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Home Eminent Columnists Sarvamangala

Sarvamangala

SarvamangalaKnowAP.com takes you through a magical journey across the weaving and craft centres of India. The writer of this column, Sarvamangala, has been associated with handlooms and handicrafts for 14 years. She has started and run, very successfully, a retail store in Secunderabad dealing with ethnic handlooms and ecofriendly craft/toys. She has her own outlet now....Anagha, in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad..

The business woman turned writer was earlier an airhostess with Indian Airlines. "I got into business and into handlooms by default", she says. I have an Air Force background and had no clue of how to run a business.But having got into it. she gave it her all.

She has travelled to the major weaving centres of Andhra Pradesh and other States of India and interacted with master weavers understanding the method of weaving from them and giving them colour and design inputs in return. Handlooms soon became a passion with her. "I realised the variety and scope of Indian handlooms after I got into it. The designs and combinations that can be made are endless and mind boggling...leaving one spellbound", she says. For instance, who could have thought that Kalamkari paintings could be appliqued on to sarees? or the traditional Lucknowi chikankari work done on Maheshwari sarees? or block prints on Kanjeevaram silks? or Jute infused into Tussar Silk sarees?

Read about all these and more in the forthcoming months in "Weaves and Crafts of India".

Sojourn to Bhadrachalam and Arasavalli

This month our pilgrim sojourn will be Bhadrachalam and Arasavalli; the former being the centuries-old Lord Rama temple and the latter being Lord Surya’s.

BHADRACHALAM
Location: Bhadrachalam, near Khammam.
Diety: Lord Rama.
This ancient shrine, which is a Rama temple, is built on a hill, accessed by a flight of steps. This temple is vast in size. The vimana and the mandapams are of fine craftsmanship. This temple is associated with Bhadrachalam Ramadas, an ardent devotee of Rama. Lord Rama is said to have given Ramachandra darshan and liberated his soul. That is why it is called Bhadrachalam in the memory of the Saint Bhadra. The temple underwent renovation in the 17th century. Valmiki had sung the story of Sri Ramachandra here. The spot where the temple stands was where Lord Rama lived before Ravana carried Sita away.

The temple has beautiful pieces of sculpture that captivates the attention with their sheer beauty and excellence of workmanship. Sri Rama is shown here as handsome, well-built, holding the bow and arrow and standing in the Tribhanga pose. Sita stands close to him, also in Tribhanga pose, with a lotus in one hand and the other hand in the katyavalambita posture. The temple was consecrated by Manushya Pratishtha. According to local legends the temple finds its first mention with a Bairagi or mendicant who came from Ayodhya. He resided on a small hillock overlooking the mighty Godavari. Here he carved out an image of Sri Rama and built a small temple. Ramadas was a Taluk official who was sent here to collect the revenues for his masters. He collected the revenues, but instead of remitting them to his masters, he thought that the money could be better used for constructing a temple for Sri Rama, and hence spent all the money for enlarging the small temple. He was found guilty of embezzlement and was sentenced to prison by Tana Shah for 12 years. Lord Rama, pleased with his devotee, chose to appear before the Qutub Shahi ruler, in the form of Gopanna and paid up all the money. The king freed Saint Ramadas and he was also allowed to mint gold coins, popularly known as Ramatangi. Legends also say that an unlettered woman Dammakka lived in a hamlet near the hill. She saw a vision of the images of Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana lying in an unfrequented spot on the hill. Next day, she climbed the hill and discovered the idols on the very spot she had dreamt. Dammakka is said to have built a small mandapa to house these idols. Ramadas expanded the temple and constructed mandapas and gopuras for conducting several festivals for the Lord, particularly Sri Ramanavami which is celebrated on a grand scale here. 

It was at Bhadrachalam that Sri Rama lost Sita and it was here that he manifested himself to save his devotee Ramadas. During Sri Ramanavami endless streams of pilgrims do the famous Bhadrachalam Yatra.

ARASAVALLI
Location: Arasavalli, Srikakulam district.
Diety: The Sun God.
The Sun temple in Andhra Pradesh is a very ancient temple and it is dedicated to the God Suryanarayana. According to the legends, it was established by Indra, the Lord of the Devas. Legend says that Indra the king of Gods attempted to force his entry into the temple of Koteeshwara - Shiva and was thrown away by the gatekeeper Nandi. Repentful of his arrogance in attempting to force his entry, Indra enshrined Surya the Sun God in a temple and performed worship services, at Arasavalli.
This temple is located in the Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. Surya is worshipped by chanting mantras and following many rituals. But, there are very few temples in India for this deity. The Sun temple of Konark in Orissa is the most well-known temple for this deity, which was built in the 13th century AD. The other is situated at Modhera in Gujarat, which was built in 1025 AD. But, hardly anybody knows about this Sun temple in Andhra Pradesh.

The Arasavalli temple contains a beautiful idol of Surya in black granite. The black granite image of Surya, is about 5 feet in height bearing lotus buds (hence the name Padma Paani), flanked by his consorts Padma, Usha and Chhaaya, on a seven-horse driven chariot, is the object of worship here. At the base of the image are the gate keepers Pingala and Danda and the saints Sanaka and Sananda. Surya's charioteer Aruna is also depicted in the image.

All these figures are exquisitely carved out of a single black granite stone. A unique style was followed while building this Sun temple. It was constructed in such a way that the rays of the sun in the early morning fall on the feet of the deity twice a year, in February and in June. The rays fall on the feet for a few minutes even though the five entrance gates of the temple remain closed.

The antiquity of the Sun temple of Andhra Pradesh can be traced from the epigraphical evidences. It is known from the inscriptions of the eastern Kalinga dynasty that the sons of Narayana Bhatti called Aditya Vishnu Sarman and Bhanu Sarman were devotees of Lord Surya at Arasavalli Sun temple.

The temple was not repaired for centuries; till it was reconstructed in 1778 AD by a person called Yelamanchili Pullaji Panthulu. During the annual Suryajayanti festival on every Ratha Saptami, thousands of people visit Arasavalli. The third Sunday of the Vaisakha month is regarded to be very propitious to worship the presiding deity of Sun temple at Arasavalli.

The original name Harshavalli means abode of joy. People suffering with eye and skin diseases are believed to be cured by the God at this temple. It is also believed that the temple was built in the 7th century AD by the Kalinga rulers Devendra Varma of Orissa.

This temple is a testimonial for the architectural skills of Vishwakarma Brahmin sculptors. It is believed that the Orissa Vishwakarma Brahmin sculptors, also called as Maharanas, planned the architecture and sculpted this engineering masterpiece. The five idols installed in one place in the temple viz., Aditya, Ambica, Vishnu, Ganesha and Maheswara are worshiped by different devotees.

Month: September 2010.

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