Monument No: 1


Location: Alampur

Brief History:
The temple town of Alampur regarded as southern Kasi, is a taluk headquarter in Mahaboobnagar district of Andhra Pradesh. In the early inscriptions it is Halampuram, also Hemalapuram and Hatampura in local tradition. There are four gate-ways to the sacred Sri Sailam, to the East is Tripurantakam, to the South is Siddhavatam, to the North is Umamahesvaram and West is Alampuram. A large number of temples are within the township of Alampur itself along the west bank of the river

The Navabrahma group of temples present a distinctly early Chalukyan style developed regionally with contacts from the early art Tungabhadra while the Papanasi group of temples are located about 2km. southwards from the town. -centres of North such as Gupta/Vakataka/Vishnukundi. The standing ones are datable to mid-Seventh Century A.D., the earliest known inscription was of the times of Vikramaditya-I (654-681) which refers to the installation of a linga in the Mahadevayatana of the Arka-Brahma temple. The Jogulamba, main Goddess of the place, is regarded as one among the 18-Saktis of India. The temple activity went right upto 16th century A.D. at this place. The Sthalapurana reveals the story of a Rasasiddha who came from Banaras with blessings of Jogulamba, caused these edifices to Brahmesvara. Alampur was infact a fortified temple city, like Pattakal, with a gate-way at the west (niravadya Prakara). It is a sacred kshetra and tirthasthana today with stepped ghats along the river Tungabhadra, an Uttaravahini here.

All the nine temples are dedicated to Siva but called with the prefix Brahma. Thus they bear the name Kumara-Brahma (the earliest), Arka-Brahma, Vira-Brahma, Bala-Brahma, Svarga-Brahma, Garuda-Brahma, Visva-Brahma, Padma-Brahma and Taraka-Brahma. Besides, a plethora of minor shrines and mandapas of later date; votive monolithic rock-cut shrine models with linga or deities inset are noteworthy. Bala-Brahma complex is continuously under worship right from 702 A.D. and elaborated in later periods to suit the ritual needs. The Sivaratri utsvavas, and car festivals in particular, attract large number of pilgrims from all over Andhra.

The temples on plan are closer to the rock-cut chaitya caves of Western India. The sanctum placed at the end of a rectangular pillar hall, which has a central nave and side aisles formed by the rows of pillars and the passage covered with slopy roofs. The Svarga-Brahma and Kumara-Brahma temples have, in addition, a pillared porch (mukha-chatushki) included in the ground plan like the Ajanta and Sanchi examples. The square sanctums have the pradakshina arrangement around. The Padma-Brahma temple partly ruined is the largest among the Alampur group and is similar on plan to the Visva-Brahma, though its sikhara is ruined.

The sikhara elevations are distinctly northern, having a curvilinear form outwardly (rekhanagara prasada) with three to four bhumis, each distinguished by corner (karna) amalakas. The lata (creeper) decor of the central offset closely recalls Aihole. The Sukanasi (ante-fix) over the antarala is integrally connected with the tower, except in the case of Kumara-Brahma which has a flat roof. The chaitya-mukha-patti contains an elaborate dancing figure of Siva. The top members of the sikhara are a flat skandha (shoulder course) and pidhanaphalaka (plank closing the supersturcture) with Nandis at the corner, a prominent griva (neck) and amalaka topped by kalasa and stupi.

The Taraka-Brahma temple is a lone example containing a sikhara of the southern order (stepped pyramidal) with, however, a prominent sukanasi over the antarala having the Natya Siva in the chandra sala fronton which again are typical Western Chalukyan. The door frames of the sanctum and closed mandapa entrances have intricately designed dvara-sakhas with Ganga-Yamuna or Nandi, Mahakala and chauri-bearers, the lalata has Gandhrva couple or a flying Garuda. The sculptured setting on the kati (wall) exterior, both over the sanctum and correspondingly on the mandapa, is very harmonious. The various niches (khattakas) for deities, lattice windows (jala-vatayanas), stone screens (bhadravalokanas) and wall recesses filled with figural and floral designs particularly of ghata-pallava class of pillars with mithuna panels recall the Gupta ones. The unique kudyastambhas (engaged columnation) tend to be very decorative. The Gandharva, Vidyadhara figures with luxurious padmadala, hamsa and mayura, add considerable elegance to the wall faces..

