Bhadrachalam Kalyana Mandapam — a masterpiece

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Sriramanavami is celebrated on a grand scale since at least for three and half centuries right from the time of the construction of the Bhadrachalam temple by Ramadasu during mid-17th century. Every pious Hindu craves for being present in the Kalyana Mandapam of the temple during the Sriramanavami festival.

The present Kalyana Mandapam was constructed with an estimated cost of Rs 1 lakh during 1960-61. Since this Sriramanavami is the diamond jubilee year, let us remember the history that is carved on the pillars, base and patropapeethaam of the Kalyana Mandapam.

The chief Sthapathi, Ganapati had taken meticulous care to depict the legend, importance and history of the temple in designing the sculptures of the mandapam. The sculptures of the mandapam can be understood better in the three categories — mandapam/adhishthaanam, patropapeetham and pillars/sthambhas.

A sculpture of a parrot is depicted as it is carrying the adhisthaana/base of the Kalyana Mandapam. The base was decorated with several sculptures of Gajavanka, etc. animal series. The patropapeetham was adorned with dance sculptures of the locality — Kolatam – and a classical dance — Bharatanatyam. Till today, the women of Koya tribal community of Bhadrachalam perform the Kolatam on festive occasions.

The sculptures that portray the history and importance of the temple are sculpted on the faces of the pillars of the Kalyana Mandapam. A Muskha Sthambham of the Mandapam contains sculptures of the Ramadasu – Kamaladevi, the couple that constructed the temple.

The south-eastern pillar of the Mandapam has a sculpture of the couple as they are watching Seetharama Kalyanam in elation. In another sculpture, Ramadasu was depicted as he was going with Sudarshana Chakram towards the river Godavari. One more sculpture portrays Lord Gopala and Gomaatha with flute. He was shown in yet another sculpture on the face of north-eastern pillar.

The front space of the north-eastern pillar showcases Chaturbhuja Rama as dropping talambraalu on Seetha’s head. The south side of the pillar displays a sculpture of the pair of Ramadasu-Kamaladevi as witnessing the Seetharama Kalyanam. The north side of the pillar is sculpted with the figures of Parnashaala where Rama-Seetha and Laxmana lived during their exile. The same side of the pillar depicts the pictures of Chaturbhuja Gopala, Vaalmeeki and Sudarshana Chakram.

Sri Chandrashekhara Saraswati, Kanchi Kamakothi Peethaadhipati, visited the Kalyana Mandapam and its sculptor Ganapati Sthapati explained to him about the sculptures narrated above. Sri Chandrashekhara Saraswati asked him about other figures beside the sculptures of Brahma and Saraswati and Ganapati Sthapati answered that it was of Savitri. Then he sat on the Prapulla Padmasanam/Kalyana Peetham and while garlanding Ganapati Sthapati with his bel garland (maaredu maala) he appreciated the Sthapati as having sculpted the Rama temple and Mandapas better than the sculptural styles of the legendary Chera, Chola, Pandya and Nayaka kings. Subsequently the Sthapati constructed many famous temples in India and abroad. Such a beautiful and important Kalyana Mandapam is going to be the dias for the 60th time today.

Dr. Dyavanapalli Satyanarayana
Telangana Historian


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