Bhadrakali Temple in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh is known to be one of the oldest temples for Goddess Bhadrakali in India. This temple is located on the banks of the Bhadrakali lake, a picturesque location between Hanamkonda and Warangal about 1.5 km from Government Polytechnic.
As per the writings on the temple wall this temple is believed to be constructed by the King Pulakesi II of Chalukya dynasty around 625 A.D to commemorate his victory over Vengi region of Andhra Desham. This can be observed from the square pillars used in the temple structure which were different from the circular pillars commonly used in temples constructed by Kakatiyas.
The Kakatiya kings of “Orugallu empire” which is the present Warangal city have adopted Goddess Bhadrakali as their “Kula Devatha” giving her preference over other gods. The lake was built later by Ganapathi Deva, a minister in Kakatiya Dynasty. A road leading to the temple was also added during that period.
Due to the fall of Kakatiya Dynasty to the Muslim ruler of Delhi Ala-ud-din Khilji, his general Malik Kafur and later to Ghias-ud-Din Tughlak, and during the rule of Bahamani Sultans and Golkonda rulers, the temple lost its prominence over the period and the place has become dilapidated.
Sri Ganapathi Sastri (a.k.a. B. S. Ganesh Rao) a Brahmin and devi upasaka (Devotee of Goddess Kali) from Karnataka has migrated to Warangal in 1940’s. He noticed the old Bhadrakali temple and has taken interest in renovating the temple. He constructed a small house next to the temple and started living in this isolated place. He along with Sri Mudumbai Ramanujacharya sought the help of Sri Maganlal Sameja (a prominent local merchant) and other affluent locals and renovated the old temple in 1950. Many persons like Brahmasri Sri Hari Radhakrishnamurthy, Adluri Seetharama Shastry, Vangala Guravaiah, Thandra Venkata Rama Narsaiah, Mahatapaswini Mangalambika and Tankasala Narasimha Rao have lent their hands in the renovation work of the temple.
Before the temple was renovated in 1950 there were Animal Sacrifices at the temple (an old custom at Kali temples in India). This practice was stopped from 1950 onwards after the renovation of the temple. During the renovation, Chandi yantra was installed in the temple and amrutha beejaksharas (holy shlokas) were written on the deity’s hanging tongue and modified the deity’s fierce looking eyes and tongue to a pleasant looking face. Since then everyday poojas, Sharannavaratras, Vasantha navarathras are being conducted regularly as per the Vedic rites.
Sri Ganapathi Sastri, the founding trustee of the temple is presently over 105 years old. He is still actively participating in the temple affairs. In the past few years he has taken interest in an old Shiva temple near Bhadrakali temple and started renovating it. The people of Warangal City and well wishers of Sri Ganapathi Sastri celebrated his 100th birthday few years ago. Today his son Sri B. Seshagiri Rao has taken over the temple affairs as chief priest.
Sri Ganapathi Sastri, at the age of 113 has passed away on Friday night on 11 November 2011 here in Warangal. He is survived by two sons and three daughters. He was still the Bhadrakali’s temple trustee at the time of his passing away. The temple and the people of Warangal has lost a great man who has developed the temple single handedly.
The temple’s main deity Goddess Bhadrakali’s image is made in a 2.7×2.7 meters square stone facing west with pleasant looking eyes holding weapons in her eight hands with Shiva under her feet. ‘Sree Chakram’ and ‘Utsava Vigrahas’ of Bhadrakali are placed in front of the main deity.
A statue of Lion, Bhadrakali’s vahana on which she rides, is placed opposite the sanctum sanctorum. The temple also has a Dhwaja Sthambam and Balipeetham.
Some of the oldest deities in the Maha Mantapam along with Bhadrakali are Uma Maheshwara images on stone in front of Shiva Linga, Subramanya Swamy statue, Hanuman statue and Navagrahas all carved in stone.
A new road was constructed in 1966 from the temple to the Warangal-Kazipet main road next to Government Polytechnic. The temple has been expanded in the 2000s with the addition of Alaya Shikaram, Maha Mantapam. Recently Sri Vallabha Ganapathi temple and temple parikrama have been added to the main temple.
The temple management is also running a Veda Pathasala (School for learning Vedas) near the temple.
There are 8 major and 12 minor temples in the mountains surrounding the Bhadrakali Temple including Padmakshi temple, Sri Shirdi Sai Baba, Sri Narasimha swamy temple and Sri Pothuluri Veerabrahmendra Swamy temple.
Bhadrakali Temple has become a major tourist place and people from many parts of India visit this temple.
Best Times to Visit the Temple
The best time to visit the temple is during the festival season in “Sravana masa” corresponding to August and September. In this period festivals and Yagnams are conducted in the temple.