The Svarga and Visva-Brahma temples show richly carved exteriors and specially forms of Siva Vyakhyana-Dakshinamurti, Gangadhara, dancing Siva in lalita pose over the facade, Lingodbhava, Tripurantakamurti, Bhikshatana and Gandavatarana are noteworthy examples of early Chalukyan style, etc. The Ramayana scenes in Visva-Brahma, the Mahabharata and Mithuna depictions on the exteriors are unique. In Bala-Brahma the Saptamatris are full-fledged images, bare-bodied upto the breast as in Nolamba style. Umasahita-Vrishabha-rudhamurti, Tandava-Siva in square frames over the ceiling, Chamunda figure with pretastana are among the unique examples. The horned dvarapalas at the Svarga-Brahma and Padma-Brahma recall Vishnukundi ones from coastal Andhra. In the Site Museum here we have a fine piece of an eight-armed Nataraja dancing on apasmara and Renuka or nude goddess with lotus head. In the Visva-Brahma temple Dakshinamurti in utkutikasana, Trivikrama and the bnaked boyish Kartikeya with mayuradhvaja are among the finest examples.

The group of temples called Papanasi are located at a distance of 2 km. south of Alampur and consisted of 23- temples, datable to circa 10th-11th century A.D. These temples are a class by themselves and contain a cluster of shrines with plain walls and tiered pyramidal (Phamsana) roof types crowned by either square sikharas (Brahmachchanda) or sala sikharas, exceptionally in one case an apsidal one. The complex is within a prakara which is characterised by a pratoli (gate-way) marking the river side entrance. The papa vinasesvara shrine is the largest one and square on plan with plain walls and a square griva-sikhara. It has a rangamandapa infront on carved pillars with an ashta-dikpala ceiling, Natya Siva occupying the central panel. The introduction of Buddha in the dasavatara grid of the agra-mandapa ceiling is unique and stands as the earliest attempt where Buddha was included as the 9th incarnation of Vishnu, in place of Krishna. The puranic theme of Samudra manthana is vividly carved on the pillar facets of mahamandapa of the central Trikuta shrine. The garbhagriha door-frame has four sakhas, the over-door has a hara of sala flanked by kutas. An ardhachandra with end-conches marked the entrance step. These examples have now been transplanted on a higher place, not far removed from their original locus as a result of the Srisailam Dam.

The Sangameswara temple was originally situated near the Kudavelli village at the confluence of Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers. As Kudavelli was coming under submergence area due to Srisailam Hydro Electric Project the temple was transplanted to Alampur 20 kms south west of Kudavelli. This sandstone temple faces east and measures 68 x 41 ft. It is a sandhara temple comprising a gudha mandapa, an antarala, and garbhagriha with ambulatory. The gudha mandapa entrance doorway features Ganga Yamuna at the base while firures of Sanghanidi, Padmanidi flanked the door way. The gudha mandapa consist of four rows of four pillars each and are mostly decorated with full blown lotus. The antarala doorway has four sakas decorated with patra latha, pushpa, stambha and rupa with Ganga and Yamuna a mithuna at the base. A garudha adorned the lalatabhimba. The garbhagriha has a short square linga pita. The external wall faces on all the four sides are highly ornate with nine niches (Khattakas) five on the western side and four on the eastern side. The niches are broad and the nich pediments display a variety of toranas like makara torana and hamsa torana, sala and chitra toranas. The niches carry Siva's various forms, Sankhanidhi, Padhmanidi, Ganga, Yamuna etc. The sikhara is of dvianga class and distinguished by karna amalaka sila capped by kalasa stupi of stone.

The temple is enclosed by a prakara wall of 4.00 mtr high and is unique in having the sculptural scene of elevational mouldings. It consis of an adhistana like that of a main shrine decorated with boldly carved relief panels inside niches framed by pilasters. The sculptured panels depicts Didhyadaras, Ghandarvas, Dikpalas, Ganas playing on musical instruments. The hara of kuta, sala, panjara models seen over this prakara has further accentuated an external elevational grandeur of the temple. A sopana of 8 steps at the central axis of the prakara on the eastern side of the prakara connects to a nandi pavilion. On the basis of the label inscription found in the temple - probably a sthapathi guild of pre-Pulakesin-II undoubtedly make this temple anterior of all the Chalukyan temples at Alampur.