In Nizamabad, is a temple. Though not quite as legendary as the Dichpally Ramalayam, but just as historic. Popularly known as Armoor Siddula Gutta, this is the Navanatha Siddheswara Temple and a series of cave temples inside the rock formations of Armoor.
Armoor Rock Formations
As you drive along the highway from Nizamabad to Armoor, you will go past a long stretch of hills that look like they were made by someone who has artistically and quite laboriously piled up boulders to form them. These are the Armoor Rock Formations. Naturally weathered rocks crafted by mother nature for over millions of years. They are so distinctively striking that they are but a natural stopover for anyone driving that way and rightly so.
Sitting in a cave somewhere in those rocks is the Navantha Siddula Gutta, gutta for cave and Navanatha Siddhas for the sages who are believed to still reside in them.
Armoor Siddula Gutta
Fifteen years ago a ghat road was built through the rock formation, leading straight to Siddulagutta. There is also a walkway from the Gol Bungalow for pilgrims wishing to do the climb up to the temple by foot.
Inside these caves is a Shiva Temple, where the Shiva Lingam is said to be swaymbhu or self-manifested. It is said that the lingam here has always been worshipped by devotees, since the Tretayuga. That is the second age of mankind, in Hinduism! We are currently in the fourth.
The entrance to this cave temple is a door that is barely three feet. Once you crouch through it, the cave opens up and skylight filters in. You walk along in the designated route through the caves and you will come across many little temples in interconnected passageways. Even one dedicated to the Goddess Durga.
Just outside the exit point of this narrow cave is a Ramalayam and the temple tank, Jeeva Koneru. Legend has it that during the construction of the temple, when this tank was dug, it failed to well up with water. So, Rampriyadas Maharaj, the person who built the temple took up a tapasaya, that lasted forty-one days. At the end of which Lord Rama himself came to him in a dream and the water in this is believed to have been blessed with curative powers. Making the armoor siddula gutta popular amongst pilgrims undertaking the journey to be healed.
Otherwise quiet and forgotten, the temple tends to get crowded on the festival of Sri Rama Navami. Work is currently underway to build facilities to accommodate these devotees and also other temples around it on the flat ground between the rocks.
Beyond the Cave Temples
Further up the rocks, the summit flattens out into a breezy plateau. The village of Armoor with its houses of redbrick roofs and the setting sun glinting off the black rocks lend the landscape such beauty, that it has actually been the location for many a movie shoot.
Just about perfect for that evening picnic.
Distance from Hyderabad: 184 Kilometres
Trip Duration: Day Trip
Getting There: Armoor is around 37 kilometres from the town of Nizamabad, along the intersection of NH7 and NH16.
Other Places of Interest: Pochampadu Dam (Sri Rama Sagar Project)
30 kilometres from here this dam on the Godavari River is widely accepted to be the lifeline of Northern Telangana. It is quite a sight to behold when its forty-two floodgates are open.