An synthetic plateau has come up on a hillock at Yadagirigutta, some 70 km northeast of Hyderabad, and what was as soon as a modest cave shrine has been remodeled right into a grand temple. Labourers are braving the torrid summer time warmth to construct an ornate 330 toes lengthy gold-colored passage, which would be the hall for worshippers to entry the sanctum sanctorum of Narasimha Swamy—the half-lion, half-man avatar of Vishnu that Hindus revere because the incarnation that got here to Earth to destroy evil and restore dharma.
If Telangana chief minister Okay. Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) is to be believed, he’s putting in a “21st century world-class Hindu spiritual destination”. And it’s all being executed at state expense. In March 2015, he launched the Rs 1,800 crore project unfold over 1,885 acres, after shortening the identify of the place to Yadadri from Yadagirigutta, within the hope that it’ll change into a serious temple tourism centre within the nation. Apart from the shrine, the encompassing panorama is turning into a temple metropolis, modelled on the favored shrine at Tirumala in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. Until 2015, worshippers needed to trudge down rocky terrain to succeed in the slim cave and supply obeisance to the deity within the temple in-built 1246 by Bommanna Dandanayaka, a commander of the Hoysala empire, through the rule of King Vira Someshwara.
For his dream project, KCR constituted a particular Yadagirigutta Temple Development Authority (YTDA), vested with powers to enlist the providers of all infrastructure, growth and income authorities in executing the project. To advise the YTDA, a excessive-powered technical committee was set as much as tackle the engineering and different challenges. For this, the idol was briefly shifted to a balalayam (a makeshift construction constructed conforming to ritual) to facilitate the development of the brand new temple. The idol will likely be re-consecrated within the sanctum sanctorum of the brand new temple after a few weeks of pujas earlier than the 12 months ends. All this has been executed on the recommendation of Tridandi Chinna Srimannarayana Ramanuja Jeeyar Swami, 64, a monk recognized for his discourses on Vaishnavism. KCR reveres the monk (whose identify too, like many Hindu seers, takes the deferential prefix Sri Sri) who has an ashram on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
Elephant statues made from Krishnashila at the East Gopuram
KCR is acutely aware of the truth that the probabilities of a 3rd consecutive time period are distant until he finds new methods to rally assist, much more so with the BJP’s rising affect within the state. Perhaps why he has turned to aggressive religiosity by constructing a swank temple and making an attempt to rival the richest Hindu shrine at Tirumala. “He is a religious man but is not above using faith as a stunt to try and win over people, just as he has used caste and group rivalries in the past for political survival,” says political commentator C. Narasimha Rao, including that “KCR’s medieval mindset helps him in this in good measure”.
The YTDA has additionally been promoting the project as a future vacationer vacation spot to traders. Under a singular donor scheme, 252 4-bed room houses on an adjoining hillock have been offered for Rs 1.5 crore every, for which patrons get privileged entry to the temple with 30 days’ keep yearly. For the remainder of the 12 months, the YTDA, which is able to preserve the property, will earn rental revenue from transiting devotees. A presidential suite and 13 VVIP villas will likely be up in time for the opening of the temple. Sensing that the sale of temple prasadam and mass feeding schemes may kick up controversy, the YTDA has outsourced it to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) which has experience in mass catering.
During his final go to, KCR informed officers to make sure that Yadadri turns into a task mannequin for cleanliness and hygiene. “Everything, including electrification and illumination, should be done in a manner that awakens the feeling of bhakti and joy,” he stated. When the Yadadri project was launched, KCR had spoken of temple footfalls rising steadily with time. Devotee response continues to be sluggish however the makeshift balalayam has been reporting larger footfalls than earlier.
The temple and township plan have been conceptualised in step with an amalgam of traditions. From the two,500 sq. yards to which it was initially confined, the temple space has been expanded to 4.5 acres on the hillock. Long retaining partitions rising as much as 100 toes have been constructed on three sides to accommodate the spectacular edifice. The cement fortification is 4.5 toes thick and extends 1,300 toes to the south, 320 toes west and 1,000 toes to the north to offer the architectural elevation to make the temple seen from afar.
“The construction of the temple posed both engineering and architectural challenges as it involved turning an undulating slope into a zero level area and creating designs to use building material that would last for over 1,000 years,” says G. Kishan Rao, CEO and vice-chairman of YTDA. “The construction is unique in that we have only used krishnashila (black granite), used by the Kakatiya emperors of Telangana in temple architecture instead of modern material like cement and concrete,” explains Rao. The granite was sourced from the Gurijepalli quarries of Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh after consultants at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and the National Centre for Cement and Building Materials, Hyderabad, licensed its sturdiness.
