Tuesday, 25 May 2010

1300 year old temple of Sri Chenna Kesava discovered at Terala in Guntur

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, May 25: A former history professor from the University of Hyderabad has discovered a 1300-year-old temple dedicated to Sri Chenna Kesava at Terala village in Durgi mandal of Guntur district.

Dr Ruchi Singh, who discovered the temple rather accidentally while she was working on archaeological sites in Palnadu region, says the temple belonging to the Chalukyan period was buried up to roof level. "The temple is locally known as Ankalamma Gudi or Poopalamma Gudi and lies in the Brahmanaidu cheruvu (lake). It is a Rekhanagara Prasada, representing the Badami Chalukyan architecture datable to the 7th century CE." she said.

Macherla and Karempudi, the temple towns of Palnadu war fame, are popular centres in Guntur district for Sri Chenna Kesava temple and Veerulagudi respectively. There are a few temples associated with Palnadu war and they have not seen the light of the day. Recently, the Nayakuralu Nagamma temple at Jittagamalapadu, a 11th - 12th century structure, was taken up for conservation.

Dr Ruchi Singh is currently working on a project on "heritage and cultural tourism in Andhra Pradesh" supported by South Zone Cultural Centre, Thanjavur. She had gone for studying Siddeshwara Swamy temple at Terala for her project.

Prof  E Siva Nagi Reddy, sculptor in the department of archaeology and museums, says the counterparts of the temple are seen at Pitikayagulla in Prakasam district, Panyam in Kurnool district and the group of temples at Alampur in Mahabubnagar district.

Square on plan the temple has a garbhagriha over which a typical Nagara style Vimana Sikhara with Amalaka is built. Until and unless the earth accumulated up to roof level of the temple is removed the details of the walls, mukhamandapa and adhishtana are not known, she said.

Moreover, the sculptors used iron dowels in the joinery of the stones used for construction of the temple, and this is a typical western Chalukyan feature.

Prof  KP  Rao, Hyderabad Central University, said the discovery is significant in two ways. First it attests the fact that Guntur district was in the domain of the early Chalukyas also known as the western Chalukyas or the Chalukyas of Badami, ruled from Karnataka, and secondly, the Chalukyan temples are also located in Guntur region.

Archaeology director Prof  P Chenna Reddy confirmed that the temple discovered by Dr Ruchi Singh is Chalukyan and dated back to the 7th century CE. He said this unique temple would be protected by his department.

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