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Draksharamam and Ahobilam: Divine Wonders of South India



  Nov 03, 2023

Draksharamam and Ahobilam Temples



Q: What is the significance of the Eastern Ghats in South India’s history?

A: While the Western Ghats are often more prominently featured in historical narratives, the Eastern Ghats have played a crucial role in the history of South India,
particularly in the fertile plains of Andhra Pradesh. They were patronized by emperors of Vijayanagara in the 16th century and were noted by Mughal courtiers. Recently, a Mughal painting depicting a Chenchu couple from the Eastern Ghats was sold for a significant amount.

Q: How have the people of the Eastern Ghats contributed to the evolution of Hinduism?

A: The peoples of the Eastern Ghats have made contributions to the evolution of Hinduism, particularly evident in two temples—Draksharamam and Ahobilam—that draw numerous pilgrims.
These contributions span from the Alvars of the Tamil Vaishnavite tradition to temple-patron warlords in 12th century Andhra Pradesh.

Q: Can you provide examples of the historical significance of Draksharamam temple and its connections with the Boyas?

A: Draksharamam temple, located on the bank of the Godavari River, was significant during the medieval period. It drew patronage from Chalukya and Chola empires, as well as royals from Odisha and Sri Lanka.
The Boyas, originally from the Eastern Ghats, played a role as they migrated to the coast seeking opportunities amid the region’s political upheaval. Over time, they went from custodians of the temple’s cattle to becoming military personnel, bodyguards, village owners, royal ministers, and officials.

Q: How did the Boyas perceive themselves in the caste hierarchy, and how did others view them?

A: The Boyas claimed various legends, including Brahmin lineage, but their status was often disputed by other castes.
They were considered of higher status than the Chenchus, another hunter-gatherer group in the Eastern Ghats. The Boyas’ claims and status were fluid within the heterarchical medieval caste system.

Q: What is the significance of Ahobilam and its connection to Chenchus and Narasimha legends?

A: Ahobilam, a temple in the Eastern Ghats, is associated with the legend of a Chenchu woman named Chenchita who charmed Narasimha.
This legend reflects the complex relationship between Chenchus and the temple. Some Chenchus proudly claimed descent from Narasimha, while others considered him their in-laws.
The legend extended beyond the Eastern Ghats, with similar stories associated with other deities in different regions.

Q: How did interactions between different groups in the Eastern Ghats shape their history and culture?

A: Centuries of conflict and accommodation among forest, hill, and field dwellers in the Eastern Ghats have shaped their history and culture.
These interactions have resulted in unique legends, traditions, and rituals that continue to influence the lives of the people in the region.


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