Wednesday, February 16, 2005

of a temple (the road trip contd...)

Considering that we were to travel from Kakinada to Machilipatnam in one day with an intention of covering as many interesting places in between as possible, we wanted to start early and have breakfast somewhere along the road. The fact that I've never travelled beyond Kakinada into the Konaseema (Godavari delta) region and the realisation that I would finally be seeing the towns that have always seemed to roll nicely off my tongue: Amalapuram, Ravvulapalem, Bhimavaram, etc. has certainly excited me.






East Godavari is a magical place with lush green paddy fields, more or less blue watered canals and to top it all the people have a lovely sing song way of speaking Telugu. I could just stay there and keep listening to people talk in EG. The wonderful feeling of mine was further enhanced with the mist still hanging over the fields. It was nice cool way to start this tour of magical mystery.


Even before I could finish sighing, which is more of an indicator of my long sigh than short distance, we reached Draksharamam, a Shiva temple. The temple had a small entrance that leads to a very large square complex. All around the main temple was a wide raised path that was Cuddapah stone topped. Instead of going into the temple, we decided to walk around the complex first.


When we reached the other side of the temple, as some puja to an open air deity was completed and the priests were giving everyone theertham and bananas to all those who attended it. As there were few more bananas left, we were called out. After being blessed on accepting the prasadam, we walked back to the front.


I then noticed that some restoration work was being done with the help of Archeological Society of India (as the large board said). I further noticed that most of the workers were Muslims perhaps from UP who were happily chatting in chaste Hindi/Urdu as they chipped the edges of the stone slabs, which would later be placed just around the plinth of the main temple. Perhaps to stop seepage of rain water along the temple foundation. RJ and I had to stop our romantic chat about this inter-religious interaction as we came to a large banyan tree with a circular platform around it. All around the platform there were idols that had entwined snakes carved on them. People were walking around the platform, hands folded and in silent reverence.





From this platform, a path on the right leads to the main temple in the centre. When we entered, what we thought was the main temple was infact another square complex. The temple was in the middle of this smaller complex. The complex had a pillared hall that ran all around the temple, where few puja were being done and few more were in the process of being initiated.



One part of the hall had another floor to it with an iron ramp that leads to another level of the main temple. I realised main temple has two levels and the ramp connects the first floor of the hall to the first floor of the temple.







The main deity was a tall lingam, which could have been a part of a Buddhist monastery. I have a feeling that many Buddhist stupas in this area could have been converted into Hindu temples. Amaravati and Annavaram are two temples that I visited which had Buddhist activity around and have tall structures that are said to be Shiva lingams, with a lovely story as to why this Lingam is taller than the usual ones. So, Draksharamam could also be one such entity. Before I get flamed, I would have to say that this is my theory or rather my hunch and has no academic support to it.

13 comments:

Fizo said...

Suresh...
WOW!Yaar. I feel like I am reading an A+ travelogue with amazing pics incorporated..I am just too happy I have been to the places that you mention...we used to travel in a rented taxi from Tuni to Narsipatnam when we used to visit Hyderabad during vacation times...the lush paddy fields were such a delight...thank you for bringing back those images...was spellbound reading about the temple visit...so you found chaste urdu speakers in AP? I thought that was an impossibity ;-) Also was intrigued by the snakes around the deities..whatta sight that must've been...and also whatta trip this turned out to be eh? Envy you yaar...envy you big time!

Ananth P said...

woooow !

photos are amazing ...esp Godavari one ! so much reminds me of our Kaveri delta !!

bottled-imp said...

hey fizz, i think i worded it wrong and thereby making it a bit more dramatic. my apologies. there werent snakes on the dieties but rather all the idols around the tree had two entwined snakes carved on them!! let me go and change the text. anyway, good that u are going to be hyd soon. maybe u should slip away for a day to the areas around Narsipatnam.

annath, i have never seen kaveri before i came to talkad. visiting the kaveri delta should be great, especially if one starts at the source and then come down.

Meenakshi said...

lovely blog and lovely photos again :)

SeaSwallowMe said...

damn !!! .. where did my other comment disappear ??

anyways, suresh .. wonderful as always. and the high-res fotos are a treat. wish i could convince my parents to go settle in East Godavari :))

Maltova said...

Nice one suresh. Love the paddy fields pic of all. notice the shadow of the cloud :)

Btw, temples and its architecture always have amazed me. Were they ok that you could photograph inside the temple?

bottled-imp said...

meena, ssm, pradz, thanx for ur comments.

ssm, that would be one cool thing to do. i would love to do that myself but the land rates are so expensive...

pradz, that is a shadow of a coconut tree with a slender trunk... one of the priests there requested us not to take pictures of the various deities but no one objected to taking pictures in the compound.

Silent Melody said...

hey Suresh, Very Nice pics.particularly the paddy fields..

I read your comment on my Hyd. blog. Seems like you have lived in hyderabad. Been to all the joints you mentioned except the Indian Harvest.The name seems vaguely familiar but can not place it. I love angeethi. And next time you are in Hyd go to PAinted Platter (Outside Gallopin Gooseberry). They serve the yummmiest desserts..

buckwaasur said...

wow suresh...great post and awesome pics...dude, u should seriously consider writing travelogues...if not for a living, at least on a part-time professional basis...u r bringing back so many memories, it's unbelievable...

kculon said...

Hey Imp,

I wanna visit the region now! When are u taking us there?

Adithi said...

suresh,

Those aresome really awesome pics.. lovely places..

tocsin said...

Once again a lovely blog. And love the pictures. Allow me if you will -- to ramble.

You know I am really struck by the lush greeness of the countryside. At times one (exactly who, I will defer for now) is not intrigued by the countless (I mean way too many) movies that use the Andhra rural scene as background. But I have yet to see any of them really exploit the landscape. While seeming to be set in the place (language and mores) the landscape is given short shrift, excpet for the cliched shot of the Godavari at sunset or sunrise.

And I believe, without any sources handy your theory about temples being former buddhist religious centers; is quite true. There is significant Buddhist phase in AP's history. I am not sure why you say you would not like to offend, because it is true.

You know, I don't think, I've heard of any Hindu-Muslim antagonism in rural Andhra. And I've heard it said often and once even read someone's conjecture that in India riots are mostly city-based phenomenon. Sad.

Anyway, I liked reading this blog. Looking forward to more.

bottled-imp said...

hey SM, i havent heard of that place. so next time i am in hyd, i know where to treat my wife to. she is a dessert freak!!!

hey buck, that would be my dream come true. as the northies say, "apke mooh mein ghee shakkar" or something like that... :)))

kcu, i have my tickets for 17th march...

adi, u know where to holiday post marriage... EG is a real nice place...

hey tocs, there is so much to say and i hope to bump into u sometime soon in DB