Thousand Pillar temple (860 year old), Hanamakonda, Telangana: an epitome of Kakatiya elegance

 India is endowed with tens of thousands of historical Hindu, Buddhist and Hindu temples, besides Muslim and colonial heritage buildings  and maintaining them by the state and central government Archaeology department is a tough undertaking because it requires enormous manpower and funds. This is the reason many of these sites lie unrepaired and uncared for. However, on the last one and half decades efforts are being made the govt agencies to repair and restore them back to old world charm. Among the historical Hindu temples, Thousand Pillar Temple or  Rudreshwara Swamy Temple in Hanamakonda,  Telangana deserves our attention.

 Rudreshwara Swamy Temple talengana

Thousand Pillar Temple or  Rudreshwara Swamy Temple is a popular destination in the town of Hanamakonda,  Telangana State along with historic “warangal Fort” and “Ramappa Temple” in this region and they were all  on  the tentative list of World Heritage sites recognised by UNESCO. However  UNESCO   on August 05, 2021 conferred the World Heritage inscription to the historic Rudreswara Temple, also known as the Ramappa Temple at Palampet in Mulugu district of Telangana, 

Rudreshwara Swamy Temple Telangana

Thousand Pillar Temple dedicated to gods Shiva, Vishnu and Surya and spread over 5 acres, is an epitome of intricate  Kakatiya temple architecture with fine ornate pillars. amazing stone sculptures highlighting a  blend of early  Kakatiyas and later Chalukyas design style.  ''According to retired Telugu professor Hari Siva Kumar, the temple came to be known as Thousand Pillar because there were about 300 pillars or shapes of pillars both small and big that make the temple complete''.

 Rudreshwara Swamy Temple

The star-shaped temple built on a meter high platform  surrounded by a garden with small shrines dedicated to God Shiva, has stone-carved elephants and perforated screens  rock-cut forms and animals. The striking feature is  a  massive monolithic dolerite Nandi; all linking the dance pavilion with the temple. Finely carved sculptures of the deities adorn  the exterior wall of the temple, the celling slabs and the four central pillars of the navarangal mandap.

What is unique about this  temple built in 1163 A.D. by a Kakatiyan ruler, Rudradev is there are 1000  (only 940 remain today) richly carved stone pillars supporting the massive roof and are set in such a fashion none will block the view of the deity in the inner sanctuary. There are three  sanctums  in this temple -  called the Trikutalayam, dedicated  Shiva, Vishnu and Surya.  In every inch of this temple, innate skill and mastery of  stone sculptors of the Kakatiya period  is manifest in their painstaking workmanship  gained over years of experience. 

Sri Rudreshwara Swamy Temple.Talangana

One of the very old temples of South India built by the Kakatiyas,  it took 72 years for the dynasty to build it. The temple was named after the ruler  as Sri Rudreshwara Swamy Temple. The Kakatiya festival is held here annually . The temple, a legacy of the  Kakatiya dynasty  was renovated in 2004 by the Government of India. The ASI is making serious attempt to re fix the broken leg of the image of big Dolinitic Nandi (bull), the vahana of Shiva out side the shrine in the open facing the garbhagriha / sanctum. the Thousand Pillar Temple being  a popular pilgrimage center, thousands of devotees  flock to this place for prayer and sightseeing. The ASI already undertook major repair work in the early 2010s. Afew years ago, the temple was almost in ruins with fallen columns, roof and broken statues,etc.  One Gangu Upendra Sharma  took the initiative and  started the puja rituals, etc which had not been done as it was unsafe. In 2010 the Government of India gave a grant of  Rs. 3 crore for restoration of Kalayana Mandapam in 2005. 

 Sri Rudreshwara Swamy Temple.Talangana

Sri Rudreshwara Swamy Temple.Talangana

The Kalyana Mandapa, (a part of the temple) with 132 pillars, was dismantled in 2006 as it had become weak. After years of delay, works were resumed  in phases, for which `7.5 crore was spent.

The  foundation of the mandapa is six metres deep in the sand andthe height of the structure is   9.5 metres. Why this mantapa got due atten was it has  a total of 2,560 sculptures of fine craftsmanship. The foundation was laid by utilising sand-box technology, with granular piles used for strengthening the platform  and porch with several layers  to take the structure to the surface level.   

By the end of 2021  the entire temple was restored. The delay was due to  frequent funds cruch the agency suffered. during the long restoration period lasting more than 15 years. 

It is quite there numerous temples in the south such as this one and several in Karnataka, Tamil nadu and Kerala, the tourism department need to popularize them instead of focussing the attention of foreign tourists to the monuments around Delhi. There are 1000s of monuments in the south which are more than 1000 years old and are known for their artistic grandeur and splendor.