Sometime in the early 1790s, Bhavani Prasad Bhatnagar began to search for a bride for his son. Bhavani Prasad Bhatnagar was among the key officials whom the Nizam had brought to Hyderabad from North India because of their knowledge of Persian and protocol. Within a few years, he was favoured with a mansab of ?1500 and a jagir from which he received a rent of ?3244 per year. He was also a revenue contractor collecting revenue for other noblemen, besides commanding a cavalry of 4000.
Then fate intervened in a cruel way. Bhavani Prasad’s son of marriageable age passed away suddenly. An inconsolable Bhavani Prasad turned to religion and his family priest. “The family priest Gundachari suggested that he spend some of his wealth to build a temple for Lord Rama as he was a devotee. And Bhavani Prasad agreed,” informs Tirumala Deshbhakta Chary, the current priest of the temple which is known as Rambagh Temple in Attapur area. Bhavani Prasad who lived close to the Chowmahalla Palace in the Chowk area began building the temple.
The temple was ready but there was no idol and Bhavani Prasad dreamt about idols of Rama at the house of a nobleman in Gadwal samsthan. Bhavani Prasad sent Gundachari to bring the idols which were under the care of Venkata Ramana Chari, a priest from a place called Ananthasayanam in Kerala. The idols of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were installed in 1810 with Sikander Jah Nizam II attending the ceremony with great pomp and gaity.
Deshbhakta Chari is the 10th generation priest of the temple who traces his lineage from Venkata Ramana Chari, the first priest of the temple.
The temple is an oasis of silence in the chaos of a bustling metropolis thanks to the walled compound that houses the temple, a goshala and a few residential quarters. Very few worshippers come to the temple except during Rama Navami when the chariot procession and the celestial wedding draw crowds from neighbouring areas. But that quiet is not likely to last as land sharks have already gobbled up much of the temple land. In one portion, sand lorries are parked, in another part a school has come up, the multiplying residential quarters have further shrunk the space between the kalyana mandapam and the entrance of the temple.
“There were three temple wells called Rama gundam, Lakshmana gundam and Sita gundam. Now they are defunct; you have to climb the wall to see their outline,” says Deshbhakta Chari.
The western wall of the temple which could be seen from the PVNR Expressway is no longer visible. Only the small gopuram painted white for Rama Navami is visible.
Bhavani Prasad’s inheritance passed on to his daughter’s children. One of them came to head Nizam’s Arbab-i-Nishat or Department of Entertainment which was responsible for organising nautch parties, dancing girls, singers, musicians, buffoons for Nizam and his entertainment.
“In 2016, Vinay Mohanlal Bhatnagar the legatee of Bhavani Prasad passed away. Now the temple is under the Endowments Department,” informed Deshbhakta Chari who lives in a small room within the compound of the temple.