We were all excited about our upcoming trip to Ramappa, which is located in Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh in India. Ramappa is named after a renowned sculptor who was the master builder of the famous temple in Ramappa, built during the reign of the Kakatiya emperors. It is a well known tourist resort but due to its distance from Hyderabad, the closest city, very few tourists come. There are numerous ancient temples built by the Kakatiya kings 5-6 centuries ago. The hills are dotted with the standing or fallen remains of ancient temples, carved out of large pieces of granite which were built by the Kakitya Kings. When you are in Ramappa and are visiting one of the temples, you feel as if you are in another time and place.
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As we enter the small village of Ramappa, the stately palm trees standing tall on either side of the small dusty road seem to give us a grand welcome. Ramappa is surrounded by emerald green hills covered by a variety of trees from coconut and tamarind, to mangoes, neem and teak. With the lake as a water source, there are many paddy fields dressed in shimmering green, row upon row, seeming to welcome the rising sun. As we drive slowly towards the tourist bungalow (where we plan to stay for the night), we notice an island nestled on the middle of a placid, blue lake, at a safe distance from intruders, but close enough to spark our imaginations. We are pleasantly surprised to see no signs of motor boats or signs, indicating the presence of other people, so are looking forward to settling into our rooms in the tourist bungalow, located on the bank of the lake. No sooner does our car stop, and we are out, stretching our tired legs. Apparently, the lake was created by the Kakatiya Kings hundreds of years ago. On our trip, we went straight to the tourist bungalow, which is located on the bank of the lake. The tourist bungalow which is where we planned to stay is located right next to a large ancient temple with some of its pillars rising 20 meters high. The whole structure is weak and you can see that by looking at the supports that have been added to keep it standing. In front of the temple there is a large Nandi (which is a sculpture of a bull God). It has detailed carvings and some descriptive writing in an ancient language.
Beside the bungalow there is a large banyan tree under which children play and tourists meet and chat. But one has to be cautious of what they eat outside as the big south Indian monkeys are always lingering around waiting for a bite to eat.
Early in the morning a reflection of the rising sun was glittering on the lake, we could see if we wok up and glanced across to the lake you can see fisher men on Styrofoam floats doing their daily duties. We wanted to see how they worked so after getting used to the floats, we were able to go into the middle of the deep and dark waters of the lake. They say crocodile live in the lake but the fun of swimming and playing in the water overcame the fear of crocodiles and we went in any way.
The main temple in Ramappa is a sight to see and we were all looking forward to see the ancient wonder. It is famous for the pillars with dancing girls carved out on the top. The carvings in black polish granite are exquisite with smooth pink granite. One of them is the carving of Naga (the snake girl). It was stolen once but then found again and fixed back onto the pillar. This has left a mark and when you look closely you see some cracks around the holding joints. The pillars inside the temple are also beautifully carved with all sorts of images of animals, Gods and local folk doing their daily duties. The old priest there is preset through out the day and welcomes visitors chanting some proverbs.
By night we return to the bungalow where the watchman who also doubles as a cook serves us our dinner and we eat with the glimmering light of the moon and stars reflecting off the surface of the lake and dancing in our eyes.
By Daniel Eshcol