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Mar 28 26 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
With #RamaNavami coming up in a couple of days, thread on the Vontimitta Kodanda Rama temple in Andhra Pradesh, where the Sri Rama Navami Utsavam is held annually. One of the oldest Rama temples in Andhra Pradesh, known for it's architectural excellence.
Vontimitta lies in the Annamayya district( earlier Kadapa dt),the home of Tallapaka Annamacharya who composed all those wonderful keertanas on Shree Venkateswara, Pothuluri Veerabrahmendra Swamy, who predicted the future and was known for his prophecies.
Kadapa is also home to Molla, born in a potter's community, who wrote the Ramayana in Telugu, C.P.Brown who compiled the first English-Telugu dictionary, Y.V.Reddy former director of RBI.
In the movie industry, B.Nagi Reddy who along with Chakrapani, set up the Vijaya Vauhini Studios in Chennai, that produced such memorable classics like Mayabazaar, Patala Bhairavi, veteran comedian Padmanabham, B.N.Reddy director of classics like Malliswari were from Kadapa.
Kadapa itself gets it’s name from the Telugu word for threshold(Gadapa), as it was considered the starting point to the Tirumala temple, from the western part. There is a Devuni Kadapa in Kadapa city, which is believed to be the starting point of the pilgrimage to Tirumala.
Pilgrims going to Tirumala would first have the darshan of Shree Venkateswara here, and then proceed further. Kadapa also contains the famous Gandikota Fort, which was the citadel of the Pemmasani Nayakas, who served the Vijayanagara Empire.
And the magnificient temple complex of Pushpagiri on the banks of the Penna river, where Shiva is worshipped as Vaidyanatheswara and Vishnu as Chennakesava is located near Kadapa.
Traditionally the Sri Rama Navami Utsavam was held at the famous Bhadrachalam temple, in erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh. However after formation of Telangana, the AP State Govt conducts the Sri Rama Navami Utsavam at the Vontimitta Sri Kodanda Rama Swamy Temple.
Vontimitta falls on the Chennai-Mumbai line, and is close to both Kadapa(25 Km) as well as Rajampet. The place is believed to have got it’s name from Vontudu and Mittudu, two robbers who reformed and later turned into devoteess of Lord Rama.
The temple here was believed to have been built by these two, after which they turned into stone. The deity here was believed to have been installed by Jambavantha, the bear king who helped Lord Ram in his mission to Lanka.
Historically speaking, the Vontimitta Temple was built somewhere around the 16th century as per records, first by the Chola rulers, and later the Vijayanagar rulers.
Bammera Pothana, the great Telugu poet, who wrote the Andhra Maha Bhagavatamu dedicated his magnum opus to Lord Rama at this temple, as well as Annamayya, who visited this temple frequently and also composed many keertanas( hymns) in praise of Shree Rama.
Jean Baptiste Tavernier, the famous French traveller also visited this temple in 1652 and described it as one of the most beautiful in India.
Though the Cholas started the construction of the temple, the architecture here is more or less in the traditional Vijayanagara style of a Sandhara order, which has a rectangular yard enclosed by walls.
The temple itself is known for it’s architectural elegance, having 3 ornate Gopurams, one facing east, which is the entrance to the temple, the other 2 facing north and south. The central tower is built in 5 tiers and you have steps to approach this.
The Mandapam or the Rangamantapam,essentially an open air theater sorts has over 32 pillars, and is known for it’s exquisite sculptures, also called the Madhyarangamandapam. It has wonderful carvings of apsaras, Krishna, Vishnu.
The corner columns have 3 layers carved with images of apsaras, and the roof of the mandapam, has many decorative brackets.
Rama and Laxmana also have their sculptures in the mandapa here, Ram is depicted in a standing position with bow in right hand, arrow in left hand, hence the name Kodanda Rama, while Laxmana is depicted in the tribhanga posture with his right hand free, and a bow in left hand.
You also have sculptures of Krishna in a dvibhanga posture, with left leg on ground and right leg, bent at knee, crossed over the left, as well as that lifting Govardhana hill.
The sanctum sanctorm is approached by an inner chamber called the antarala, and here you have the deities Rama, Sita and Lakshmana all carved out of one single block of stone.
Hanuman who is usually represented in most Rama temples along with Sita and Lakshmana is however missing, and has a separate temple for him here though.
Incidentally another version states that Vontudu and Mittudu, helped Kumara Kampana, who camped at this place by directing him to a pond Ramatheertham to quench his thirst, and he in turn built the village in gratitude named after them.
Also since the village of Vontimitta is located on a small ground, rising near the hill, it might have got it's name so , Vonti(Single), Mitta(Hill). It was also called Ekasilanagaram as the 3 main deities(Rama, Sita, Lakshmana) are carved out of a block of single stone.
Lying on the Chennai-Mumbai route, Vontimitta is accessible by trains plying there, nearest airport is at Tirupati which is 112 km away, and it's accessible by road too from most major cities, towns.
Apart from the religious significance of Vontimitta, it is also a place that has a lot of history attached to it, dating right back to the Vijayanagara era, and for that alone it needs to be visited, as well as the awesome architecture.
My article on Vontimitta here do check out and share. #RamNavami

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