All temple structure work, together with the interior and outer prakarams (compound partitions), the stone pillars, affiliated temples, sculptures of gods and goddesses and Alwars (Vaishnavite saints) had been finalised after temple architect and artwork director B. Anandsai visited over 60 temples throughout India. The unique cave temple of Narasimha Swamy and the rock with a carving of Hanuman haven’t been touched. Everything else is new.
While the seven-storied, 100-toes-excessive sapthathala maharajagopuram, the tallest tower, is an imposing spectacle, six different options add to the temple’s splendour. At Yadadri, the development of the gopuram is conspicuous with using black granite all the best way to the highest. Significant options of the temple are the sapthathala maharajagopuram, the cavernous 202-toes-lengthy and 103-toes-vast chandeliered mukha mandapam with a 35-toes-excessive ceiling, the ashta bhuji prakarams, the mirror chambers and the black granite sculptures, together with the seven-toes-tall lions at the east and west gopurams and the smaller ones at the north and south gopurams.
“It’s more like poetry in stone, the amalgam of sculptures. We have introduced several distinctive styles and traditions to make this temple magnificent in spiritual and architectural grandeur,” says Anandsai. “This includes the main temple in the Chalukyan style, the mukhamandapam and the 12 Alwars in the Kakatiya style, the outer prakaram reflecting Pallava designs, the gopurams in the Dravidian style with some having embedded statues and the queue line inspired by the Jain style.”
Apart from black granite, the sculptors have used conventional bonding materials to make sure the temple construction lasts for hundreds of years. To bind the granite slabs, a mixture of lime mortar, karakkaya (Indian hog plum), jaggery, aloe vera and jute has been used as a substitute of cement. This combine is believed to be “all-weather proof”. “The sculptures will not crack or melt for centuries as this mix is the adhesive,” says Anandsai. Some 500 sculptors and their assistants from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana toiled for over two years in chiseling the granite into the best shapes. The work continued unmindful of the dangers (at least a dozen employees have been critically injured). “We have made sure that at all stages we comply with the Agama Shastra guidelines,” says chief sculptor Anandachari Velu.
Agama Shastra lays down the foundations and nuances for sculptors in temple building, idol set up and worship rituals. Velu and his predecessor on the YTDA project, S. Sundara Rajan, have scrupulously adopted this to avoid controversy. Yet, at one stage, KCR’s detractors kicked up a row suggesting that some pictures on the tabletars resembled him and had been allegedly carved at the behest of his supporters. There is different criticism too. “Temples are being built elsewhere too, like the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, but it is with donations and other contributions, not state funds,” says Congress spokesperson Dasoju Sravan. “Public money should be used to build schools or hospitals. People may be enchanted by this film set-like structure but this is just to satisfy KCR’s vanity. He has a penchant for defacing historical public properties…he pulled down the Nizam-era state secretariat to build a vastu- compliant new building. KCR wants his Kalvakuntla family to be credited for Yadadri just as the Cholas are remembered for Tirumala.”
The unique shrine, together with the sanctum sanctorum, has been retained intact. The superstructure, the 48-ft, 5-storied vimana gopuram, which was constructed atop the sanctum sanctorum, will likely be embellished with gold plating within the coming years. Officials justify the modifications, saying the temple shouldn’t be on the record of protected monuments. But critics disagree. “Yadadri may not be on the list of protected monuments but a beautiful cave shrine has been totally defaced with the blasting of the gutta (hill),” laments Anuradha Reddy, co-convenor, INTACH, Telangana. “Moreover, what has come up in its place is not in sync with regional heritage though it is in the middle of Kakatiya country.”
Of the Rs 852 crore spent to this point on the project, Rs 248 crore was on the temple and the remainder for land acquisition and infrastructure such because the 4-lane highway for smoother connectivity between the hillocks surrounding the temple, the six-lane Yadadri outer ring highway and the scenic landscaping.
KCR desires to make sure that Yadadri is a formidable draw from day one. Downhill from the temple, a metropolis is taking form although not at the tempo at which the temple was constructed. Structures being developed embrace a man-made lake, marriage halls, meals courts, a procuring complicated and a bus terminal in addition to a 25-acre horticulture park the place flowers will likely be grown to be used through the pujas. To kickstart the festivities, KCR is planning a Maha Sudharshana Yagnam, the mom of all yagnas, to coincide with the temple’s inauguration. Vaishnavite religious leaders from throughout the nation will likely be invited to grace the event.
Graphic by Nilanjan Das
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