The historic Rudreswara Temple, popularly known as Ramappa Temple, near Warangal has received the coveted World Heritage status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The decision was taken at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, thus becoming the latest site in India to be included on the World Heritage List, joining 38 other locations from the country already on the list.
Built by Racherla Senapati Rudrayya, a general of Kakatiya king Ganapatideva, in the 13th century, the main temple is flanked by the collapsed structures of the Kateshwarayya and Kameshwarayya temples in Palampet, about 220 km from Hyderabad. The iconic Ramappa Temple showcases the outstanding craftsmanship of great Kakatiya dynasty. This is the first world heritage site from Telangana.
The temple, known for its exquisite craftsmanship and delicate relief work, is savvy blend of technical know-how and materials of its time. The foundation is built with the “sandbox technique”, the flooring is granite and the pillars basalt. The lower part of the temple is red sandstone while the white gopuram is built with light bricks that reportedly float on water. An inscription dates the temple to 1135 Samvat-Saka on the eight day of Magha (January 12, 1214).
The presiding deity here is Ramalingeswara Swamy. It is also known as the Ramappa temple, after the sculptor who executed the work in the temple for 40 years. The temple stands on a 6 feet high star-shaped platform with walls, pillars and ceilings adorned with intricate carvings that attest to the unique skill of the Kakatiyan sculptors.
According to the temple priest, some of the iconography on the temple was damaged during the invasion of Malik Kafur in 1310. Treasure hunters vandalised the rest. But the biggest test for the temple was an earthquake in the 17th century (one of the biggest was that of 7.7-8.2-magnitude on June 16, 1819). The flooring was rocked by the waves, while the pillars and vertical structure stayed intact because of the sandbox technique used in its construction.
European merchants and travellers were mesmerized by the beauty of the temple and one such traveller had remarked that the temple was the “brightest star in the galaxy of medieval temples of the Deccan”.