Temples of Cuddapah District
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Temples of Cuddapah District

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Item Code: NAJ243
Author: A. Gurumurthi
Publisher: Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, Tirupati
Language: English
Edition: 1990
Pages: 184 (42 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.5 inch X 7.5 inch
Weight 510 gm

About the Book


The Cuddapah district is part of Rayalasima in Andhra Pradesh. The geograpical separation of this district from Southern and Deccan kingdoms led to the rise of many local rulers. Most of the temples date back to the times of Rsnadu Cholas, Different styles of temple art and architecture, particularly of the South and Deccan are noticed in places like Pottapi, Chilamkur, Pushpagiri, Mopuru, Attirala, Nandalur, Animela, Vontimitta and Gandiknta.


In this well documented and rsearched monograph, Dr. Gurumurthi traces the genesis and grouth of the temple art and architecture of the Cuddapah region. He has also attempted to study the temples of the district under one group for the better understanding of the evolution of the regional styles of art and architecture. This book is entirely the result of the author’s field work and the description of the temples are mostly first available accounts.




Rayalasima, like other parts of South India, contains a number of temple complexes of different periods with notable features of art and architecture. The present day Cuddapah district, which is a part of Rayalasima, occupies the middle Pennar basin and of its tributaries surrounded by hill ranges of the Eastern Ghats thus making the region geographically independent from the other parts of the country. This geographical separation from the other parts of country led to the rise of local dynasties since the time of Renadu Cholas. This region figures in the inscriptions of fourth century A.D., and after, as Mulkinadu, Hiranya rashtra and Renadu. During the time of the later Imperial Cholas, the eastern part of the district formed a part of their kingdom as Merpakkainadu or Pottapinadu, a district of Adhirajendramandalam. When Kakatiyas and their subordinates Kayasthas wielded their power over this region, Gandikota attained importance and the whole region was under the Gaudikota sima which later formed a parrt of the Vijayanagara Kingdom.


The geographical position of the district made a barrier between the Southern and Deccan kingdoms and led to the rise of many local dynasties. These local dynasties played an important role and frequently paid their allegiance as the subordinates of the powerful dynasties of either South or Deccan. Thus this area was controlled by several succesive dynasties like Pallavas, Chalukyas of Badami, Rashtrakutas, Imperial Cholas, Chalukyas of Kalyana. Kakatiyas and Vijayanagara. Among the local dynasties, Rena du Cholas, Banas, Vaidumbas, Pottapi Cholas, Telugu Cholas of Nellore, Kayasthas and Matlis were important. Most of the rulers and their subordinates were great builders and patronised temple art and architecture. Apart from the ruling class many corporate bodies contributed their part in the maintenance of temples.


Extant remains of the temples of different periods abound in this district. The temples of Cuddapah of district date back to the time of Renadu Cholas except the one at Pottapi which is ascribed to the early centuries of the Christian era. Temple-building activity continued under the sucessive dynasties in the region upto the end of the seventeenth century A. D. Since the early medieval times the places like Pottapi, Chilamkur, Pushpagiri, Mopuru, Attirala, Nandalur, Animela, Vontimitta and Gandikota were great religious centres as well as centres of temple art and architecture. Pushpagiri has many temple complexes and a Golakimatha.


The geographical position of this part of the country and its political and cultural activities led to the evolution of a regional style in temple art and architecture. The changing political and cultural contacts of this region with the powerful dynasties of either south or Deccan, made this region a meeting point of different styles of temple art and architecture particularly of the south and Deccan.


A few scholars have attempted to study some individual monuments of this region. Dr. V. Kameswara Rao, in his book Select Vijayanagara Temples of Rayalasima, has dealt with the art and architectural features of the Chennakesava temple at Pushpagiri and the Siva temple at Rayachoti In another recent work edited by Michael Meister, Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture, the architectural features of the Agastyeswara temple at Chilamkur was included. Except a few isolated studies like this, so far, no attempt has been made to study the temples of this region under one group for the better understanding of the evolution of the regional styles of art and architecture.


The present book on the Temples of Cuddapah district is a thoroughly revised part of my doctoral thesis submitted to S.V. University in 1982. After a preliminary survey of the temples of Rayalasima region, the author has identified the importance of the Cuddapah region geographically and historically and hence selected the temples of Cuddapah district for the study of their art and architectural styles. A list of temples have been prepared after an intensive field work and survey of the temples of the Cuddapah district and also with the help of epigraphical sources, census reports and district Gazetteers. From this list of temples, about twelve temple complexes, which are helpful in tracing the genesis and growth of temple art and architecture of this region, are selected and included in this study on the basis of some significant art and architectural features. It took nearly two years to do the necessary field work involving survey and photography besides visits to temples of other styles and periods in the neighbourhood for the purpose of comparative study. This book is thus entirely the result of my field work and the descriptions of the temples are mostly the first available accounts.


The purpose of this study is to present the art and architectural styles of the temples and also to trace the role of these temples in the society of the region. Thus the first and the introductory chapter of this book provides the historical background of the region under the present Cuddapah district. In narrating the political history, the main emphasis will be to trace the dynastic contacts, and spread of their power over this region and the role of the prominent local dynasties. The second chapter is devoted to a study of the role of temples in society as gleaned from the epigraphical sources. In the third chapter, besides a brief account of the genesis and growth of temple architecture in India with special emphasis on Deccan and South India, an attempt has been made to give a detailed description of the select temples of the Cuddapah region. In the last and concluding chapter, the art and architectural syles of the temples of Cuddapah district are analysed. Here a critical and comparative study is made to trace the influence of the art and architectural features of the Deccan and south India on the temples of the region under consideration. The description of the temples is strengthened with ground plans and a good number of illustrations in the form of photo plates.


