Article by Levina
The 800 years old Ramappa temple has finally found mention among UNESCO inscriptions. This was declared by UNESCO yesterday, after which an elated Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi had requested Indian citizens to visit the temple.
But why is this temple so special? Let us give you 4 reasons:
- Floating rocks: It’s said that this temple withstood many earthquakes and temples which were built after it were turned into rubbles while this temple due to it’s unique engineering has been standing steady. The pillars of the temple, ostensibly, were mildly bent, but not broken, as expected of the stone structures. This is when experts of Archaeological Department cut a piece of stone to know the secret of strength of the temple, only to be shocked by the discovery. Stones used for temple construction were so light that when it was put in water, it floated instead of sinking in water. To this day we do not know how our ancestors modified the stone’s density. “The lightweight or floating bricks’ density is 0.9 gms/cc whereas the density of water is 1 gm/cc. Those bricks are lighter than water. Hence, they float on water. The bricks used nowadays measure 2.2 gms/cc in density,”says IAS officer BV Papa Rao, who headed project Geo Technology Appraisal and Evaluation of Kakatiya Monuments in the 80s.
- It has a functional rainwater drainage system, it is believed the underground water drainage from the temple fills up the lake nearby called the Ramappa lake. This was common back in the day. A similar elaborate rainwater harvesting system can be seen in Meenakshi temple. Read more about it here: Ancient Rainwater Harvesting System of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
- Earthquake resistance: Foundation was built with sandbox technology to keep the temple earthquake resistant. The ‘sandbox’ technique was quite unique to Kakatiya dynasty and was used by Kakatiya rulers for construction of the famous Ramappa Temple and the Thousand Pillar Temple in Warangal. And the 2 temples have remained unaffected by the seismic disturbances for hundreds of years, now stand testimony to the effectiveness of that technique. Inside a 3-meter-deep foundation pit, mixture of sand lime, jaggery (for binding) and karakkaya (black myrobalan fruit) was added, before the building’s main foundation was constructed on these ‘sandboxes’. This sandbox in the foundation acts as a cushion in case of earthquakes. Most of the vibrations caused by earthquake lose their strength as it passes through the sand, and by the time vibrations reach the actual foundation of the building they die down.
- The stone beauty: The red sandstones and black basalt stones are effortlessly blended together. Tough Black basalt is so well polished that after 800 years one can still see their reflection in them. Interestingly the sculptures here show the women wearing heels. The intricate designs on the ceiling and the thin threaded holes in the stones are a proof of use of sophisticated technology.
Its said Marco Polo was enthralled by the temple that he called it one of the brightest star in the galaxy.
This is one of the rare temples which has been named after its sculptor and rightly so. The Ramappa temple was built by the Kakatiya King Ganapatideva Chakravarthy’s sub-ruler Recherla Rudrayya in the year 1213 AD. It took 40 years to build the temple. It’s a temple dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva, who is worshipped here as Ramalingeshwara. Interestingly, even as the entire temple is dark in colour, the Ramalingeswara in the inner temple illuminates. The Shivalingam is visible even without electric lights in the Sanctorum.
The plan of the structure is in the shape of a star which is also seen in other Kakatiya structures. The beauty of life-affirming sculptures and sounding sculptures is expected to attract people.
The temple also has Egyptian and Persian people engraved on it’s stones, which is a proof of the well-established trade India had with foreign countries
One definitely should not miss going to a temple which is an engineering marvel left behind by ancient Sanatanis.