Golden Triangle in South India: Warangal, Ramappa and Laknavaram

The Road Trip: Hyderabad-Ramappa Temple and Lake-Laknavaram Lake-Warangal- Hyderabad

When: August 2017

Total Distance Travelled: 500 km

Drive in any direction from Hyderabad and two things that will be more than usual are temples and lakes. After our road trips to Suryalanka Beach and Srisailam, we knew it was time to rev up the engines of our little red car and head to a new destination.

When it rains, it pours in Telangana

We just have a weekend in hands so we plan a weekend getaway to Warangal, Ramappa Lake, and Temple and Laknavaram Lake which lie in close vicinity to Warangal. With a driving distance of about 150 km, we get set and leave by 8 in the morning and hit the ORR which takes us to National Highway 163 to Warangal. Having experienced two road trips (Suryalanka and Srisailam) we know that eating options on the highway are rather limited so we pack a lot of knick-knacks and paranthas and potato vegetable but to our surprise, this highway is dotted with eateries. But never mind home cooked food tastes better on the highway.

There are so many people selling corn on almost entire stretch

The drive is beautiful with well-laid roads, less traffic and just green fields on either side of the road. The sky is the large canvas which has multiple shades of grey and the only motive that seems of the fluffy and loaded dark clouds is to not let the sun peep through, which the team cloud manages quite well. In the race to not let the sun shine through perhaps the clouds are running into each other and we are getting intermittent showers which are welcome.

After driving on the ORR you perhaps cannot settle for anything less than that but the roads in this part of the country are well maintained except for the odd 60-65 km stretch before you reach Warangal from Hyderabad but there four-lane work is in progress which should make the drive smooth in the days to come.

Beautiful horns

We head to Warangal first and then drive for another 70kms to reach Haritha Ramappa Lake Resort managed by Telangana Tourism. This entire stretch from Warangal to Ramappa is like a driving through a painting, a natural scenery which is alive and moving. There are huge trees on both sides of the road which make a canopy over the road under which you drive and it seems like you are driving into the trees. Then there is also some stretch which has greens fields on both sides which are endless and as far as your eyes can see it is only shades and shades of green. The boulders on the stretch are too shy and perhaps that is why they let themselves be covered by a green carpet. You see people on the road but all of them are on a mission – some are working in the fields, some are on business and you can see them selling corn and urging you to stop and taste the freshly roasted corn on coal or you could even try the boiled version.

Bhongir Fort

Haritha Resort, Ramappa

Cottages at Haritha Resort Ramappa

We check in at the Haritha Hotel in Ramappa and after quickly scanning the room which seems ok to us for a night we hear peals of laughter from the bathroom and then see two tiny souls heading towards us rushing to tell us something. “Mamma, Papa you be careful when you enter the bathroom.”  My heart sinks and I am like, “Oh! God, the bathroom is dirty.” Pat comes the reply, “No, Mamma, it is not dirty but it is a bathroom for Lilliput so be careful when you enter.”  I rush to have a see and notice that the ceiling of the bathroom is a little low but otherwise it was clean. Phew! A breath of relief.  There are a few independent cottages lined up just next to the Ramappa lake and new ones are coming up too which should be ready soon that is what we are told. Food options are minimal and you have Jeera Rice, Curd Rice, Veg Fried Rice, Egg Fried Rice for Lunch and Dinner (basically all variety of rice) and Poori Aaloo for breakfast. We just dump our bags in the room and head towards Laknavaram Lake.

Ruins just outside Haritha Resort Ramappa

Lakanavaram Lake

Laknavaram Lake

One look at the Ramappa Lake and you know this place is for watching endlessly into the horizon, or a quiet walk from the resort to the ruins which you see from the Kakatiya period or one may just take the boat ride into the huge lake. But we keep that for later and head to Laknavaram Lake for a more happening evening. This lake is a young kid bustling with energy. As we park our car we walk a little distance and buy tickets to reach Laknavaram via the suspension bridge built over the lake.

The suspension bridge is quite a walk

The suspension bridge which takes you over the lake actually lands you on the island on which Haritha Laknavaram resort is built which has a few rooms on this island and four other cottages on different islands which are a part of this lake only.  You can enjoy speedboat, Pontoon Boat ride, and kayaking in this lake which is managed by Telangana Tourism.  We enjoy our 15 minutes on the Pontoon boat and crossing of the suspension bridge.  The lake was brimming with water and the surroundings were lush green, indeed the monsoons have been working overtime here but who’s complaining?

Boat Ride at Laknavaram Lake

Ramappa Temple and Lake

We reach our abode for the night after the boat ride at Laknavaram and cover about 60 km to and fro the resort. We don’t mind the extra drive but love the peace and tranquility of this place over Laknavaram which was thronged by locals for picnics and also pre-wedding shoots. Yes, you heard that right.

Posing at Ramappa Lake

We order a couple of varieties of rice and sleep early for tomorrow is going to be a busy day with a drive back to Hyderabad. We quickly have a look at the dilapidated temple near the Ramappa Lake which is from the Kakatiya period but nothing much is known about it. We head to Ramappa Temple which is about 1 km from Haritha Ramappa Resort.

Ramappa Temple

As you enter the gates you are transported to the Kakatiyan reign and you realize that precision and appreciations of art and art forms are perhaps one of the traits of great rulers. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built by an architect named Ramappa during the reign of Kakatiya King Ganapati Deva. Imagine a temple known after the sculptor and not the deity to whom it is dedicated, this itself is intriguing and raises the expectations.

