The city of Warangal is 157 km from Hyderabad. It was the ancient capital city of the Kakatiya kingdom. Warangal means "history". Its massive fortress has withstood continuous attacks from the Delhi Sultans in the 13th and 14th centuries AD. In the 19th century AD, it was the hunting ground of the nobles. It is noted for its beautiful lakes, magnificent temples, mud-brick forts and wildlife sanctuaries. Warangal today is an important tourist destination.
Palampet is located at a distance of 77 km from Warangal, the ancient capital of the Kakatiyas. It is home to brilliant Kakatiya art as seen in the Ramappa temple. The Ramappa temple is near the ancient engineering marvel of the 13th century AD Ramappa tank. The ancient Ramappa tank can be dated back to the period of Kakatiyas. It is a well-conceived tank where a 2000 ft long earthen dam connects a semi circular chain of hills to form a lake.
The Ramalingeswara Temple is popularly known as the Ramappa temple because the chief sculptor was Ramappa. It is probably the only temple in India to be known by the name of the sculptor who builds it. It was built under the patronage of the King Kakati Ganapathi Deva by his Chief Commander Rudra Samani at Ranakude in the province of Atukuru. The temple has been described as the "brightest star in the galaxy of medieval temples in the Deccan". The temple is approached thorough a royal garden, now just a lawn with tree lined path. The temple is situated in a valley and is built with bricks so light that they can float on water. Yet the temple is so strong that it is still intact after numerous wars, invasions and natural calamities.
The Ramappa temple stands on a 6 ft high platform on a cruciform plan. The sanctum is crowned with a shikhara and is surrounded by a pradakshinapatha. Rich and intricate carvings adorn the walls, pillars and ceilings of this wonderful building. The hall in front of the sanctum has numerous beautifully carved pillars that have been placed to create an effect that combines light and space wonderfully. There are many votive shrines within the temple. There are two subsidiary shrines on either side of the main temple, which are in a good condition.
The entire temple complex is enclosed with a compound wall. At the entrance to the temple is a ruined Nandi mandapam, with an imposing 9 ft high Nandi, which is still intact. The Shivalingam in the sanctum also rises to a height of 9 ft. The east-facing sanctum is surrounded with pilasters crowned with Dravidian and Nagara shikharas in an alternating fashion. There is an additional entrance from the north also leading to the Navaranga mandapam in front of the sanctum. The ceiling is divided into compartments by columns from the bottom and is carved with intricate patterns. There is a richness of carvings in this temple on dark rock with a smooth finish, portraying an amazing range of themes from the Puranas and various Indian mythological stories.
The temple signifies many facets of Shiva, his royal residence, the Himalaya Mountains and his inhabiting a sacred space beyond the mortal realm. The temple is built upon the classical pattern of being first raised upon a platform that separates its sacred functions from the taint of the everyday. This 'sacred mountain' mindset was characteristic of the temple builders in all the cultures. It represented a powerful symbolic representation of a perfect building, an intersection in midair of the spheres of heaven and earth. The platform lifts it above the normal, transcends the profane, declaring with uncompromising firmness that it is a place for un-common activities dedicated to a god.
Maha Shiva Ratri is celebrated for a period of three days in this temple Many of the smaller structures are neglected and are in ruins in the Ramappa temple. There were even instances of people carrying away the bricks, to be proudly exhibited that they can float on water, before the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) took charge of it. The main entrance gate in the outer wall of the temple is ruined, so one can enter only through a small west gate.