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Sri Sita Ramachandra Swamy temple, Bhadrachalam, India

Bhadrachalam, Telangana, India The Heavenly abode of Vaikuntha Rama
Hinduism

Lord Rama is one of the most revered deity in India. From North India to South India, there are many temples that are dedicated to Lord Rama. As the first Avatar of Lord Vishnu in Tretha Yuga (in Hindu religion Tretha Yuga is second out of the four yugas, or ages of mankind) he holds an important position in Hindu mythology.

The Sita Ramchandraswamy temple situated at Bhadrachalam (also referred as Bhadrachalam temple or Bhadradri) situated on the banks of River Godavari is one such temple that is thronged by devotees by all over the India and world. Due to its rich mythological history and devotional significance it is considered to be one of the Divya Kshetrams (divine regions). It is also revered by the devotees as the Ayodhya of South India or Dakshina Ayodhya.

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Overview

History and Belief

Sri Sita Ramachandra Swamy temple has rich mythological history. The references to the origins of the temple date back from the famous revered treatise of Hindu devotees, the Ramayana.

There is a legend as to how the town where the temple is situated got its name. It is believed that Sage Bhadra son of Menaka and Mount Meru was a passionate devotee of Lord Rama. H          e expressed his desire to seat Lord Rama on his head. However, Lord Rama was searching for Goddess Sita Devi at that time and promised to fulfill his wish on his way back. In due course of time Sage Bhadra’s penance became stringent as Lord Rama did not appear. Lord Vishnu pleased with stringent penance of Sage Bhadra rushed to fulfill his wish by appeared in form of Vaikuntha Rama with Goddess Sita Devi seated on his thigh and Lord Laxman to his left. It is in this form that Lord Rama sat on Sage Bhadra or Mount Bhadra’s head hence the name Bhadrachalam (the Hill of Bhadra).

It is also believed that in Tretha yuga, Lord Rama was ordered to exile for fourteen years in woods. During their exile period, they resided in the forests at Bhadrachalam known at that time as the Dandaka forests in a remote village called Parnasala.

Another great legend relates to the construction of the temple which in turn is closely linked to Kancherla Gopanna, more famously known as Bhakta Ramadasu. The Bhadrachalam temple owes its existence to Kancharla Gopanna. Gopanna was born to Linganna Murthy and Kamamba at Nelakondapalli which is a village located in present day Khammam district. The idol of Lord Rama was discovered by Pokala Dhammakka.  She constructed a small Mandapam (pillared outdoor hall or pavilion for public rituals)

 

Kancharla Gopanna who was Tehsildar during reign of Nawab Abul Hasan Qutub Shah (also known as the “Taneshah” of Golconda) came to know about this and he proceeded to visit the idols. He was mesmerized on seeing the idols and decided to construct a full-fledged temple dedicated to the deities. For this, he requested village people to assist him, however as he was instrumental in imposing Jaziya (a tax imposed by Abul Hasan Qutub Shah to force Hindus to convert to Islam), villagers did not heed to his request and suggested that he spend the money from the tax collected by him. Gopanna started the construction of the temple from the amounts available in the treasury with an intention to subsequently return the amount spent. The temple was constructed at cost of six lakh varahas.  On coming to know this, the Shah was furious and he ordered his soldiers to imprison Gopanna. He was arrested and imprisoned at dungeons of Golconda fort. He was ordered to be hanged if he did not return the amount in 12 years.

It is believed that on the last day of completion of 12 years, Lord Rama with Lakshamana himself appeared in Shah’s dreams and paid the amount. Impressed by the dream and by Gopanna’s devotion Shah released Gopanna. In his goodwill the Shah donated the land around the temple and granted Gopanna a pension till he lived.

Gopanna was granted the title of Bhakt Ramdas by Saint Kabir who came to visit the temple. 


Architecture

The temple can be entered from four entrances. One enters the temple by climbing a flurry of 50 steps through the main door.  At this entrance, a new door called Vaikuntha Dwaram was constructed in the year 1974.

The first half of the temple is believed to be the head of Mount Bhadra. In order to distinguish this portion clearly white clay is applied to the surrounding rocks. It houses a shrine dedicated to Mount Bhadra. Lending credence to the mythology surrounding the temple are huge footprints on the rocks which are believed to be Lord Rama’s footprints.

From here one proceeds to the second half or the sanctum of the temple. The sanctum houses the main idol of Lord Rama which is considered to be Swayambhu (self-established). The idol of Lord Rama here is unique and distinct from many other idols that are found in other temples. Lord Rama is seated in yogic Padmasana posture with Goddess Sita on his right lap and Lakshmana to the left. As per mythology Lord Rama appeared to Sage Bhadra in order to fulfill his promise however in the haste he appeared as Lod Vishnu instead of his incarnation as Lord Rama with four hands which held Shankha or the conch, Sudershana Chakra or the serrated weapon disc, the Dhanusha or the bow and arrow. This incarnation of Lord Vishnu is known as Vaikuntha Rama. It is only at Bhadrachalam that one gets to see Lord Vishnu in this mesmerizing avatar. The Vimana of the sanctum is magnificent work of art. It includes eight faced Sudershan Chakra with thousand corners and is believed to be found by Kancherla Gopanna in the river Godavari.  

