Combining Religion and Industry in Small Town India
Vasu Reddy from Chicago
10th February 2005
It is fascinating to look at India and its small towns, which combine the age-old traditions of India and also the modern manufacturing and way of life into the landscape. One such town is Bhadrachalam is located in Khammam District, Andhra Pradesh at a distance of over 300 KM slightly northeast of Hyderabad. A famous pilgrimage shrine, the abode of Lord Rama, situated at the bank of holy river Godavari, and also the home of ITC PSPD which is one of the premier paper manufacturers in the world, while retaining the charm of a rural Indian town. Combining high technology and modern facilities with stable employment, and retaining the religious and holy nature of the age-old practices makes Bhadrachalam a great place to visit.
Today devotes of Lord Rama can still be a part of the services performed from the time of the construction of the temple, and visit the beautiful surroundings of Bhadrachalam. Also, not forgetting the modern infrastructure built by ITC and the modern techniques and life of the people who work for the paper manufacturer.
The temple in Bhadrachalam is closely connected with the life of the saint composer Ramadasa who was known as Gopanna. Gopanna was the Tasildar of Bhadrachalam (second half of the 17th century) is said to have utilized money from the government treasury to build this temple, and was imprisoned in a dungeon at Golconda. Lord Rama is said to have miraculously given the Sultan the money spent by Gopanna, after which he was released. Gopanna then became Bhadrachala Ramadasa, and went on to compose several songs in Telugu in praise of Rama.
Bhadrachalam and Vijayanagara are sites said to have been closely associated with the Ramayana. Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are said to have stayed at Parnasala, 35 km away from Bhadrachalam. Rama is said to have crossed the river Godavari on his way to Sri Lanka to rescue Sita, at the spot where the Bhadrachalam temple stands, on the northern bank of the river. Legend has it that the son of Meru - Bhadra performed penances towards Rama here. Kabirdas, a Muslim by birth is also closely associated with this temple. It is believed that the images of the deities miraculously disappeared when Kabir was refused entry into the temple and that they reappeared miraculously upon his being permitted to enter.
Bhadrachalam attracts hundreds of thousands of devotees from all over the world. This hill place that is encircled by Holy River Godavari flowing towards southern direction is the famous shrine Bhadrachalam - The name derived from Bhadragiri (Mountain of Bhadra - a boon child of Meru and Menaka). The history of this shrine stands for the significance of Ramayana Era, the coherent hill place existed in " Dandakaranya " Of Ramayana period where Rama with his consort Sita and brother Laxmana had spent their vanavasa - and vicinity of the temple had its incongruous add mixture of another story which depicts the exigency of " Sri Mahavishnu " to manifest himself as Rama and shuffled again to the mortal coil - long after Ramavatara was to fulfill his promise to his Bhakta Bhadra (a mountain king), a sage who had been continuing the frightened penance to get grace of Lord Rama.
Exigency of Incarnation
The history depicts that the need emerged the incarnation of Vykunta Rama was that to fulfill a long desire of his ardent devotee Bhadra. The Saint Bhadra performed penance at the bank of river Godavari in Dandakaranya to get grace of lord Rama and in countenance of his beloved God - The exulted "Rishi" implored Rama to be seated on his head, but Rama who was in search of his consort Sita gave promise to his Bhakta that his desire would be fulfilled on his way back, after finding Sita and accomplishing the process of punishing the wicked Ravana and establish ‘Dharma’. Thus the sage had been in continuation of the frightened penance, as Rama could not accomplish the promise in Ramavatara. Then Sri Mahavishnu manifested himself as Vykunta Rama and rushed to his devotee Bhadra, signaling his arrival by blowing 'Shanku', accompanied by his consort Sita and brother Laxmana, resembling that of 'Gajendra Moksham ' - Thus, the deities of Rama (having four hands) - Shanku on the right, Chakra at his left and Dhanurbhana (Bow and Arrow in the rest two hands), Sita had condescended on the left lap of Rama and brother (at Ram’s left) are existed. And the hill place where the Deities were seated on, was the head place of Bhadra - Achaia (hill), thus this shrine was transformed into Bhadrachalam.
Pokala Dhammakka found the idols of Vykunta Rama, Laxmana and Sita. She was an ardent devotee of Rama lived in 17th century was inhabitant of Bhadrireddypalem, a mile away from this holy place. One night, she had darshan of Rama in her dream and was told by lord Rama “the saints and sages are worshiping my embodied deity settled on Bhadragiri” and asked her to trace them, perform pooja and attain salvation. On the very next day morning she started searching for the idols - peeped into an anthill and found the idols hidden in it. She poured hundreds of pots of Godavari water on the anthill, which tardily dissolved and gave way to appear the hidden Deities. Since then, she used to perform pooja daily and offer 'nivedyan' with fruits fallen from near palmyra tree and constructed a mandapam with the help of local villagers.
