HYDERABAD: The transformation of the gigantic hillock, Yadagirigutta, into the majestic Yadadri is more than just reconstruction of a temple. The architectural fusion, combined with a spirit of devotion displayed by all stakeholders, has created one of the most unique temples in the world.
From the stone used in construction, to the sculptures and their religious importance, and attention to detail as per Vaastu Shastra, the temple is bound to mesmerise devotees at every point. The Vimana Gopuram of the temple on the eastern entrance of the main temple is influenced by Dravidian architecture seen in the Thanjavur temple. The Sudarshan Charka on the gopuram is made of gold.
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As a devotee enters the temple through a stairway which leads to the sanctum sanctorum located inside a cave, one would first get the darshan of Swayambhu Anjaneya Swami, who is the Kshetra Palaka. Right after this is the garbhalaya, where the Swayambhu idol of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy is present. Unlike the usual 7 ft garbhalaya door seen in most of the temples, in this temple the door is 11 feet high, with a golden Nava Narasimha Swami design.
Devotees are sure to be left spellbound by the walls. Prahlada Charithra with sculptural representation of the story of Bhaktha Prahlada from birth to the killing of Hiranyakashyapa (all in gold), is one of the attractions of the temple. Lord Narasimha breaking out of a pillar to kill Hiranyakashyapa, followed by tearing down the chest of the demon king, and other sculptures are masterpieces of art. The sculptures of Anjaneya Swamy, Narasimha Swamy and Yada Maharshi who had performed penance in this temple, and Sri Ramanujacharya can be seen on the walls, in addition to the sculptures of how Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy emerged as a Swayambhu in Yadagirigutta. There is also an Addala Mandapa, where every night Lord Lakshmi Narasimha would be put on a swing. The entire mandapa glows with lights and gold.
Statues of the 12 Alwars representing the Kakatiyan style of architecture have been installed around the Mukha Mandapa leading to the sanctum sanctorum, which is located 18 feet below the ground. The hallway in front of the sanctum sanctorum with all these sculptures, chandeliers, golden Dhwaja Sthamba and the architectural style reminds one of the royal grandeur seen inside a king’s court.
This is where the Ruthwiks have been performing homam and other vedic rituals since March 21, as part of Mahakumbha Samprokshanam scheduled at 11.55 am on March 28. Though the entire hallway is centrally air-conditioned, it has been set up in such a way that not a single wire is visible.
As devotees head out of the main temple, they can see the ‘first Praakara’ around the temple, where 58 Yalli pillars have been erected. What is significant about these pillars is that they are sculptures of Lord Narasimha with the face of lion and the body of a horse, supported by an elephant. Each of these pillars has been carved out of a single black granite stone.
On the outer Praakara, one would find pillars called Bala praakara, which is a broader pillar, supporting a leaner pillar, which represents a mother supporting a child.
According to Anand Sai, the architect of the temple’s reconstruction, the lion-horse-elephant pillars are the symbol of power, and the mother and child pillars symbolise relationships, affection and progeny.
Black granite from Guntur
One of the unique features of the temple is the stone used for the entire construction. Krushna Sila, the black granite used for construction, was sourced from Gurujapally in Guntur district. This was inspired by the temple in Srirangam, which was constructed with the same stone. About 2,50,000 tonne black granite has been used.
It minimises the heat generated on the hillock. It feels cool inside the praakara and touching the pillars gives you an instant sense of relief during a sunny afternoon.
There was no Maadaveedhi in the temple before, to parade the Rath, as there wasn’t enough space. To create the parading space, 100-ft-deep and 100-ft-wide soil has been built on the southern side of the temple.
Soft sand has been used for the basement, with hard rocks on top of it, with soil tests done for every three-metre built-up area, approved by experts from JNTU and IIT-Hyderabad. To enable devotees to have shelter while witnessing the Rath Yatra, an outer Praakara has been built, inspired by Pallava architecture of Mahabalipuram. The temple has a 1,700-foot-long retaining wall, which has been constructed at a cost of Rs 350 crore.
The seven gopurams of the temple are unique because from bottom to the top, they are made entirely of stone. The Maharaja Gopuram which lies on the western entrance is 83 ft tall, made of 13,000 tonne black granite, which took tw-and-ahaf-year years to be constructed.
On the western and eastern entrances, statues of elephants being the Dwarapalakas can be seen. Lions have also been used a Dwarapalakas in the temple.
There is a proper concrete shed built to park the Ratham, and there is also a Golla Mandapa built outside the temple, apart from Praakara mandapa and others.
There is a kitchen at the north-eastern side of the temple, where prasadam is cooked and taken directly to the sanctum sanctorum, to be offered to Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. A temple for Lord Shiva has also been constructed on the hillock.
10K devotees at a time
The queue complex which is constructed to facilitate 10,000 devotees at a time is quite spacious and offers shade. A waterbody has been filled close to Gandi Cheruvu at the base of the hillock, where devotees can take a holy bath.
In the past five-and-a-half years, Rs 1,280 crore has been spent for reconstruction and development of the temple, making it a jewel in the crown of temple tourism in Telangana.
More than 2,000 sculptors and thousands of labourers have been engaged in the reconstruction work, which is still under progress.
A fusion of both Dravidian and Kakatiyan styles, the majestic temple stands tall with its fine blend of architecture, religious importance and elegant grandeur