Friday, 22 February 2008

Simhachalam temple: Quite popular 1000 years ago too


February 22, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Feb 21: Sri Narasimha Swamy temple atop the Simhachalam hill in Visakhapatnam was a major pilgrim centre as early as the 11th century CE, attracting thousands of pilgrims from far and wide, says senior temple science expert TP Sri Ramachandra Charyulu.
Sri Ramachandra Charyulu, who has decoded about 500 ancient inscriptions from the Simhachalam shrine, the second richest temple in Andhra Pradesh, says the writings recovered from the temple premises are unique and throw light on the cultural, social, economic and political situation of the Andhra desa of those times.
"Many temples have inscriptions. But those recovered from the Simhachalam temple are quite a large in number. The inscriptions deal with things as small as removing weeds from the Vimana (gopuram) of the temple to major religious rituals including offering of naivedhyam with condensed milk," Charyulu told this correspondent.
He said the Simhachalam temple used to receive generous donations from kings and ordinary pilgrims from all over south India even during 1100 CE. "We found gold coins offered during 1264 and 1266 by a ruler from Cuttack in Orissa. The coins and related inscriptions showed that the king had made permanent financial arrangement to meet the salaries of 100 temple danseuses and musicians. A temple having such
a large contingent of musicians is indeed rare. Even rich temples these days do not have so many paid artistes," he said. Stating that one of the inscriptions deals with condensation of milk from 30 litres to 10 litres before it was offered as daily Naivedhyam to the presiding deity, Charyulu said the people of those days had
perfected it an art.
"We are yet to study the complete set of inscriptions. A detailed research will give an insight into the mind of people living in the final moments of the first millennium and early second millennium. But unfortunately, blasting in and around the hills is damaging the treasure-trove, including the temple structure. We will lose these inscriptions for ever," Charyulu said.

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