Adjacent to the sanctum is the magnificent Dhwaja Stambham (the flag pole) This is made of Panchaloha (an alloy of five metals) and is plated with Gold. It bears the inscription of Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu.

The third portion of Bhadrachalam temple is considered to be Mount Bhadra’s feet. It houses the main tower of the temple or the Rajagopuram.     

The temple also includes shrines dedicated to other deities. The Abhayanjaneya and Dasanjeya temple are shrines devoted to Lord Hanuman. One should also not miss the shrine dedicated to Yogananda -Narsimha while reaching temple from the river bank. Like the idol of the presiding deity, this idol is too considered to be Swayambhu and is highly revered by the devotees as the deity is considered to be very powerful.

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3 interesting Facts & Myths about Sri Sita Ramachandra Swamy temple, Bhadrachalam, India

  • ·The Sudarshan Chakra (serrated disc weapon) on the Vimana of the sanctum has an associated legend with it. It is believed that initially Kancherla Gopanna had a problem with the installation of the Sudershan Chakra as he could not find an apt one to place on temple. One night Lord Rama came into his dreams and ask him to have dip in river Godavari. The next morning, he found the Sudershan Chakra in the river and he installed it on the Vimana of the sanctum of the temple.  

  • ·Kancharla Gopanna was also instrumental in installing an idol of Lord Ranganatha (reclining form of Lord Vishnu). This place is popularly known as Ranganayakula Gutta (hillock of Ranganatha). He also built another temple dedicated to his consort Lakshmi Thayar. These two temples were built on the lines of Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple.  

  • ·There is another version to the story related to the construction of temple and release of Kancharla Gopanna from imprisonment. It is believed that on the conclusive day of 12th imprisonment year, Lord Rama along with Lakshmana appeared as Ramoji and Lakshmoji to Nawab Abul Hasan Qutub Shah and paid 6 lakh Mohurs for release of Kancharla Gopanna. The Shah gave them a voucher as acknowledgement and they in turn left the receipt under Gopanna’s pillow. The Shah realized that Ramoji and Lakshmoji were none other than Lord Rama and Lakshmana. He released Goapanna and retained only two coins. These are displayed at Rushya Mookham Exhibition Centre.

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Programs

Daily programs

The temple opens at 04:30 AM.  A ceremony to wake the Lord form his slumber is performed which is known as the “Prabhatosatvam”. In this ceremony songs and compositions of Tumu Narsimhadas who was a great saint ad devotee of Lord Rama, are performed on the tunes of percussions and instruments. Lord is bathed in anointed in holy water at 07:00 AM. This ceremony is called “Abhisekham”. From then the temple remains open till 12:00PM.

The temple closes from 12:00 PM to 03:00 PM. At 09:00 Ekantha Seva or the final pooja for the day is performed to the lord and the temple closes at 09:30 PM.

Special programs

The most important festival that attracts devotees internationally is the Sri Rama Navami festival. This is performed in the month of March This festival celebrates the marriage or Kalyanam of Lord Rama with Goddess Sita Devi.  A special dais for marriage called Kalyanamandapam is prepared and decorated with flowers. Among the chanting of sacred hymns Lord Rama’s marriage is performed with Goddess Sita Devi.

In the months of December and January the festival of “Vaikuntha Ekadasi” is performed with great pomp and fare.

Travel

How to travel

If one wants to enjoy the temple at its full splendor then it is preferable to travel in the month of April when the celebrations of Rama Navami festival are in full swing.

The Bhadrachalam temple lies in Bhadradri-Kothagudem district of Telangana state in India and is well connected with all major towns.  The nearest major town is Khammam which lies 115 kilometers away and is well connected to all major town in India.

One can also arrive at Kothagudem railway station, which is 40 kilometers away from the Bhadrachalam town and is well connected with all major cities in India.

The nearest airport to Bhadrachalam is Gannavaram airport at Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India which lies at a distance of 181.4 kilometers. From here one can reach by road by Andhra Pradesh state road transport buses which run on frequent basis.  

One can also reach Bhadrachalam from Hyderabad, the state capital of Telengana state which is well connected by air and by road.

VISITING DAYS/HOURS

Morning 06:00 AM to 07:30 PM

See Sri Sita Ramachandra Swamy temple, Bhadrachalam, India on map

Nearby Attraction

  • Parnasala: This place lies 35 kilometers from Bhadrachalm. It is believed that Ravana abducted Goddess Sita Devi at this place. A small hut depicts the incidents from Ramayana.
  • Papikondalu hills: These hills on the bank of river Godavari lie 58 kilometers from Bhadrachalam. One need to enjoy the serenity of the hills and river for an out of the world experience. Full-fledged bating and stay packages are available for tour of Papikondalu.   
  • Rushya Mookham Exhibition Centre: This is a museum which includes Rama Mada  coins given to the Shah and jewellery made by Gopanna to the deities including Chintaku patakam (a necklace studded with rubies), Kirithas (crowns), plaited decorations, and a mutyala haramu (chain of pearls)

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