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Vontimitta Temple in Andhra Pradesh – Sri Rama – Sita and Lakshmana Worshipped on a Single Stone

The life-size murtis (idol)s of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana worshipped in the ancient Vontimitta Temple in Andhra Pradesh are carved from a single stone. The murtis worshipped in the Kodanda Rama temple is also known Ekasila Nagaram. The shrine is at a distance of 26 km from Kadapa and is located on the Kadapa – Rajampet road. The shrine is peculiar for various reasons including the absence of Hanuman murti in the main sanctum sanctorum.



History of Vontimitta Temple

Lord Hanuman and Jambavan (the elderly bear in Ramayana) carved the murtis worshiped in the temple and they founded the first temple, which was later renovated to its full glory in the 16th century during the rule of Vijayanagara Emperor,  Sada Siva Rayalu. As the murtis were installed by Jambavan, it is also known as Jambavantha Pratishta. (Jambavan and Hanuman are Chiranjeevis in Hinduism)

Another legend has it that Lord Ram and Lakshman arrived here and killed the demons that were harassing and causing disturbance to the yajna of Sage Mrukanda, with a single arrow.

It is here Sage Srungi repented and came to perform penance after cursing King Pareekshit in anger. King Parikshit was the grandson of Pandavas and he was cursed to be bitten by a snake. This is why the place where the temple is located is also known as Srungi Saila – Shaila means mountain.

Ayyalaraju Tripurantaka, an ancient poet of the region, ended all his poems with the line ‘Ontimitta Raghu Veera Janaki Nayaka.’

Bhakta Pothana who translated Srimad Bhagavad Purana into Telugu is believed to have written the literary work here. Pothana jayanthi is annually observed in the temple along with the Brahmotsavam. Poets and scholars are honored on the occasion.

Imam Baig, a Mulsim, and Obanna, a Harijan, were ardent devotees of Vontimitta Raghunatha Swamy and they donated as per their stature to the shrine and propagated the glory of the temple. Imam Baig Well and Obanna Pillar in the temple thus extol the virtues of the region and its people that they were above caste and religion.

Vasudasu, fondly known as Andhra Valmiki, was an ardent devotee of Kodanda Rama of Vontimitta. A Harijan by birth, he toured the entire region and begged using a coconut shell – he collected donations in the coconut bowl for restoration of the temple during the first quarter of the 19th century. He received large amount of donation, chariot, ornaments and vehicles.

His collection of poem “Tenkaya Chippa” (coconut shell) – based on the interaction with the people he had during his tour for alms in the entire region – was dedicated to the Kodanda Rama of Vonimitta in 1925.

The temple has 32 pillars and it is believed that the entire structure was constructed by Vontodu and Mittudu on a single day. Such intense was their devotion that when they completed the shrine, they merged with the structure.

Sanctum Sanctorum of Kodanda Rama Temple

Life size murtis of Bhagavan Sri Ram, Mata Sita and Lakshman are worshipped in the sanctum sanctorum. Bhagavan Sri Ram is in the form of Kodanda Rama – he holds the bow.



Architecture of Vontimitta Temple

The temple is noted for its tall and majestic towers and spacious campus. Pillars and walls of the shrine are adorned with beautiful sculptures.

Mandapa with exquisite sculptures, Kalyanmandapa, bridegroom reception mandap and a majestic 160-feet tower are the main structures in the complex.



Important images and sculptures in the Mandapa
Stories from Ramayana,
Stories Mahabharat
Dasavatars
Hanuman lifting boulders to build the bridge on the sea,
Young Krishna lifting Govardhan Mountain,
Unconscious scene of Lakshman during the war in Ramayana,
Hanuman giving Rama’s ring to Sita Mata
Sri Krishna’s dance on Kaliya
Baby Krishna sucking life out of demon Pootana
Dancing postures of men and women
Sculpture of Ram holding bow
Sculptures of animals

Separate Hanuman Temple and No Murti of Hanuman in Main Temple

Lord Hanuman is worshipped in the temple complex as Sri Sanjevaraya Swamy. Hanuman temple is located opposite to main entrance of the Kodanda Rama temple. There is no murti of Hanuman in the sanctum sanctorum of the main temple. This is very rare because in all Sri Rama temples, Hanuman is present near his feet.

Murtis in the main temple were carved by Hanuman and Jambava. As Jambava is the elder brother of Hanuman, we do not find Anjaneya’s murti in the main sanctum sanctorum.

Unique Sculpture of Elephant and Cow

A sculpture of an elephant and cow carved out of the same stone is found in the temple. It is a classical example of the heights of architecture of the region during the ancient period.

Rama Teerth and Lakshman Teerth

During their exile period in the Ramayana, Bhagavan Sri Ram, Mata Sita and Lakshman settled here for a short period. The brothers killed the demons that were causing harm to people and stopping the yajnas of sages.

The place was in the grip of severe drought. Mata Sita wondered how animals survived in the place.
Bhagavan Sri Ram who read the mind of Mata Sita shot an arrow into the land and a spring sprang up. It is know a small pond and it is now known as Rama Teerth.

Later, Lakshman shot an arrow to quench the thirst of Mata Sita and another spring sprang up. This is known as Lakshman Teerth.

Vontimitta Temple Festival

Brahmotsavam observed from Sri Rama Navami is the most important festival here.

During the Brahmostavsam, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh submits silk clothes to the Lord on behalf of the government. This has been introduced as a custom in this temple after the bifurcation of the state in 2014.

The important rituals and pujas during the annual festival include:

Flag hoisting
Abhishek of the soul,
Initiation
Procession on adishesha,
Procession on swan,
Procession on lion,
Procession on elephant,
Procession on chariot,
Procession on horse,
Decoration in the posture of sleeping on the peepal leaf,
Decoration with the flute,
Decoration as Lord Krishna
Decoration as Mohini,
Decoration with the great bow of Lord Siva,
Decoration as Lord Krishna dancing on the head of Kaliya, the serpent king in Yamuna
River,
Service of Lord Hanuman,
Service of Garuda,
Wedding ceremony,
Bathing the sacred Chakra,
Lowering of the flag.

Vontimitta Temple Timing

Morning Darshan – 6 AM to 1 PM
Evening Darshan – 2 PM to 8 PM

Important pujas include Arjit Sevas – Abhisheka to Sri Anjaneya Swamy, Abhishek for Sita and Rama on Saturdays and also Kalyanotsav on full moon days