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INSPECTION NOTE OF THE TEMPLE AT DEVUNI GUTTA AT KOTLA NARASIMHULAPALLE IN KARIM NAGAR DISTRICT, TELENGANA
Date of visit: 24th April 2015
Name of the temple: Lord Prasanna Lakshi Narasima (Dedicated to Lord Vishnu)
Name of the Place: Devuni Gutta at Kotla Narasimhapalle in Karimnagar district, Telengana
LORD PRASANNA NARASIMHA TEMPLE:
General Observation:
Originally this is rock-cut cave temple representing the sanka and chakra – interior ceiling and the exterior the overhanging huge granite rock representing the bold relief of Ugra Narasimha with eight headed (at present three right side heads are available) having 16 hands, one of the unique and rare sculptural representation of Lord Narasimha, depicting the complete story of the Prahalada. There are some evidences of human/divine figures in damaged condition in single panel probably representing the episode of Prahalada.
Structural temple of Narasimhulapalle:
The above mentioned cave temple probably expanded slightly later period. On plan the structural temple consists of garbha-griha (cave?), with closed pillared mukha mandapa. The presiding deity is facing west. Just opposite to the main shrine there is another temple within the complex dedicated to Rama, having pillared mukha mandapa. Both the shrines are facing each other but the garbha-griha of Rama is in the north- west corner and sharing the common dwajasthamba mandapa which is open to sky. The whole temple is secured with raised walls and as if it is one unite. Outside the temple complex there is 16 pillared open mandapa on west side. The temple is located slightly in elevated area and series of steps leading to approach the temple. It has mandapa type entrance gateway located in south lost its sikhara. In the mid way there is a huge bas-relief depicting the Veera Anjaneya (Kshetrapala) of this temple. He is facing Lord Narasimha.
Iconographic features of Lord Narasimha in Narasimhulapalle bas-relief:
1. Eight headed Ugra Narasimha – at present only three heads on the right is survived rest all damaged.
2. Sixteen hands with different attributes – right hand from bottom holding Hiranya-kasipu’s head (but it should hold vajra), the second hand perhaps holding the cut off head of the Hiranya-kasipu, but it should hold goad, arrow, spear, axe, sword, discus respectively and left hands holding from bottom – club, noose, bow, sakti, mace, shield and conch respectively. The Vaikahanasagama, Paramesvara – samhita specifies the weapons carried in the sixteen hands of Narasimha.
3. The Hiranya-kasipu’s kept on the right thigh of the God seated in virasana. Both the main hands engaged themselves with their sharp nails in ripping open the belly of the demon and pulled out the intestines from the demon’s belly and throw them as a garland
round the god’s neck; and one of the hands is about to administer a blow to the demon (Chapetika-mudra / Pathaha hastha– fifth right hand – from bottom).
4. There are some evidences of human/divine representations carved as panels witnessing the episode of Prahalada storey. His left feet kept on the lotus pedestal – damaged now.
5. The panel on right side perhaps depicting– below the right leg of the God, a female figure standing in tribhanga posture – except the head & the leg portion rest is damaged and chipped off. Probably the standing lady figure representing the Hiranya-kasipu’s wife Neelavathi and a sage – Vashista in seated position – totally damaged. On the left leg of the God two standing male figures may be Prahalada and the other devotees. Below the left foot of the God, portion of leg in reclining position shown, may be Hiranya-kasipu? After he defeated by the God. This beautiful panel representation is totally damaged and through the outline of the chipped off portion one can reconstruct the representation of the episode of Prahalada.
Similar sixteen handed sculpture representation is noticed in the village called Singerkoil (Singer = Lion, Koil = temple), near Pondicherry (UT). It’s a famous living temple dedicated to Ugra Narasimha. Sixteen hands and other attributes are strikingly similar to that of Narasimhulapalle Ugra Narasimaha bas-relief panel. Originally the Singerkoil is datable to Pallava period. The Vijayanagar period inscriptions mention this temple was renovated shows its existence in the early period.
Another cave temple in Singaperumalkoil (Singa = Lion, Perumal = Vishnu, koil = temple) dist. Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu dedicated to Narasimha in seated posture without crown. The Lion’s mane is elaborately shown and He has third eye. This cave temple datable to Pallava period.
