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Alampur: The city of Temples

by on December 8, 2010

The tranquil little town of Alampur in the state of Andhra Pradesh is often called as “City of Temples”. Nearly 200 kilometres from Hyderabad, and 25 kilometres from Kurnool, the placid Alampur is home to the ancient Navabhramma temples, dating back to the 7th century.

The town came under the influence of several dynasties: the Badami Chalukyas, the Shatavahana Ishvakus of Nagarjunakonda, the Rashtrakutas, the Kalyani Chalukyas, the Vijayanagara Empire, the Kakatiyas and even the Qutub Shahis of Golconda. Formerly known by the name Halampuram and now as Alampuram, the beautiful city is a treasure house of art and history.

The Badami Chalukyas ruled over Alampur for about 200 years from mid of 6th century and given credit for building the 9 Bhramma temples. The whole temple campus was built on Tungabhadra River’s west bank, amidst what once must have been lush green fields, now all destroyed by floods of year 2009. The confluence of River Krishna and River Tungabhadra near Alampur owns itself an honour of holy site. Well, it all comes with a little shock that the scenic landscapes were a source of inspiration for sculptors here.

The spectacular Nava Bhramma Temples stand evidence to the exceptional architectural skills that prevailed during the times they were built. All these temples don’t follow the Dravidian style and possess shikharas (spires) that are curvilinear in shape. There’s an extensive use of wall niches, ornamented screen windows, multi-tier pediments, base blocks and porch columns. Huge guardian images called as dwarapalakas are beautifully carved on either side of the entrance. The base block unfolds many mythological stories via carvings.

As you’ll enter narrow gate of fort’s huge wall, a huge doorway will lead you to shrines. Right on the ceiling of Mahadwara, you will encounter beautifully carved sculptures of trinity God’s – Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.

Just to the left, there’s Taraka Bhramma temple and to right Swarga Bhramma temple. Taraka Bhramma temple, at present partly in ruins, possesses southern style of architecture and has a porch and sanctum sanctorum too. On the other side, Swarga temple is much more evolved and well-preserved temple. It includes of 8 dikpalakas, the caretakers for each direction: for east, Indra, for west, Varuna, for north, Kubera, for south, Yama, for south east, Agni, for south west, Nirurti, for north east, Isana and for north west, Vayu. All the dikpalakas are well-placed in niches with ornate designed pediments and flanked by well proportioned mithuna couples represented in amorous postures.

On the west of Swarga Bhramma is Padma Bhramma. Partially in ruins, it’s almost similar to Swarga Bhramma shrine. And to the southeast of Padma Bhramma is Garuda Bhramma.
Bala Bhramma is a main shrine and serves as a place for worship since seventh century. Regular prayers are held here. Then there are Vishwa Bhramma, Arka Bhramma and Vira Bhramma temple, all of them standing in a line. Arka is mostly in ruins. Vishwa is well preserved and portrays epic stories, while Vira is just similar to other holy shrines, with not much unique feature.

Though it may appear that all the temples look more or less same, still the details in architecture and art are indeed exploring.

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