A sacred place that attracts thousands of worshipers from around the world is the home of Lord Rama (the seventh avatar of Sri Vishnu). This place on the hill which is surrounded by the holy river Godavari which flows south is the famous shrine of Bhadrachalam – The name derived from Bhadragiri (Bhadra Mountain – a blessing from Meru and Menaka). According to an legands, the importance of this sanctuary dates back to the era of the Ramayana. This coherent place of the hill existed in the “Dandakaranya” of the Ramayana period, where Rama with his wife Sita and his brother Laxmana had spent their vanavasa and Parnashaala (the place connected to the famous Golden Deer and the place where Ravana kidnapped Sita). also close to this temple site. It was on this temple site that, long after Ramavatara, Bhagawan Mahavishnu again manifested himself as Rama to fulfill a promise he made to His Bhakta Bhadra, who continued his Tapas through Yugas, praying for the grace of the Bhagawan Sri Ramachandra.
Bhadrachalam Maharshi Bhadra:
Bhadra performed penance on the bank of the Godavari river in this “Dandakaranya” to obtain the grace of Lord Rama and in the countenance of his beloved God. The exultant “Rishi” implored Sri Rama to sit on his head, but Rama who was looking for his wife Sita promised his Bhakta that his wish would be granted on the way home, after finding Sita and reaching the process to punish the evil Ravana and establish “Dharma”. So the wise men continued with fearful penance, for Rama could not keep Ramavatara’s promise. Then, Sri Mahavishnu manifested himself under the name of Vykuntha Rama and rushed towards his devotee Bhadra, signaling his arrival by blowing ‘Shanku’, accompanied by his wife Sita and his brother Laxmana, similar to ‘Gajendra Moksham’. Thus, the mountains of Rama (who have four hands) Shanku on the right hand, Chakra on his left hand and Dhanurbhana (Bow and Arrow on the other two hands), Sita had condescending in the left lap of Sri Rama and his brother on the left. And the place on the hill where the Deities sat was the main place of Bhadrachalam (hill), so this shrine was transformed into Bhadrachalam.
Pokala Dhammakka found the idols of Vykuntha Rama, Laxmana and Sita. Pokala Dhammakka, a ardent devotee of Sri Rama, lived in the 17th century and lived in Bhadrireddypalem, a mile from this sacred place. One good night, she had Rama’s darshan in her dream, who said that “the saints and the wise adore my body embodied in Bhadragiri” and asked her to trace them, perform pooja and achieve salvation . The next day morning, she started looking for the idols peeped in the anthill and found the idols there. She poured hundreds of pots of Godavari water on the anthill which dissolved and gave way to the appearance of the hidden Deities. Since then, she started performing pooja every day and offer “naivedyam” with fruit fallen from the neighboring palm tree and build a mandapam bamboo sticks hut with the help of local villagers. Sri Rama told Dhammakka that at a later date, one of his followers would build a Mandir on this site. Dhammakka waited patiently for the devotee. The devotee turned out to be Bhakta Ramadas.
Bhakta Ramadas Construction of Ram Temple:
The Bhadrachalarama temple was built by Kancharla Gopanna, popularly known as Bhakta Ramadas in 1674 AD.
Kancharla Gopanna / Bhakta Ramdas ardent devotee of Sri Rama, was born to Linganna Murthy and Kamamba in the village of Nelakondapalli de Khammamett Taluk in the 17th century (1620 AD). He was the nephew of Akkannna, the administrative chief of the court of Nawab Abul Hussan shah known as “Taneshah” of Golkonda (the last sovereign of Golconda before Aurangazeb captured him in 1687 AD) and was appointed by him as Tahsildar of ‘Palvoncha Paragana’. Consequently, he fulfilled his official duties with fervor and increased the income due to the Nawabs in the pursuit of daily preaching: the song of “Ramanama” and the feeding of the poor in his house. Ramadasa, who heard the news that the villagers of palvoncha paragana were proceeding to witness a Jatara at Bhadrachalam , became curios and he too visited Bhadrachalam. He found the deities in an incredible appearance. Ramadas then asked the villagers to contribute generously to the construction of the temple. After discovering that the contributions were insufficient, the villagers asked him to spend the income collected for the construction of the temple with the promise to return the amount after the harvest of the crops. As a result, Ramadas built the temple with an amount of Rs 6 Lakhs taken from the land income without the authorization of Nizam Nawab.
When the temple reached to the nearing completion, he had a problem of fixing ‘Sudarshana Chakra’ at the crest of the main temple. He was deeply distressed and fell into sleep. On the same night, Rama in his dream asked him to have a holy dip in river Godavari where he will find that-accordingly. On the next day morning Gopanna did so and found holy Sudarshana Chakra in the river with out much difficulty. He presumed that Sudarshana Chakra itself was shaped up with the divine power of his beloved God Rama. Soon after the construction, his miseries started. He was dismissed from service for mis-utilisation of revenue for constructing the temple and was kept in jail for 12 long years in Golkonda Fort and was tortured. Unable to withstand the miseries, Ramadas implored Rama to relieve him by singing many praising and emotional songs which got popularized from the stanzas of ‘Dasaradhi Sathakam’ and ‘Keertanas’ of Bhakta Ramadasa.
The Nizam Nawab Tanishah, the then ruler of Nizam’s territory became a devotee of Rama who realised the devotion spirit of Ramadas after his imprisonment and took over the charge of temple administration. This resembles the communal harmony amongst the Hindus and Muslims. The Nizam Nawab realised Ramadas’devotional spirit and dedication towards Rama, when Rama and Laxmana repaid 6 lakh Mohurs exposing themselves as Ramoji and Laxmoji, the servants of Bhakta Ramadas to get release of their devotee from the imprisonment. Thanisha gave voucher to these divine looking persons who approached him at his house during late night. Then they kept the voucher under the pillow of Gopanna where he was jailed. Tanishah who woke up on the very next day morning realised that those divine looking persons were none other than Rama and Laxmana and made arrangements to get release of Gopanna and prayed to forgive him by placing all the Gold Mohurs received last night at the feet of Gopanna. But, he refused to take back those mohurs except two as a mark of divine significance. (Those two can still be seen kept in Bhadrachala Sri Sita Ramachandra Swamy vaari Devasthanam).
Influenced by the majesty of Lord Rama, Golkonda Ruler Tanishah earmarked the income derived from the said Palwoncha paragana which came to Rs 20,000 and odd for the maintenance of the temple which was continued during Nizam’s reign and offering Pearls (Mutyala Talambralu) on the occasion of kalyana mahotsavam (Sri Rama Navami) to Deities on an elephant through a specially sent messenger. That procedure of sending pearls to the Deities is still followed by present state Government and continues to offer during Sri Rama Navami Festival (Kalyana mahotsavam). Tumu Narsimha Dasa,Tahasildar of Palwoncha paragana,along with his associate Varada Ramadasa came here from Guntur and took over the charge of Bhadrachalarama temple after Ramadas made inscripted the performance of Nitya Poojas and sevas right from early morning “Suprabhata Seva” till night “Pavalimpu Seva” before closure of the temple as “Silaasaasanaalu” on these two pillars. This inscription gives details of daily dictum and daily rituals also.