Bhadrachalam

Sri Sita Ramaswamy Temple

Sri Sita Ramaswamy temple in Bhadrachalam is the subject of much folklore, and is associated with the great saint/composer, Bhakta Ramadas (1620-88), whose life has been a favorite subject of religious discourses, operas and films.

Bhadrachalam traces its origin to the Ramayana era. According to the scriptures, this place was associated with Dandakaranya, the region where Lord Rama spent some time in exile.  In fact, Parnasala, nearby, is said to be the place from where Ravana abducted Sita.  Bhadrachalam derives its name from Bhadragiri (Hill of Sage Bhadra).  The Lord is said to have appeared in a vision to the sage, along with Sita and Lakshmana.  Acceding to the Bhadra's request, the Lord seated Himself on the sage's head.  Much later, in the 17-century,  Pokala Dhammakka, an ardent devotee of Rama, who was told about the idols by the Lord, in a dream, found them hidden beneath an anthill.  She built a small shrine, and began performing poojas.

Kancherla Gopuranna, popularly known as Bhakta Ramadas built the present shrine in 1674.  Gopanna was the Tahsildar of Bhadrachalam when he constructed the temple with Rs. 6 lakhs collected as land revenue, with the permission of Tani Shah, the last Qutb Shahi ruler of Golconda. Ramadas was dismissed from service and imprisoned in the Golconda fort for 12 years.  He was released after Rama and Lkshmana appeared before Tani Shah, and gave him the Rs 6 lakhs, in gold coins.  The Tani Shah placed the Rama maadaum (coins) at the feet of Ramadas, who, however, refused to accept them, except two, which he kept as divine mementoes.  The ruler then earmarked a portion of land revenue for maintenance of the temple.  He also sent pearls (mutyalu thalambralu) to the temple during the annual Kalyanotsavam (Rama and Sita's wedding), a practice continued by the Asaf Jahis (Nizams), and the post-independence state governments.  While in prison, amidst the pain and torture, Ramadas composed the Dasari Sathakam, besides several keerthanas, many of which are standard fare in bhajan sessions in the south.  Saint Kabirdas is said to have visited the Bhadrachalam temple.

The shrine is built on a small hillock.  The steps are sheltered by a canopy.  At the entrance to the temple is the Rajagopuram.  In the sanctum, Lord Rama is seen with four hands, displaying the shanku (conch) and chakra (discus) the symbols of Maha Vishnu, beside his usual bow and arrows with Sri Sita on His lap Flaked By Lakshmana.  This was because sage Bhadra saw Him in a vision after the completion of Ramaavatara.  Next to the sanctum is the rock on which sage Bhadra is said to have meditated.  Also in the temple premises is a well-maintained museum, which displays some of the jewels that Ramadas had crafted for the deities.  Also on display are the two Rama maadum (coins), which are said to have been in circulation during Rama's reign on earth.  At the rear are two pillars, etched during the great composer's lifetime, on which are described in detail the vaious sevas and the pooja vidhanam (methods) to be followed in the temple. Around the sanctum are shrines for the Alwars, and Sri Ramanuja, the founder of modern Vaishnavism. Bhadrachalam is on the banks of the Godavari.  excursion cruises on the river are offered by several private parties and APTDC.

How to get there

Khammam city (120km), on the Chennai-Delhi train route, is the major connecting point to Bhadrachalam.  Those from Hyderabad (320 km) can come via Khammam.  Vkjayawada (200km) is the nearest airport.  Pilgrims from coastal Andhra and the east can come from Rajamundry. 

Accommodation

The Devasthanam has its own choultries.  The TTD has a guest house here.  There are private lodges as well.

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