Bugga Ramalingeswara Temple: Visit this offbeat gem from the Vijayanagara era - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Bugga Ramalingeswara Temple: Visit this offbeat gem from the Vijayanagara era

Admiring the sculptures and carvings on the gopuram of Bugga Ramalingeswara Swamy Temple, Tadipatri

James Anderson, an architectural historian who wrote the famous book ‘ History of Indian and Eastern Architecture’, termed the imposing gopurams of this temple as ‘wonders’. Some of the finest carvings of the early Vijayanagar empire can be found here and there are many aspects of this temple that will leave you gaping in wonder. I am talking about the Bugga Ramalingeswara temple in the town of Tadipatri in the state of Andhra Pradesh and that is an offbeat gem from the Vijayanagara era.

Sculptures on the gopuram of Bugga Ramalingeswara Temple annointed with vermilion

Built in the 15th century during the reign of the Saluva dynasty of the Vijayanagara kingdom, the Bugga Ramalingeswara temple is located by the banks of the Pennar river and is dedicated to Lord Shiva who exists here as a swayambhu linga. The interesting thing about this linga is that a perennial underground water spring keeps flowing from the base of the Shiva Linga even though the Shiva linga is about 17 to 18 feet higher than the Pennar river and that the Pennar river is dry for most of the year. This underground water spring is called Bugga in the local Telugu language and hence the name of this temple.

The musical pillars and the intricately sculpted gopuram of Bugga Ramalingeswara Temple, Tadipatri

In spite of having been plundered many times by Muslim rulers, this architectural marvel of a temple has somehow managed to withstand the test of time. While its incomplete, yet majestic gopurams take center stage, it has beautiful carvings and sculptures all over the temple that tell different stories. It could be the sapta swaranga musical pillars in front of the Vishnu shrine (very similar to the musical pillars of the Vittala temple at Hampi), the beautiful carvings on the ceilings (very similar to the Hoysala style of temple architecture) or the epics depicted on the exterior temple walls.

A work of beauty - gopuram at Sri Bugga Ramalingeswara swamy temple, Tadipatri

The other interesting thing to note in this temple is the direction of the Shiva shrine. Unlike other temples where the gods face east, here the Shiva linga faces west and hence instead of the usual east facing gopuram in other temples of South India, the Bugga Ramalingeswara temple has gorgeously carved gopurams in the north, south and west. Out of these the South and the west facing gopurams act as the main entrances and the most intricate ones. The west facing gopuram connects to the Pennar river.

Ornate sculptures on the gopurams at Bugga Ramalingeswara Swamy temple, Tadipatri

These gopurams and the carvings in the temple in overall depict the various avatars of Lord Shiva (Kevalamurti, Dakshinamurti, Uma Maheshwaramurti, Vrishabaruda murti, Natarajamurti, Ardhanarimurti and even the Haryadhra Murti) and his many life stories. Such richness of architectural expression is quite rare and an absolute treat for the true temple and culture lover. There is so much to see and learn here that pretty soon your neck will start hurting from all the looking up at the stunning pieces of art. If you are a Shiva bhakt or a lover of Shiva’s life stories, you will definitely appreciate this visual Shiva purana. In addition to the Shiva purana, you can also spot famous episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata and popular mythological stories such as churning of the ocean (Samudra Manthan).

The intricate work on the gopuram of Bugga Ramalingeswara Temple, Tadipatri

So the next time you are looking for a day trip or weekend getaway from Bangalore, do keep this offbeat temple destination in mind. It will certainly help if you enjoy art, culture and temples, but even otherwise, its gopuram wonders are bound to leave you speechless with their sheer presence and rich work.

The helpful priest and the Sapta Swaranga pillars of Bugga Ramalingeswara Temple, Tadipatri

How to reach there:

There are two popular routes to Tadipatri from Bangalore.

One is to take the 4 lane highway (NH 44) all the way to Anantpur and then take the state highway to Tadipatri. This route would be fast and is about 272 kms long.

The other option is to take NH 44 till Nagasamudram and then take the smaller roads to Tadipatri via Dharmavaram, Narapala and Muchukota. This road would be scenic post Nagasamudram and gives you an opportunity to experience the countryside of Andhra Pradesh. Dharmavaram is also a great place to stop for breakfast if you happen to leave Bangalore real early.

The main gopuram entrance of the Bugga Ramalingeswara Temple, Tadipatri

Other places to visit enroute:

1) 7th century Bhoga Nandeeswara temple at the foot of Nandi hills

2) The vineyards and vegetable farms of rural Chikkaballapur

3) Sri Veerabhadra temple at Lepakshi, another Vijayanagara era temple

4) Gudibande Fort, a great fort and hike that offers some breathtaking views

5) Penukonda fort

6) Avalabetta, a lovely hill full of beautiful nature and great views

7) Skandagiri hill, a climb to see misty mountain top views

8) Chandarayana betta, a great place for a short hill climb

Bugga Ramalingeswara temple view from Pennar river

Best season to visit:

The post monsoon and winter months from October through February would be a great time to visit this temple. You can visit during the other months too. Just that it might be a bit too hot and humid for comfort.

The incomplete, yet massive gopuram of Bugga Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri

Where to stay:

Tadipatri has a few budget hotels to cater to its visitors. If you want something luxurious, I would recommend that you head to Anantpur and if you feel like some adventure, stay in tents by the Pennar river at Gandikota.

If you are traveling from Bangalore, you can also visit this temple as part of a day-trip, thus avoiding any stay.

A moment from Bugga Ramalingeswara Temple, Tadipatri

Where to eat:

Tadipatri city has a lot of places to eat near the market street surrounding Sri Chintala Venkataramana temple. These are not high quality restaurants, but simple hotels serving delicious food. For something exquisite, you might have to go to Anantpur that is located about 55 kms away.

Colorful sarees and monotone colours of Bugga Ramalingeswara temple gopuram

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Chinta Venkataramana Swamy temple, another Vijayanagara era gem located just 1 km away

2) The natural wonder of Pennar river canyon at Gandikota

3) Belum caves, one of the longest cave system in the Indian subcontinent

4) The beautiful caves and Sri Uma Maheshwara temple at Yaganti

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