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Atlanta native Ramasharma Kasibhatla’s vision and passion of bringing old glory back to a historic temple were fulfilled earlier this year when the doors of the Surya temple at Budagavi village in Andhra Pradesh opened to daily rituals after renovation. It took Kasibhatla five months of his time, and personal funds to renovate the temple as per Vastu Shastras, under able Agama Pundits.
The temple of the Sun God, located just three miles from Uravakonda Mandal, a small town in Anantapur district, was recently discovered by the Department of Archeology, and is the eighth such Surya temple in India. Seven other Surya temples exist around the country including The Dakshinaarka temple at Gaya, Bihar, The Bhramanya Dev Temple at Unao, Madhya Pradesh, the Sun Temple at Surya Pahar, Assam, the Sun Temple at Modhera, Gujarat, the Sun Temple at Konarak, Orissa, the Suryanaar Temple near Kumbhakonam in Tamil Nadu, and the Suryanarayanaswamy Temple at Arasavilli, Andhra Pradesh. It is interesting to note that this discovery raises the number of Surya temples in Andhra Pradesh to two.
“It is sad that such historic places that stand as symbols of the rich culture and heritage of India are neglected and used as animal shelters due to the lack of any initiative from the government,” says Kasibhatla.
After his first visit to the temple site last year, Kasibhatla decided that he would take it upon himself to renovate the temple and bring back its old glory.
“I decided to dedicate my time and money for the restoration of this temple,” he says. “My main intention was to make sure the worship of idols is done on a daily basis.”
As per the estimates of the department, the Sun temple belongs to the 13th century. Even though it was recorded as the Rama Lingeswara Temple, it has both the Shiva Lingam and the Surya idol. During the regime of the Western Chalukyas the temples of Dwikuta, Trikuta, Pancha Kuta ,Sapta Kuta and Dwadasa Kuta were very common and the newly discovered Surya temple falls under the Dwikuta category.
In the Budagavi Sun Temple, the idol of Lord Surya, the Sun God is beautifully carved with chalkstone and follows the sama bhanga form, where the main deity stands with two lotuses, one in each hand, and is accompanied by Usha and Prathyusha (wives) on each side. In general Surya rides on a single wheel chariot with seven horses and Anura as the charioteer. This is the only temple in the world where the deity of Lord Surya faces southward. In all other temples, the deities face eastward.
“When I started the temple renovation project, I did not request any forum for help but now I welcome volunteers to come forward to help and receive the blessings of Lord Surya,” Kasibhatla adds.