Concept of Narasimha worship in India:
Narasimha is one of the ten celebrated incarnation of Vishnu. Lord Vishnu as Narasimha is a widely worshipped deity in the northern as well as the southern parts of the country. While in the north he is worshipped in several Vishnu shrines, independent temples to him are more frequently to be seen in South India than in the north. However, the ritual of worship in the celebrated temple at Puri-Jagannath (In Odisha) identifies the God here as Narasimha.
The reason for this incarnation given in puranas (as for instance in Bhagavata, 7,8, Harivasmsa, 3,41-47, and Vishnupurana, 20) is to save the world from the disastrous hold of the demon Hiranya-kasipu, son of Kasyapa-prajapathi and Diti; and more especially to protect Prahalada, the devout son of this demon. Hiranya-kasipu’s brother, Hiranyaksa, was killed by Vishnu in his Varaha incarnation, and Hiranya-kasipu had therefore nurtured hatred for Vishnu. When his son Prahalada grew up as a devotee of Vishnu, the demon naturally threatened his son and subjected him to all kinds of terrible punishments. But Prahalada was unswerving in his devotion to Vishnu. Vishnu had to appear in order to protect this young lad. Hiranya-kasipu, however, had performed penance and obtained boon from Brahma that he could not be
killed by God, man or beast, by any weapon known to man, during day or night, inside his palace or outside it. Therefore, Vishnu had to appear ad man-beast (man-lion, nara-simha) tear the demon’s entrails with his claws (which were not weapons), during dusk (which was not day or night) and seated upon the threshold of the palace (which was neither inside nor outside).
The legend further narrates that when Hiranya-kasipu challenged his son Prahalada to show Vishnu whom the boy claimed to be everywhere, in one of the pillars of his palace. Vishnu revealed Himself as the ferocious man-lion bursting out of that pillar.
Narasimha’s iconography incorporates all the details of this legend. The deity is shown variously as emerging from the pillar, rushing upon Hiranya-kasipu, fighting with him, tearing open the demon’s belly and pulling out the entrails, having held the demon prostrate on his lap, and offering protection to Prahalada. He is shown in all the three conventional postures; seated (asina), standing (Sthanaka) and striding (Yanaka). He is shown in his aspect of ferocity (Ugra) and also in his aspect of benevolence to his devotee (saumya varada). He is alone (kevala) or in the company of Lakshmi, or of Prahalada, or of both.
Thus, there are numerous forms of Narasimha in vogue and in worship. The vihagendra-samhita (4,17) enumerates more than seventy varieties of Narasimha. Texts like Padma-samhita (kriya, 17,22) mentions that only a few come in for description (nrsimha-murtir bahudha tatra kacit pradarsyate). There are iconographic descriptions provided in many texts of Pancaratra and vaikhanasa agama divisions (like padma-samhita, 4, 73-75, Parasara-samhita, kriya, 17,22, Isvara-samhita, 4, 73-75, parasara-samhita, 25,10, Paramesvara-samhita, 23, 48-49, Sattvata-samhita, 17,73-99, Sesa-samhita, Caps. 24,27 and 28, Vaikhanasagama, 58th patala) as well as in several puranas (like Vishnu dharmottara 3, 78, Matsya, 269, 31-34 and Agni 49,4). However, the descriptions mostly overlap. There are icono-metric details given in Sattvata-samhita (24, 180-227), Isvara-samhita (17,181-227) and Sri-prasna-samhita (13, 96-142)
Most of the varieties of Narasimha given in Vihagendra-samhita appear to be little more than names. The text says that the distinction between the forms lies in the weapon that is held (atussaptati-vigraham) syad ayudhanam vibhedakam). But this claim cannot be sustained. Some of the adjectives merely refer to the several details of the Narasimha legend. Stambha-narasimha (coming out of the pillar), Svayam-narasimha (manifesting on His own), Grahana-narasimha (catching hold of the demon), Vidarana-narasimha (ripping open the belly of the demon), Samhara-narasimha (killing the demon) and so on.
