Built almost around the time when the Hyderabad’s iconic structure Charminar came into existence, the 16th century Sri Lakshmi Venkateshwara Swamy Temple, located in Injapur village of Abdullahpurmet mandal on the outskirts of the city and barely 2 km away from Nagarjunasagar highway, gives us the experience of an age-old architecture and a promising and pleasant darshan of the presiding deity, Lord Balaji.
The marvel was built by Balagouni Venkaiah Chowdary, who held a key position in the then king’s regime. Now, Jaggamma Balagouni, the elder daughter of Jagmohan Balagouni (fifth generation), inherited the ‘ownership’ and the responsibility of maintaining the temple.
“I heard Venkaiah Chowdary was a well-off and a noble man, who, all through his life, served the poor and gave away his own lands for the homeless to help them construct one. Lord Venkateshwara Swamy once said to have appeared in his dream, willing to take up the abode in his land in Injapur — the village then had some other name though. It was when he went on a pilgrimage to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam on a bullock cart and returned along with an earthen lamp lit on the Tirupati shrine and started constructing the temple in a six-acre-four-guntas land, which was earmarked for the temple. The bullock cart journey is said to have taken four-and-a-half months for him,” said 65-year-old Jaggamma speaking to SundayScape.
The temple also has structures for other deities — Lord Shiva, Anjaneya Swamy and Kamakshi Ammavaru — as well on its premises. “Though a temple for Kamakshi Ammavaru was built in 16th century itself, the deity’s idol was not installed for various (little-known) reasons. Recently, the deity’s idol too was consecrated — Prana Prathishta — and was installed in the temple after the Goddess appeared in my dream and asked me to do so,” said Jaggamma.
It was built using large blocks of rock and lime-mortor mixture. The similar mixture was used to build Charminar, but in different proportions. What stands out is the flag-post — Ekashilastambham, which was carved out from a single rock. An idol of Hanuman is installed in such a way that it faces the principal deity. Around the central worship area — a pillared hall and Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) — and a path for pradakshinas is a seating or resting area — satram. But, the facility is in a dilapidated condition and not fit for use. The outer walls of satram form the peripheral wall of the temple. There is a Kalyanamandapam outside the temple for performing the celestial wedding of Lord Balaji.
Poor turnout of devotees
According to Jaggamma, hardly two or three devotees show up at the temple for darshan. On Saturdays, the numbers swell up to anywhere between 20 and 30. During the five-day Venkateshwara Swamy Brahmotsavams in Karthika masam, the number goes into hundreds or thousands.
“The temple’s income is so meagre that we have to spend Rs 20,000 every month for maintenance and other expenditure. During the Brahmotsavams of the main deity and other deities, the expenditure runs into lakhs and all of that is borne by my family,” she said.
Anup Reddy, a resident of Hayathnagar, who has been frequenting the temple since early 1980s, says, “This is the only Venkateshwara Swamy temple in the vicinity. The deity is very powerful and his darshan gives me immense satisfaction.”
Buram Lahari, another devotee from Injapur, also says the deity is powerful and she never fails to visit the temple on special occasions. “My husband starts his Saturdays only after visiting the temple. I am now eagerly awaiting the kalyanam of Shiva and Parvathi, which will be performed on the second Monday of Karthika masam,” she says.
Jaggamma’s family, which claims complete rights over the temple and the land around it, has, on several occasions, refused to hand over the temple to the Endowments Department. The family moved court and endowments tribunal to resolve the dispute and the verdict is awaited. “We will not let this temple slip away from our hands. We are the legal heirs,” said Jaggamma.
Theft of idols
Thieves struck the temple and decamped with idols and other valuables four times in the past 25 years and three times in the last five years. A watchman, who was engaged to keep guard the temple at night, was found lying in a pool of blood, and he was lucky enough to survive.
Two years ago, five panchaloha idols were stolen, following which endowments officials installed CCTV cameras in the temple. The police are yet to zero in on the culprits. Months ago, some unidentified persons burgled Jaggamma’s house, which is inside the temple. She returned only to find Rs 5,000 and a CCTV recorder missing.