Hyderabad: For long it was popular as ‘Cinema Gudi’ with a sentiment that at least one shot picturised at this temple will ensure success of the movie.
And after the temple authorities stopped permissions for filming following a mishap during a shooting, the popular temple has now emerged as a sought after wedding venue.
Located 31 km from Hyderabad and 12 km from the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) at Shamshabad, is the centuries-old Sita Ramachandraswamy Devasthanam. Spread over 250 acres, this temple in Ammapalli village is said to have been built by Chalukyas of Vengi sometime between the 7th and 12th centuries. It is said that Lord Rama stopped to rest here during his journey to Dandakaranya forest.
The 80 feet unique ‘gali gopuram’ with beautiful carvings, an age-old step well spread over an acre of land with a walkway around it and the decorative walls with sculptural representations is a treat to the eye. The ‘gali gopuram’ and stepwell carries a touch of what experts point out as Rajasthani architecture.
“This large seven-storeyed ‘gali gopuram’ was built in the 17th century, much later the inner sanctum sanctorum was built,” says the temple priest. The 12th-century idols of Kondandarama, Sita and Lakshmana and also the ‘makarathoranam’ over the idols, here are carved out of a single stone.
Kondanda Rama temples are usually built only in places where Rama travelled or stayed during his 14 years of exile and there are only a few such temples.
The whole temple complex was mostly built of stone and the greenery around the shrine invokes a serene ambience. The old-world porticos all around the stepwell that once provided shelter to the pilgrims evoke nostalgia.
Interestingly, the idol of Hanuman, usually seen next to Rama, is not seen in the innermost sanctuary here. Instead, it is at the base of the ‘dhwaja stambha’ (flag pole) facing Rama.
According to the priest, the temple dates back to a time when Rama hadn’t yet met Hanuman and this probably explains the placement of the idol. The faithful believe that as they go inside, Hanuman waits for Rama’s instructions to fulfil their desires.
The temple holds a very special place in Tollywood. It is believed that shooting at least one scene here will ensure the film’s success at the box office. That’s why it is also popularly called the ‘cinema-gudi’. More than 400 Telugu movies and quite a few Tamil and Hindi have been shot here. This temple was extensively featured in the 2001 blockbuster Murari.
However, the temple authorities have banned film shootings at the temple premises as during a Telugu film shooting, a car exploded in a fight sequence and crashed into the left side of ‘gali gopuram’. Presently, only photoshoots and wedding ceremonies are allowed and the temple has turned into one of the unconventional temple wedding destinations.
Hundreds of people visit this place of worship every day which in the year 2010 also bagged an INTACH Award under the religious architecture category. On Sri Rama Navami, a grand ceremony is held at the temple with folk songs, resonating prayers and colourful lights.
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