Of hidden caves and legends

The cave temple of Siddula Gutta is an unexpected oasis of peace and solitude

By Author  |  Saurabh Chatterjee  |  Published: 28th Jan 2018  12:00 amUpdated: 26th Jan 2018  6:32 pm
hidden caves
The hidden temple of Shiva linga. Photos: Saurabh Chatterjee

The moment we crossed Armoor, during one of our trips in North Telangana, there was a sudden change in landscape. The relatively flat lands with occasional small hills were replaced by hills which seemed to be formed by piles of small rocks placed there. These rock formations are naturally weathered over a million years.  It’s a given that you will stop over to take some pictures and take in the landscape.

Little off the highway is a small detour that takes you to the top of the hill to the cave temple Navanatha Siddheswara Temple popularly known as Navanthula Siddulagutta. Gutta stands for cave and Navanatha Siddhas for the sages who are believed to still reside in this cave. After asking a few times, were finally able to find the way.

hidden caves
Way to the temple cave. Photos: Saurabh Chatterjee

It was a dirt road and quite a steep and bumpy ascent in our friend Raju’s Sumo. Along the way, we saw a small temple and a few statues which we thought of covering while coming back.

Little ahead were some really big boulders. The sky was very dramatic. We stopped for some time to take a few pictures by climbing on the rocks. Just within minutes, we saw a group of about 20 monkeys coming from the top. It seemed that they were going back home after days of hard work. They were quite inquisitive to see our car. One of them climbed on to our car and was peeping inside. It was fun to watch them jumping from boulder to boulder. Even the young ones were not behind. The really small ones clung hard to their mothers while they took the leap.

We then continued to the top. There was no one except us. Once you cross the small gate, there is a small entrance to the cave below. I was surprised to see a whole different world up there.  Some years ago, a ghat road was built through the rock formation, leading straight to Siddula gutta. Pilgrims also take the walkway from the Gol Bungalow to do the climb up by foot.

There are statues of several Gods inside the cave and you can see them through interconnected passageways along the designated route. The one I liked most was that of the Shiva linga said to be self-manifested at the extreme end in a small cave. The entrance to this cave is barely three feet and you have crouch to get in.

It was a peaceful place and is what an ideal temple should be, in my opinion. No crowds and queues, just tranquility.  I sat there meditating for some time before leaving the place. Outside the narrow cave is a Ramalayam and the temple tank, Jeeva Koneru. It is believed that when the temple was being constructed, the tank failed to well up with water. So the person building the temple Rampriyadas Maharaj took up a 41-day tapasaya, at the end of which Lord Rama himself came into his dreams. They say that the water here has curative properties and sees many devotees taking a dip to be healed.

It had started getting dark when we came out. It was almost as if we were returning from a peaceful wonderland. As we were going down the hill, we stopped for some time to see the panoramic view of the Armoor city nearby. After taking a few shots, we left the place with the echo of silence.

How to reach: Siddula Gutta is located at a distance of 2 kms from Armoor, 27 kms from Nizamabad and 185 kms from Hyderabad. There are plenty of bus and train services to Nizamabad. Beyond that, you can hire a local taxi or an auto to go there. Best time to visit is from September to March.

Tips: There are hardly any places to eat or drink on the way, please carry your own food. There is no place to stay here. The nearest option to stay is in Nizamabad. You will find hotels of all budgets here.

Nearby places: Nizamabad Fort, Mallaram Forest, Kanteshwar Shiva temple and Alisagar Reservoir.