Some of the forms included are little more than descriptive epithets: Ghora-narasimha, Ugra-narasimha, and Canda-narasimha refer to the ferocious aspect of the incarnations; Jvala-narasimha refers to the flames of fire which surround the deity’s head; Lakshmi-narasimha is Narasimha accompanied by Lakshmi (for purpose of pacification of the fury); Prasada-narasimha is in the benign aspect of protecting Prahalada (and hence the form is known as Prahalada-varada); Chatra-narasimha is decorated by five-hooded serpent serving as a parasol; Yoga-narasimha or Yogesvara-narasimha is the form suited for those who seek salvation; Avesa-narasimha is the picture of frenzy, while Attahasa-narasimha is the form that roars horribly and majestically strides across to destroy evil; Cakra-narasimha, holds only discus in his hand;
Brahma-narasimha, Vishnu-narasimha, and Rudra-narasimha are the three familiar gods represented as Narasimha; Prthvi-narasimha, Vayu-narasimha, Akasa-narasimha, Jvalana-narasimha and Amrta-narasimha represent the five elements, earth, air, sky, fire and water respectively; Pusti-narasimha is worshipped for overcoming evil influences; Nava-lyuha- narasimha is the constellation of nine different forms of Narasimha.
Notwithstanding the numerous varieties like those which are standing riding Garuda, alone, in company, benign, ferocious, multi-armed (two to sixteen), some features are commonly to be noticed. The differences between the forms are largely due to postures and actions suggested. But the symbolism is unmistakably one of fighting against evil.
GENERAL VIEW OF THE DEVANIGUTTA, NARASIMHULAPALLE
VIEW OF THE NARASIMHULAPALLE VILLAGE FROM HILL TOP
GENERAL VIEW OF THE TEMPLE – MID WAY TO DEVUNIGUTTA
ARCHITECTURAL MEMBERS OF THE TEMPLE USED AS PARAPET WALL
STEPS LEADING TO THE MAIN ENTRANCE OF THE TEMPLE & LOOSE ARCHITECTURAL MEMBERS – PILLAR, WALL PORTIONS DECORATIVE MOTIFS KEPT ASIDE.
VIEW OF THE TEMPLE COMPLEX – OUTER WALL OF THE PRSANNA NARASIMHA TEMPLE WITH SMALL ENTRANCE
VIEW SHOWING THE 16 PILLARED MANDAPA ON THE EXTREME WEST
GENERAL VIEW OF THE MAIN SHRINE – LAKSHMI NARASIMHA AS PRESIDING DEITY
AND LATER ADDITION TEMPLE WITH BRAHMAKANDA VARIETY OF PILLARS AND KAKSHASANAS
VIEW SHOWING THE LALATABIMBHA & SIKHARA VEDI WITH SEATED LION CARVINGS IN BETWEEN – MAIN SHRINE
VIEW SHOWING THE LALATABIMBHA & SIKHARA VEDI WITH HAMSA
MOTIF IN BETWEEN THE SIKHARA VEDI – RAMALAYAM
BRAHMAKANDA VARIETY OF PILLARS IN THE MUKHA MANDAPA
INVERTED SNAKE DESIGHN ON PILLAR CAPITAL FOUND IN IMPERIAL RASHTRAKUTA TEMPLES ALSO
BRAHMAKANDA VARIETY OF SIMPLE PILLAR BASE OF EARLY (RASHTRAKUTA)
PAINTED PILASTERS HAVING GATASAKHA DOOR JAMB (IMPERIAL RASHTRAKUTA)
CLOSER VIEW OF THE PILASTER OF DOOR JAMB (GATASTHAMBA)
OPEN COURTYARD HAVING DWAJASTHAMBHA WITH CLOISTER PILLAR MANDAPA ON NORTH
SIXTEEN HANDED UGRA NARASIMHA – NARASIMHULAPALLE CARVED ON A GRANITE BOLDER – DEVANIGUTTA, DISTRICT KARIMNAGAR, TELENGANA
FRONT VIEW OF THE NARASIMHULAPALLE TEMPLE AND THE TEAM WHO ACCOMPANIED DURING INSPECTION OF THE TEMPLE
DEVUNIGUTTA HILL TOP & THE TEAM WHO INSPECTED
DAMAGED FORT WALLS ON THE SUMMIT OF THE DEVUNIGUTTA
FIGHTING SCENE PANEL OF NARASIMHA AND HIRANYA-KASIPU – VAIKUNDAPERUMAL TEMPLE, KANCHIPURAM, TAMIL NADU – DATABLE TO NANDIVARMAN II (PALLAVAMALLA- AD 730-795)
CLOSER VIEW OF THE LORD NARASIMHA COMBAT WITH HIRANYA-KASIPU
THE HEAD GEAR (KARANTA MUKHUTA, PROTRUDING EYES, KNITTED EYE BROWS AND THE BULKY WIDE OPEN SNOUT OF THE LION GOD SIMILAR TO THAT OF NARASIMHULAPALLE REPRESENTATION
LORD NARASIMHA KILLING HIRANYA-KASIPU PANEL – VAIKUNDAPERUMAL TEMPLE, KANCHIPURAM, TAMIL NADU- DATABLE TO NANDIVARMAN II (PALLAVAMALLA)
