Vontimitta Sri Kodanda Rama Swamy Temple

Ancient legends say that the famous Vontimitta temple is built in a single day by ardent devotes of Bhagawan Sri Rama, Vontudu and Mittudu. After construction of this wonderful temple with 32 pillars, both devotees sacrificed their lives and transformed into statues. Even today you can find them at the entrance of the temple.  It is one of the most beautiful Lord Rama temple in India

Kadapa district gets it’s name from the Telugu word for threshold (Gadapa), as it was considered the starting point to the Tirumala temple, from the western part.  There is a Devuni Kadapa in Kadapa city, which is believed to be the starting point of the pilgrimage to Tirumala. Pilgrims going to Tirumala would first have the darshan of Lord Venkateswara here, and then proceed further.  Kadapa also contains the famous Gandikota Fort, which was the citadel of the Pemmasani Nayakas, who served the Vijayanagara Empire, and were known for their bravery and military prowess.

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Vontimitta falls on the Chennai-Mumbai line, and is close to both Kadapa(25 Km) as well as Rajampet. The place is believed to have got it’s name from Vontudu and Mittudu, two robbers who reformed and later turned into devoteess of Lord Rama. The temple here was believed to have been built by these two, after which they turned into stone. The idol here was believed to have been installed by Jambavantha, the bear king who helped Lord Ram in his mission to Lanka.

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Historically speaking, the Vontimitta Temple was built somewhere around the 16th century as per records, first by the Chola rulers, and later the Vijayanagar rulers. Bammera Pothana, the great Telugu poet, who wrote the Andhra Maha Bhagavatamu dedicated his magnum opus to Lord Rama at this temple. As did Annamayya, who visited this temple frequently and also composed many keertanas( hymns) in praise of Lord Rama. Jean Baptiste Tavernier, the famous French traveller also visited this temple in 1652 and described it as one of the most beautiful in India.

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Though the Cholas started the construction of the temple, the architecture here is more or less in the traditional Vijayanagara style of a Sandhara order, which has a rectangular yard enclosed by walls. The temple itself is known for it’s architectural elegance, having 3 ornate Gopurams, one facing east, which is the entrance to the temple, the other 2 facing north and south. The central tower is built in 5 tiers and you have steps to approach this.It is believed that Lord Jambuvantha has placed the Lord Rama idol in this temple.

Garbhagudi consists of Bhagawan Sri Rama, Goddess Sita and Lord Laxmana idol engraved on a single rock. Also, one can find Sri Anjaneya Swamy Temple to the right and Lord Vinayaka Temple in a beautiful dancing posture in the main Mandapam of the temple.

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The Mandapam or the Rangamantapam, essentially an open air theater sorts has over 32 pillars, and is known for it’s exquisite sculptures, also called the Madhyarangamandapam. It has wonderful carvings of apsaras, Krishna, Vishnu. The corner columns have 3 layers carved with images of apsaras, and the roof of the mandapam, has many decorative brackets.

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Rama and Laxmana also have their sculptures in the mandapa here, Ram is depicted in a standing position with bow in right hand, arrow in left hand, hence the name Kodanda Rama, while Laxmana is depicted in the tribhanga posture with his right hand free, while the left hand holds a bow. You also have sculptures of Krishna in a dvibhanga posture, with left leg on ground and right leg, bent at knee, crossed over the left, as well as that lifting Govardhana hill. Another surprising fact about Vontimitta Kodanda Rama Swamy temple is that it is one of the few temples in India, where the idol of Bhagavan Sri Rama is without Lord Anjaneya Swamy at his side.
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The sanctum sanctorm is approached by an inner chamber called the antarala, and here you have the idols of Ram, Sita and Laxman all carved out of one single block of stone. Hanuman who is usually represented in most Ram, Sita and Laxman temples as along with the 3 main deities is however missing, and has a separate temple for him here though.

Apart from the religious significance of Vontimitta, it is also a place that has a lot of history attached to it, dating right back to the Vijayanagara era, and for that alone it needs to be visited, as well as the awesome architecture.

Traditionally the Sri Rama Navami Utsavam was held at the famous Bhadrachalamtemple, in erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh. With Bhadrachalam now being a part of the new state of Telangana, the AP State Govt has decided to conduct the Sri Rama Navami Utsavam at the Vontimitta Sri Kodanda Rama Swamy Temple.

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Another interesting fact about this temple is that it is the only place in India where Sri Seeta Rama Kalyanam is celebrated at night.

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