In this Part – I, Pre-arrangements and exploration of Ramappa and Ghanpur Group of Temples
Fascination for the Indian Architecture began with Badami-Banashankari – Mahakuta – Hampi-Pattadakal-Aihole Trip (4 years back). The quest to know more and to see the creativity in carvings about these forgotten kingdoms led me from Chalukyas to Kakatiyas to Hoysalas. Two years back, I had been to Hyderabad, Warangal & Lepakshi. While listing out the to-travel list of all the remaining places in different states, I came across Ghanpur Group of Temples, it looked like ruins, still something kept attracting to this ruins and a whole plan was drafted on basis of this place.
Hyderabad – Warangal – Ghanpur – Shravanabelagola – Doddagaddavalli – Halebidu – Belavadi – Arsikere : 5 days trip.
I had 5 days Diwali holidays, added 2 more days. Checked out on few friends, they couldn’t leave home, because of Diwali. I had a choice either to postpone or to go Solo.
Then, Solo was it!
I never thought that I would ever go on a Solo trip, basically, lacked the confidence and also, various factors like travelling alone to far-off secluded place like Ghanpur or reaching late night in Warangal made me think over and over again. But wasting holidays at home was scarier than going Solo. Also, 7th Nov, being my birthday, I wanted to try something which I had never done before. Watching and reading posts about so many women travelling solo across globe in the “The Solo Female Traveller Network” in Facebook instilled some positivity about this adventure. Still, I kept postponing the plan till 10 days prior to Diwali. Also, by luck or fate, the tickets were available on all lines as per my plan. Booked all tickets in 3AC (splurged a bit) and waited for the day to arrive.
Started on 7th Night November, 2018 at 11.00 pm, boarded the Duronto for Secunderabad.
8th November 2018: Reached perfectly on time by 11.30 am, next day at Secunderabad Railway Station. I had train to catch to Warangal at 4.00 pm and main purpose of being in Hyderabad was Biryani 🙂 and I had planned to feast on Biryanis for both lunch and dinner 🙂 . First thing was to deposit the bag (Rs.25) in the Cloak Room. After unloading the haversack, I used the Pre-paid AC waiting Room (Rs. 25 per hour) to freshen up. It was good and squeaky clean. Inquired about further transportation to Hyderabad. The Attendant said there is a local train to Hyderabad. I took the local train ticket (Rs. 10/-) and waited. After waiting for 20 minutes, watching two local trains leave (for some other destination), I enquired at the enquiry counter on the platform. He said, it will come at 1.30 pm. And, it was like mid noon. Instead of wasting time, I hired an auto (300). I knew it was bit on higher side but then, I couldn’t bargain much.
First stop was Chowmohalla Palace. Here, Chow (Urdu) means Four. I had missed out this one in my last trip to Hyderabad. There was an entrance (Rs.50) and camera fee (Rs.60). It is a beautiful 18th Century Palace. At the entrance, there is a huge water fountain with some cannons placed around it. The four palaces within are Afzal Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal, Mahtab Mahal and Aftab Mahal along with a Clock Tower.
I spent 20 minutes in Photography, before leaving for Laad Bazaar which was hardly 5 minutes walking from there. Shopped for some bangles (Another favorite place in Hyderabad), got out from Charminar Side, hired an auto (150) to Café Bahaar (the best biryani restaurant). There was a waiting queue for 15 minutes, being the lunch time. Had the satiated meal and left for Secunderabad station by 2.45 pm. Again, another auto for 150. Halted at Karachi Bakery to buy some biscuits. I reached Railway Station at 3.15 pm. I had ample time, before the train left. Released the bag from Cloak Room. Till then, train was already on the Platform. Boarded the Satavahana Express. I had booked the Cabin Chair seats. Almost dozing off the entire way, reached Warangal by late evening at 7.30 pm. I had checked out some hotels online, and named one to the auto driver (70). The hotel was closed. He took me to another hotel, which was full. Finally, I settled for Vishnu Lodge. I was bit skeptical about staying there, but fortunately, the rooms were cleaner and closer to station (700). I had dinner and slept for the night.
