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‘World Heritage Site’ tag brings droves of tourists to Ramappa Temple

G Naga Sridhar Palampet | Updated on August 07, 2021

Tourists have started thronging the 800 year-old temple after it got the world heritage site tag from UNESCO   -  RAMAKRISHNA G

The temple’s unique sandbox technology and floating bricks helped it bag the coveted tag   -  NAGARA GOPAL

The past and the present are in constant dialogue at this ancient shrine

A decision taken in China a month ago has suddenly awakened a sleepy village in Telangana. Palampet village, 66 km from Warangal, is now abuzz with tourists eager to glimpse the 800 year-old Ramappa temple after it got a world heritage site tag from UNESCO last month.

The lofty temple was built in 1213 AD by Recharla Rudradeva, a commander of Kakatiya Monarch Ganapatideva. Though the presiding deity is Rudreshwara (Lord Shiva), it has been named after its chief sculptor, Ramappa.

On July 25, at a UNESCO meeting held in China, the global agency announced its decision to inscribe the temple as a World Heritage Site, kicking off a new wave of interest in the medieval temple. A World Heritage Site tag is given to a place with “outstanding universal value”. In the last 10 days, there has been a big increase in the number of visitors to Palampet from about 500 to over 2,000 per day, according to A Srikanth, a staffer of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which has restored the temple. Cutting across faiths, visitors are arriving.

“We are really amazed to see this excellent structure. Though we have been planning for many days, the news of world heritage site has brought us here,’’ explains Muhammad Ghouse from Mahbubabad. The temple’s unique sandbox technology and “floating bricks”, which reduce the weight of the roof structures, helped it get the tag.

Petty businesses

Locals who are dependent on the temple for their livelihood are delighted. There are some 40 petty businesses including eateries in the vicinity of the temple. “I do ₹50,000 worth of business per month as about 500 tourists come every day,’’ says Rapparti Ravi, who runs a toy- cum-photo store near the temple, and now anticipates an increase in his earnings.

The higher inflow of tourists is already having an impact on the local economy. Locals are quoting higher prices for land in and around the village. “Till last month, agricultural land was sold at around ₹15 lakh per acre. But now, owners are expecting beyond ₹25 lakh per acre,’’ said Siddyyah, who owns a tract of three acres in the village.

In Medieval Deccan history, large shrines were not just religious places. They were hubs of social, economic and cultural activity. With huge land grants made by rulers, temples also donned the role of landlord, employer and a power centre as a seat of village Panchayats. They also played a role in local agriculture with the attached tank providing irrigation to fields in the vicinity.

In the good old days, the Ramappa temple had a huge tank spread over 12 km, though now it has shrunk to about 3 km. But the dam and water channels originally built by the Kakatiyas are still intact and offering succour to surrounding fields even today.

A visit to the heritage temple site shows that the past and present are still in dialogue with each other. The main temple has been restored completely by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The majestic Nandi (bull) in the temple is richly carved and looks as if it is looking at you from all angles. The sculptures converse their history – for instance, there is a breathtaking representation of a dance form, Perini Siva Tandavam, developed by Jayapa Senani, a commander and relative of celebrated Kakatiya Ruler, Ganapathi Deva, on the temple walls and on the panels on ceilings.

Wooing tourists

However, even as more visitors have begun visiting the place, there are some infrastructural challenges. “This place is so scenic in the lap of nature. But we need more facilities to stay overnight,’’ feels M Raghunath, a software professional.

The Telangana Government is drawing up plans to woo foreign and domestic tourists by offering a temple circuit and packaged tours. The ASI too has its own plans. It remains to be seen how far these initiatives will go in attracting more visitors in the days to come – especially with the pandemic still raging.

Published on August 07, 2021

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