Hyderabad: This 500-year-old temple is quite close to Rajiv Gandhi International Airport and a good road leads to the village. Even before you reach the village, there is a right turn which informs you about the Balaji temple here.
A not-so-well kept road leads to this temple that stands silently, with some ancient relics, especially at the entrance. Palm trees surround the ancient mandapam, kept in its original stone pillar form and marriages are conducted here. Next to it is a Koneru (temple tank), a bit risky as it is slippery but the water here helps sustain the fields.
The temple is popular as Sri Balaji Venketeswara Swamivari Devalayam and is in Mamidipalli village of Badangpet panchayat in Saroornagar at Ranga Reddy District.
According to legends, it is believed that when Lord Venketeswara was going towards Tirupathi, he rested here with Sridevi and Bhudevi. The entrance has its old stone pillars which are now covered with granite.
The gopuram has forms of animals, birds and women in the dresses of yore that helps one learn the geography of the temple. It is said that the temple dates back to Kakatiya period.
An old wooden huge door leads to the sanctum sanctorum where the gopuram is in the original Hemant Panti style. The huge compound used to be the ‘Chatram’ where a tired devotee could rest and then offer prayers at the temple. It still wears the old look and luckily here only lime plaster has been used on the walls.
Sudhir Kumar, the young priest of this temple, says that the temple was built on 280 acres of land as was the ancient practice so that the priest could grow his own food and also prasadam for the deity from this land. But now, only 37 acres remain and the rest is in kabza. Since there is a water tank, cultivating paddy crop is easier.
According to a legend, there is a treasure floating under the idols of the temple.It is believed that robbers once came and destroyed the original idols in search of this treasure. Since the original idols were destroyed, the new idols found were submerged in the waters of Tungabhadra. Then the temple remained closed for 15 years.
“After some time, a ruler of this kingdom said that a small temple must be built and the lord must be offered dhoopam and thus this temple was constructed,” Sudhir Kumar said. “A new idol was installed in 2009, but the pillars are still the ancient ones,” the priest said.
Lord Balaji here is a small idol and stands well-lit in all glory and gives a beautiful darshan to the devotees.
Maybe as it is a granite idol, the light reflects and the form of Balaji glows. And the priest too conducts the pooja with great devotion.
The original swayambhu statue of Lord Balaji with his consorts is on top of a hillock, opposite the current temple. “The etching on the rock has the face of Lord Vishnu, Sridevi and Bhudevi,” the priest said.
Currently, prayers are not being offered at that temple as it is difficult to reach crossing mountainous paths and there are no steps too. One can try trekking to the area during daytime. The area also has a mini forest.
According to legends, as it was found difficult for the devotees to climb and see him, the Lord wished to appear below too (at the current temple location). The current temple structure was built around 400 years ago. The temple is popular among the villagers nearby.
Though cases were filed, in 2009, the then government finally declared that the place was government property.
The temple has no fortification, probably because there was no perceived threat from any marauders. But now, it has the threat of land-grabbers.
The temple is kept neat and tidy and has a picturesque look with the entire family making garlands for the various idols of the temple, even as the loud speaker blares songs praising Lord Venketeswara. And with the Lord on top of the hillock watching over this temple, there is an aura of peace and calmness here.
In fact, the village of Mamidipalli belongs to Congress stalwart late P. Shiv Shankar who was dear to former Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi. Raja Sanjay Saincher, grandson of Raja Kishen Pershad, said that this is an ancient temple of the Kakatiya period and it was restored after destruction some 400 years ago. “Raja Chandulal and his grandson Raja Kishen Pershad maintained the temple to this level,” he said.
“There is documentary proof in the Salar Jung museum that this is a hereditary temple. While many temples are run by the Saincher family, in 1986, his brother Vinay was made the founder trustee of this temple,” he said. Sanjay, in fact, said that the temple had 7,000 acres of land and though there are many court cases, the governments never helped.
“Two or three cases are still going on,” he saids. “Earlier, this place looked run down and more like a ruined fort, but continuous care of devotees helped to retain it. Though it is under the Endowments Department, it has not made much of a difference,” Sanjay said....