After the surfacing of five ancient Siva temples partly in sand dunes along the Pennar river in Jyothi village in Siddhavatam mandal has led to the discovery that as many as 108 Siva temples have been buried under sand at the place.
Besides the rare presence of 108 Siva temples dating back to atleast 1213 A.D., a silver chariot and a diamond crown said to have been presented to the Jyothi Siddhavateswara Swamy temple by Kakatiya Rudrama Devi were present in Jyothi village, according to inscriptions discovered here.
108 Siva temples were said to have been constructed by King Rakkasi Gangarayadeva and his aide, Jantimanayakudu, in the 12th century and were buried under sand during the Muslim Kings’ rule.
The site is in Cuddappah district, Andhra Pradesh state, India.
The king’s nephew, Nachalappa, is said to have constructed the “Aleru Katta“, stairs leading to the Pennar from the group of temples, he stated.
The main temple called Jyothi Siddheswara Swamy temple, in which the local people have been performing pooja of late, has a big Sivalingam and a gaping hole to the right of a Siva lingam is a very long tunnel, presently inhabited by bats. A handful of villagers who ventured into the tunnel have returned after crawling barely for a few metres due to suffocation.
A life-size inscription in the temple has Swastik symbol on the left and the Sun, Moon and a sturdy bull on the right. The sculpture in the main temple, a temple gopuram and a mantapam, which partly surfaced, depicted that of the Vijayanagar Kingdom.
The “Vaanara” king, Sugreeva noted in an inscription that during his search for Goddess Seetha, he entered Siddhavatam which has countless Siva temples, whose architectural splendour were a feast to the eye.
Aghorasiva, a Mathadhipathi of Pushpagiri Math, stated in an inscription dating back to 1313 A.D. now present in Vaidyanatha Swamy temple in Pushpagiri Matham, that Siddhavatam had several Siva temples of significance.
So, these 108 Siva temples must have existed since the times of Ramayana and must have been reconstructed for final time in 1213 AD.
Women of Jyothi village have been entering one of the temples, having Goddess Kamakshi icon, whose entrance is partly opened up, by crawling in and performing pooja of late. A gopuram built with bricks and a very long 11-feet high and two-feet wide compound wall, said to be encasing the 108 temples, partly surfaced in October 2001 due to the floods.
The second Vikramarka King, who ruled with Alampur in Mahabubnagar district as capital, has visited the Siddheswara temple and impressed by it, constructed Nava (nine) Brahmeswara temples on the northern side of Pennar, according to an inscription, he said. There is a mantapam built with huge rock boulders, which has partly surfaced.
The Saivaite pilgrim centre, Jyothi, is said to be one of the doorways to the historic Srisailam temple and the other three being Alampur, Tripuranthakam and Umamaheswaram.
The Archaeological Survey of India excavated about half-a-dozen temples and also found a Chaturmukha (four-faced) Sivalingam, Lord Surya and nagasilas and shifted them to the Chennai museum decades ago. Later, in order to restore the pristine glory of the place, some villagers made yeoman efforts to remove sand. In the process, Sri Siddheswara Swamy temple, the main temple facing north, a sanctum sanctorum and maha mantapam surfaced. Also, they could find Sri Jyothi Lingeswara temple and two Siva lingas.
These temples lacked proper care from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) till date.