Seemandhra to get majority of money-spinning temples
The people of Seemandhra are opposing the proposed bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and fighting for their "rights" over Hyderabad, but they will get almost all the famous and rich temples of Andhra Pradesh if Telangana separates.
Seemandhra, as Rayalaseema and the coastal Andhra regions are together known, will bag temples famous for their religious significance, architectural grandeur and huge revenues. Standing tall among them is the world-famous Tirumala at Tirupati in Chittoor district of Rayalaseema. One of the richest shrines in the world and compared with Vatican City, it draws about 70,000 devotees every day.
The Lord Venkateswara temple, believed to have been constructed in 1570, annually earns about Rs.2,000 crore, mostly through the daily offerings by devotees.
According to officials of the endowments department, Seemandhra will get 16 of 19 major temples whose annual income is above Rs.10 crore each.
With an annual income of Rs.60 crore, Sri Varaha Narasimha Swamy temple at Simhachalam near the coastal city of Visakhapatnam in the Andhra region occupies the second position.
The other major revenue earning temples include Sri Durga Malleswara Devasthanam in Vijayawada. Located atop Indirkiladri Hills, the Kankadurga temple attracts thousands of devotees every day.
Sri Bhramrambha Mallikharjuna temple on the banks of the Krishna river at Srisailam in Kurnool district, is also famous among devotees.
Srikalahasti temple near Tirupati, one of the important ancient Shiva temples of south India, attracts a large number of devotees. Most of the people who visit Tirupati also have "darshan" at Srikalahasti.
Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy temple of Annavaram in coastal district of East Godavari is famous for hundreds of marriages performed daily during the marriage season.
Draksharama or "garden of grapes" temple near Kakinda in East Godavari district and the Kotipally temple a few kilometres away are the other major temples, which will go to Seemandhra.
Endowment Minister C. Ramachandraiah, who hails from the Rayalaseema region and is opposed to the state's division without first addressing the concerns of all regions, does not attach much significance to the fact that the majority of the temples will go to Seemandhra.
"Worship has no boundaries and barriers," the minister told IANS.
He pointed out that though income-wise major temples would go to Seemandhra, there are some big temples in Telangana as well. "The Saraswati temple at Basara is famous in the entire country," he said.
Gnana Saraswati temple at Basara in Adilabad district of the Telangana region is visited by a large number of pilgrims, especially for the "Akshara abhyasam" ceremony for children before they start their formal school education.
Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy Devasthanam in Vemulawada of Karimnagar district is another famous temple of Telangana.
However, the biggest in terms of revenues will be Lord Lakshminarasimha Swamy temple at Yadagirigutta in Nalgonda district, about 60 km from Hyderabad.
The shrine atop a hillock is famously known as 'Telangana Tirupati' and is visited by thousands of devotees every day from all parts of the state. This temple is famous for marriages and "vahana puja" or rituals conducted on new vehicles.
As Bhadrachalam town of Khammam district is likely to become a bone of contention between Telangana and Seemandhra, uncertainty remains on who will get the famous Sitarama temple.
Telangana leaders are claiming that Bhadrachalam is a part of Telangana while their Andhra counterparts argue that the town belongs to them, as it was part of East Godavari district before 1956, the year the then Hyderabad state was merged with Andhra state to form Andhra Pradesh.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 10-09-2013)