|Sri Raja Rajeshwara Kshetram - Vemulawada|
|Temples - Telangana|
Sri Raja Rajeshwara Kshetram (holy place) is one of the very few temples devoted to Lord Siva, located at Vemulawada, about 36 kms, on the Karimnagar - Kamareddy bus route, in Andhra Pradesh in the southern part of the India, popularly known as Dakshina Kasi. The presiding deity is Sri Raja Rajeswara Swamy (Lord Siva), also called Rajanna. To the right of the presiding deity is the idol of Sri Raja Rajeswari Devi and to the left is the idol of Sri Lakshmi Sahitha Siddi Vinayaka (Lakshmi Ganapathi).
The puranic version has it that Lord Siva after having stayed at Kasi, Chidambaram, Srisailam and Kedareswaram chose to reside at Vemulawada. The greatness of this sacred place came with the very existence of Sri Raja Rajeshwara swamy Swayambhulingam, which is ancient than the Vemulawada village. In the temple premises there is a holy tank called the Dharma Gundam the waters of which have some curative properties. There are three mandapas on the dharma gundam and the statue of Lord Eshwara resides in the middle. The Lord is seen in a meditation posture with five lingas surrounding the holy tank.
Even though the main deity is Lord Siva at this place, there are other sub-temples in the premises. First of all pilgrims take holy dip in dharma gundam. Then enter the temple from main entrance and visit Bala Rajeshwara and Koti Lingas. Then they visit Lord Uma Maheshwara, Lord Someshwara, Goddess Bala Tripura Sundari Devi, Lord Shanmukha, Lord Dakshina Murthy, Lord Chandikeshwara and other deities. Then proceed further to visit Nandishwara in the north side of Sri Raja Rajeshwara Temple and enter the main temple from north side. Here pilgrims will find Sri Laxmi Ganapathi statue in north-east part of the temple.
After visiting and offering prayers and abhishekam to Lord Sri Raja Rajeshwara pilgrims proceed further to visit Sri Parvathi Devi,located in south side of the temple. Laxmi Sameta Padmanaba swamy’s festiv idols in the glass house located in the south side of the main temple. Then devotees visit Sri Ananta padmanabha swamy and Sri Ramachandra swamy temples and take their blessings and come out of it and go around the temple and complete the visit to temple. Because of that reason this place is also called as Hari Hara Khestram. This temple attracts the followers of both Vaishnavism (worshippers of Vishnu) and Saivism (worshippers of Siva). And is also being frequented by Jains and Buddists.
There is a historical story about how the temple and dharma-gundam were built. Once upon a time a king named Sri Raja Raja Narendra came to this place while hunting wild animals. But accidentally he killed a Brahmin boy who was drinking water from a pond. Hence, he got an incurable disease and went on pilgrimage to many holy places and returned back to this place. One day he drank the holy water from the dharma gundam and slept the night praying the lord Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy. In his dreams lord siva asked him to take lord’s existence, (lingam) from the dharma-gundam and put it in a temple.
Then he built steps to the dharma gundam and cleaned lord Sri Raja Rajeshwara swamy lingam and built a temple on the hill to keep the lingam inside the temple. But while he was sleeping in the night holy sidhas came and established (Pratishtapana) the God's idol inside the temple. When king was worried about missing the chance to establish the sivalingam, God came in to his dreams and promised that kings name will be associated with the place forever. Thereafter his incurable disease got cured.
It has been said in many mythologies that Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy lingam existed in Krita Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dwapara Yuga. And this holy place was visited and praised by many holy persons in Indian ancient history and got never ending importance in holy pilgrimage. One legend is said that, once upon a time God Indra went to many holy places after he killing Vrithasura and still could not purify his life. Then he took the advice from Bruhaspathi, the guru of Gods, to visit Sri Raja Rajeshwara kshetram. Then he visited the temple and took the holy dip in dharma-gundam and took the blessings of lord Sri Raja Rajeshwara and ruled a golden age of the history. By this ancient story, history gives us the evidence of existence of lord Sri Raja Rajeshwara in all yugas.
Although devotees make offerings to the presiding deity in different ways, there is an unique and famous tradition at this devasthanam, which is not found in any other temples in India , called Kode Mokku (offering of bull to God). The devotees who bring the bull take them round the temple and tie it somewhere in the temple complex. The significance of this ritual is that devotees will be cleansed of their sins and they can beget children. The lighting of the holy lamp or Ganda Deepam is also considered auspicious by the devotees visiting the shrine.
The legend for this tradition is very interesting. Once Dharma devata did tapassu (to do penance) at southern ocean banks for Lord Siva. After some time He gave darshan. At that time Dharma devata asked a divine gift, (Vaahanamto Bhavishyaami Sadaham Parvathi Pate) means always keep me as your transportation mode. Then Lord Siva gave her the divine gift by saying Vaahanam Bhavamedarsha Sarvada Loka Poojitha means you will always be my transportation mode and also prayed by my devotees. So as per the legend, offering calf (kode) to Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy is praying Dharma Devata in first place and keeping the legend alive.
Thousands of piligrims from all over the country visit here especially during Mahasivaratri and Kalyanotsavam of the deity. Special poojas and darshans are held to mark the festivity. Mahalingarchana is performed by about hundred archakas. At midnight Ekadasa Rudrabhishekham is performed to the deity. The temple is brightly illuminated in the night, presenting an aesthetic look.
Special arrangements are made for the pilgrims during the festivals. Several cultural and social activities are also organised by the authorities. Free boarding and lodging is provided to the students. Besides, the temple also offers donations for other small temples. The temple contributes Rs.8 lakhs anually to the grama Panchayati for developmental activities in the pilgrim town.
Festivals grandly celebrated at this temple are, Bhogi, Makara Sankraanti, Ratha Saptami, Bheeshma ekaadasi, Maha Siva Raatri, Ugaadi, Sri Raama Navami, Hanumaan Jayanthi, Varalakshmi Vratam, Krishnaastami, Vinaayaka Chavithi, Dassera Navaraatrulu, Deepaavali etc..