Bhadrachalam is a key town of Pilgrimage importance located in the Khammam District of Telangana. Bhadrachalam is situated on the banks of Godavari River. The town is synonymous with the famous temple devoted to Lord Rama. Bhadrachalam Revenue division is one of the largest revenue divisions in the country. It was transferred to Khammam district of Telangana region for administrative purposes. A new district named Bhadradri Kothagudem district in 2015. The town is located at the junction of three states, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Chhattisgarh. The state boundary between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh passes through the town and Chhattisgarh state boundary lies at less than 15 kilometers from the temple.
Paleolithic man had roamed the areas, which is called the lower Godavari valley that includes Bhadrachalam and its surroundings. Bhadrachalam town has a clearly documented history of Lord Sri Rama temple, which was constructed in the 17th Century CE. The Ramayana records that the region including the present town of Bhadrachalam has been part of the Dandakaranya forest, where Lord Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana resided during their exile. The jungle which is now in the vicinity of temple was the place for Rama’s retreat and a village called Parnasala stands at the site of their dwelling. This is at a distance of 32 km from Bhadrachalam. It was here that Sita was abducted by Lanka ruler, Ravana.
Bhadrachalam division also has several other Hindu temples. Parnasala is the spot where Rama made the Panchavati during his exile and spent time with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. Agastya muni helped Rama select this spot. For the purpose of tourists, there is picturesque display of few scenes from vanavasa at Parnasala. Pilgrims are enthralled when they see the footprints of Sita devi, the mosaic of Maareecha who appears in the guise of golden deer and Ravana who appears in the form of Sanyasi for Bhikshatana. One can see Sita Vaagu where Sita had bathed and gathered turmeric and Kunkum from the nearby stones. Yetapaka located 2 km from Bhadrachalam was where Jatayuvu, tried to obstruct Ravana. A fierce batted ensued and a wing of the bird was believed to have found at Rekkapalli (village of the wing).
Rama is worshipped as Atmarama here at Dummugudem where according to Purana, Rama killed around 14,000 demons belonging to Khara and Dushana. The place is called Dummugudem as it was built on the ashes of these demons. At Gundala, located 5 km away from Bhadrachalam, once can see hot water springs after digging a pit on the riverbank and it is said that the divine trio of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara dipped in the holy water here during winter season. There are other places too like Sree Rama Giri, Venkatreddipeta, Gannavaram etc. The temple town witnesses heavy influx of pilgrims during Sree Rama Kalyanam. Kothagudem, 40 kilometers away is the nearest railway station and regular buses are available from here, Khammam, Hyderabad and Vijayawada.
The name Bhadrachalam is also called Bhadragiri (The Mountain called Bhadra, the child of Meru and Menavati). The famous temple at Bhadrachalam is home to the Archa murtis of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana and their idols are believed to be swayambhu i.e. self-manifested ones.
In the Tretayuga, Meru and Menavati were blessed with a son by Sri Ramachandra. The hillock named Bhadra. He was a devotee of Sri Rama and was given the Taraka Mantra by maharishi Narada. Bhadra undertook the most rigorous of tapasya and was blessed with the vision of Srimannarayana in the form of Sri Rama as Chaturbhuja Rama with shankha, chakra, dhaush and bana. Sri Rama was accompanied by Mata Sita and Lakshmana.
Rama blessed Bhadra that he would remain permanently with Bhadra. And so he remained on the hill.
Because he came directly from Vaikuntha, he came to be called Vaikuntha Rama. Because Sita, Rama and Lakshmana were witnessed in the form of “A”, “U” and “M”, this avatara was called Omkara Rama. And because he came in the form of Narayana but with the weapons attributed to Rama, he is called Rama Narayana.
Tirumangai Alwar, Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada and many other spiritual leaders of Bharata Varsha visited this site.
From the days of its construction by Bhakta Ramadasu, the temple holds a traditional position with respect to the government ruling from Hyderabad. For Ramanavami, it receives an annual gift of mutyalu(pearls), talambralu (rice poured over bride and groom as blessings) and silk from the government ruling at Hyderabad. The rice is plucked one grain at a time from the paddy by thousands of devotees at Dammapeta and is the most coveted blessing received from this temple. These are called Goti (extracted by nail) Talambralu.
An old and infirm tribal lady named Pokala Dammakka discovered the swayambhu murtis at Bhadragiri and made a home of thatched roof for Sri Rama. She was deeply devoted to Sri Ramachandra. She was the inspiration for Bhadrachala Ramadasu, among the most powerful spiritual and literary leaders in the Telugu country in recent centuries.
Bhadrachala Ramadasu born as Kancherla Gopanna was born in the village of Nelakondapalli in Khammam district of Telangana. He became an official of the Qutub Shahi kingdom of Hyderabad. He was appointed as Tehsildar of the Bhadrachalam area. He was inspired by the devotion of Dammakka for Sri Ramachandra and resolved to build a magnificient temple at the spot. He collected a vast sum of money for the purpose and built a magnificient temple for Sri Rama.
It is said that the project costed six lakhs of gold coins. There are varying accounts about the event. That the outlay for the temple was raised from public donations and alternately simply appropriated from the revenues of the district. At any rate the sultan was not pleased. Ramadasu was imprisoned under the condition that a sum equivalent of the outlay for the temple should be deposited with the exchequer. Ramadasu remained incarcerated in the Golconda fort for a period of eleven years.
During his incarceration Ramadasu wrote thousands of songs, poems and couplets in praise of Sri Rama in Telugu and in Sanskritam. These will forever remain a shining beacon of Bhakti and mukti to the Telugu land. He is a much celebrated poet in the Karnatik tradition of classical music.
Eventually, Sri Rama and Lakshmana delivered such a sum of money to the Sultan, Abul Hasan Qutub Shah and had him deliver a receipt of discharge to Ramadasu.
Documentary – Bhadrachalam
Bhadrachala Ramadasu Kritis – Balamuralikrishna
A song of deep pathos – Ramadasu complaining about Sri Rama’s negligence in providing succour – Ikshvaku Kula Tilaka