and geometrical patterns, from the full blown lotus to the most intricate honeycomb scroll. The ornamentation of the four central columns of the hall and the architraves above them is extremely rich aud subtle.

The idyllic scene of Krishna surrounded by a troop of amorous girls (Gapls), whom the mischievous God deprived of their garments while they were bathing in a tank, has been specially selected by the artist and is represented on every prominent place, even on the jambs of the door of the ante-chamber. Again, the same God in his aspect of the Muralidhara playing on his magical flute is represented in several places. The figurines instead of exhibiting calm or repose, bear an expression of revelry and voluptuous joy, even the Ganesa with his rotund paunch is represented dancing on an architrave of the central apartment of the hall.

Apart from main temple, there are 3 more temples. Towards North is Kateswara Temple, South is Kameswara Temple, South-West(Niruthi) is Narasimha Swami Temple or Sabhamantapa.
On the western side is the idyllic Ramappa lake constructed during the same period as the temple. The building of a temple and an irrigation tank side by side was the tradition of the Kakatiya rulers.

The Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple maintains authenticity in material, form, design, craftsmanship, setting, function and use, traditional management system and associated intangible cultural heritage in relation to traditional dance, and integration in its wider natural and architectural context. Its material remains continue to represent the testimony of Kakatiyan knowledge in identifying building materials, their strength, and their expected life span. The temple was erected using five types of local material, like sand for foundation, clay for bricks, dolerite and sandstone for sculptures, granite for columns and beams, which are all retained in their original composition. Some missing floating bricks were remanufactured after conducting an extensive study, following the same techniques used by the Kakatiyans in the 13th century.

The temple plan and its spatial organization are intact and untouched, with exception of the Kameshwara Temple which is to be reassembled by anastylosis. The compound’s function and traditional management system remain unchanged: the Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple is a living Brahminical Shiva Temple, following all the authentic Shaiva-Agama rituals and drawing the attention of a large number of people. The surviving rural surrounding illustrates the conscious integration of the Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple in its wider natural context and is of remarkable authenticity in setting, traditional management mechanisms as well as interdependencies of use and function with the wider landscape, for example through irrigation channels and cultivated lands.

Protection and management requirements
The Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple was identified as a protected monument in 1914 and since then it is maintained and conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The property is protected at the national level, by the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR), amended and validated in 2010; the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, 1959; Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules of 2011 and The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 and Rules, 1973. Decisions pertaining to its conservation, maintenance and management are governed by the National Conservation Policy for Monuments, Archaeological Sites and Remains, 2014. Being designated as an “Ancient Monument” of National Importance, the ancient site is protected by a well-defined buffer of 300 meters comprising Prohibited Area measuring 100 meters in all directions from the limits of the protected monument, and further beyond it, a Regulated Area of 200 meters in all directions, from the limits of the Prohibited Area as well as beyond, as required for the conservation of the authentic landscape setting. All activities in the areas adjacent to the ancient site remain subject to prohibition and regulation in the respect prohibited and regulated areas as per provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules 2011.

Under an already existing committee, the State Government of Telangana establishes the “Palampet Special Area Development Authority” to manage this extended buffer zone and to ensure the protection of all supporting Kakatiya period attributes.

The Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), namely its Hyderabad Circle and under its Warangal sub-Circle, which is responsible for its protection, conservation and management in conjunction and consultation with the local religious and communal authorities. Day-to-day management activities are supported by guides who are permanently posted at the site as staff of the Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation, as well as the local communities living around the temple complex and the priests performing the ceremonies at the temple. An integrated site management plan is in the process of being finalized. Heritage Impact Assessment needs to be ensured for any projects located near the property, especially regarding development projects near the Ramappa Lake. Capacity building for local communities and the temple priest must be undertaken to provide them with the necessary skills to contribute to the management of the property. 

237 k.m. from Hyderabad
70 k.m. from Warangal 

Reference: Temples at Palampet by GHULAM YAZDANI and Ramappa Gudi by Mandala Malla Reddy.