Shiva lingam that Ram worshipped

Turn left to see the gopuram of the Sri Ramalingeshwaraswami Devalayam on a hillock.

Hyderabad: Medchal has changed a lot. The sleepy village, the gateway to Hyderabad, is crowded and dangerous and development has stretched far and wide.

You turn left at the Ambedkar statue on the main road, and keep going till you reach a railway gate. Once you cross this, there are a number of government offices. Turn left to see the gopuram of the Sri Ramalingeshwaraswami Devalayam on a hillock. While the gopuram itself is nothing to write home about, it is the entrance archway which continues to be beautiful and in its original state.

This temple was built by Rajalingam Datrika, a jagirdar of yesteryears, who donated land to many persons, according to his grandson Kashinath Datrika who now looks after the temple. “I am the eighth generation from the family. My tata (grandfather) was a generous man and gave land to the people working for the temple, including the person who swept the place,” says Mr Datrika.

Apparently Rajalingam believed in the architecture of those days and the temple was thoughtfully constructed around the Swayambhu lingam, which is supposed to have been in this area for 1,200 years. “We had a 150-year-old house built of dangu chunam and huge windows. It was the number one house in the area. It had two bhavantis with 24 rooms. But we could not maintain it and gave it for development,” much to the disappointment for the heritage lobby and even Mr Datrika himself.

The entrance to the temple is through the arched gateway over which is built a ventilated naquar khana, with a nice tiled roof. The tiles have been changed since the old ones were broken. “Such tiles are not available and so I used tiles available from a roof next door,” says Mr Datrika.

There are steps leading to the rooms on top, where the ‘kanchariwala’ or the dampa players used to sit and play. “Now it is not a clean place. We do not have anyone to play the dampa, either,” says Mr Datrika.

On one side of the gate is a huge rock, considering the temple is built atop a rock, and on the other an old wall. The temple has 24 acres to its name, most of it hilly and rocky and another 12 acres of agricultural land of which Mr Dhatri is able to use only five, “because people are no more doing agriculture.”

The Lord Shiva idol is atop a granite ‘pranamattam’ and placed on top of a marble platform, which was apparently built during Rajalingam’s times. Legend has it that Lord Rama, while en route to Sri Lanka worshipped this lingam. The idol is unique, according to Mr Datrika because He is facing south and is straight. The lingam leans if it is in any other direction, he adds.

Next to the idol is a small statue of Ammavaru (mother goddess) and an utsava murthi, both in niches. The old Lord Ganesha statue was replaced with a new granite one. There was a doorway which had steps leading to the top of the hillock but during the monsoons water would flow into the sanctum sanctorum flooding it for a week and not allowing any puja. “In Shravan month it was nature’s abhishekam,” said Mr Datrika. They have now shut the door, cemented it and have placed a beautiful, colourful stone carving of Lord Shiva.

The lingam is actually in a cave and apparently Rajalingam had a dream where he was told to come to the hillock to spot the lingam. He came, searched all over but could not find it That night he rested on the hillock and found the lingam where his head had been during the night. A temple was built around it. The cave roof makes the standing space for devotees quite small but is large enough not to make it claustrophobic.

Just outside of this sanctum is a smaller lingam, with a beautiful mandapam made in vernacular style out of granite which has been colourfully painted. This is the actual entrance to the temple. After climbing a few steps and on the right as you enter is a huge recently sculpted Dakshinamurthy. While there is no Lord Subramanya representation, there is a Naga stone, which has an embedded lingam inside of it.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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