Hemavathi, Andhra Pradesh: Ancient Nolamba Capital
Overview: I always wanted to visit this place called Hemavathi, which is on the thin strip of Andhra Pradesh surrounded by Karnataka on both the sides. Hemavathi was a very popular place during the 8th century and was the capital of Nolamba Pallavas, and was called Hajneri. The Hemavathi temple complex is a huge set of monuments, most of which have been destroyed, but the remains have been preserved in the museum, also within the temple complex.
The first structure one would observe is an ash mound at the entrance of the complex, followed by a Dhwaja Stambha. The entrance opens up to a large courtyard with shelters provided for visitors. A small mantapa is built at the temple entrance, probably housed the Nandi bull, which is missing today. The main diety is of Siddheshwara, which has an idol of meditating Shiva. The temple priest was kind enough to explain us about the history of the place. The back of the Siddheshwara temple opens up into another set of temples, with a beautiful stepped well at the beginning, and a few hero stones placed next to it. A few metres ahead is another temple dedicated to Lord Mallikarjunaswamy with a beautiful Shiva Linga, which is not live today, but maintained by the authorities.
Apart from this temple, there are a few temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Unfortunately, many Shiva Lingas are just kept in the open with the Nandi statue looking at it. The temple structures are all preserved in the museum. The temples have a mixed set of materials used by different rulers. Some of the areas have granite rock, and a few places have soapstone.
Overall, a beautiful place to visit.
Food: Prasada is served at the temple, rice and sambar, which is a bit spicy. Apart from this, there are no places for proper food in the entire area.
How to reach: From Bangalore, take the Tumkur highway and after Sira, turn north east towards Amarapura. Around 20 kms before Amarapura, turn right towards Hemavathi.