9th November, 2018: I woke up early by 6.00 am, got ready by 7.00 am, informed the guy at the reception, which was in basement car parking area, that I will checkout at 1.00 pm. I got the bus from the Warangal Bus Stand which was near Railway Station, instead of going to Hanamkonda, I got down at Mulugu Road Junction(Wrong bus). Luckily, got an empty shared auto(15) till Hanamkonda Bus Stand. From here, buses ply regularly to Mulugu or Palampet. These villages are closer to Ramappa or Ghanpur. Since, I was pretty tight on time, I preferred an Auto, because of an earlier experience of very slow driving by State Buses in Hyderabad trip. Very few people understand Hindi here, communication was a bit problem but then saying Ramappa was enough. I hired an auto for a round trip (1200). Ramappa Temple is at 80 kms from Warangal. Ghanpur is further 15 kms from Ramappa. Seemed like a good bargain.
I was fascinated by Ramappa Temple, during my last visit in Hyderabad Trip. Visiting it again was like reliving the memories of its fine artworks. Before leaving the Warangal City, I enquired with the driver, if there is a good place to eat Breakfast. Being a local, he took me to a small stall, and honestly, it was the tastiest hot Idli with chatni, I ever had. Look out for this guy, who is located just opposite, on a lane to Sharath Eye Laser Hospital. There were many smiling faces around, because I looked every bit a traveler and looking at my Tripod, he enquired about my destination and my origin. They were bit surprised about lone lady coming all the way from Mumbai. After the acknowledgement and greetings, we left for Ramappa Temple.
Ramappa temple is also known as Ramalingeshwara Temple. The uniqueness of this temple is, it is the only temple in India which is named after its Architect / Sculptor Ramappa. It is built on 6 feet high Platform. It consists of Garbhagriha, An Antarala and Maha Mandapam. It was built during Kakatiya Regime. There is a Nandi Mandapam facing the temple of Lord Shiva. There is 9 feet Shivalingam in the Garbhagriha. The entire outer walls, inner walls, ceilings, pillars are carved intricately with various dance forms, musical instruments, scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and other ancient texts. Earthquakes and various other calamities had taken its toll on this temple. The floor is raised in some areas, due to past earthquakes over the centuries. Still, the temple stands tall in its glorious beauty. After spending almost an hour, went ahead to Ghanpur Group of Temples which was further 15 kms away. In next 15 minutes, I arrived at Ghanpur Ruins.
Ghanpur Group of temples is another marvelous work of the Kakatiyan Era. It was built during the reign of King Ganapatideva of Kakatiya Dynasty. The main Shiva temple is surrounded by 19 smaller temples each with Garbhagriha & an Antarala. The craftsmanship of the ancient sculptors on the walls of these temples is exemplary. A lone priest was there, who performs the puja in the central main temple. On watching me climbing the steps, he opened the locked door of the temple, showed the Garbhagriha area, performed a small puja for me (I didn’t expect that, not a puja fan though). There was a big shivling in the Garbhagriha. Over the years, the pillars, walls have fallen over. I went around looking at the fallen pillars, scattered stones, broken temples which were lying in ruins. It was worth a visit to see such a long lost architecture, unfortunately in dilapidated state now.
I asked the driver to head back to Warangal, but on the way asked him to stop at 1000 Pillars temple. I had been to this temple earlier and had the pleasure to photograph the interiors of this majestic temple. This time, they have restricted the photography access, which was rather disappointing. I went around, clicked the facade and returned back. This temple is also another masterpiece of Kakatiyan Era.
I requested the driver to drop me back to hotel rather than Hanamkonda, for which again, he charged Rs. 70/-.
Checked out and boarded the East Coast Express train at 2.30 pm from Warangal Station. Reached Secunderabad at 5.30 pm. Next leg of Journey was from Bangalore. I had booked the Garib Rath from Secunderabad to Yesvantpur, which was supposed to arrive at 08.20 pm. Having some time to spare, went to Pre-paid AC waiting Room and played some rounds of PUBG, ordered Biryani from Paradise via Zomato. Boarded the train, had dinner. There was family going to Bangalore for wedding, since majority were ladies, shared some travel stories. I assumed their dialect to be Konkani. During conversation, they informed me that it is called “Tanjore Marathi”. I was bit taken aback, since Tanjore is in Tamil Nadu and connection between two was odd. There was a long background story, to summarise, their ancestors settled in Tanjore hence the change in dialect.
Ended the Part of Telangana trip here, further travelling to Bangalore!