Devuni Kadapa is a part of Kadapa City and is also known as Patha Kadapa, meaning Old Kadapa. The name “Devuni Kadapa” is derived from the word gadapa, which means ‘doorway’ or threshhold’. The pilgrims who wanted to visit Tirumala. Tirupati had to first visit the Lakshmi Venkateswara Swami Temple in Devuni Kadapa, and hence the place got its name. It is believed that the idol of Sri Venkateshwara in this temple was installed by Kripacharya, one of the teachers of the Pandavas and Kauravas from the epic Mahabharata. Hence, the place is also known as ‘Kripavathi Kshetra’. In addition, it is also known as ‘Hanumad Kshetra’ and Lord Hanuman gets the pride of place and is behind the murti of Lord Venkateshwara.
The temple is a magnificent example of Vijayanagar architecture, though the Rashtrakutas, Vaidumbas and Kakateeyas ruled the region. The dancing Vigneshwara (Lord Ganesha) in the Mukha Mandapam (main hall) is certainly a masterpiece of those times. It has been recorded that Talapakka Annamacharya visited the ‘Kadapa Rayudu’ as he called the Lord here and composed kritis in praise of the Lord. There is a separate shrine for Goddess Padmavathi.
An unusual custom here (according to news reports), is that on Ugadi day, a sizeable Muslim populace are the first visitors to the temple and pray here to the chants of ‘Govinda Govinda’. They offer ‘Vepapathi’ to Lord Balaji, which is basically neem leaves and jaggery that traditionally used during the Ugadi festival. Many Muslim families in this city believe that the eldest child in the family must visit this temple regularly, failing which evil will befall the family. According news reports, although the entry of Muslims to this temple was banned by some religious leaders a few years back, Muslims kept visiting this temple as was the tradition for centuries.
The day we arrived there were special pujas and prayers going on and the air was indeed festive. From here we drove to the Pushpagiri Peetham Temple Complex, which was a 30 minute drive.
Pushpagiri Peetham: These temple complexes are on the banks of the River Pennar. The Vaishnavas call it as Madhya Ahobhilam and Shaivas call it as Madhya Kailasam.
Founded around 7th Century CE, it houses some of the oldest temple congregations in the region.
There are multiple legends associated with the origin of the temple complex. One of the legend says that it has come to existence from the Satya Yuga when Garuda in the process of freeing his mother from enslavement inadvertently spilled a drop of ambrosia into the surrounding lake. The story goes that an old farmer was disillusioned with his pathetic life that he jumped into the pool to take his own life. However, the dip in the pool transformed him into a young man. He was so astonished by this and made his wife and oxen to take dip in the pool and they turned young too.
The news of the sacred pool spread all over the place and all people started thronging this place to become young. This was against the laws of Nature and when the news reached Satya Loka, Brahma invoked the help of Lord Vishnu & Lord Siva. They instructed Anjaneya (Lord Hanuman) to close the pool. Anjaneya dropped a hill in the pool, but instead of sinking the hill started floating like a flower. Lord Vishnu & Lord Siva decided to seal the ends with their feet. The imprint of the foot of Siva became famous as Rudrapada and that of Vishnu’s as Vishnupada.
Another legend says that Lord Rama, worshipped Lord Vaidyanatheswara here during the Treta Yuga, and the flowers created flowery mound is established and hence the place got its name Pushpagiri– mountain of flowers.
Vaidyanatha group of temples: The Vaidyanatha Swami Temple is a west facing shrine of the Chola period, situated to the southeast of Trikuteswara temple. Two dvarapalakas (watchmen) guard its doorways and the mandapam has 16 pillars arranged in two squares. The sanctum sanctorum has a standing image of goddess, called as Kamalakshi Devi by the locals.
Trikuteshwara: There are three shrines- Kamaleshwara Shrine, Hachaleswara shrine and Pallaveswara Shrine, founded in 1255 AD and hence the complex gets its name Trikuteswara. This triple shrine has a common mukha-mandapa (the main pillared hall or covered veranda in a temple), with each temple on the south, west and north of the mukha mandapam. A four pillared Nandi Mandapa houses an image of Nandi in the sabha-mandapa (Public Hall).
Bhimeshwara: The Bhimeshwara (Lord Shiva) Temple is located to the east of Trikuteswara Temple with figures of elephants, lions and sages in its Mukha-mandapam.
Chennakeshava Temple: The main attraction of Pushpagiri is the Chenna Kesava Temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, which is situated on the other side of the river Pennar. We had to drive a distance around the river – which could be just a few minutes if you can cross by foot across the river – which of course was not the optimal way to do so. The temple complex is stunning. It is quite amazing that in every nook and corner of India, you come across such architectural marvels .
The presiding deity is Chennakesava Swamy (Lord Vishnu), whom that Cholas patronised across the generations. The temple of Chennakesava is an artistic structure with three Shrines inside and two sub-shrines outside of the elevated platform. The shrines inside the platform have the main deity of Chennakesava and Shrine to the left dedicated for a Shiva Linga. The shrine of Chennakesava faces west and houses an idol of standing Chennakesava Swamy towering at almost 10 feet. This temple is functional with regular pujas being conducted through the day. There is also a shrine for Rajyalakshmi Devi, who is the consort of Chennakeshava swamy. All around the temple are beautiful carvings that depict various scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The temple is under the maintenance of the Archeological Survey of India.
After this wondrous visit, we were on the way to see the stone carvers of Allagada and Ahobilam.
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Pictures Courtesy: A S Diwakar ( Chennai)