Kodandarama Temple is a temple dedicated to the Sri Rama, located in Ontimitta (Vontimitta) town in Rajampet taluk of Kadapa District in Andhra Pradesh. The earliest parts of the temple are dated to the reign of the later Cholas. Much addition was done during the Vijayanagara reign and the temple stands as an example of the vigorous Vijayanagara architectural style. It is the largest temple in the region. It is located at a distance of 25 kilometres (16 mi) from Kadapa and is close to Rajampet. The temple and its adjoining buildings are protected monuments of national importance.
The temple was built by Vontudu and Mittudu, who were robbers-turned-devotees of Rama. After building the temple, they are said to have turned into stone. The temple is also called Ekasila because it houses a statue of Sri Rama, Sita Devi and Lakshmana in a single block of rock.
Festivals at the temple
The temple conducts a nine day annual festival for Sri Ramanavami. This include, Brahmotsavam, Sri Sita Rama Kalyanam and also the Mahakavi Bammera Potana Jayanti.
Personalities and legends associated with the region and the temple
According to the sthalapuranam, the temple was built by Vontudu and Mittudu, who were robbers-turned-devotees of Rama. After building the temple, they attained mukti and remained permanently as Rama’s devotees in the form of stone.
Bammera Potana who lived in Vontimitta wrote his magnum opus Maha Bhagavatham in Telugu language and dedicated it to Rama. Vavilakolanu Subba Rao, known as ‘Andhra Valmiki’ for translating Valmiki’s Ramayana.
The saint poet Annamacharya is said to have visited the temple and composed kirtans in praise of Rama.
Annamaya’s native village, Tallapaka is 15 KM from this Temple .
Many famous poets and writers in the Telugu language are from this district.
- Tallapaka Annamacharya was born in 1408 at Tallapaka Village in Rajampet mandal. Annamācārya (or Annamayya) Annamacharya was born on Vaishakha Shuddha Pournami in the year Sarvadhari (22 May 1408) in Tallapaka village. He came to be known as Andhra pada kavita pitamaha. His compositions are the oldest surviving compositions in the tradition of Carnatic music. Even Purandaradasa another equally famous composer, was born almost a half century after him.
- Wife of Tallapaka Annamayaa,Tallapaka Tirumalakka also known as Timmakka. The first poetess of the classical telugu literature. Her work subhadra kalyanam, written in the dwipada meter has 1163 verses.
- Ayyalaraju Ramabhadrudu wrote the story of RAMA as Ramabhyudayam, so well extolled for its descriptions and imagery.
- Allasani Peddana, the foremost among the court poets of Sri Krishnadevaraya is said to have lived in Peddanapadu, a village near Yerraguntla on Yerraguntla-Vempalli road in Kadapa District. This village was given as an agraharam (land grant) given by Krishnadevaraya.
- Sri Veerabrahmendra Swami – A great mystic and social reformer of medieval Andhra.
- Nachana Somana (14th century) – A great poet. A copious writer. He is compared to Tikkana for the volume of poetry that he produced.
- Mahakavi Bammera Potana, the most respected and venerated poet of Telugu literature lived his life in devotion to Sri Rama. His magnum opus, Srimad Andhra Mahabhagavatam is the brightest star in the vast and brilliant sky of Telugu literature. Bammera Potana is a father figure to the entire Telugu speaking world. Potana is claimed as a rishi belonging to this region. A similar narrative is made for Warangal district, where the village of Bammera stands, not far from Warangal city. Surely researchers have investigated these differing narratives. These differing narratives are apparently quite old, venerable and derive from substantial historical sources in their own right. These differing narratives only goes to establish the immense reverence that the entire Telugu people have for the poet.
- Vallabha Rayulu who hailed from Pulivendula region (Puli mandala / region of tigers) is the author of Kreedabhiramam. Kreedabhiramam records the life and culture of the Telugu land during the rule of Prataparudra, the last of the Kakatiyas. The work is known for its brilliant detail and witty expression.
- Ramaraja Bhushana, a native of Pulivendla mandal adorned the court of Ramaraya, the last emperor of Vijayanagara. His work is Vasucharitra which is allegorical and renowned for its inimitable blend of poetry with music. He is called the Poet’s poet. His second work is Harischandra Nalopakhyanam, a Dwayarthi Kavya (double entendre ). The work depicts the stories of Harischandra and Nala and is full of Slesha Alankara.
- The story of Hanuman was for the first time was produced by Pushpagiri Timmana, as Sameera Kumara Vijayamu. Timmana’s mastery of prosody and his depiction of the story of Hanuman speak so much for his erudition.
- Siddha Vatam (సిద్ధ వటం / सिद्ध वटं / forest of siddhas), near Cuddapah, was ruled by Matli Kings. During their reign Ayyala Raju Narayanamatya, created an anthology of twenty stories called Hamsa Vimsati. This work is noted for its satire on debauchery.
