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Keelapatla Temple – History Of Koneti Rayala Temple Palamaner Andhra Pradesh

Keelapatla Temple is of great importance to Lord Vishnu devotees. It is believed that after leaving Vaikuntha, He manifested as Koneti Rayala (Lord Of the Holy Lake) for the welfare of the universe. Keelapatla Temple is located at Gangavaram mandal near Palamaneru in Chittoor District.

The murti of Lord Vishnu worshipped in the temple is known as of Prasanna Venkateswara Swami. It closely resembles that of Tirumala and hence the assumption that it is as ancient as Tirumala.

Keelapatla Temple History

It is also known as small Tirupati. Its original name was Kotipalli. During the Chola rule, there used to be an important platoon (pataalam) of the soldiers near the forest region of Kotipalli. Hence, it was called ‘Keelpataalam’. In the common parlance, it has  gradually changed to Keelpattu, Keelpattanam, and ultimately Keelapatla.

It is said that Sage Bhrigu Brahma consecrated the idol in Keelapatla. Janamejaya, great grandson of Pandavas, constructed this temple. There is inscriptional evidence that Pallava and Chola kings reconstructed it. The deity was named Prasanna Venkateswara Swami during Pallava rule. Pallava, chola and Vijayanagara kings contributed a great deal for the development of the temple.

Once, there was an attack on Keelapatla temple. In order to safeguard the idol, the priests and devotees carefully delved out the idols of the Lord and Padmavathi devi, covered them with silk clothes and concealed them in the lake to the northeast of the temple. The worship idols made of five metals and the Hundi money and jewelry were also kept in the same place. It remained there for several hundred years.

Lord Vishnu appeared in the dream of Punganoor landlord and got himself re-consecrated. As He was retrieved from the lake, he has been called the Lord of the Holy Lake. 

Annamayya glorified this Lord in one of his compositions.

The Lord manifests in Keelapatla seven yojanas away from the foothills of Seshachala to the west of Tirumala in the form of a salagrama conceding the request of Bhrigu in the Tumburu teertha during the earlier manifestation of Lord Vishnu.

After returning to Tirumala, the Lord testifies to the fact with Bhrigu. The sage asks the Lord for proof. It appears the Lord shows the seven steps that He lay through the forests as proofs. Even now those holy steps can be seen on the stones. The sage asks Him for further proof of his travel. The Lord replies that the moonlit way formed in the sky from Tirumala to Keelapatla during night will signify it. Bhrigu goes there and consecrates the murti himself.

Later, Janamejaya, the descendant of Parikshit, constructs a small temple for the Lord.
The temple came into prominence during the Vijayanagara rule as Tirupatla or chinna Tirupathi. Having heard of its greatness, Annamacharya also visited the temple several times and wrote compositions on it. He reposed in the several inns of the forest on the way to the temple. Visitors to Tirumala from the west consider it as the Gateway of Tirumala.
Structure of Temple

The temples of Lord Venkateswara and Alamel Manga are built on a single structure.

The sanctum sanctorum is built with a high cupola in the tradition of Vijayanagara sculpture covering it with a global kalasha.

On the four sides of the tower are the statues of demigods of directions and Garuda.
The roof is in octagonal shape.

In this heavenly temple, the Lord receives worship of devotees on the treasured pedestal.
There is an underground passage to the sanctum sanctorum. It is on four square-shaped pillars.

There is a big hall (navrang mantap) of 40 X 30 feet with nine pillars engraved with beautiful Vijayanagara sculpture.

The Gate-keepers Jaya and Vijaya are placed on either side of the hall.

The temple of Lord’s Consort was constructed a hundred years later to the south of the main temple connecting it.

It also has an underground passage and navrang mantap.

There is also a marriage hall.

The idol of Lord’s Consort is situated in this magnificent temple on the treasured pedestal receiving the worship of the devotees.

