A priest performs the rituals at the sanctum sanctorum. (DC)
Hyderabad: The Akkanna Madanna Mahakali temple in Old City’s bustling Shahalibanda appears to be relatively quiet on Sunday. It remains shut from 1 pm to 6 pm, and in the evening there is a trickle of devotees. However, come July 24, the temple in Hari Bowli will be gripped by the fervour of thousands of devotees who will cram the not-so-wide streets around the temple.
What makes the temple stand out among the other shrines of Bonalu celebration is its rich history, interspersed with examples of Hindi-Muslim unity.
Senior Congress leader G. Niranjan, who was formerly the president and is currently the chief patron of the recently-formed temple committee, said around four-five lakh people were expected to visit the temple during Bonalu.
Narrating the interesting history of the temple, the committee’s general secretary K. Dattatreya said the temple was named after two brothers Akkanna and Madanna, who served as commander-in-chief and Prime Minister, respectively, under king Abul Hasan Qutb Shah or Tana Shah, in the 17th century. The two brothers used to offer prayers and take rest in the temple, which was located inside a devdi or a nobleman’s mansion, and was not open to the general public.
According to Dattatreya, in 1948, the wall, blocking access to the temple, was broken, and the devdi’s owner Mir Mohammed Anwar Ali, supported in making it open to the public. He helped in expansion of the temple by giving away 10 square yards of his devdi land, and donated Rs 50 for the same.
Balaji Ullasrao Hangare, who has been running a chat stall right opposite the temple for the past five years, said he did not get the best view of the celebrations as, during that time, due to huge crowds, he shut shop for 2-3 days. But having seen the celebrations earlier, he described them as a grand affair, especially when the ghatam procession, including a decorated elephant, started from the temple, passed by Charminar and ended at Nayapul.
Hangare said while stalls like his were shut, heavy police bandobast as well as several stalls selling items to offer pooja to Goddess Mahakali came up in those few days. Shyamala, who rented a shop diagonally opposite to the temple three months ago, is hoping to get a good view of the procession.