Some of the festivals celebrated at the temple are
- Vasanta Navaratri in Chaitra masa
- Shakambari Utsavam in Ashada masa
- Sharannavaratri in Ashwayuja masa
Vasantha Navaratri is a 9 day festival dedicated to 9 forms of Goddess Bhadrakali in Chaitra masa which is the start of Vasantha Ruthu (Spring Season).
During the Shakambari Utsavam the Bhadrakali deity is aesthetically decorated with various vegetables.
Sharannavarathi is also called Maha Navaratri and is celebrated in Sharad Ruthu (Winter Season) in September–October every year during Ashwayuja masa. This festival ends with Durga Ashtami. During this festival veda scholars recite vedas, perform Homams.
Bathukamma Festival is celebrated on Durga Ashtami and is famous for large gatherings (in lakhs) of colorfully dressed women and girls who visit the Bhadrakali lake with pans decorated with colorful flowers and perform poojas at the lake. During these poojas they sing various Bathukamma songs. Later these flowers are put on the water. It will be a colorful sight to see so many lakhs of flowers floating on the lake.
The people of Warangal and Hanamkonda believe in Goddess Bhadrakali and visit her for all the auspicious occasions like newborn babies, marriages etc. and offer her bangles, sarees and garlands and pray to her for her blessings.
People with desires go to the temple and tie a coconut (Mudupu) with red blouse piece at the temple after pooja. After the fulfilment of their desires they once again visit the temple and untie the coconut and perform poojas and offer sarees to the deity.
The temple is square shaped with a stone image of the goddess (2.7 x 2.7 meters). The image is seated with a fierce look in her eyes and on her face. The goddess wears a crown and has eight handsholding various weapons.There is an artificial lake of two and half km radius close to the temple.Natural rock formations add to the charm of the temple and are the dominant feature of the temple. These rocks are said to carry spiritual powers too. The temple is around 250 years old.The image transforms into a rare form called Tripura Sundari with the help of mantras, which includes the Kali form. Tripura Sundari is regarded as the supreme manifestation of Prakriti – the feminine power a vital energy of the universe. Literal meaning is The Beauty of Three Worlds.
is held in the month of Sravana – August-September. The deity is aesthetically decorated.There are eight major and twelve minor temples in the mountains surrounding the Bhadrakali Temple.
The high point of Bhadrakali Temple is the lake adjoining the temple. The lake has a capacity of 160 million cubic feet (mcft). Earlier rain was the only source of water for this lake and during drought season the lake gets dried up completely. About 20 years ago pipelines were laid from Kakatiya Canal which brings water from Manair Dam in Karimnagar District and now the lake is full throughout the year. Bhadrakali lake is now used as one of the source of drinking water for Warangal and Hanamkonda cities. The AP Tourism has introduced boats in the lake and one can enjoy a good relaxing boat ride in the lake.
A number of natural rock formations in the surrounding area add to the spiritual charm of the temple and one can relax during a visit to temple in the evening with a beautiful sunset in to the hills.
Warangal is around 150 km from Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh, India) and is easily accessible by road or by trains. It has two bus terminals in Warangal and Hanamkonda and connected to many cities in Andhra Pradesh. The railway stations in Warangal and Kazipet Junction are between Vijayawada and Hyderabad. Kazipet is a junction for trains going to south and north of India from Hyderabad.
From Hyderabad and Vijayawada there are lot of trains everyday. From Warangal and Kazipet railway stations auto rickshaws are available to go to Bhadrakali temple.
Important Places in and around Warangal
- Warangal Fort built by Kakatiyas is about 10 km from the Bhadrakali Temple. Inside the fort is the Swayambhu Temple of Lord Shiva. An Inscription near the temple dates back to 1163AD.
- Thousand Pillar Temple in Hanamkonda, is one of the oldest Shiva Temples in India built by King Rudra Deva of Kakatiya dynasty in 1163 AD.
- Ramappa Lake and Temple in Palampet village is about 70 km from Warangal. The Ramalingeswara temple, popularly called Ramappa Temple, built by Kakatiyas dates back to 1213 AD. A popular belief is that the bricks from the Ramappa temple float in water.
- Pakhal Lake is built by Kakatiyas during Ganapathi Deva’s reign is about 50 km from Warangal. The lake is surrounded by a reserve forest (900 km2. area) is home to the Tiger, Leopard, Panther and Sambhar. Besides a large number of migratory birds arrive in winter at the lake, making it the best season to visit the sanctuary. This place is a good picnic spot and can be reached in 1 hour from Warangal by road.
- Laknavaram Lake is about 70 km from Warangal. This lake spreads around 10,000 acres and has about 13 small islands which are scattered amidst the lush green jungles and make the place blissfully serene. A hanging bridge connecting the 3 islands is built recently and the place has become a major tourist destination in this area
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