Warangal, 209 km from Hyderabad in the state of Telangana is home to the very classic and brilliant Kakatiya art. The Ramalingeswara Temple which is popularly known as the Ramappa temple is one such amazing piece of art that stands as a testimony of the royal Kakatiyas.
The medieval Deccan Ramappa Temple was built by the patronage of the Kakatiya ruler Kakati Ganapathi Deva in 1213 AD under the authority of his Chief Commander Rudra Samani at the place known as Ranakude in the Atukuru province.
The temple is a dedicated to Shiva, where Lord Ramalingeswara is worshipped. It stands majestically on a 6 ft high star-shaped platform. The hall in front of the sanctum has numerous carved pillars that have been positioned to create an effect that combines light and space wonderfully.
It is said that it took 40 years to complete the construction of Ramappa Temple. An inscription in the temple indicates that it dates back to 1213 AD and it was commissioned by a general named Recherla Rudra who was working under King Ganapati Deva of the Kakatiya Dynasty. The beautiful Ramappa Temple depicts the grandeur of those times through its exquisite architecture.
The time invested in laying the foundaion was a worthy investment indeed, as the temple has managed to remain intact even after repeated plunder, wars and natural disasters. The only damage suffered by Ramappa Temple can be attributed to an earthquake which struck the region in the 17th century, besides which the building stands strong even today.
The architecture of the temple is an example of Kakatiya style of architecture. Built out of sandstone, these statues illustrate many things ranging from daintily Mandakinis to mythical animals. Three distinct sections, namely Antaral, Maha Mandap and Garbhagrih together constitute the Ramappa Temple.
The walls of the temple are adorned by carvings that are also found on the pillars and ceilings. Lotus motifs, elephants in different poses and images of Gods such as Narasimha and Ganesha embellish the many pillars that hold the ceiling of Ramappa temple in place. Prominent among these are the sculptures of Hindu mythology that cover the temple from its base all the way to its wall panels and ceiling. The roof of the temple is built with ultra light bricks, light enough to float on water. The statue of Shiva’s celestial bull Nandi can be seen guarding the premises as well.
In the years after Ganapathi Deva, his daughter Rani Rudramma and Pratap Rudra continued the tradition of maintaining public works. But it did not last as they faced Islamic invasions. However, Pratapa Rudra, her grandson, was not quite as lucky. He was a skilled military general but could not withstand the onslaught of Allauddin Khilji and later Ghiyas Ud din Tughlaq. After minor victories and defeats the Kakatiya Empire fell with the death of Pratap Rudra.
During these conquests many structures were plundered including the Ramappa Temple. However the main structure and the lake were unharmed, as a testament of the glory and splendor of the Kakatiya dynasty.