Entrance to Ramappa Temple

This temple is made of sandstone and granite and is a piece of marvel.  As you enter the premises you see a well-maintained lawn with trimmed trees which line the path towards the temple.  The gate we enter from is west facing and we are greeted by a huge statue of Nandi sitting in the east, carved beautifully in black granite facing Lord Ramalingeshwara or Shiva. This temple has three entrances and Nandi sits facing East. This temple is built on a star-shaped platform and is perhaps the only temple to be built in this shape.  Our guide tells us that the Kakatiyans would use sand as the foundation for all their structures as they believed that sand has the cushioning effect and could bear any earthquakes. The temple is built in sandstone with sculptures outside and the lingas in black granite. The guide tells us that there are total 12 figures of dancing women adorning the outer wall of the temple out of which only one is intact rest all are damaged, some more than the others. This all happened when the Mughals and slave dynasty rulers of Delhi attacked these temples and destroyed whatever they could.

People sitting on the dance floor, notice the raised plinth

The center of the temple is a dance hall with beautiful pillars and simply amazing architecture on the ceiling. These depict the different directions and corresponding Hindu Deities. There are scenes from Indian epics and Puranas. 

Nandi facing the temple
Nandi

The outer wall of the temple has 526 elephants carved on stone but the most surprising part is that all these elephants are different from one another and are unique. The elephants are facing one way as if directing the devotee towards the entrance and another interesting point that was told to us by our guide was that as soon the walls of the  Garbhalaya or the inner sanctum start the elephants are replaced by Ganesha and Rudrakasha mala on the outer walls.

Intricate carving at one of the pillars in Ramappa Temple. Notice the thin copper wire through the carving

The temple from inside is a wonderful piece of art and imagination that has taken shape. The center place or the dance floor is a slightly raised platform supported by beautifully carved pillars with a ceiling that has Nataraj in between and eight Gods, one of each direction. The carving on the pillars is so intricate that you can actually pass a thin pin through the carvings. When inside the temple you can see the plinths have risen as the pillars have gone down a bit.

In the same complex, you can see the kitchen area where Prasdam was prepared and also the prototype of the final structure which might have been prepared to see how the actual temple would look.

One can go on and on but unless you visit and fold hands in reverence the effect and magic is incomplete – believe me.

Warangal Fort

We pay an early morning visit to Ramappa temple and after a walk down in history and the cultural grandeur of the Kakatiyas we head to Hyderabad but not before visiting Warangal Fort and the Thousand Pillar temple in Warangal.

Colours of life on the road from Hyderabad to Warangal

As we drive from Ramappa Temple to Warangal we see green carpeted fields and the sky pregnant with grey clouds and we are reminded of our visit to Goa in the monsoons a couple of years back. The memory keeps coming back at every turn and at each breathtaking view except that this stretch has numerous lakes which makes you realize that you are in Telangana. In fact, some rivers are full to the brim and are overflowing on the roads. It was such a delight to watch the reverie of Nature overflowing with love, so fluid and so forthcoming, literally speaking.

Open air museum at Warangal

As we reach Warangal Fort and park the car we enter a garden, an open-air museum of sorts where lie strewed the ruins of history that could have spoken had they been standing tall but now they only murmured, hardly audible. These are remnants of once what was the capital of the Kakaitya dynasty and dates back to 12th century. Now lying in ruins this open-air museum has four huge gates which were called Kakatiya Kala Thoranam which has also been adopted by Telangana Tourism as their official emblem and you can also see the modern versions of such gates in the Warangal city. For example outside university and office entrances; one such gate we can see at the famous National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Warangal.

Kakatiya Style Thoranam

The open-air museum has a Shiva Linga, Nandi, Ganesha and other statues but most of them are in ruins. However, the brighter side is that you can see the intricate carving and motifs up and close and can’t stop wondering at the skill of the artisans who would have toiled day and night to make these beautiful and lifelike structures. We stroll through the statutes, wall slabs, pillars and other ruins marveling at the expertise and also thinking how an emotion can totally control a human mind and set the course of the future in a different direction (in this case the attack of the Sultans of Delhi on Warangal).

Ruins at the open-air museum
One visit to Warangal just doesn’t seem enough

We leave the Warangal Fort thinking how grand the fort would have been had it been standing tall.

Thousand Pillar Temple, Warangal

We head to our last stop –Thousand Pillar temple before heading back to Hyderabad and as we are looking for the temple we drive past it and miss to spot it, for the temple is right on the busy main road and if you blink you can miss it. We take a u-turn and reach Thousand Pillar temple which has a small parking right outside the complex. As we enter we are asked to deposit the slippers right outside the main gate so we have to walk on the muddy and gravelly path till the main temple (growing some grass around the temple would be a good idea) not only the contrast of black (the thousand pillar temple) and green (grass) would look good but it would also be easy on the feet of devotees and visitors too.

Thousand Pillar Temple is a work of art

The temple complex has a pond which many turtles call their home, we see a lot of them swimming, and sunbathing, with a lot of little tiny ones also ready to explore the world. As we go further we see a huge monolith Nandi statue outside facing the main temple made of black basalt.  This Nandi statue seems like a replica of the one we saw at the Ramappa temple and if there is any difference only an expert eye can notice.

Entrance to Thousand Pillar Temple

This temple is dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, and Surya. Inside the Grabhayala (main complex) we see the Shiva Linga and the rest two sanctums are closed and we see a huge Ganesha idol there, for it is the ten-day celebration of Ganesha Chaturthi. We can also see renovation work going on at the other end of the temple.

The temple’s architecture and the craftsmanship is an exemplary work of art that flourished in the reign of the Kakatiyas.

We bow our heads and with memories that make a permanent place in our hearts, we leave the beautiful city to get back to Hyderabad with a promise to touch history again at some other place, some other time but soon.

 

 

 

 

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