Bhakta Ramadas and construction of temple
Kancharla Gopanna popularly known as Bhakta Ramadas in the year 1630 AD constructed Bhadrachalarama temple. He was born to Linganna Murthy and Kamamba in Nelakondapalli village of Khammamett Taluk in 17th century (1630 AD). As Tasildar he was discharging his official duties earnestly and collecting revenues due to Nawabs in continuation of daily preaches - Chanting of 'Ramanama' and the feeding the poor at his house. Ramadasa who heard the news that the villagers of palvoncha paragana were proceeding to witness Jatara at Bhadrachalam, He too out of curiosity visited Bhadrachalam. He found the deities in an amazing appearance; Ramadas then asked the villagers to contribute liberally for the construction of the temple .The villagers in response appealed him to spend the revenue collections for the construction of the temple with a promise to repay the amount after harvesting the crops. As such Ramadas constructed the temple with an amount of Rs 6 Lakhs collected from the land revenues with out the permission of the Nizam Nawab.
When temple reached to nearing completion, he had a problem of fixing 'Sudarshana Chakra' at the crest of the main temple. He 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 Golconda 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 realized 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, Tanishah realized Ramadas's devotional spirit and dedication towards Rama, when Rama and Laxmana repaid 6 lakhs 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 realized 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, and these two coins can still be seen in Bhadrachalam Temple.
Influenced by the majesty of Lord Rama, Golconda 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 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 continued to offer during Sri Rama Navami Festival.
Tumu Narsimha Dasa, Tahasildar of Palwoncha paragana, along with his associate Varada Ramadasa came here from Guntur and took over 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 gave details of daily dittam and daily rituals also.
ITC Bhadrachalam Paperboards & Specialty Papers Division
Over 1,500 employees, 800 staff and 6,000 plus some workers are employed at the ITC Bhadrachalam accounting for some 10,000 people employed, and over 2,000 people live in a planned colony with all modern facilities integrated into it. This division came into existence in November 2002 with the amalgamation of ITC Bhadrachalam Paperboards Ltd. with ITC Ltd. and incorporates Tribeni Tissues. ITC entered the field of paperboards in 1975 when it incorporated Bhadrachalam Paperboards Ltd. The new company was setup as an integrated paperboard manufacturing facility. The Bhadrachalam mill today produces 210,000 TPY of papers & boards and is the largest single location mill in India. The mill is focused on producing paperboards for packaging and graphics segments. Very recently (Sep 2002) the Bhadrachalam mill also commissioned India’s only Elemental Chlorine Free pulp mill with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes a year. This location will also see the commissioning of an 80,000 TPY board machine from Voith by June 2004. The Bhadrachalam location today has two board machines and two smaller paper machines. The unit is ISO 9002:2000 series accredited. The unit is also ISO 14001 certified for Environment Management Systems.
The Tribeni Tissues unit has a hoary history and traces its founding to British American Tobacco and commenced operations in 1949 manufacturing papers for the cigarette industry. Between 1961 & 1988 Tribeni was part of the Wiggins Teape Co. of the UK. It merged with ITC Ltd. in 1992. ITC Ltd. modernized the mill with an investment of USD 35 million and refurbished two of the paper machines with latest drives and electronic controls. The Tribeni mill has a capacity of 33,000 TPY and has expanded its product range beyond cigarette tissues to fine papers, packaging papers and specialties. The unit now has three paper machines making a stunningly diverse range of papers from Cigarette Tissues and Components, Laminating Base Tissue, Acid-Free and Anti-Rust Tissues, Low Grammage Printing Papers, Décor Papers to Insulation Grade and Medical Grade Papers. The unit is ISO 9001:2000 version and ISO 14001 accredited. The third manufacturing location at Bollarum near Hyderabad produces 5000 TPY of Cast Coated Papers and Boards, 10,000 TPY of Poly Extrusion coated boards and 10000 TPY of C2S art boards and Ivory cards. The unit is ISO 9001:2000 series accredited.
This Division is the market leader in South Asia in carton boards and ranks second in turnover within the Indian paper industry. It provides paperboard for most leading Fast Moving Consumer Goods Brands in India and is the largest Exporter of coated boards from India. About 20% of total sales supplied to the international markets in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Iran, Australia, UAE, Turkey, China, Singapore, UK, Greece, Germany and USA. The address is ITC LIMITED- PAPERBOARDS AND SPECIALTY PAPERS DIVISION, Bhadrachalam UNIT, Sarapaka, (Andhra Pradesh)
ITC-PSPD, unit Bhadrachalam has exclusively setup an energy cell in 1982 and appointed a dedicated Energy Manager on a full time job with one engineer in each discipline to Audit Energy on all ENCON activities. The unit has its own plantation makes available high-yielding disease resistant clonal planting stock developed through biotechnology, with the use of these clonal plantations farmers have brought 16000 hectares under these plantations. The clones are procured by forest department of Andhra Pradesh; Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and West Bengal in all 8000 hectares have been planted. The Unit has put enormous efforts to reduce energy, chemicals, and water consumption by updating technology and constantly strives to bring the consumption of all inputs at par with international practices.
If you are in India and in the Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh region and have the opportunity, please visit Bhadrachalam. Help in developing the article is from Vamsee Krishna. She is originally from ITC Bhadrachalam.