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108 buried Siva temples found 
By M. V. Subramanyam


SIDDAVATAM (Cuddapah dt.) June 2. The surfacing of five ancient Siva temples partly in sand dunes along the Pennar river in Jyothi village in Siddhavatam mandal has led to the discovery that as many as 108 Siva temples have been buried under sand at the place.

Besides the rare presence of 108 Siva temples dating back to 1213 A.D., a silver chariot and a diamond crown said to have been presented to the Jyothi Siddhavateswara Swamy temple by Kakatiya Rudrama Devi were present in Jyothi village, according to inscriptions discovered.  

The 108 Siva temples were said to have been constructed by King Rakkasi Gangarayadeva and his aide, Jantimanayakudu, in the 12th century and were buried under sand during the Muslim Kings' rule, says Pothuraju Venkata Subbanna, a retired headmaster and chairman of several temples in Siddhavatam mandal, who has been conducting a study for the past eight years and has authored a voluminous book running to 1,200 manuscript pages, which he hopes to publish shortly. The king's nephew, Nachalappa, is said to have constructed the "Aleru Katta'', stairs leading to the Pennar from the group of temples, he stated. The main temple called Jyothi Siddheswara Swamy temple, in which the local people have been performing pooja of late, has a big Sivalingam and a gaping hole to the right of a Sivalingam is a very long tunnel, presently inhabited by bats. A handful of villagers who ventured into the tunnel at the behest of Venkata Subbanna have returned after crawling barely for a few metres due to suffocation. A life-size inscription in the temple has Swastik symbol on the left and the Sun, Moon and a sturdy bull on the right. The sculpture in the main temple, a temple gopuram and a mantapam, which partly surfaced, depicted that of the Vijayanagar Kingdom, Venkata Subbanna told The Hindu. The "Vaanara'' king, Sugreeva noted in an inscription that during his search for Goddess Seetha, he entered Siddhavatam which has countless Siva temples, whose architectural splendour were a feast to the eye. Aghorasiva, a Mathadhipathi of Pushpagiri Math, stated in an inscription dating back to 1313 A.D. now present in Vaidyanatha Swamy temple in Pushpagiri Matham, that Siddhavatam had several Siva temples of significance, Venkata Subbanna said.

Women of Jyothi village have been entering one of the temples, having Goddess Kamakshi icon, whose entrance is partly opened up, by crawling in and performing pooja of late. A gopuram built with bricks and a very long 11-feet high and two-feet wide compound wall, said to be encasing the 108 temples, partly surfaced in October last year, thanks to the floods, Satya Sai Lakshmi Reddy of Cuddapah, studying MBA at Chennai, who spent a fortnight doing a project work on the ancient temples, told this correspondent. In all half a dozen temples partly surfaced from the sand dunes so far.

The second Vikramarka King, who ruled with Alampur in Mahabubnagar district as capital, has visited the Siddheswara temple and impressed by it, constructed Nava (nine) Brahmeswara temples on the northern side of Pennar, according to an inscription, he said. There is a mantapam built with huge rock boulders, which has partly surfaced. The rich ancient cultural heritage and temple of historical importance at Jyothi village needs to be unravelled by planning excavation of the temples under expert guidance, to prevent their damage.












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