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.