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Pillalamarri, one of its kind Tourism Centre in Mahabubnagar

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Mahabubnagar: Pillalamarri (the great grand old banyan tree) which is known to be around for 800 years has probably reached the end of its life cycle.

But it is still a nature’s wonder, which people from across the world come to see. It is still a mystery where the bark of the mother tree is located, because the tree has expanded over 3.5 acres producing many baby trees which have again multiplied-hence the name ‘Pillalamarri’.

The tree is so famous that it attracts tourists from everywhere and due to this earlier government had developed the area around the tree as a tourist centre. The history and culture of Telangana and especially Palamuru has been preserved in the District Archaeological Museum, on the campus, where rock sculptures of many kinds from Second Century AD till 19th Century are put on display.

The sculptures narrate the tale of people living in ancient days and how dynasties rose and fell. There are statues of Lord Mahaveer, beautifully carved and still intact, though one of the statue is headless (probably desecrated during the rule of Kalyana Chalukyas or Kakatiyas, when Veera Shaivism was at its zenith).

Other sculptures which have been brought here from villages in Gadwal, Wanaparthy, Mahabubnagar, and Nagarkurnool districts speak of people’s loyalty towards the kings, the valour of women and their role in the society.

There are sculptures of various gods including Lakshmi Narasimha, Shiva, Ganesha, Subramanya, Surya, Nagadevatha and many other local deities which prove the artistic genius of the people, who lived in Mahabubnagar several centuries ago.

Some of the most interesting sculptures are called ‘Veerasila,’ where men and mostly women are seen wielding weapons and riding horses. According to the archaeology experts, kings of the time used to get sculptures of warriors (carved), who laid down their lives to protect the king and the kingdom. This was their way of appreciating the warriors’ sacrifice.

There are coins with inscriptions from the period of Satavahanas dating back to Second Century, Ikshwakus of the Third Century, Vishnukundin Madhava Varma of the Fourth Century, Kalyana Chalukyas of the Seventh Century, Bahamanis of the 14th -16th Century, Vijayanagara Devaraya of the 15th Century, Qutub Shahis of the 17th Century, Mughals of the 18th Century and Nizams of the 20th Century, still preserved in the museum here.

Tools and weapons made of stone, pottery from Paleolithic, Neolithic and megalithic periods have been put for display, which prove that a great civilization thrived in this part of the world, probably one of the ancient civilizations.

There is also a District Science Museum at the entrance of the tourism centre. The science museum exhibits interesting biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and social science exhibits. The most attractive exhibits are the optical illusions in mirrors on display.

One of the highlights of the tourism centre is a reconstructed temple of Sri Raja Rajeshwara, which was relocated from Erladine village in erstwhile Mahabubnagar district located on the left bank of the Krishna River.

The temple was dismantled and reconstructed with the same stone in the tourism centre in 198,1 after the village came under submergence zone of Srisailam reservoir. The temple’s ‘garbhalaya’ and ‘ardha mandapa’ built with white granite and ‘mahamandapa’ built with black granite in Vijayanagara architecture style. There is a meditation centre also.

There is a children’s play area with slides, seesaws, among others. There is a mini- wildlife sanctuary in the tourist centre maintained by the Forest Department, where deer, rabbits and other animals can be seen.

With all these attractions, Pillalamarri tourism centre is definitely worth paying a visit. For the next three months only the banyan tree will be kept out of reach of tourists while the district administration is taking steps to breathe life into the age-old tree.

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