BHADRACHALAM TEMPLE BHAKTA RAMDAS Beauty of faith, atmost devotion

Temples have been our place of solace and peace quite often. At times they have been the reason to help us deal with problems and then there are times when we only are there to feel the presence of the Almighty around us.

Words: Steffi Mac

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This way or that, temples are a constant reminder to us that we aren’t alone, that there is someone looking over us and listening to our prayers. Amidst all the beautiful temples of the country, there is one that isn’t only famous for its beauty, but also for its unique history and the number of devotees it hosts every year.

The Bhdrachalam temple is the epitome of spirituality, hope and the love of the Almighty for all living creatures.

HISTORY
It is the abode of Lord Rama (The seventh incarnation of SriMahavishnu). This temple located on the hill is the famous shrine Bhadrachalam-The name derived from Bhadragiri (Mountain of Bhadra-a boon child of Meru and Menaka).

According to history, the significance of this shrine dates back to the Ramayana Era. This hill existed in “Dandakaranya” of Ramayana period where Rama with his consort Sita and brother Laxmana had spent their vanavasa- and Parnashaala(the place connected to the famous Golden Deer and the place from where Sita was abducted by Ravana) is also in the vicinity of this temple site.

It is at this Mandir site that, long after Ramavatara, Bhagawan Mahavishnu manifested Himself as Rama again to fulfil a promise He made to His Bhakta Bhadra, who continued his Tapas through Yugas, praying for the grace of the Bhagawan Sri Ramachandra murthy.

Bhadra performed penance at the bank of river Godavari in this “ Dandakaranya “ to get grace of lord Rama.

When he finally met him, the exulted “Rishi” implored Rama to be seated on his head, but Rama who was in search of his wife Sita promised him that his desire will be fulfilled on his way back. Lord Rama first wanted to find Sita, accomplish punishing the wicked Ravana and establish ‘Dharma’. But Lord Rama could not fulfil it and yet Bhadra continued his penance. Moved by his devotion, Lord Vishnu manifested himself as Lord Rama and rushed to his devotee Bhadra. He signalled his arrival by blowing the ‘Shanku’, accompanied by his Sita and Laxman. He resembled ‘Gajendra Moksham ‘. Thus, the idols of Rama (with four hands) have the Shanku on the right,

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Chakra at his left and Dhanurbhana (Bow and Arrow in the other two hands), Sita and Lakshman are on either side.

The place of deities is the head place of Bhadra-achalam (hill), thus this shrine was transformed into Bhadrachalam. (Source Google)

THE DISCOVERY OF THE IDOLS
The idols of Vykuntha Rama, Laxmana and Sita were found by Pokala Dhammakka. Pokala Dhammakka, an ardent devotee of Rama lived in the 17th century and was an inhabitant of Bhadrireddypalem, a mile away from this holy place. On one fine night, she had a dream of Rama who said “the saints and sages are worshiping my embodied idol settled on Bhadragiri” and asked her to trace them, perform pooja (prayer) and attain salvation.

The next morning she started searching for the idols. She peeped into an ant-hill and found the idols hidden in it. She poured hundreds of pots of Godavari water on the ant-hill. It dissolved and gave way to the hidden Deities. Since that day, she offered her prayers every day for the rest of her life.

CONSTRUCTION OF TEMPLE
Bhadrachalarama temple was constructed by Kancharla Gopanna popularly known as Bhakta Ramadas in the year 1674 A.D.

Once Ramadas, heard the news that the villagers were proceeding to witness a Jatara at Bhadrachalam. He too visited Bhadrachalam out of curiosity. He found the deities and was amazed. Ramadas, then asked the villagers to contribute liberally for the construction of the temple. After the contributions were found to be insufficient, the villagers appealed to him to spend the revenue collections for the construction of the temple with a promise to repay the amount after harvesting the crops. Accordingly, Ramadas constructed the temple with an amount of Rs 6 Lakhs collected from the land revenues without the permission of the Nizam Nawab.

When the temple was almost complete, he had a problem of fixing ‘Sudarshana Chakra’ at the crest of the main temple. He was deeply distressed and fell into sleep. On the same night, Rama in his dream asked him to have a holy dip in river Godavari where he would find it. The next day morning Gopanna did so and found the holy Sudarshana Chakra in the river without much difficulty. He presumed that the Sudarshana Chakra itself was shaped up with the divine power of God Rama.

There was a custom of offering pearls to the deities on an elephant. This procedure is still followed by present state Government. The process takes place on Rama Navami Festival every year.

ARCHITECTURE
The temple is divided into three parts. The first is the temple dedicated to the head of Bhadra. A rock structure on the inside has the footprints (supposedly) of Lord Ram. Thirunamam is applied to the rock so that the visitors can recognise it as Bhadra’s head. The second is the sanctum where the temple’s deity resides. The third one is the rajagopuram (main tower) which is located at Bhadra’s feet.

The temple has four entrances and there are 50 steps to be climbed to reach the main entrance. In 1974, a huge door named the Vaikuntha Dwaram was built to ensure proper management of the devotees. Right opposite to the sanctum sanctorum, there is a gold plated dwajasthambam (flag post). It is made of panchaloha and contains images of Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu.

On the top of the sanctum, an eight-faced Sudarshana Chakra with a thousand corners was engraved by Gopanna, who found it in the waters of the Godavari. On the same tower, there is a small idol of the deity. The entrance for devotees vouching for special visit is towards the left of the sanctum while the regular visitors have to wait in a queue that leads straight into the garbhagriha. To the right of the sanctum, the utsava idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are housed which are worshipped daily. (Source Wikipedia)