When we planned a trip to Alampur, we had no idea that the place would have so much to explore. In fact, the priests are the various temples told us that there were hundreds of temples around Alampur ! We would have loved to check out each and every temple if only we had the time. Somehow, these ancient, ruined, deserted temples have a charm that never tires you out ! And so, as evening drew in, we entered the Navabrahma temple complex, where all the activity happened in Alampur.
The 9 temples of Lord Shiva
The Navabrahma temples are located in the heart of Alampur village, the entire village is clustered around these temples. The famous Jogulamba Temple is also part of this temple complex.
Built in the 7th – 8th Centuries A.D., the 9 temples are built on the banks of the Thungabhadra. Lord Shiva is worshipped in 9 different forms here, for the uninitiated, Brahma here refers to Lord Shiva.
Since these temples attract most visitors and devotees, thanks to the Jogulamba Temple, one of the Shaktipeetas, there is bound to be some hustle and bustle. The temples are widespread and there are no information boards giving details or names of the temple so though the internet lists the names of the 9 Brahmas of Alampur, when you are there, you will not know which one you are visiting unless you ask someone.
Beauty in chaos
These temples have stood witness to happenings over several centuries and have watched the chaos grow around them. Today, modern structures have come up in and around the temples, some parts have been re-painted and between all this the ancient structures stand, their beauty untouched by the noise around.
One interesting part is a mosque inside these temple, probably built during later Muslim reigns. We were told there is a Siva Linga inside the mosque and till a few years back, people were allowed to see it.
Further ahead, there is a ruined gateway with fort like walls beyond it, hard to understand what was the inspiration behind the building of 9 temples. Was Alampur an important centre of the Chalukyas because it was very close to the confluence of two rivers? Was there a fort here? Fascinating, if only we had answers to these questions.
While we were here, we spotted a faint rainbow over this gateway, it was a beautiful sight but it faded before we could click it properly.
By the Thungabhadra
As we wound our way in and out of buildings and temples, the Navabrahma temples make their appearance one after the other, the sculptural brilliance does not cease to amaze you.
Opposite this temple, there was a small mandap inside which, unmindful of the people and the historical treasures around it, a huge pig slept soundly. It was amusing and saddening at the same time, a tell tale sign of negligence and poor maintenance !
A short walk from here leads you to the Thungabhadra River Bund. You can climb up the bund to get a lovely view of the river.
This peaceful looking river wrecked havoc at Alampur in 2009, the river flooded the Navabrahma temple complex and it took several months to get them back to working condition !
When you turn around, you can see the Jogulamba temple and a few of the Navabrahma temples surrounded by encroachments. It leaves you wondering how serene the place would have looked 1300 years ago !
We walked back to the temple area to visit the Jogulamba temple. As you approach, you get a better view of a part of the Navabrahma temple line up, 5 temples built in a straight line one beside the other.
No, we do not know which one is what !
The clouds were gathering fast over Alampur and we decided to hurry up but this marvel did not let us !
Ashtadasa Shakti Peetha – Jogulamba Temple
The Jogulamba temple at Alampur is one of the 18 Shaktipeetas in India. Of all the temples at Alampur, this draws the maximum crowd and therefore, well maintained. The temple structure, as it stands today, is a new one, the ancient structure was destroyed in the 1300s according to the internet.
The Goddess Jogulamba is believed to be Shakti in her “Roudra (Anger) avatar”. The temple is encircled by a pool of water to keep her cool and calm, interesting, these little beliefs and ideas !
We spent a few minutes here and when the clouds began to get darker, we decided it was time to go. At the entrance of the temple complex, there are three Navabrahma temples. These two stand out from the rest because they are slightly away from the main area and away from the crowds. It was almost 5.30 PM and temple closing time, the gatekeeper was kind enough to let us in to get a quick look at the temples.
With the thick, dark clouds gathered overhead, the Vishwabrahma temple looked imposing, there was something omnipotent about the scene as we looked at it through our camera lens, you would think it was Lord Shiva himself !
Alampur encroached !
We had read on the internet that there was one other Suryanarayana temple and we decided to check it out. To reach this temple, one has to walk through the narrow, dirty, drainage filled bylanes of Alampur, only bikes can pass through these lanes.
It is a terribly sad story, a place to be revered for its heritage and all you find is rampant encroachments. Open, overflowing drains, pigs, stray dogs, filth. Alampur and Aihole are alike in so many ways, including encroachments and pigs !
Half way through our half a kilometer walk, it rained and poured. We took shelter under this small, abandoned shrine and had a goat for company ! Funny, how all living beings react the same way when Nature strikes !
The rain lasted only 10 minutes but it was enough to do the damage, within the 10 minutes, the lanes were flooded and we waded through to reach the temple, we didn’t want to look down at our feet because we don’t want to know what we were walking on !
The Suryanarayana Temple is a very small shrine dedicated to the Sun God.
The temple has been completely renovated and was a little disappointing but the “adventure” of walking to the temple, made up for it.
As we made our way back to our car, the heavens above seemed to smile at us and sent us a rainbow !
We couldn’t have asked for a better finish !
The finishing touch !
On second thoughts, we did end our trip with a flourish at AP Tourism’s Haritha Restaurant. We wound up our trip around 6 PM and headed to the restaurant to binge on some snacks, Vegetable Manchuria and Onion Pakodas were ordered in scores and wiped clean ! The taste lingered throughout our drive back to Hyderabad.
It is hard to believe that an invaluable treasure trove of heritage lies just 200 kms from Hyderabad and yet, we know so little of it. Can we hear the stories these glorious temples try to tell us?
– Alampur can be reached by bus from Kurnool but as always we suggest you take your own vehicle or hire one, that is best way to explore the place.
– You could combine a Orvakal, Alampur and Kurnool as a day trip.