Abode of Gods

Abode of Gods

This village is just a drop on the map But it is a drop of cosmic proportions There are probably more divine residents here than humans and there is a yearround sense of festivity as one temple or the other celebrates a special religious occasion

This village is just a drop on the map. But it is a drop of cosmic proportions. There are probably more divine residents here than humans and there is a year-round sense of festivity as one temple or the other celebrates a special religious occasion.

Steeped in history and blessed by the presence of divinity, Chebrolu is a village that is surprisingly still rather unknown to the world outside of the region. It is the mandal headquarters in the Tenali division of Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh. The village is about 300 km from Hyderabad, and less than 20 km away from both Guntur and Tenali.

Once a Buddhist site and the territorial capital of the Kakatiya dynasty, the village was found to have many Buddhist artefacts of Satavahana and Ikshvaku periods. It has innumerable temples, most of them live and a few abandoned.

The village was restored and developed by Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu, Zamindar of Chintapalli in the 18th Century and the place was then called Chaturmukhapuram, named after the Chaturmukha Brahma for whom the Zamindar built a temple. Nayudu who lived briefly between 1783 and 1816 also established the Amaravathi estate.

Chebrolu has a Jewish Synagogue dedicated to the Children of Yacob. There are also inscriptions to indicate that there was once a Jain temple in the village from the 11th century.

Chebrolu of today has more than 100 temples of great historical importance, including one dedicated to Lord Brahma, one of the very few and earliest temples in India dedicated to the Creator.

“There are 10 State-protected monuments in the southeastern region of CRDA and Chebrolu alone has seven of them and they are all Hindu temples,” says Vasanta Sobha, heritage specialist for Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA), Amaravathi.

The State Department of Archaeology protects these temples which include the Nageswara Swamy temple, said to be built by Devabhaktuni brothers in the 11th century, and temples for Sri Veerabhadraswamy, Sri Prasannajaneya Swamy, Sri Bheemeswara Swamy, Sri Adikesava Swamy temple, Sri Parvati Ammavaru apart from the Chaturmukha Brahma.

Except for Sri Parvati Ammavari temple, all other temples are in active use and under the purview of Endowment Department. In terms of revenue generation, only Nageswara Swamy and Bheemeswara Swamy temples show some income annually.

“It is surprising that Chebrolu does not get visitors beyond the region in spite of its vast historicity. The place is remarkably peaceful and verdant,” says Srikanth P, who did photographic documentation for the CRDA project.

"We have submitted plans for the development of infrastructure at Chebrolu to put it in the tourist circuit. It’s not just history but also an architectural heritage that is important. Once the Government implements the plans, I think the village will get its pride of place in the temple map of India,” says Vasanta Sobha.

While legends abound about the sanctity and power of these shrines, Chebrolu still remains largely undiscovered by both the devout and the history aficionados, and the temples await more measures from the government for both their protection and income-generation for sustainability.

Usha Turaga-Revelli

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