The Kakatiya Rudreshwara temple is one of the successful achievements of the Kakatiya dynasty in the field of architecture. Popularly known as the Ramappa temple, it is considered the only temple named after a sculptor. Ramappa was the prime sculptor of numerous intricately detailed sculpting. Warangal, which is home to the Kakatiya art, houses the temple. It was built under the command of Rudrasamani, the chief commander of King Kakatiya Ganapathi at Ranakunda in Atukuru, which is present-day Palampet village in Mulug Tughlaq, in Warangal, located in Telangana. It is now the 39th World Heritage Site.

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History of the Temple

The temple is dedicated to Lord Ramalingeshwara and dates back to 1213 AD. According to history, king Ganapathi deva was defeated and imprisoned by another king Jaitugi, when chief commander Rudrayya selflessly fought and freed him. Indebted to his help, the king wanted to give him a precious Ramappa temple. Temple construction took almost 40 years.  It also survived an earthquake in the 17th century and yet stands erect with minor damages. While the mandapa suffered a little destruction, Nandi is in perfect condition. During his first visit to India, Marco Polo was so mesmerized by the craftsmanship of the Kakatiya Rudreshwara temple that he quoted it as the brightest star in the temples of Deccan.

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Architecture

Nandi mandapam marks the entrance to the temple. There is a lawn with paths paved by trees that leads to the temple, which was then a royal garden. Among the Kakatiya Rudreshwara’s components are Garbhagriha, Antarala, Maha Mandapam, and Pradakshina Path. As with traditional Kakatiya temples, the temple positions itself on a 6 feet star-shaped platform. It differentiated the temple and made it look prominent amongst the rest. It is a symbolic connection of heaven and earth in between them. The main entrance gate to the site has been destroyed. 

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Carvings

One can notice intricate carvings all over walls, pillars, and even ceilings. The entry walls of the Garbhagriha have carvings of dance forms and musical instruments, ceilings depict stories of Ramayana, Shiva Puranas, and ancient texts. Structural perfection is evident in the placement of the columns in the front sanctum sanctorum. These pillars are sculpted with stories of Mythology and produce musical notes when tapped. A dance guru Nataraja Ramakrishna revived Perini Sivatandam, a Kakatiya era warrior dance from the detailed carvings.

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Kakatiya Rudreshwara temple has sub-shrines on both sides, namely, Kameswara and Koteswara shrines, out of which the Kameswara shrine is in ruins. At the eastern entrance are two structures with dancing girls emerging from them. One was stolen and later replaced. The central pillars and architrave are rich and refined, much like the exquisite filigree work in gold and silver. The laying of a 3m deep foundation preceded the construction. Later, stones were stacked on top of the sand foundation. This sandbox technology used almost 800 years ago still astonishes everyone.

Materials 

There are three colors used in the construction of the temple – red, white, and mixed-colored stones. Water-floating bricks make up Vimana. The bricks were smaller than the ones used nowadays. Their density is 0.9g/cu.cm, which is less than that of water. The bricks are made spongy by using something like sawdust. All the carvings in the Kakatiya Rudreshwara temple are black basalt. It is one of the hardest stones to carve, but the craftsmen at that time showcased their mastery. The inside of the temple is illuminated without the use of any artificial light sources, even though most of the temple has a dark hue.

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Impact on the Past

Kakatiya Rudreshwara temple is located at the foothills of a forested area amidst agricultural fields close to the Ramappa lake. The region is home to fertile black soil, hence, agriculture flourished. The lake was the source of their irrigation. The temple was a central space to gather in the region. It served as a venue for Panchayat meetings. Many cultural, social, political, and artistic events took place in the temple. The temple is a reason of pride to the locals due to its expert artistry and architecture.

‘’Symphony in stone’’ – describes PV Narasimha Rao

Present Condition

World Heritage Site

A temple in a small village, Palampet, was recognized and appreciated by scholars widely. The preservation of the temple occurred on a large scale after the Telangana split. During the term of chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, Papa Rao worked with historians to prepare a dossier. In 2021, in an online summit of UNESCO, the Kakatiya Rudreshwara temple was inscribed as the 39th world heritage site. Now, the temple receives international financial assistance for its preservation. It is bound to receive protection from the Geneva Convention in times of war.

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At present, the temple has become a popular tourist spot for tourists all over. After the announcement as a World Heritage Site, its importance increased, and the surrounding land rates almost doubled. Around 40 small businesses, including eateries, depend on the temple and its tourists for income. Archeological Survey of India (ASI) currently manages the Kakatiya Rudreshwara temple. To assist the tourists, accommodations like cottages and restaurants emerged near the lake. In 2012 a group of heritage activists and locals came together and lit 10,000 candles to celebrate 800 years of its existence.

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Kakatiya temples have a distinct style that makes wise use of technology, exhibiting their influence in architecture. This temple reflects the culture, tradition, and technology of the Kakatiya period in Telangana. From depicting the foreign relations of the dynasty with Egyptians and Persians to the local life, the temples give a lot of information about that period. The temple was then a prominent structure uniting people, and it has not lost its historical and cultural importance even after decades. The designers and artisans and their skill stays alive in the walls of the temple and will be cherished forever. Kakatiya Rudreshwara is a souvenir of the Kakatiya rule standing high amidst lush green gardens.

Author

Vismai is a driven student leveraging studies in architecture and a keen observant of fine details in art forms who has had a passion for writing and poetry since forever. Along with sketches, she considers writing as a valuable tool to interpret buildings.

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