FIGHTING SCENE OF LORD NARSIMHA AND HIRANYA-KASIPU – DASAVATARA CAVE NO.15, ELLORA (DATABLE TO DANDIDURGA – IMPERIAL RASHTRAKUTA MONARCH SHOWING THE SIMILAR HEADGEAR, BOLDNESS EXPRESSION OF EYES, EYE-BROWS AND BULKY WIDE OPEN SNOUT OF THE LION GOD
CLOSER VIEW OF THE LORD NARASIMHA, DASAVATARA CAVE-15, ELLORA
LORD NARASIMHA KILLING HIRAYA-KASIPU, DASAVATARA CAVE, ELLORA
LORD NARASIMHA – KAILASA TEMPLE, ELLORA (DATABLE TO IMPERIAL RASHTRAKUTAS)
LORD NARASIMHA COMBAT WITH HIRANYA-KASIPU, KAILASA TEMPLE, ELLORA (IMPERIAL RASHTRAKUTAS)
SANCTUM PANCHASAKHA DOOR JAMB WITH LALATA BIMBHA & SIKHARA VEDI – SIVA TEMPLE AT BELUR (IMPERIAL RASHTRAKUTA PERIOD)
PILLAR DETAILS, BASAVANNA TEMPLE, SIRIVAL, GULBARGA DISTRICT (IMPERIAL RASHTRAKUTA PERIOD) SHOWING THE INVERTED SNAKE CARVINGS ON PILLAR CAPITAL
Conclusion and probable date of Ugra Narasimha of Narasimhulapalle village:
The Narasimha Avatara received special attention and detailed treatment in the Tamil country both in literature and sculptural representations. Narasimha is represented in many ways – in action, in repose, in meditation and with Lakshmi. One may be justified in saying that the scene of the actual fighting between Narasimha and Hiranyakasipu was a special contribution of the sculptors of the south to the repertoire of Vishnava motifs. A variety of themes of the Narasima avatara was evolved by them. The earliest among them are the three stages in the story of this avatara, first, that of Narasimha appearing from the pillar, second his combat with the asura and third, the final act of killing. Among these three only the last theme is popularly depicted in the north. It is not out of place to mention here that the masterpiece of the Rashtrakuta sculptures in Ellora depicting the fighting scene owed its inspiration, in all probability, to the much earlier sculpture of the same theme in the Vaikunthaperumal temple, Kanchipuram handled in a masterly fashion. The earliest representation of the Yoganarasimha or Girija-Narasimha form appears to be that of the late Pallava period found in the Svastika tank to the south of the Pundarikaksa Perumal temple in Tiruvellarai in the Trichy district. More interesting is the earliest form of Lakshmi-Narasimha, which occurs among the early Pallava bas-relief of Manimangalam in the Kanchipuram district.
The Narasimha theme seems to have had a predominantly regional development and expression. We may trace its movement into the Tamil country from coastal Andhra region southwards to the Pallava and then to the Pandya countries, later continued in the Chola and elaborated in the Vijayanagar periods. The names of the early Pallava and Pandya rulers, particularly the former, also prove the importance of the Narasimha form in these areas. This avatara may well have been evolved and incorporated into the Puranic Vaishnava pantheon sometime in the fourth-fifth centuries AD from a tribal background, viz. among the Savaras and Cencus in the eastern region, i.e. part of Odisha and Andhra. It is in the Andhra area that the earliest Narasimha forms have been traced so far, for example Kondamotu and next in Pallava region at places like Manimangalam and Munnur and in the Pallava and Pandya cave temples. The cult of Narasimha, it may be seen, combines in it two other forms of worship, viz., the pillar and the totem (lion). Its widespread prevalence even today in the Andhra region, some parts of Karnataka and the Tamil country is also not without significance in relation to the early geographical distribution of Narasimha icons.
