The temples of Cuddapah district date back to the time of Renadu Cholas. Temple building activity in the district continued under successive dynasties up to the end of the seventeenth century. A.D. Since early times places in the district like Chilamkur, Pushoagiri, Mopuru Attirala, Nandalur, Animela, Vontimitta, and Gandikotta were great religious centres as well as centres of temple art and architecture.
In this in depth study, Dr. Gurumurthi has brought into focus the special and varied nature of the sculptures found in the temples of the district and their iconographic features. This book is the result of the field work done by the author and the details provided are mostly first available account.
Dr. Aenuganti Gurumurthi (b. 1951) is presently reader in the school of History, Culture and Archaeology, Telugu University Srisailiam, Andhra Pradesh. He obtained his Masters degree and the degree of Doctor of philosophy in History in 1975 and 1983 respectively from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati.
He is a life member of Andhra Pradesh History Congress, Indian History Congress and South Indian History Congress. He has contributed several research papers to leading scholarly journals, seminars and annual sessions of History Congresses.
Dr. Murthi specialists in Art and Architecture of Andhra Pradesh. Presently, he is involved in a project on “Art and Architecture of Srisailam Temples”, one of the four projects floated by the Telugu University.
Dr. Murthi, to his credit, has authored and published another book Temples of Cuddapah District and edited a book, Kakatiya Nayaks by Prof. N.G. Ranga. His recent monograph, entitled, A New Approach to the study of Kiratarjuniyam in literature and art authored by him is in the press.
The Temples of Cuddapah district have beautiful and rare sculptural and iconographical wealth. Many temples of the Cuddapah district were studied and documented by the present author of which the temples at Chilamkur, Pushpagiri, Attirala, Animela, Vontimitta and Gandikota are noted for their varied and rich sculptural and iconographic art. Loose sculptures and images of gods and goddesses which are collected from different places of the district and exhibited at Pushpagiri, and in the Museums at Mylavaram and Cuddapah are also recorded and studied. A study of these sculptural wealth and their distribution over the region reveals the nature of religion and religious sects, the themes and their narration, the social and cultural aspects of different periods in successive stages.
So far no attempt has been made for the systematic study of the sculptural and iconographic art of this region which forms an independent geographical and administrative unit under different dynasties. Only a few individual sculptures of the Chennakesava temple at Pushpagiri are studied by Dr. V.Kameswara Rao and C.Sivaramamurti.
Among the sculptures of this region some unique and rare iconographic forms Like Mahamritynjaya, Nataraja, Gangadhara, Lakulisa etc, and some puranic narrative stories like Kiratarjuniyam, episode from Ramayana are noticed. This work is thoroughly revised part of my doctoral thesis entitled “Select Temples of Cuddapah District: A study submitted to the S.V. University and approved for the award of the Degree in 1983. In this a sincere attempt is made to bring to light and analyses the sculptural and iconographic art of the region. After tracing mythological and textual descriptions of a particular deity or theme of a narrative sculpture, a series of the examples found in the temples of the region are discussed in chronological order. All the sculpture are grouped and studied thematically. Accordingly the book has altogether eight chapters. A brief introduction forms the first chapter. In the second chapter various forms of Ganapati and Brahma are discussed along with their examples noticed in the Cuddapah district. Several forms of Vishnu and his avataras are studied in the third chapter. In the fourth chapter, Siva and his various forms are discussed in detail of which many examples are noticed among the sculptures of the region. In the fifth chapter the iconographic forms of Kumara, Surya and Manmatha are studied. The female deities—Lakshmi, Parvati, Durga and Mahishasuramardini find their place in the sixth chapter. Sculptures from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and other important sculpture forms are studied in the seventh and eight chapters respectively. The work is strengthened with a good number of illustrations in the form of photo plates.
In the preparation of the work I have received help from a number of scholars and institutes. I am most grateful to all of them. However, in specific, I wish to pay my respects to Dr. V.Kamesvara Rao, Professor and Head, Dept. of History, Sri Venkateswara University who was my Research Supervisor. I am deeply indebted to him for his invaluable guidance and constant encouragement during the course of this study. I express my deep gratitude to Prof. Ajay Mitra Shastri, Prof. S.H. Ritti and Late Prof. A.L. Basham who have so kindly and graciously gone through my work and gave valuable suggestions. I record my sincere thanks to Dr. Y. Gopala Reddy, for this suggestions in the preparation of this work. I am also grateful to Dr. N.S. Ramachandra Murti, Dept. of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, for this help and encouragement. I record my warm thanks to Dr. K.S.S. Seshan, University of Hyderabad, for this constant help and encouragement.
Late Prof. Niharranjan Ray was kind enough to discuss with me about my project when he visited the Dept. of History, S.V. University as a Visiting Professor. He gave helpful guidelines for this study.
I express my thanks to the superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India, South Eastern Circle, for the help extended by him. My debt to all the scholars whose books and research papers I have consulted in the preparation of this work is acknowledged in the references and notes.
I am grateful to the authorities of the Tirumala—Tirupati Devastanams for providing me financial assistance in the publication of this work. Last but not the least I owe much to my parents who in a variety of ways extended their support and co-operation in bringing out the volume.
My sincere thanks are due to Dr. S. Srinivasan and other members of New Era Publication for taking interest in publishing this book.
The temples of Cuddapah district are noted for their abundant sculptural and iconographical Wealth. One of the early sculptures of Andhradesa is probably the plaque found at Peddamudiyam in Jammalamaduga taluk. It is of great interest for the study of the evolution of the sculpture and iconography in Andhradesa. This plaque is assigned to the period of Vishnukundis and that of the early rule of the Pallavas which extended to some of the Andhra districts during the time of Simhavishnu, Devi, Umamahesvara with Nandi, a single pair of arms except Mahishasuramardin which is four armed. The sculptures of Vishnu and Siva found on the pillars of the Agastyesvara temple at Chilamkur are the next important examples of the early period.
The sculptures found at Attirala, some of the loose sculptures found at Pushpagiri, the figures of Brahma and Dakshinamurthi found in the niches of Sakshimallesvara temple were the products of the Chola sculptors. A Gangadharamurti form of Siva, a favorite theme of the imperial Chola king Rajendra Chola I, is found at Atrrirala. Two examples of Lingodbhavamurti are noticed at Animela and Pushpagiri. Another important sculpture is the images of Lakulisa found at Pushpagiri. The provenance of this sculpture indicates the spread of Pasupata Saivism in this region. The Saptamatrika panels are noticed in most of the temples of the region.
The story of Kiratarjuniyam formed a favorite theme for the sculptors since the days of the Pallavas as found at Mahabalipuram. This theme is found at Chilamkur, Attirala, Pushpagiri and animela in Cuddapah district. During the Vijayanagara period the Avataras of Vishnu and Several exploits of Krishna attained importance, and there also emerged certain new cults like Rama and Anjaneya. The two epics Ramayana and Mahabharta and the Bhagavata have been an eternal source of inspiration for the sculptors to decorate the exterior walls of temples. The out standing examples are found in the Chennakesava group of temples at Pushpagiri, the Sangamesvara temple at Attirala, the Kodandarama temple at Vontimitta and the two temples of Gandikota. In the following pages an attempt is made to study the sculptural and iconographical features of all the gods and goddesses found in the temples of the district.
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