The southern region of India is host to numerous remarkable temples famous for their intricate Dravidian architecture, life sized shrines and rich history, these temples are visited by over a million devotees all year round from all parts of the world. Vemulawada’s most popular tourist attraction, the Rajanna Temple is almost synonymous with the ancient pilgrim town nestled away in the quaint little district of Rajanna Sircilla along the southern coast of India. The temple is also the recipient of the maximum influx of visitors to Vemulawada, which is often referred to as Dakshin Kashi and Southern Banaras. Vemulawada also has a plethora of several other temples tucked away in its bylanes just a walking excursion away, offering you a sense of calm and solace away from the hullabaloo of cities.
Vemulawada was initially a part of Andhra Pradesh but is currently located in the state of Telangana after its segregation from Andhra Pradesh, it was also priorly addressed as Lemulavatika and Lembulavade and came to be known by its present name quite later on. Despite the commercialisation of the town owing to the Rajanna temple the town has still managed to retain it's old world charm and is a perfect weekend getaway for you to get in touch with your spirituality.
Vemulawada was the ancient capital of the Chalukyas of Vemulawada dynasty established around the 11th and 12th century, the same is reflected in the temples architecture said to be constructed and overseen by the Chalukya clan. The local folklore says that Lord Shiva resided at Vemulawada after his stays at Kashi, Kedareswar and Chidambaram, explaining the strong influence of Lord Shiva over the temples and the town.
Places to see
1. Raja Rajeshwara Swamy Temple
This temple is the main tourist spot at Vemulawada, is around 2 km away from Vemulawada bus stand and is situated along the Mulavagu stream. Nick named as Dakshin Kashi, the temple operates from 6am to 9pm daily. The presiding deity here is Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy, known as Rajanna among the local residents.The sculpture of Rajanna is accompanied by idols of goddess Sri Raja Rajeshwary Devi and Sri Laxmi Sahitha Siddhi Vinayaka. The temple also has a shrine of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna which are placed within smaller temples within the same premises.
The main temple premises house several other smaller temples. What is unique about this temple is that the main premises also house a mosque, quite rare to come by in other temples. The devotees here also make a unique offering to Rajanna called Kode Mokku where in the devotees perform pradakshinam(take a round around the temple) with a bull. Mahashivratri is a significant festival in the temple and is celebrated on large scale with visitors flocking to the temple from different parts of the country. The main premises also has a water tank that the devotees can take a dive in before offering their prayers to the deity, it is said to cleanse one of their sins.
2. Bhimeswara Swamy Temple
This temple is also located in the town of Vemulawada and was built by a Chalukya King Baddega. The temple is about 1.5 km from the Vemulawada Bus Stand and easily walkable from the Raja Rajeshwara Swamy Temple.This temple is also devoted to Lord Shiva. It is not as popularised as the Raja Rajeshwara Swamy temple resulting in seemingly lesser crowds and lets you make your prayer offerings in peace and solace here. There also has not been a lot of renovation works carried out at this temple helping it maintain its historical authenticity letting you regale at the Nagara style architecture of the temple.
3. Baddi Pochamma Temple
This is another temple at Vemulawada, built by a Rashtrakuta King called Baddiga Bhupathi. It is just around 1.5km from Vemulawada bus stand and can be accessed from the Rajanna temple by a 5 minute walk. The temple is an ancient Sitala Devi temple referred to as Baddi Pochamma by the locals. The temple is also dedicated to Pochamma Devi, a local village deity. The devotees offer Bonams to the goddess during Ram Navami and a huge procession is carried out from the Rajanna temple to the Baddi Pochamma temple, where devotees carry stacks of Bonam(decorative pots) that the devotees stack up on their head and walk upto the Badi Pochamma Temple and make their offerings at the shrine of the deity.
4. Lakshmi Narsimha Temple
This temple is around 4.5 km away from the Vemulawada bus stand and is located at Nampally Gutta. The Narsimha temple is situated atop a small hill along the Vemulawada Karimnagar Highway. The presiding deity at the temple is Lakshmi Narsimha, said to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The idol sculpture was made out of a single piece of stone and the temple was later build around the sculpture instead of the conventionally done other way round. Since the temple is located at a height it can be accessed by a stairway with roughly a few hundred steps steps and may take upto 15 minutes you to complete the climb. On the way to the Lakshmi Narsimha temple there is a Naga Devtha temple which is constructed to appear like a snake, the visitors can enter the temple through the snakes belly and seek blessings from Naga Devtha.
Festivals and Events at Vemulawada
The Mahashivratri and Ram Navami festivities at the Raja Rajeshwar temple are at a full swing in the town.The celebrations are carried out in a grand manner and the temples are adorned with lights and decorations. You can also see the Bonam procession during Ram Navami, the roads are vibrant and colorful and the entire town gets involved in the celebrations. It does tend to get comparatively more crowded around that time as the Rajanna temple receives large numbers of visitors for the festivities, so it is advisable to get your accommodation and tickets sorted well in advance.
Vemulawada is an important pilgrimage destination along the southern coast of India. The historical town has witnessed the great culture and heritage of the Chalukya dynasty which is reflected in the gorgeous architecture and culture. Throughout the years Vemulawada has stood tall against time and retained its mystical charm and aura that make this dainty town a hub for spiritual seekers and ardent devotees of Rajanna alike.