There are three doorways to the main temple, namely—nalugu kaalla mandapam, gaali gopuram and mahamukha mandapam.

When the latter fell down, it was remodeled as Dashavatara mandapam. It is also called Abhinava Rangamantap.

There is a statue of Vinayaka on the west door looking down. Another vertical statue of Vinayaka also is on the door.

There is the holy lake on the north east of the temple.

Vijayanagara kings got a well-carved out small three-tier sandalwood chariot built for this temple also as for Tirumala.

They got a big five-tiered chariot as well as important carriages for the Lord. Elephants were used to pull this chariot. 

Keelapatla Temple Puja - Prayers - Rituals - Festivals

Solemn vows are made for the Lord of Keelapatla as per the solar almanac. Rites of worship are performed according to Vaikhanasa tradition from morning to evening.

Hereditary priests perform rites of worship. Utsavas are held as per the practices of respective traditions. Many services and rites of worship are held as in Tirumala. There will be suprabhata seva, sahasranama archana in the morning and ashtottara nama archana of the Lord in the evening. Every year there will be Vasantotsav for the processional deities on the thirteenth, fourteenth days and Full Moon day in the bright lunar fortnight. 

There will also be garlanding (tomala) service, birth day celebrations for the Lord on the day of shravana star and marital celebration on the fourteenth lunar day. There will be Ratha Saptami celebrations and the procession on suryaprabha carriage on the fourteenth day of bright lunar fortnight. Brahmotsavas are performed as in Tirumala from the eighth day of bright lunar fortnight to the third day of dark lunar fortnight in Vaishakha month. 

They commence with the svasti vaachanam, ankurarpana and conclude with purnahuti and chakrateertha. In the fourth month every year during the bright lunar fortnight are held. Ankurarpana (inauguration ceremony) on the eighth day, dhvjaarohana (Hoisting the Flag) on the ninth, Lion’s carriage (simha vahana) on the tenth, sesha vahana (Serpent Sesha’s carriage) on the eleventh, Hanuman carriage on the twelfth, elephant carriage on the thirteenth, marital ceremony and Garuda carriage on the fourteenth, Brahma’s car festival on Full Moon day, and during the dark lunar fortnight Mohini festival on the first day, spring festival (vasantotsava) and swan carriage on the second day, dwadashaaraadhana, unjal seva (swing ceremony), shayanotsava (Laying to bed) on the third day. These utsavas held once a year, there will be a procession for the Lord on the big chariot. Vaikuntha Ekadashi celebrations are held on the eleventh day of bright lunar day in Dhanurmasa. Parveta (Hunting) festival will be held as in Tirumala. The Lord is taken to the palace for hunting on this day against drum-beat burning fire-crackers with lot of fanfare. There is a convention of worshipping a rabbit near the Jammi (shami) tree and releasing it into the fields. The lord goes to Krishnamma hillock on Ratha Saptami and Parveta pandal on Vijaya dashami day.

Every morning there will be suprabhata seva (Awakening service), archana (worship), nityaarchana (daily rites of worship), nitya pooja, nitya naivedyam (offering food), shatanamaarchana (worship with 108 names), sahasra namaarchana (worship with a thousand names). There will be distribution of teertha and prasada. In the evening there will be nitya pooja, archana, ekanta seva (Leaving in privacy), and resolution-taking. There will be anointing ceremony on Friday. There will be worship of the lamp and lifting sky lamp (Melu Deepam) on the main pillar.

Though Lord Venkateswara is one and the same everywhere, Keelapatla deity contrasts with that of Tirumala. Tirumala is a hill shrine while Keelapatla is a forest shrine. The former Lord shines with great jewelry while the latter appears poor with only floral adornments. The former is on a fine lotus pedestal in Tirumala, while the latter is on a small pedestal. The journey to Keelapatla is quite common place, while that to Tirumala is an enjoyable experience of beautiful landscape. On 18-11-2012 Keelapatla temple came under the jurisdiction of TTD.