Name of the temple: Thousand Pillar Temple
Name of the deity : Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Sun
Location : Warangal, Telangana
The Thousand pillar temple is located in Hanumakonda, near Hyderabad. As the name suggests, the temple has a thousand pillars and is designed in the Kakatiya style of architecture. Built by King Rudra Deva in 1163 A.D., the temple complex also hosts a lush green garden in its front.
Primarily the Thousand pillar temple has three shrines. The Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple hosts Rudreshwar or Lord Shiva. The other two shrines are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Surya. The Thousand pillar temple is also known as the Sri Rudreswara Swami temple, directly inspired by the name of King Rudra Deva. The temple also hosts a sculpture of Nandi, the holy bull of Lord Shiva.
The Thousand pillar temple was designed in the Trikootalaya School of the Kakatiya style of architecture. Recent excavations have led to the discovery of a well below the Kalyanamandapam of the temple. This discovery has led some archaeologists to believe that the foundations of the temple might have been built upon water.
Built by King Rudra Deva in 1163 A.D., the Thousand pillar temple was locally known as Veyistambhalagudi. In spite of having a preference for Lord Shiva, the Kakatiyas dedicated the Thousand pillar temple to Lord Vishnu and Lord Surya as well. Constructed for almost 72 years, the Thousand pillar temple also finds mention in the accounts of Marco Polo. The temple was destroyed by the Mughal Empire after the invasion of southern India. Massive renovation works have been undertaken to conserve and preserve the heritage of the temple.
The promotion and showcasing of the Kakatiya School of architecture was the sole reason for building the Thousand pillar temple. Hence, no legends or scriptural references are associated with this temple. The accounts of Marco Polo are the sole reference where the city of Warangal and its exquisite architecture find some mention.
The city of Warangal or Orugallu (as was called contemporarily called), was the capital of the Kakatiya rulers. The city was essentially a fort city for the Kakatiyas and is basically a cluster of three cities i.e. Kazipet, Hanamkonda and Warangal. Some of the major architectural displays of the city of Warangal are Bhadrakali Temple, Raymond’s Tomb, Ramappa Temple and Lake and the Thousand pillar temple.
The Thousand pillar temple is based upon the Trikootalaya School of the Kakatiya style of architecture. Based at the foothills of the Hanamkonda, the Thousand pillar temple, as the name defines, has a thousand intricately carved pillars in the temple complex. Besides the pillars, the temple also consists of elaborately carved smokescreens and detailed sculpture.
A huge granite statue of Nandi, the bull adorns the southern entrance of the temple complex. A 5 feet high idol of Lord Ganesha is located on the left-hand side of the Sanctum Sanctorum. The major deities found in the temple are as follows:
- Lord Indra and his Airavata (five headed divine elephant)
- Lord Narasimha (Lord Vishnu in his half man-half lion avatar), located at the entrance of the Northern shrine.
- Flying Gandharvas or angels, painted on the inner walls.
- Garuda (Half man-Half Eagle avatar of Lord Vishnu)
A kundam (well) is located on the left side of the temple complex. The mandapam of the temple, also known as the Navarangal Mandapam, consists of four massive black pillars. A Natya Mandapam (dance floor) is also found in the temple complex, where cultural events used to take place. The grand Detachable Mandapam of the temple is exquisitely built. The Kalasam, official symbol of the Kakatiya Dynasty, is carved onto each and every pillar of the temple. Though there are a thousand pillars in the temple complex, none of them obstructs the viewing of the deity.
The major festivals celebrated in the Thousand pillar temple are as follows:
- Maha Shivaratri
- Kunkuma Puja
- Ganesha Festival
- Karthika Pournami
- Nagula Chaviti
- Sankranti or the Harvest Festival
- Ugadi or the Telegu New Year
- Bonalu Festival
- Bathukamma Festival
- Samakka or the Saralamma Jatra (A fair organized every two years)