- Mahakavi Yogi Vemana, a revolutionary poet in Telugu, was from Kadapa. His reforming spirit is seen in every poem of his 4000 poems. He attacked evil customs, superstitions and vulgarity in social life. He has chosen a simple meter to voice his universal message. His poems won the distinction of the first works to be translated into English by Sir C.P. Brown. There is no consensus about his birth, whether he was born into a peasant family or into one of the aristocratic families of the region. But it is generally agreed that he would have lived near Gandikota, one of the grandest geological formations in Andhra.
- Vavikolanu Subbarao (also called Vasudasu) rendered a true translation of Valmiki’s Srimadramayanam in the champu style. His own commentary in his poem stupendous and enlightening.
- Charles Phillip Brown – An officer of the English East India Company and a substantial scholar of Telugu. Whereas much of Telugu literature and learning was vanishing under the destructive rule of the East India company, Brown collected, translated and preserved a vast quantity of Telugu literature. Much of the current stock of Telugu literature maybe derived from his collections. A substantial part of Brown’s work was compiled in Kadapa town. C.P. Brown procured fifteen acres of land to establish a library and research center. After C.P. Brown returned to
History of the temple
In the combined state of Andhra Pradesh, Bhadrachalam used to be the location for the official celebrations of Sri Ramanavami in the state. The state was bifurcated in 2014. During the division of the state, Bhadrachalam remained in Telangana and the remaining part of Andhra Pradesh state started Ramanavami celebrations at Ontimitta temple in Kadapa district. This was the immediate cause of the prominence of the temple. The town and temple can be approached easily either by air, rail or road.
Important historical elements of the temple
Ontimitta town has an ancient and well known Rama temple. This temple is called the Kodanda Rama Swamy temple. This is among the most famous temples of the district. This temple is at a distance of 25 kilometers from Kadapa town on the Rajampet highway, and at a distance of 115 kilometers from Tirupati. The temple is specially famous for its spiritual energy. The other name for the town, Ekasila nagaram, derives from this temple. And now this town has become known as Andhra Bhadrachalam.
The Gopuram of the temple is a distinctively Chola style structure. gifts of silk and pearls are made by the government to the temple for Sri Ramanavami. Ramanavami is also the occassion for extensive celebrations at the temple.
The deities at the temple have been installed by Jambavan, a devotee and general of Sri Rama’s army. The peculiarity of the temple is that Sri Rama, Seeta Devi and Lakshmana are all included in a single block of stone. The deities are therefore identified by this unique sculptural element. It is the normal custom for the three deities to be made of separate pieces. And hence the town itself is called Ekasila nagaram. Another significant element is that Hanuman is not included among the deities. This too is a unique case.
The Ramayana reports that Sri Rama visited this area during his aranya vasa. On a certain day Seeta Devi was very thirsty. Sri Rama shot an arrow into the ground and drew Ganga from the Patala. The Itihasas report this event. This stream that emerged from the ground is today called Rama Teertham.
The Gopuras of the temple
The temple has three main Gopuras forming the entrance to the temple. There is a vast inner yard that lies within these entrances. The Mukhadwaram is 160 feet tall. The Ranga mantapam is enclosed by 32 ornately sculptured stone pillars. These pillars are made in the Vijayanagara style whereas the Gopuras are made in the Chola style.
The pillars in the temple have sculptures depicting tales from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Dasavataras. It has a depiction of the Vatapatra Swami. A scene where Hanuman participates in the construction of the bridge to Lanka. The delivering of Sri Rama’s ring to Seeta Devi. Sri Krishna’s dance on Kaliya’s hoods, the killing of Putana and many others.
Vavilikolanu Subba Rao regarded as the Valmiki of Andhra produced a Telugu version of the Ramayana from its Sanskrit source at this temple.
The Cholas, the Vijayanagara kings and the Matli kings all left their contributions to the temple.
Imam Beg was a representative of the governor of Kadapa, Abdul Nabi Khan, who ruled the area around 1640. Imam Beg directy experienced the spiritual power in the temple and developed a deep devotion for Sri Rama. He had a well dug for the temple. This well is called the Imam Beg Bavi (well).
Many extraordinary experiences and visions have been reported at this temple for many centuries. Recent reports are those by Andhra Valmiki, Vavilikolanu Subba Rao. He saw visions of Vairagis adoring Sri Rama. Of Potana breaking his writing of the Bhagavatam for inspiration, and Sri Rama completing the verse, Sri Rama responding to Imam Beg’s call, Sri Rama’s garland transporting itself to reach Obanna, another devotee of Sri Rama.
Many great devotees of Sri Rama have gained Mukti at this temple. To name some, Ayyala Raju Tippa Raju, Ayyala Raju Ramabhadrudu, Bammera Potana, Tallapaka Annamacharya, Sri Potuluri Veerabrahmendra Swamy, Uppugunduru Venkatakavi, and ofcourse above all Ontudu and Mittudu the devotees that first built the temple.