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Centuries-old Kurnool temple faces permanent submersion

By D. Sreenivasulu



The Sangameswara temple as seen in 2003 when water in Srisailam reservoir receded.

KURNOOL, DEC. 25. The centuries-old Sangameswara temple at the confluence of the Krishna and the Bhavanasi near Muchumarri in Kurnool district is facing permanent submersion. This follows the Andhra Pradesh Government's decision to raise the minimum drawdown level (MDDL) in the Srisailam reservoir from 834 feet to 854 feet to make the Srisailam Right Main Canal (SRMC) operational for a longer duration each year.

This modification was widely welcomed since the canal supplies water to the Srisailam Right Branch Canal, the Telugu Ganga and the KC (Kurnool-Cuddapah) canal. Yet, the thought that the Sangameswara temple may not surface as usual by Sivaratri and remain inaccessible to devotees, pains many. The temple, which gets submerged each year when the reservoir gets filled up, emerges when the water level recedes. The roof of the temple was sighted a few days ago after the Srisailam reservoir level fell to 861 feet.

Nivruthi Sangameswaram has great spiritual significance because of its antiquity and the fact that the temple stands at the confluence of the Krishna with the seventh tributary (saptha sangamam) of the Bhavanasi. The shrine finds a prominent place in Skandapurana. According to legend, Dharmaraja, the eldest among the Pandavas, installed the idol. As Bhima failed to meet the muhurtham in fetching the idol, a rectangular neem log was installed. The idol brought by Bhima later found a place a furlong away. Chhatrapati Shivaji spent 40 days at Sangameswaram.

According to anthropologists, the practice of worshipping crude fossil idols was in vogue before stone idols were developed. Sangameswaram flourished in ancient times because of its accessibility to the plains and other reasons such as its position at the confluence, the flow of water northward (uttaravahini). The mighty Krishna makes its first entry into the Nallamala hills here and flows north for about three km.

The temple complex, popularly known as `pancheswaram' (Sangameswaram, Sidheswaram, Kapileswaram, Someswaram and Malleswaram) was disturbed when the construction of the Srisailam dam began. A few temples were relocated to Alampur and Kurnool but many were demolished. The Sangameswara temple was partly demolished and the idol uprooted. After the intervention of the Paramacharya of Kanchi, the temple was retained and the idol repositioned.

Sri Ananda Threethacharyulu of the Uttaradhi mutt at Kurnool and his father, Ramamurthi, who took pains to renovate the temple, say many ancient idols were lost during the transition. Mant devotees feel that the reservoir level should be reduced to enable darshan during Sivaratri and the temple structure itself modified.

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