Trikutalaya Shivalayam in the temple town of Nagunur in Karimnagar district is a must-visit above of Lord Shiva. Recently, along with three of my photographer friends, I decided to explore some temples and forts in and around Karimnagar. The last time I was around this area was when I went to Dhulikatta, the Buddhist site. So, after visiting the Molangur fort, our next stop was the temple town of Nagunur.

The place derives its name from the work Nalugunovalu which means 400. The name was given to the village as it housed 400 temples. Apparently, there was a fort here too. Unfortunately, there is no sign of the fort at all. I guess it probably got destroyed completely. Thankfully, we went to two temples, one of which — the Trikutalaya Shivalayam — was absolutely stunning. The temple is named so because of the presence of three sanctums in three cardinal directions.

From the outside, it looks as if the temple would crumble down any moment. There are stone slabs with beautiful sculptures all around. One of them is that of a soldier wearing only a dhoti and a necklace on the torso. His right hand has a huge sword and the left has armour. On his waist is tied a dagger.

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Amid the pile of statues lying around, we saw a huge Shivalingam too. But, it was very disheartening to see that many of the statues were defaced and damaged which made us wonder who would have been responsible for such a sad state of beautiful scultpures. One of the other statues had a female fighter in the same pose as the others.

As we entered the sanctum sanctorum, we saw dried leaves and flowers used as festoons to decorate the threshold of the temples. It seemed as if the temple has no worshippers.

Not much is known about the history of this temple. Believed to be built by the Kakatiyas during the 12th and 13th century, very few remains are visible. Nagunur was ruled by the Kakatiyas, Chalukyas and the Kalyanis.

Like most of the Kakatiya temples, the Trikutalaya Shivalayam is built on a raised platform. The unique aspect of the temple is the three sanctums adjacent to each other in the east, west and south directions. Inside them are Shivalingams of about 4 feet.

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Above the threshold of the sanctums, there are panels with dancers in different poses. Another one is of the Lord surrounded by mridangam players.

The ceiling is made of beautiful carvings with a huge lotus with hundreds of petals in the centre. The outer walls of the temple were also decorated with beautiful carvings.

The temple is gradually crumbling due to lack of maintenance and Mother Nature taking her own course of action. All around the temple area, there are plants growing in the cracks. If nothing is done soon, the temple will soon see the same fate as the fort and the other 400 temples, whose signs are also difficult to find.

How to Go: Nagunur is located at a distance of 10 kms from Karimnagar and 177 kms from Hyderabad. There are regular buses from Hyderabad to Karimnagar. Nagunur has buses, but quite infrequent. You can take an auto to go there.

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Look for Prathima Institute of Medical Sciences. Take the narrow road opposite to it to reach the village and ask for the Shivalayam.

I drove down from Hyderabad and consider it to be the most convenient and the quickest.

When to go: The best time of the year to go is September to March. April onwards, these regions are really hot which makes it difficult to travel.

There are no timings for the temple; you can go at any convenient time.

Where to stay: Karimnagar has a lot of options under different budgets to stay. Those who do a a day trip from Hyderabad don’t need a hotel.

Other places to visit: In the same village, after a climb of about about 100 steps, there are some places which can be visited in the same trip. Elgandal fort and Molangur fort are must-visit places. #KhabarLive