Neither indoors nor outdoors, neither day nor night, neither in the sky nor on the ground, neither man nor animal neither animate nor inanimate...” intones the middle-aged teacher. He has brought a group of eight students to Yadadri, a newly refurbished temple near Hyderabad. “Are we talking about the metaverse or the myth of Narasimha sir?” jokes a student. The rest of the group erupts into laughter. The teacher corrects them: Lord Narasimha is the incarnation of Vishnu. “Today, if the IT-savvy state of Telangana has spent Rs1,800 crore to celebrate Him, it is as true as truth can get,” he admonishes.
They are referring to Yadadri Temple which is newly opened to the public in a magnificent new avatar. To reach the 1,000-year-old temple, devotees would drive up the main hill, take a dip in the pushkarini (sacred water tank), and donate their hair; all without a fuss from the authorities. All this, in less than 30 minutes, including the darshan. But in Yadadri 2.0, the topology has changed. The two-acre temple that stood on the hill has now expanded its grounds in multi-levels across 14 acres, almost a seven-fold increase in area. Now, devotees spend anywhere between one hour and eight hours waiting to see god, at the four-floor queue complex which can accommodate 8,000 visitors. However, there the wait is worth it.
The temple has undergone a complete revamp. Here, too, the influence of cinema has pervaded. A 330-foot-long golden corridor is in the making, crafted by Tollywood set designer Anand Sai who is an Agama shastra expert. But secular it is, because over 500 sculptors, including 40 expert Muslim granite engravers, have worked on this new architectural marvel. Dr Anandachari Velu, the architectural advisor to the temple, says 500 sculptors from Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh worked on different aspects of their artwork since 2016. The gold-plated dwajasthambam (pillar) with its intricately-carved 52 kalasams and doors look more resplendent than ever, thanks to the same nanotechnology used by NASA. “We used NTGD (NanoTech Gold Deposition) technology for gold plating.
This is in tune with conventional techniques and the 2021 Minamata Convention,” says Pankkaj Bhaandari, the founder of Smart Creations which has gold-plated the temple. The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. The technology is also used by aerospace and defence applications in NASA and ISRO. “It means that the lustre will not fade for the next 50 years,” Bhaandari assures. Telangana is the first state that sought a 50-year-old gold lustre guarantee from vendors for the temple.
NTGD, Bhaandari explains, is a patented technology that allows for lesser consumption of gold in gold plating. Most importantly, the gold deposited through this method is 100 percent recoverable at any given time. The rest of the temple is made of Krishna Sila or black granite and reconstructed without using cement, concrete or bricks. Black granite was used by Kakatiya emperors of Telangana in temple architecture. It can stay intact for 10 centuries, assures G Kishan Rao, the Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yadadri Temple Development Authority (YTDA).
Antiquity has a modern makeover on the Yadadri Temple premises. Executive Officer Geetha Reddy reveals that smart parking where drivers get a parking slot, time and location map is on the cards. The free lunch period for devotees from 11 am to 3 pm will be extended to 24/7 in a few years. The Yadadri management wants to attract devotees from other states. “By 2025, we can cater to 60,000 pilgrims a day. We’ve already noticed a spike in the number of inter-state buses coming here for darshan. That’s a positive sign,” she says.Those familiar with Yadadri know that devotees get a pat on their back with a bettham (sacred baton) as part of the puja rituals. This time around, the temple itself deserves that pat on the back.
For a Good Darshan
✥ Avoid visits on weekends and festivals
✥ As of May 1, the walkways are yet to be built with sunshades above. So the walk from the bus to the main temple takes about 10 minutes in the temple complex with only a coir carpet to prevent scalding of the feet.
✥ Plan for evening darshan instead of mid-day, especially with infants and senior citizens
✥ Expect chaos at the parking slots and darshan queues as it is still a work in progress
Sightseeing spots Around
✥ Narasimha Aranya and Anjanaya Aranya are to enjoy greenery and cool breeze
✥ Helipad to catch the sunset selfie
✥ Gayatri Devalayam for a bird’s eye view of the entire complex