In the preparation of this book I have received help from a number of scholars and institutes. During my field work in the Cuddapah district the local people were very cooperative and helpful in many respects. I am most grateful to all of them. However, in particular, I wish to pay my respects to Dr. V. Kameswara Rao, Professor and Chairman, Board of Studies, Dept. of History, Sri Venkateswara University who initiated me into the present study as my Research Supervisor. I am greatly indebted to him for his invaluable guidance and constant encouragement during the course of this study and also in bringing out the same in the present form. My sincere thanks are due to Prof. V.M. Reddi and Prof. P. Raghunatha Rao, Dept. of History, S.V. University, for their help and encouragement throughout the course of this study.


I express my deep sense of gratitude to Prof. T. V. Pathy, 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, Govt. College, Gudur (A.P.), Dt. N.S. Ramachandramurthi, Dept. of Archaeology, and Museums, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, and Dr. K.S.S. Seshan, Dept. of History, University of Hyderabad, for their advice and encouragement. I wish to record my respectful regards to Prof. N.G. Rangaji, M.P., who has kindly gone through my thesis and made useful remarks and suggestions.


Late Prof. Niharanjan Ray was kind enough to discuss with me about my project when he visited the Department of History, S. V. University, Tirupati as a visiting professor. He gave helpful guidelines for this study.


My sincere thanks are due to the librarians of Sri Venkateswara, Madras, Osmania and Telugu Universities, the Director and Librarian of the S. V. University Oriental Research Institute; Tirupati, Commissioner of the Dept. of Archaeology and Museums of Andhra Pradesh, State Archives and the Archivist and the other staff at the regional office of the State Archives at Tirupati for their help and cooperation.


I express my thanks to the Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India, South-Eastern circle, for permitting me to take photographs of the centrally protected monuments in the Cuddapah region and also to use their library at Hyderabad, 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 Devasthanams for providing me financial assistance in the publication of this book under their “Aid to author’s Scheme". With all love and affection I record the help and cooperation directly or indirectly of all my family members and friends.


My greateful thanks are due to Dr. S. Srinivasan and other members of New Era Publications for taking interest in publishing this book.




The district of Cuddapah, named after its head quarters, lies between 13° 43’ and 15° 14’ northern latitude and 77° 51’ and 79° 29’ eastern longitude, with an area of 5,935 square miles. This district, located in the Rayalaseema region was re-constituted as an administrative unit in the year 1911.


The present Cuddapah district is bordered by a single district on each of its four sides: Kurnool on the north, Chittoor on the south. Nellore on the east and Anantapnr on the west (see map).


The history of the Cuddapah district has a hoary antiquity. Its varied and widely distributed Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic remains prove that even in the remote past, it was full of life.


The area comprising the present Cuddapah district was in all probability included in the Mauryan empire. The Satavahanas who were in a subordinate position under the Mauryas occupied the whole of Deccan including the tracts of the Cuddapab district and their sway lasted for more than four centuries.


Ikshvakus, after the fall of the Satavahana empire; came to power and had matrimonial alliances with their subordinate officers of the Hiranyaka dynasty or clan. The early inscriptions mention Hiranya rashtra a division corresponding to parts of Cuddapah and Kurnool. The name Hiranya rashtra was derived from the tribe Hiranyakas who held the region as Ikshvaku’s relations and subordinates. Thus this area was closely associated with the Ikshvaku Kingdom.


The greater Pallavas of Simhavishnu (A.D. 574-600) line established their power at Kafichtpuram and occupied the whole of coastal Andhra upto the river Krishna along with the country under the present Cuddapah district.


The Chalukyas were the most important dyansty that held sway over Deccan since A.D.543-4, with Vatapi (Badami) as their capital. They brought about political unification by expanding their territory and directly knocking the lines of the Pallava empire. From the middle of the Sixth Century A. D. the Cuddapah region witnessed a long drawn conflict between these two great powers.


A part of the Cuddapah district was under the rule of a local dynasty of Cho la chiefs during the period of the Pallava-Chalukya wars. The Cholas of the Tamil country dispersed from their home land during the period of their weakness. in quest of fortune. The Cholas of Renadu are one such branch. who claim to be the descendents of Karikala Chola, and established themselves in the black cotton country on the banks of the Pennar in Cuddapah. Hieun Tsang visited this region in A.D. 640-41 and his reference to the Kingdom of CU-LI-YA (Colika?) is identified as the Cholas of Renadu. A number of stone inscriptions from the Cuddapah district, including a few copperplate grants which give the names of four generations, attest the rule of a dynasty of kings bearing the Cho la name. The territory ruled by them was called Renadu 7,000 and comprised the tract of land lying along Kunderu and Pennar rivers in the Kurnool and Cuddapah districts.








List of Ground Plans



List of Illustrations






District Map - Cuddapab






Temples and Society



Temple Architecture



Art and Architectural Peculiarities









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Sample Pages

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