While coming to the Narasimhulapalle is concern, on the basis of the sculptural representation i.e the bold relief of the crown (karanta makhuta) of Ugra Narasimha, protruding eyes, raised, knitted eye-brows, bulky snout of the lion are striking similarities of the Narasimha fighting scene of Dasavadara Cave – 15 at Ellora and Vaikundaperumal temple, Kanchipuram. Both the edifices datable to the mid eighth century AD. The author of the Dasavadara cave temple is datable to Dandidurga – the great monarch of the Imperial Rashtrakuta dynasty and the Vaikuntaperumal temple datable to the Nandivarman II (730-795 AD). Nandivaraman II got married with Rewa the Rashtrakuta princess probably the daughter of Dandidurga. Cut-in and cut-out cave temple architecture is also in vogue in this period. Besides, later period representation is mostly reduced only the killing scene of asura represented in the form of single sculpture. But in this place the complete panel was carved out, it’s also one of the reasons to say
it’s an ancient. Hence the bold carvings of Ugra-Narasimha of Narsimhulapalle can be datable to the 8th century AD.
Besides, the carvings of sankha and chakra inside the cave temple also noticed in several places datable to Imperial Rashtrakuta period. The other architectural features found in the expansion of temple complex revealed i.e Pillar types with inverted snake representation in the capital stone, Ratnavari (ratnamala – diamond shape) decoration on walls, Kakshasana and dwarf pillars, Bhumija Sikhara representations on the lalatabhimba of the main shrine, Gatasakha pilasters on the door jambs etc of the structural temple also belong to the Imperial Rashtrakuta period. To surmise, the Ugra-Narasimha temple at Narasimhulapalle can be datable to the late 8th century AD or beginning of the 9th century AD.
The undersigned and the other elderly scholars and trustees of this temple claimed up to the top of the small hillock and try to locate any inscription evidences. Unfortunately there was none we found. However, complete exploration in this area may throw some light on the authenticity of this temple. It was observed the rock formation, though granite – igneous rock but very weak and easily flaking off. Owing to the weathering and poor quality of the rock the bas-relief Ugra-Narasimha panel was very badly damaged. It’s a need of an hour to preserve this rare sculptural panel of Ugra-Narasimha of the early period.
Conservation measures:
During inspection it was found the temple authorities smeared a thick coat of lime plaster over the walls of the temple – interior as well as exterior. It should be cleaned chemically. Removal of thick lime plaster may bring out the hidden sculptures / inscriptions if any on the walls and pillars. Profuse use of cement for conservation is to be avoided. Combination mortar – lime + cement (10%) and sand should be used in future for any sorts of repairs to the temple. The partly damaged pillared mandapa on the western side should be dismantled and reconstructed as per original by using the old stones / architectural members scattered around the temple complex. The open bas-relief panel of Ugra Narasimha is rare sculptural evidence of the early period and it has to be preserved for future generation. To protect the panel small shelter can be provided without touching or disturbing the main panel. It will be helpful the direct sun impact on the panel. Application of suitable preservative coat over the panel is recommended and it will protect the bas-relief from further deterioration.
(DR. G. MAHESHWARI)
SUPERINTENDING ARCHAEOLOGIST
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
TEMPLE SURVEY PROJECT (SOUTHERN REGION)
CHENNAI-9
Dated 10.07.2015
To
Shri. Kalvakota Kirthi Kumar
Superintending Engineer (Retd.)
House No. 2-9-47
Mukarrampura
Karimnagar
Pin 505 001
Telangana
Sir,
Sub: Inspection note on Prasanna Lakshmi Narasimha temple – Narasimhulapalle – Regarding.
With reference to the subject cited above I’m sending herewith the detailed note on Lord Narasimha at Narasimhulapalle village. It’s regretted that I took long time to complete this note as I had my official preoccupancy as well as for the reference work on the subject.
This is for your information and necessary action at your end. Any doubts in my report please feel free to contact me.
Yours faithfully
(DR. G. MAHESHWARI)
Superintending Archaeologist

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