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Shivakeshavalayam heritage temple cries for attention

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Kumram Bheem Asifabad: Seen as a symbol of remarkable victory of the Kakatiya rulers against their rival king, the ancient Sri Shivakeshavalayam in Wankhidi mandal has failed to draw the attention of authorities. It is being regarded as another Thousand Pillar Temple. However, it is only being protected by local villagers.

Situated on the shores of Chikli river, Sri Shivakeshavalayam is a major pilgrim centre in the backward Kumram Bheem Asifabad district. It is thronged by hundreds of devotees belonging to not only Kumram Bheem Asifabad, but neighbouring Chandrapur district of Maharashtra on the occasion of Mahashivaratri every year.

Rathotsavam, chariot procession of presiding deities, is held on the auspicious day. In 1300 AD, Kakatiya dynasty’s brave queen Rudramadevi defeated Mahadevudu, a local chieftain ruling Devagiri region which is spread across the present Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh States. She is believed to have chased the armed forces of the king till Wankhidi. She had built several temples in various places of this region in memory of her triumph in the war. However, several structures disappeared over a period of time.

Sri Shivakeshavalayam has been standing as a testimony to the glorious past of the Kakatiya dynasty. It has been the most sought-after destination for devotees of Lord Shiva and admirers of ancient architectures. The massive pillars used for constructing the temple, sculptures showcase the then rulers’ penchant for building temples.

Distinctively, the shrine resembles the popular Thousand Pillar Temple in Warangal. Despite this, it is neglected by the Department of Endowments. In order to protect the ancient structure, locals raised Rs 40 lakh through contributions. A compound wall was constructed around the abode for preventing soil erosion, besides undertaking some minor repairs.

“The pilgrim centre can attracts pilgrims from several parts of Telangana, neighbouring Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh if developed. It is a living sign to the memorable victory of Rani Rudramadevi against Mahadevudu,” said Dr Jaisetti Ramanaiah, a veteran historian of Jagtial town.

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