Splendours of Kakatiya Art: A Visit to Palampet and Ghanpur

A 12-hour day tour was organised to the Ramappa Temple and the Kotagullu group of temples by the DHF on the 13th of January 2023. The group was accompanied by Dr. Helen Philon, Co-Founder of the Deccan Heritage Foundation; Mr. BV Papa Rao, Director of the Deccan Heritage Foundation and Trustee of the Kakatiya Heritage Trust; and archaeologist, Dr. Emani Sivanagi Reddy of the PLEACH India Foundation.

The Rudreshwara temple complex, now popularly known as the Ramappa Temple, in Palampet, Telangana, is the most complete and exquisite extant example of a Kakatiya temple. Built in the early 13th century CE, the temple complex presents a marked development in the Kakatiya style of architecture.

A multi-pillared asthana-mandapa (a pillared entrance hall) originally marked the entrance of the temple complex and paved the way to the sandstone temple of Rudreshwara, the principal deity of the complex, and the subsidiary shrine of Gaurisha. The principal shrine has a ranga mandapa (the main hall of the temple) that is supported by black dolerite stone pillars bearing intricate sculptures from mythology. They hold a stellar ceiling of a similar stone and sculpture work. Apart from these outstanding decorative elements, the eaves of the main hall are supported by brackets of the same black stone that are in the form of slender women and mythical yalis (mythical beasts) which have been polished to a bright sheen. In recognition of its architectural and artistic significance, the temple was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021.

The Ganapeshwara Group of Temples in Ghanpur-Mulug, Telangana, also known as Kotagullu, or Kotagudi, was built in the Kakatiya style of architecture in the 13th Century CE. Though no inscriptions attribute the temple to the period, its architectural similarity with the splendid Ramappa Temple in Palampet has led historians to date it to that period. In addition to the usual Kakatiya artistic and architectural features of an asthana mandapa, a large ranga mandapa, and overhanging eaves supported by brackets sculpted as composite yalis and dancing women, the temple complex is unique for the presence of 19 subsidiary shrines within it. When compared to the Ramappa Temple in Palampet, this group of temples is in a dismal state of disrepair. The DHF has prepared a Conservation Plan for the group of temples and is seeking funds to implement it.