The old Shaivite temple at this historic village that was submerged in the SRSP dam resurfaced after 13 years as the reservoir has dried up. As it is a rare occasion, people across the district are making a beeline to the temple to offer poojas and have a glimpse of the vast tracts of the dried reservoir.
Apart from the Ramalingeswara gudi, the main temple, there are six other temples – Dasarath, Bhavani, and so on – surrounding it which have also re-emerged. They used to be in this village which was shifted to Mallapuram (new Kustapur) near Metpally in Karimnagar district when the project was built in 1970s.
History has it that Kustapur or Kustapuram was an ancient village having over 300 Brahmin families living on the bank of river Godavari. It was also known as Daksina Kasi like Dharmapuri and Kaleswaram. One king used to be here and was good friends with Maratha strongman Chhatrapathi Shivaji who had visited the temple once.
Except the temples, neither the fort, huge compound wall and a moat around it remains now. It used to be bustling with visiting devotees, court poets, Vedic scholars, priests, saints, sages, artistes and so on in the olden days. The river flows from north to south here. The SRSP dam was built just eight kilometres ahead of it.
The veena music of Dondu Sastri aired on the radio reminds one of the Kustapur village. Mr. Sastri and Eeravatri Narsimhulu, who authored “Madana Vijayam”, a play which was also aired on the radio, belonged to this village. The temple is very old and remains intact even after several centuries.
People started gathering at this place when the temple resurfaced with the depletion of water in December. Some coconut, sweatmeat and pooja material outlets and hotels came up.
The temple priests, who did not have work at the temple all these years as it was submerged in water, are all set to celebrate the Sivaratri on a big scale on March 7. About 40,000 devotees are expected to arrive at the temple on the holy day. Besides the RTC, private operators are plying buses here.
Interestingly, those who come here are praying to God to bless the land with plentiful rains and not to come onto the surface. Former Minister P. Sudarshan Reddy, whose village used to be located close by, offered poojas in the temple for bountiful rain.