Way back in 2005, while planning for a trip to Srisailam, we came across some information on Alampur. Srisailam is believed to have 4 gateways, one in each direction and Alampur, 200 kms away is considered the Western Gateway. Though we did consider going to Alampur then, it did not work and we were finally able to travel to Alampur after 7 years. If you wait for such a long time, excitement is sure to build in when you are finally on your way and so it was the case with us as we drove past Kurnool towards Alampur after our trip to Orvakal earlier that day.
Alampur – The Chalukyan stamp
Alampur is located 27 kms from Kurnool. If you are travelling from Hyderabad on NH44, the diversion to Alampur comes just before you reach Kurnool, there are sign boards showing the direction. Alampur is famous for the temples built around the 7th Century A.D by the Chalukyas, the Navabrahma temples and the Jogulamba Temple, one of the 18 Shaktipeetas in India, being the most popular. When we reached Alampur, we were taken back by the historical wealth of the place, it bore the Chalukyan stamp that we had seen in Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole.
The Thungabhadra river joins the River Krishna near Alampur and the village is located on the banks of the Thungabhadra.
Tourist friendly Alampur
We reached Alampur around 3 PM. The first thing that greets you as you enter Alampur is the AP Tourism’s Haritha Restaurant. For some reason, finding a Haritha Restaurant at any place makes you feel safe, mainly it means you do not have to worry about food and restrooms !
As you drive further, you can see signboards directing you to the Papanasi group of temples and the Sangameshwara Temple. We decided to check the Papanasi temples first. The narrow road supposed to be leading to the temples seemed to suddenly disappear and we were turning back when these old men stopped us and asked us to go further and check out the temples of Papanasi.
We did not even ask them for directions, they were kind enough to guide us. We think the “lost tourists” look was evident on our faces ! This is one of the points that needs to be mentioned about Alampur, people here seem very eager to show off their village and its ancient treasures. People are more than willing to give directions, share information and help.
Papanasi group of temples
These little known temples of Alampur are located in the far end of the village, away from main tourist places. They are very close to the Thungabhadra river. When you look around, you will spot temples, ruins, shrines dotting the place.
The Papanasi group of temples forms a cluster of small temples, with striking similarity to the ones in Aihole.
The old man in the picture above serves as a guide to show you around the place. If you have been to Aihole, you will be amazed at the consistency in temple building style of the Chalukyas across 300 kms starting from Aihole to Alampur !
The sculpture style on the ceiling, you will find this is every temple at Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole.
Of Legends and Divine grace
The presiding Deity of the Papanasi temples is Lord Shiva. The priest gave us an account of the legends associated with the place, about how it is called the “Dakshina Kashi”, how Lord Brahma requested Lord Shiva to have his name associated with the temples here since he did not have any temples dedicated to him and so the temples at Alampur are called Navabrahma temples, though they are essentially Shiva temples.
Beautiful sculpture adorns the pillars of the main temple. It is very serene and calm inside with lovely breeze from the river.
All of these temples have been restored and renovated, especially after the Thungabhadra floods in October 2009, when most of these temples were flooded and submerged.
Our old guide told us stories of that night in 2009, when Alampur bore the brunt of the floods. He said the flood water broke through the nearby reservoir and engulfed the village at around 8 PM, he said, they were alive by the Divine grace of Goddess Jogulamba.
They say there are hundreds of temples in and around Alampur, with the limited time we had, we decided to check out the popular ones while there was still some sunlight.
The Papanasi group is not on the main tourist list usually but do not miss these little gems of Chalukyan art and architecture are a must visit.
Moving on to the next beauty of a temple !