A day trip through history & art – II – Kolanupaka – An ancient showcase of sculptural art

We had almost wound up our trip and were returning when it suddenly struck us that we didn’t have to head back so soon, it was just past lunch time and we the rest of the day out on the road, so we decided to make a U-turn and drive to Kolanupaka, which housed a famous, ancient Jain temple and a Shiva Temple belonging to the Kakatiyas.


Kolanupaka is 30 kms from Bhuvanagiri and about 7 kms from Aler, another well known railhead on the Hyderabad-Warangal rail route. It took us about half an hour to reach Kolanupaka from Bhuvanagiri, a little drizzle kept us company. It seems, Kolanupaka was once the second capital of the Kalyani Chalukyas of the 11th Century A.D., which is probably why the Bhuvanagiri Fort was built nearby.

Our first stop was the Shwetamber Jain Thirth, also known as Kulpakji. This Jain temple is believed to have a history of 2000 years, though it has been entirely renovated in recent times. We could not make a visit to the temple as our guys were dressed in shorts and were not allowed inside. We had to be content with this picture.


We are unable to bring you any other information about the temple except that you need to be properly dressed and no leather items are allowed inside the temple. This writer had visited this temple 9 years ago and remembers it being very peaceful and quiet.

Outside the temple, you will find tongas or horse carts which will take you around the village including the Kakatiya temple. We gave it a miss and after spending some time walking around a small garden opposite the temple, we proceeded towards the other place of importance at Kolanupaka.

Someswara Swamy Temple

A short distance from Kulpakji Temple is the Someswara Swamy Temple built in the 12th Century A.D during the Kakatiya reign. This 800 year old temple is also a site museum, showcasing sculpture panels and idols excavated from various places in and around Nalgonda district.

At the entrance, there is a small underground shrine, looks like ASI has reassembled it like that.


Inside, there is a tiny Shiva Linga and a Nandi attending to his Lord.


When you step into the temple, you will first see the site museum, located along the corridors of the temple courtyard. A life size statue of Mahavira is the first exhibit that you come across as soon as you enter the temple.


Along the corridors you can see specimens of sculpture ranging from the 10th Century A.D to the times of Kakatiyas.


There is also a victory pillar belonging to king Thribuvanamalla, the same kind associated with the Bhuvanagiri Fort. We seriously think ASI should have boards with translation of the inscriptions, so people know what it says.

It is always fun to look at sculptures and imagine what the sculptor wanted to portray and not to mention the unbelievable feeling as you marvel at their skill.

At the end of the corridor, the site museum leads to the Someswara temple. Sculpture panels lie scattered around the pillared entrance hall, it is sure to remind of novels involving treasure hunts or unravelling ancient secrets !


Wonder what secrets lay hidden in these ancient temples?

The sanctum was closed when we visited the temple. This was our second visit to Kolanupaka temple and we had been inside the sanctum during our previous visit. The pillars inside the main temple are ornate with rich, trademark sculpture of the Kakatiyas, noteworthy are the miniature sculptures of stories from Ramayana and Dasavataras of Vishnu, we found that interesting because the temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva.

There are other shrines around the main temple, a shrine for Sahasra Linga, where hundreds of small Lingas are carved on the main Shiva Linga. Most of the shrines are in a ruined state but bear the unmistakable Kakatiya architecture stamp.


This was probably another small shrine, only the mandapa stands, the sanctum is in ruins.


There are two Nandis and a tiny Shiva Linga, looks like one of the Nandis was originally located elsewhere in the temple.


To spot the Shiva Linga, you have to work your way through the over growth !

More ruins come your way as you walk around the temple, an ancient Dwajasthamba and the three tiered pillared structures forming the entrance to the temple.


Beside the Dwajasthamba, is another ruined temple. Unlike the other shrines, the architecture of this one is similar to the Chalukyan style of temple building, especially the vimana, you will find similar structures at Pattadakal.


The outer wall of the Vimana has a sculpture of Ananta Sayana or the reclining form of Lord Vishnu, this was interesting as well.


Did this temple originally belong to the Chalukyas, since Kolanupaka was supposed to a capital of the Kalyani Chalukyas? One wouldn’t expect sculptures of Lord Vishnu in a Shiva temple but probably,  those were times when Saivism and Vaishnavism co-existed in peace !

We spent about half an hour at the temple checking out the ancient sculptures and trying to come up with our own interpretations. As we stepped out of the temple complex and into the museum, we spotted this majestic looking Nandi and tried some what we thought was creative photography !


If you take out our creativity part, this is how pleasant the place looks !


It was wrap up time and we left Kolanupaka, the world of ancient temples will not leave your mind a long time after you’ve visited it !

Evening was setting in and we wanted to try and see if we could squeeze in one more place before we called it a day.

Info tidbits

  • A visit to Kolanupaka could be combined with a day trip to Bhuvanagiri Fort and a visit to Yadagirigutta.
  • The museum is open from 10.30 AM to 5 PM, we suppose the temple timings are also similar.
  • One can find buses from Bhuvangiri to Aler and from there you can hire autorickshaws to Kolanupaka.
  • There are horse tongas at the Jain temple which will take you around the village, we are not sure how much they charge, we were in a hurry and did not stop to check.
  • Since we did not visit the Kulpakji Jain temple, we are unable to give more details about the place except that leather goods are not allowed inside the temple. This writer had visited the temple long ago and can vouch for it being a must visit.





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Categories: Telangana | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “A day trip through history & art – II – Kolanupaka – An ancient showcase of sculptural art

  1. Haritha

    Priest will reside near to the temple only. Walkable distance, if we call him he will come and open the temple if there are many pilgrims. When we visited previously the temple was closed and many other families were also came there. When we all are going to return then one lady who is native there showed us the priests house when we requested him he opened the door.and we had darshan of the powerful gods

  2. Kalyani

    A good article indeed! Your guys probably mised out on clicking svayam bhoo shivalinga inside the temple.in that linga another 1000 lingas are carved and a wonderful creation of the sculptors it is.

    You folks could make it to cheriyal and meet the 2 families who are struggling to give life for the dying art – cheriyal paintings.

    Your blog is undoubtedly a must visit for any tourists.


    On 19-Sep-2016 4:16 PM, “Highway – the only way !” wrote:

    > HOW posted: “We had almost wound up our trip and were returning when it > suddenly struck us that we didn’t have to head back so soon, it was just > past lunch time and we the rest of the day out on the road, so we decided > to make a U-turn and drive to Kolanupaka, which h” >

    • HOW

      Thank you ! The sanctum was closed when we visited the temple and also as a principle, we don’t click pictures of idols that are worshipped 🙂 Thank you for suggesting Cheriyal, we will visit it for sure.

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