Telangana’s 13th century Ramappa temple gets World Heritage Site tag

Ramappa temple World Heritage list
File picture of the 13th century Ramappa temple that has been included in the World Heritage Site list. Image Credit: State archaeology

Hyderabad: In a shot in the arm for Telangana, one of its oldest temples has been included in the World Heritage Sites list of UNESCO.

Rudreshwara Swamy temple, popularly known as Ramappa temple after its architect, was built about 800 years ago during the reign of Kakatiya King Ganapati Deva.

The news about the decision of International Council on Monuments and Sites to include the 13th century temple in the World Heritage Sites list was hailed all over India.

The temple, situated in Palampet village in Warangal district, 220 kms from Hyderabad, is famous for its engineering and exquisite design. While a general of Kakatiya dynasty Recharla Senapati Rudrayya had commissioned the temple, famous sculptor of the era Ramappa built the temple working over a period of 40 years.

The majestic temple was built on a 6 feet high star-shaped elevated platform and every inch of it, inside as well as outside is covered with intricate designs and sculptures in stones including that of Madanika or Nagini and Ragini. The work on the roof of the temple is also breathtaking in their details.

The proposal to accord the WHS tag to the temple evoked an overwhelming support of many countries in the meeting of the International Council including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Russia, China, Spain, South Africa and Kyrgyzstan. Norway, however, wanted more action by Indian authorities to improve the temple’s landscape and extend its buffer zone and boundaries.

“The spiritual and cultural property of the Kakatiya kings has a very special place in the country’s cultural heritage”, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said, reacting on the temple getting the tag.

Repair and restoration

As the vagaries of time and weather have taken a toll on the monument and many parts of it were damaged or demolished, the authorities have now started planning repair and restoration of the building fully using the same material with which the original structure was built.

Founder Trustees of Kakatiya Heritage Trust were also elated over the success of their decade long struggle to get global recognition.

“We had formed the Trust with the intention of getting the recognition for the temple”, said the founder Trustee BV Papa Rao, a retired IAS officer.

The state’s tourism minister T Srinivas Goud said there were 10 more monuments in the state which deserved the tag of World Heritage site.

The area where the temple was located had a potential to emerge as an international tourism destination as the beautiful Laknavaram lake was also situated nearby. Another complex of 8 Shiva temples was also located in the same area.

As an immediate follow up of the development, Archaeological Survey of India has stepped up the security around Ramappa temple and the state government has also set up a police camp at the temple.

Indifferent attitude

While the officials of the state department of tourism and archaeology celebrated the victory, which came after persistent efforts of 9 years, the heritage activists pointed out the indifferent attitude of the state administration towards the many other historical monuments and heritage structures in the state.

Charminar, the world famous symbol of Hyderabad, has not been able to get into the list though the officials were making efforts for several decades. Even though the teams of experts from UNESCO and other agencies visited the monuments many times, authorities could not satisfy them of meeting all the required parameters to get the tag.

Apart from the more than 430-year-old Charminar, the 800-year-old Golconda Fort in Hyderabad was also in the race for the World Heritage Site tag, but the international agency was not happy with the maintenance of the monuments as well as their surroundings. Heritage activists say that the illegal structures and encroachments around the two historic monuments, including an illegal temple adjacent to Charminar, were standing in the way of getting the WHS tag.

Despite court orders and campaigns by activists, the government has failed to take any action to clear the encroachments.