Legacy of the Rashtrakutas

The beautiful Kolanupaka temple is reminiscent of the visionary dynasty.

By Author  |  Saurabh Chatterjee  |  Published: 14th May 2017  12:05 amUpdated: 13th May 2017  12:24 am
JAIN SHRINE Kolanupaka temple in Nalgonda district.

Exploring the Jain temple at Kolanupaka had been on my bucket list for a very long time. So one Sunday, we finally decided to drive down there. During my research, I had found another old temple nearby and added it to our itinerary as well.

The air was crisp and the winds gushed around us as we drove on the Warangal highway. We made good time and reached Aler in about 90 minutes. To get to Kolanupaka in Nalgonda district, one has to take a detour from the highway.

After a chai break while waiting at a railway crossing, we reached Kolanupaka temple. The sun was just beginning to peek out of the clouds as we entered the temple built with red sandstone and white marble pillars.

Locally known as Kulpakji, the 2000-year-old temple was constructed by the Rashtrakutas in 11th century A.D. It is spread over an area of one acre, out of a 20-acre land used for dharamshalas and guesthouses. Home to the exquisite statues of Lord Rishabhanatha, Lord Neminatha and Lord Mahavira, it is the statue of Lord Mahavira which stands out in the trio, carved out of a single piece of jade.

The beauty and the skill of the artisans of the day is undeniable, reflected in the eight idols of thirthankaras placed on both sides of the temple, each with its own unique style.

Granite statue of Mahavira at the centre of the temple courtyard.

Rebuilt From Scratch

For many years, the temple was in a miserable state until it was given a new lease of life in the late 20th century. Over 150 artisans from Rajasthan and Gujarat were employed to renovate it. A new temple was created surrounding the existing tower keeping the old garbhagruha intact.

The overall area is quite neat thanks to the immaculate preservation by the Jain community. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take any photographs since it’s not permitted. Though it was very disappointing for me since I tend to take lot of photographs during my trips, I still enjoyed looking at the beautiful sculptures.

Someshwara Swamy Temple.

Our next stop was the Someshwara Swamy Temple which was a five-minute drive from here. The 11th century temple built by Kalyana Chalukyas also houses the Kolanupaka museum.

The place has a decent display of all the statues recovered from the surrounding areas but it is the statue of Mahavira made of basalt that is the star attraction.

After spending some time at the museum, we went to the temple. The light was very low but I managed to get a few shots of the many idols inside. What I found most interesting was the Goddess Chandi’s shrine where the whole ceiling was covered by colourful packets called ‘mudupulu’.

The shiva lingam was also quite unique – it was a thousand in one! There were these small shiva lingams built on the surface of the larger one. After a quick chat with the
pandit, it was time to head back home and plan another weekend.

How To Reach

Kolanupaka is located at a distance of 81 km from Hyderabad. The best way is to drive there as the highway is excellent. APSRTC buses and railway are also good options. Aler is the nearest railway station. Share autos are available from there.


Nearby places: Bhongir fort and Yadagirigutta, Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple. There is no accommodation so it’s best to return home on the same day. Wear comfortable cottons. Shorts are not allowed inside the Jain temple, so make sure to carry a stole or dress appropriately.