Boni (Anandapuram): The unique Amaresvara Temple at Boni Village of Anandapuram mandal has a deceptively modern exterior that belies the fact that it’s at least 800-years-old and existed in the medieval era. Situated around 45 kilometres from the city, even the locals are unaware that the Amaresvara Temple is an amalgamation of various dynastic cultures that once thrived in the district.
According to Boni villagers, the Shiva temple was spotted after the Goshtani river water receded around 100 years ago. While the interior of the temple is intricately carved with sculptures and icons, the exterior is a plain square whitewashed structure which was renovated in 1946 after the river had damaged it.
From the five Telugu and Sanskrit language inscriptions that were found inside the temple, the earliest legible one dating back to the Saka era of 1168 (1246 AD), it appears that the temple existed in the era of the Eastern Ganga King Narasimhadeva I and the Dravidian architecture and sculptural style dates it during the reign of Ananga Bhima III (1211-38 AD).
The temple also abounds in medieval era sculptures. These include cult icons of Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva and a female deity on the walls of the garbagriha. Figures of other deities like Lakshmi Narayana, Bhairava, Venugopala, Ganesha, human figures of dancers, drummers, devotees, royalty, floral motif of lotus, animal and bird motifs such as nagas, goose, lion, elephant, deer as seen in the Buddhist art of Nagarjunakonda, bulls with strings of bells in early Chalukyan tradition can be found. The presiding deity is a small broken Shiva lingam of kondalite stone with a Nandi bull facing it.
Nearly a decade ago, Andhra University’s history department had attempted to study the temple. Research scholar Malla Ram Kumar and research director Prof S Nageswara Rao were involved in the study.