Sri Rama Chandra Swamy Temple Ammapalli- Rediscovering an Ancient Temple
Can popular be unknown? Can photographers become treasure hunters? Can a South Indian Temple have Rajasthan influence? Can you claim to discover something that has been there for hundreds of years? Can you be happy to be wrong? Well we got to find answers for these questions yesterday.
My friend an avid Photographer and IT Entrepreneur AV Satish Kumar informed me about a hundred year old temple that he found while exploring area around Shamshabad airport in Hyderabad.
He showed some pictures to us and soon we were as interested to explore the area as and decided to go there on the first opportunity. 5 of us photographers went to Ammapalli Village near the Hyderabad Airport to click pictures of the Sri Rama Chandra Swamy Temple or Lord Ram temple, Ammapalli Village on the way to Narkhoda. We had no idea what a treasure we are going to land. Wait before you call Income Tax department, the treasure we are talking about is the historical facts that we discovered about the temple.
First the temple turned out to be built in 13th century with the idol being established 1000 years ago in 11th century, even if we take the latter figure that makes the temple a good 800 years old. Older than Golconda fort!
The first thing you notice about the temple is its Rajasthan style arches that you typically find in Havelis and palaces of Rajasthan. We looked at the Gopuram closely and it appears that the masonry work of the arches or Chatris of Rajasthan style was added later, probably at the time when the step well was constructed in the temple compound. Remember I talked about similar influences in the Sitaram Bagh temple which was built by Ganeriwal Family from Rajasthan? In the backyard of the temple where we found an even older open well that was in bad shape. It appeared that the Rajasthan style step well was added later.
The step well in the front of the Lord Ram temple was in good shape and built very similar to step wells you find in Rajasthan and Gujarat. A little cormorant flew away from the little water that the well had. Right opposite the temple there is a 2 story building that would have been a residence or sarai earlier and offered the darshan (site) of the temple in the morning once you got up.
We examined the Gopuram closely after talking to the young priest who confirmed that the temple is from 13th century, and a radio carbon dating was done on the sand retrieved from the masonry work of the temple. We climbed the Gopuram from a small stairs on the side, I had the courage to climb only to the 3rd floor but Shivaram Vinjamuri who is a corporate trainer and one of the founders of our photography club climbed till the stairs took him, in true Indian Jones style. We closely saw the different layers of the temple Gopuram and concluded (We are amateurs, not professional Archaeologist so please believe what I say here at your own discretion), the following
- The top level of the gopuram is built in solid stone and masonry both in true South Indian style like the Virupaksha temple of Hampi. This layer is also the most exquisite and detailed as far as the idols and statues in the stone go.
- The lower most layer had brick work exposed at the back and sides and it appears they were added later to increase the height of the Gopuram. ( We could be totally wrong)
- The lower floors of the temple gopuram need urgent repairs as the bricks are exposed to elements.
The temple is unique in more ways, it is a Ram temple but there is no Hanuman inside the sanctum sanctorum, instead there is a Hanuman at the base of the dhwaja stambh (flag post) looking towards the temple. It is believed that Hanuman is looking towards Lord Rama to wait for instructions from him to fulfil the desires of the devotees. There is another Hanuman idol that looks directly outside at the bottom of the second flag post. This was a unique thing for me was the presence of two dhawaja Stambhs in the temple courtyard one seems to be old and other recently added (recent here could mean 100+ years). The 3 idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshaman are made from a single stone and not made from separate rocks.
The devotees tie some offerings in a small bundle on the tree in courtyard with prayers, only to be opened once the desire has been fulfilled. We saw small bundles of various shapes and also bangles tied on the tree in the courtyard. There were some more trees in the courtyard including a mango tree, but I just loved the Parijat tree (Nyctanthes Arbor-tristis), that has shed a thousand flowers on the floor in the night forming an orange white fragrant carpet on the floor of the temple courtyard.
At one point in history the temple would have been very popular and some kind of fair/festival attracted a big crowd as I found these benches on the terrace from where ladies would have watched the processions.
We found a few more buildings in the back side of the temple; they looked like from different periods and with different architectural influences. One of the incomplete buildings looks like a tax collection center we saw in ICRISAT. One of our senior photographers Shankar sir posted a picture of the Ramchandra Swamy temple on Facebook and we learned a few more things about the temple. It is also called the Kodanda Rama Swamy temple and also as “Cinema Gudi” as more than 400 Telgu movies have been shot in the complex due to the belief that if a scene is shot in the temple the movie will be super hit. I was wondering a temple that has featured in more than 400 movies is still relatively unknown! It was a day well spent by us, and we enjoyed clicking pictures of the temple as well as its surroundings of lush green fields surrounding it. There are a few more ruins/tombs and temples in the area we plan to go there again, keep watching this space. Below are some of the pictures clicked by Satish, who first visited the temple and convinced us to visit it.
How to reach Shri Rama Chandra Swamy Temple Ammapalli Village: If you are coming from ORR take exit 17 and travel on service road till you meet the underpass that takes you on Rallaguda Road towards Narkhoda, Ammapalli village will be on the way and you will see a big Arch on the main road informing about the temple.
If you are coming from Banjara Hill/Mehdipattnam side come from the PV Narsimha Rao Expressway and then follow this map to join the same route after you reach the Shamshabad village.
Other posts in temples series
- Birla Temple Naubat Pahad
- Sitaram Bagh Temple Hyderabad
- Chilkur Balaji Temple of US Visa Fame
- Virupaksha Temple Hampi
- Birthplace of Hanuman Temple Hampi
- Mahabalipuram Shore Temple
I hope you liked this post about Sri Rama Chandra Swamy temple that we explored in Ammapalli Village near Shamshabad, please feel free to share the same.