After more than five years of renovation and reconstruction, the Yadadri Temple in Telangana has transformed from a small hilltop shrine into a beautiful and sprawling center of pilgrimage and an architectural marvel.
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, popularly known as Yadadri Temple and located about 60 km from Hyderabad in Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district, has undergone a complete transformation in line with the ambitious vision of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
The mega project was resumed at a cost of Rs 2,000 crore and the works were started on October 11, 2016. After strenuous efforts by various agencies for more than five years, the temple was finally reopened to devotees on Monday while the other works around it are yet to be completed.
With elaborate rituals involving dozens of priests, KCR, as the chief minister is popularly known, inaugurated the temple.
Accompanied by his wife Shoba Rao, other family members, host of ministers, leaders and TRS officials, KCR participated in the “Mahakumbha Samprokshana”. He performed Kalasha pujas and participated in the procession carrying the presiding deity of Balalayam to the sanctum sanctorum.
Whatever KCR projects are, they always attract attention with their scale and magnificence. Be it Kaleshwaram, the world’s largest lift irrigation project constructed at a cost of around Rs 1 lakh crore, the construction of the official residence of the Chief Minister or the new Secretariat complex underway in Hyderabad, KCR was personally involved in the design and development of his dream projects. .
The renovation of the Yadadri Temple is also part of KCR’s efforts to develop physical assets in line with Telangana’s cultural identity. Political observers say that since he formed the first government after Telangana was formed in 2014, he has always focused on strengthening the unique culture and traditions of the state.
As the bifurcation of undivided Andhra Pradesh has led to the waste state retaining most of the major temples, KCR has drawn up an ambitious plan to revamp and renovate the 1000 year old temple at Yadagirigutta into a temple on par with the temple Sri Venkateswara at Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh which is the richest Hindu temple in the world.
Before embarking on the project, KCR renamed Yadagirigutta to Yadadri. He took with him the famous pontiff Chinna Jeeyar Swamy, considered his spiritual guru, for a helicopter tour of the temple and its surroundings. KCR has decided to club the eight nearby hills into a mega pilgrimage center. Thus the center of pilgrimage will have nine hills against seven hills of Tirumala.
The government has established the Yadadri Temple Development Authority (YTDA) to execute the renovation and reconstruction works. The authorities did not use conventional materials such as cement, bricks and concrete in the project. They only used lime and mortar for the temple works according to heritage standards.
It is said to be the only temple in India that was built with Krishna Shila (black stone). About 2.5 lakh tons of black stone was sourced from Prakasam and Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh for carvers and other works.
Every day around 1500 workers including 800 carvers from different places including Allagadda, Karimnagar and Tamil Nadu worked long and hard to execute the mega project.
The temple’s chief architect, Anand Sai, visited several temples across South India before making a final plan. According to him, seven gopurams are inspired by the Srirangam temple of Tiruchirapalli.
The gold plating of Vimana Gopuram or the main Gopuram of the temple was inspired by the Tirumala temple. Gold plating of Gopuram, which is a work in progress, requires 125 kg of gold. Following a call from KCR, companies, businessmen, public officials and politicians donated nearly 30 kg of gold late last year.
KCR had announced the first donation of 1 kg 16 tolas of gold to the temple on behalf of his family.
The Rajagopuram or the pyramid structure at the entrance to the temple is seven storeys high. It is made of stones weighing 13,000 tons.
KCR visited Yadadri several times to review the progress of the renovation works. On numerous occasions, he suggested changing the design of the embellishment works.
The Covid-19 pandemic had its impact on the pace of work and caused the delay of more than two years.
The renovated temple is now a 17-acre, three-story temple with seven gopurams and sculptures, which officials say will fascinate devotees for years to come. While the overall project spans 2,000 acres, development has been completed on 250 acres around the hill sanctuary.
The temple complex was previously spread over just 2,500 square meters with virtually no space for devotees to move around after darshan or to obtain prasadam. Now, the expanded and renovated complex can accommodate a lakh of devotees.
Authorities expect 8,000 worshipers to visit the temple each day and that number can rise to 40,000 on public holidays.
According to YTDA officials, around Rs 1,000 crore has so far been spent on the entire project. While nearly Rs 280 crore was spent on the renovation and reconstruction of the temple, the remaining amount went to land acquisition, road laying and infrastructure development.
KCR’s daughter and state legislator, K. Kavitha, believes that KCR has bestowed Telangana with one of the most historic and iconic temples.
According to Endowment Minister A. Indrakaran Reddy, the glorious architecture and transformation of the Yadadri will make it one of the most unique temples in the world. “Every detail of the temple is unique and should leave devotees spellbound in the ocean of devotion,” he said.