Vontimitta

Sri Kodanda Ramaswamy

Sri Kodanda Ramaswamy temple is in the tiny town of Vontimitta, 25km from Cuddapah.  The temple is located on the highway connecting Cuddapah with Tirupati touch this place, as do the more frequent connections to Rajampet, the next big town.  A few eateries serve the pilgrims/tourists who visit the temple.  Tavernier, the French traveler, who visited the temple in 1652, described the temple as “One of the grandest pagodas in the whole of India.  “Architecturally splendid, it has a towering gateway.  The temple is dedicated to Sri Kodanda Ramaswamy.  The images of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana have been hewn out of a single rock.

Vontimitta derives its name from Vonti:  single, Mitta: high ground.  There is also a story of two dacoits, Vontadu and Mittadu, who turned over a new leaf after a darshan of Lord Rama; hence the name Vontimitta.  In fact, in the Tretaya Yuga (the second of the great yugas we are now in Kali, the last yuga), Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, is reported to have visited this place.  As evidence there are two tanks in the vicinity, the Ramatheertha and Lakshmanatheertha, created by the arrows of Rama and Lakshmana respectively.  Jambavan, the legendary bear devotee of Rama, is said to have installed the idols.  There is no Hanuman idol here, since Rama visited the place before He met the Monkey God.  The temple was built during Imperial Chola period (Ninth to 12th century CE), but was vastly improved upon by the Vijayanagar monarchs.

In ancient times it was also known as Ekasilanagaram: the town of single stone.  However, this claim, as well as also the one about the great Telugu poet, Bammera Pothana (1450-1510), being born in Bommera village in present Warangal district, and that Warangal city was the original Ekasilanagaram.  Claims and counter-claims apart, Vontimitta was, indeed, a leading town, in the past.  Ayyala Thipparaju, who wrote Sree Raghuveera Satakam, and was a poet in the court of Proudha Devaraya (1423 – 46) of Vijayanagar, as well as his ggrandson, Ayyalaraju Rambhadra, one of the Ashtadiggajas (eight gems) in Sri Krishnadeva Raya’s court, belonged to Vontimitta. Vonotimitta has definitely seen better times.  It is now a nondescript village, the temple standing a lone sentinel, a symbol of its glorious past.  Heads of several sculptures in the massive 50 metre front gopura are missing, the result of wanton destruction or natural decay bit clear.  Scenes from the Ramayana and Krishna Leela adorn the pillars, which are in a much better shape.  There are 32 such pillars in the Kalyana Mandapam.  The surroundings are neat and clean, with hardly any encroachments, and the temple itself is well maintained.  Also nearby is a well, where, according to local lore, a Nawab had a vision of Lord Rama.

How to get there

Cuddapah or Kadapa, the district headquarters, is only km from Vontimitta.  Cuddapah is well connected by road and rail.  It is on the Chennai – Mumbai train route.  All express and mail trains stop at Cuddapah. 

 

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