T. Prabhakar Reddy
History is not what we just read in our books, our legacy can be found in our manuscripts, inscriptions and in temples. Sri Amba Bhavani Matha Temple is located in survey number 331, Elikatta village, near Shadnagar town, Farooqnagar Mandal, Ranga Reddy District – 509410. Here, Amba Bhavani Matha, the Goddess Parvathi, is luminous, radiant and celestial. To the right of the Goddess are the two deities Sri Vinayaka and Kumara Swamy. To her left are two Nayanar idols, of black granite with smooth finishing.
The Temple Legend
The legend says that King Trailokya Malla Someswara I, decided to build a Lakshmi Chennakeshava Temple in Mayapuram (Present day Gangapuram near Jadcherla). For building this temple, stone pillars were transported through this area. At that time, Amba Bhavani Matha Temple was under a tree and it was small. Curiously, as the stone pillars were transported from near the small temple, the carts used to breakdown one way or the other. The king Someswara was distressed; then he dreamt that Amba Bhavani Matha asked him to build a temple for her. The king was relieved and happy, he ordered the sculptors to build temple of striking beauty for the goddess Amba Bhavani Matha.
History and Architecture
The temple was built in Dravidian style, in the reign of Chalukya kings of Kalyani, during the reign of Sri Trailokya Malla Someswara I (1042- 1063 CE), who held the title ‘Ahaavamalla’ and his successors, Bhuvanaika Malla and Tribhuvana Malla. The temple is built with basalt rock, and has a pyramidal roof in five tiers, with a small Gopuram at the top. Most of the temples of the Western Chalukyas are dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and incarnations of goddess Parvathi.
The architecture of the temple is fascinating. Most of the Western Chalukya temples are Ekakuta (one mandapa) temples. The temple is made of 40 huge stone-pillars, with a mandapa in front of Garbhagriha, which has four main pillars known as ‘Mukha Mantapa’. The distinctive feature of these pillars is that on each side, the carvings are unique; one side has the Goddess in the center, with a Conch and Chakra. Another side has carving of two lions facing each other, and the third side has the carving of two swans facing each other and the fourth side has the carving of a human face in lotus. The roof of the ‘Mukha Mantapa’ is made up of five layers with different roof carvings including the powerful ‘Sri Chakra’. Sri Veerabhadra Swamy is the guardian-deity of Amba Bhavani Matha temple, whose temple is located in front of the main temple. The deity is magnificent with four hands; the lower left hand holds the object of a man’s head, the other hands hold a Trident, a Dand and a Damaru. Interestingly, this temple’s architecture matches with that of Ambarpet Amba temple in Hyderabad (‘The domains of Nizam’ book) and also with Sri Laxmi Chennakeshava temple in Gangapuram, near Jadcharla, Mahaboobnagar dist.
Temple under the Nizam Rule
The temple was tried to be conquered and converted as a mosque by the Nizam in the late 19th century; they even built four Minars on the top of the temple and claimed it as a mosque. However the priests of the temple protested, and waged a long struggle to protect the temple. Only recently the minars were removed and the temple was renovated to its old glorious Sanathana Dharma architecture
Interestingly, a case was filed in 1899 in the office of ‘Hon’ble Nawab Hissam Ul Mulk Khan E Khanan Bahadur’, a dispute between the then ‘Dharma kartha’ – Sri Govind Nayak Saheb and the temple priest Sri G. Venkaiah. The 1913 Verdict was in favor of temple priests, since then the temple is under control of the priest’s family. (The great-grandson of Sri G. Venkaiah, Sri G. Bhavani Shankar, is the main priest of the temple now).
Invasion of the Temple
The Nizam’s Razakars attacked and ruined the Shiva temple which was on the right of the main temple. The ruined temple with no deity is a silent witness of the atrocities of Nizam. Another temple dedicated to Goddess Yellamma, is behind the main temple, unfortunately no poojas are performed there. The Razakars invaded and destroyed this temple during 1947 – 48, the Razakar leader at that time, Khaja Miyan, ruthlessly cut the deity’s head and destroyed this temple. He belonged to Mogilgadda village, which is 4 kms away from this temple. The temple lands are also heavily encroached.
Ruins of Gangapuram temple
Temple Customs and Festivals
The devotees in earlier times used to offer various dishes in stone pots; if the devotees are vegetarians, they offered boiled Bengal gram with palm-wine and if they are non-vegetarians, they offered mutton curry with palm-wine. Devotees believe that Sri Amba Bhavani Matha has special powers and fulfills their desires. People tie their ‘Mudupu’, a red cloth containing a coconut, Kumkum, turmeric and written paper of their wishes, to a fig tree. After their wishes are fulfilled, they return to perform pujas in the temple.
Every year, Navarathri festival and Bonalu are celebrated in which people participate on a large scale, a fair is also conducted during Navarathri. ‘Annadanam’ (Donating food) is done in the form of Prasadam, as it is also considered as pranadhanam (donation of life). The temple has 10 acers 21 guntas in the survey numbers 265(1A-29G), 325(1A-24G), 326(3A-11G), 327(1A-33G), 332(1A-14G), 338(0A-30G) for its maintenance. The temple is brought under the control of Endowment Department by the Telangana Govt in2018.
- Palamuru Jilla Devalayalu by Kapilavayi Lingamurthy
- Domains of Nizam K.K. Venugopal