Hyderabad: Temple built at the behest of Sai Baba

Sri Laxminarayana Swamy Devastanam is nestled amidst theatres.

Hyderabad: Somasundaram Street is on the other side of General Bazaar, towards RP Road. Here there are many jewellery shops, including silverware shops with men repairing old pearl-studded necklaces and adding length to them. This part of General Bazaar used to be the wholesale textile market and is lively with many theatres in and around and Anjali Talkies, opposite a temple, is still going strong. You have to cross part of General Bazaar, crowded with steel vessel shops, cloth shops and hawkers before you take a right turn to enter a relatively quiet Somasundaram Street where Sri Laxminarayana Swamy Devastanam stands tall on the left of this small and narrow street, which leads to Manju Theatre.

The temple priest pay obeisance to the presiding deity Sri Lakshminarayana with his consort Goddess Lakshmi Devi. (Photo: P. Surendra)The temple priest pay obeisance to the presiding deity Sri Lakshminarayana with his consort Goddess Lakshmi Devi. (Photo: P. Surendra)

No one is sure of when the temple was built, but the general conclusion is that it is around 120 years old. However, the influence of the Vijayanagara architecture style suggests that the temple might be a tad older. The temple got renovated a few years ago, removing traces of the time it was built. “It was in a dilapidated condition and we had to do something about it,” says Gumidelli Srinivas, the fourth generation chairman of the temple trust.

The remnants of the old structure are still visible in some places, like the humongous gates, which have for some reason been painted a dainty pink. The lower portion of the entrance still has the yesteryear rocky base, because the gali gopuram still stands tall on this strong stone edifice. Though most of the temple outer walls are bare, there are touches of the Vijayanagara influence, with a little lion here and one there. In the temple, the pillars within the mandapam, facing the sanctum sanctorum are also different. The doors to enter the sanctum sanctorum are made of silver with decorative vines carved on them. The door is made of silver and is embossed with gods.

Years ago, this temple was built by a philanthropist from the Vysya community, the late Gumidelli Lakshminarayana, at the behest of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba. Lakshminarayana had gone to get Baba’s blessings and to tell him that he was retiring. Baba said to have him to build this temple. “We were then living in Bombay and my great grandfather used to worship at the Sri Lakshminarayana Swamy temple there. We used to live near there somewhere,” says Srinivas, not very sure about the location.

The family used to deal with diamonds, gold and yarn and used to visit Secunderabad often. Gumidelli Lakshminarayana was the only distributor in the country for the Abercrombie paints in those days. During his life time, Gumidelli Laxminaraya donated certain movable and immovable properties like jewellery, houses and shops to meet the day-to-day needs such as nitya puja, nitya dhoopadeepa naivedyams, nitya alankarana of the temple. “It became a self-sustaining temple then,” says Srinivas.

Gumidelli Lakshminarayana died a year after he built the temple. The family decided that the eldest son of the family will take care of the temple and thus came Srinivas’ grandfather, Ananthapadmanabha Swamy, to the temple.

Meanwhile, Secunderabad had been made famous by a number of migrants from Tamil Nadu and the Mudaliars were among the first to come here to do business and also take up jobs with the railways and construction projects. The Mudaliar brothers, Somasundaram and Raja, used to live on this street and had a huge home and lived with their families here. In fact, two streets adjoining one another are named after the Mudaliar brothers, Somasundaram and Raja.

While Gumidellis might have been Telugus who lived in Bombay, they follow the Vanamamalai Sampradayam and the main rituals are as per the Vaishnava tradition. In fact, this temple where the presiding deity is Sri Lakshminarayana with his consort Goddess Lakshmi Devi was consecrated by the 25th Jeeyar of the Vanamamalai Sampradayam, Sri Paramahamsa Parivrasakhacharya Sri Sri Sri Chinna Kalyana Vanamamalai Ramanuja Jeeyar, Totadri Mathadipathi of Manguneri village of Tirunelvelli district in Tamil Nadu, according to the Pacharatra Agama Sampradayam. “The entire renovation of the temple in 2012 was done using the family funds,” said Srinivas.

Though the temple might belong to one family, the Archakas are not hereditary and Gopalachary Vanamamalai Swamy has been here for 45 years, while Selva Mani Swamy has been here for 35 years, who retired as railway reservation supervisor.

With the onset of Dhanur masam, this temple, as all other Vaishnava temples, will resound with Tirupavai and also prepare for Vaikuntha Ekadasi on 29th of this month. In fact, Lord Sri Lakshmi narayana Swamy is wearing a velvet coat and a topi because of the onset of winter. There are other minor temples of Shri Devi, Bhoo Devi, Aandal Sanadhi, Alwar Sanadhi, Hanuman Sanadhi, etc.

“As per our sampradayam no idol should be made of marble and so there was another one made out of black granite, which is behind the main temple and that is also worshiped regularly,” says Selva Mani Swamy.

Ravinder Gumidelli, fourth generation, adds that what is of great value in this temple “is the Shaligrama with the Shankha Chakra Namalu. This is of great significance and we worship this also.” There is also a Tridandi Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamy Vedha Stupa and in the centre in a niche is Lord Krishna.

This temple was built by  Ramulamma, wife of  Mr Gumidelli Laxminarayana, at a cost of Rs 1 lakh, for the Shaivite devotees.This temple was built by Ramulamma, wife of Mr Gumidelli Laxminarayana, at a cost of Rs 1 lakh, for the Shaivite devotees.

Behind the main temple is another temple for Lord Ramalingeshwara Swamy, with shrines for Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman, Goddess Gayathri, Sri Dattatreya and Navagrahalu. This temple was built by Ramulamma, wife of Mr Gumidelli Laxminarayana, at a cost of Rs 1 lakh, for the Shaivite devotees. In fact, this old temple is under renovation and they are hopeful that they would be able to do puja during Shivaratri this year.

The entire perimeter of the temple where devotees perambulate to the lord is tiled and is easy to walk on and though the temple is facing a minor road, there is not too much of a ruckus. Of course, there are birds which come to roost on the large peepul tree abutting the temple.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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