Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pratyaksha Darshanam

shirdi sai baba

Copy & paste this link in the address bar for the live darshan from Samadhi Temple.

Copy & paste this link in the address bar for the live darshan from Dwarkamai.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

West Godavari Temples

Someswara Aalayam Temple
Location: Kotipalli, West Godavari
Deity: Lord Shiva

Someswara Temple Legend: This area is connected with Puranic legend and personages. It is here, according to legends, Indra, installed a great Sivalinga and offered Jalabhishekam to the Lord with the water from one crore rivers hence the name Koteeswara linga. Another legend states that the Moon-god got rid of his sin by bathing in the Pushkarini and worshipping the icon of Somasekhar installed under the guidance of Brihaspathi. He got back his lusture with the grace of Lord Siva; hence the deity is called Chaya Someswaraswamy. It lies 12 km off Draksharama in West Godavari.

Tirumala Mallikarjuna TempleTirumala Mallikarjuna Aalayam Temple
Location: Dwaraka (ద్వారకా తిరుమల), West Godavari
Deity: Lord Shiva

This shrine is famous in history as the famous Hariharakshetra and enshrines both Siva and Vishnu temples. The Siva Aalaya is located at the head, and the Venkateswara at the tail of the hill, which confirms the legendary description that the hill is the terrestrial form of Anantha - the divine couch of Srimannarayanan. Of course, the Venkateswara Aalaya has out- shadowed the Siva shrine. This temple lies 12 km off Bhimadole.

Gangeswaraalayam Temple
Location: Tadikalapudi, West Godavari
Deity: Lord Shiva

This lies in Tadikalapudi village at a distance of 20 km to Eluru in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. An ancient temple with a fascinating tale. It was originally built by Bhishma. The Sivalinga is called Gangeswara Sivalinga is Swayambhu.

Legend: It is believed that, once an ardent devotee was advised by Lord Siva to build an Aalaya for him in that sacred place itself, and if he neglected His bidding. He would grow to unusual height. Fearing evil consequence, the people built an Aalaya and drove a nail on the top of Sivalinga to stop its growth. Siva kept up His word and the devotees were blessed. There is another Aalaya for Sri Rama here and it is equally famous.

Golinageswara Swamy Aalayam Temple
Location: Nidadavole near Kovvuru, West Godavari
Deity: Lord Siva

This place was called Niravadyapuram after the title Niravadya of the Prince Vijayaditya of the Western Chalukyas. He built this temple after a cowherd found a big Sivalinga. The king diverted huge sums of money. The temple has many deities along with Rajarajeswari Devi, the consort of Lord Siva. When excavations were carried out intensively in 1943, many idols, such as Nandi and a big Sivalinga were found and installed in mini shrines.

Bhimavaram Someswara Temple
Location: West Godavari
Deity: Moon God Soma as Linga

Architecture: The temple tank is known as Chandra Pushkarini. The Someswara lingam (crystal) is said to glow differently depending on the phase of the moon. The Shivalingam is five feet high and is housed in a two-storied sanctum, with Annapurna - Parvati on the second floor.

Festivals: The Mahasivaratri festival is celebrated in great splendour here.

Bhavanarayanaswamy Aalayam Temple, Pattisam

Location: Pattisam near Polavaram
Deity: Bhavanarayanaswamy - Shiva

This is an ancient site and was called Swarnapuri and Ponnur. Chalukyas patronized the temple. This was the site for literary activities by the sages and literary luminaries. Great debates and vidya goshtis took place here. The deity Bhavanarayanaswamy, is said to have presiding over them and was called Sakshi Bhavanarayana Swamy popularly. The temple is big and possesses fine sculptures. It faces the east. It was built in the 11th century by the feudal lord Nalaparaju who ruled over Avuku, and emperor Kulothunga Chola added rare sculptures. The idol is Swayambhu. There are temples for Rajyalakshmi and Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy. A big Saras called Brahmasaras is held in great reverence here. Another object of great veneration is the Anjaneyaswamy temple right in front of the temple gate. The image is 37 feet high.

Festivals: The Kalyanotsav lasts for 8 days during Vaisakha, which commences on the seventh day in the bright fortnight of the month with rath yatra on the full moon night.

Ksheerarama Pancharama Temples, Narasapuram

Location: Ksheeraramam temples also known as Paalakollu are located near Narasapuram in the West Godavari belt of Andhra Pradesh.
It is considered to be one of the five-pancharama Shiva shrines of Andhra Pradesh. The five pancharama temples are Draksharama, Kumararama, Ksheerarama and Bheemarama and Amararama.

Legends: The five Pancharama temples are dedicated to Shiva. Upamanyu, the son of Kaushika muni requested Shiva that he be granted the desired quantity of milk for the performance of his daily rituals and that Shiva caused the Ksheera Pushkarini tank to overflow with milk from the mythical Ksheera Saagaram (the milky ocean). Hence, the names Paalakollu, Dugdapovanam and Ksheeraramam. Rama is said to have worshipped at this shrine.

Architecture: The temple has a towering Rajagopuram. The white marble Shivalingam is called Ramalingeswara Swami as well as Ksheeraraameswaraswamy.

Visakhapatnam Temples

Temples of Visakhapatnam District, Andhra Pradesh

Visakhapatnam, known as `Vizag`, is a port city, the 2nd largest district in Andhra Pradesh, and the mastermind behind India`s steel production silver lining. It is lovingly called `The City of Destiny`. However, the ancient period of time cannot be neglected, as Visakhapatnam was ruled by perhaps all the key ruling dynasties of the erstwhile era. Hindu temples, evidently occupy a major portion of the district. Some widely explored are- Appikonda Temple, Bheemeswaralayam, Kotilingam Temple, Sri Varaha Lakshminarasimha Temple, Simhachalam Temple, the shrines of Lord Venkateshwara in Kailashgiri, the Bhavatarini Kali Temple and the numerous excavated ruins of Hindu temples, the Buddhist and Jain shrines, yet to be declared accepted by the archaeologists. Ancient caves, standing strong since the pre-historic era, tower the area. The temples, built during the reigns of King Krishna Deva Raya, Emperor Ashoka, the Chola dynasty or the Pallava dynasty, are exclusive in their own style of architecture. Lord Shiva and Vishnu dominate the shrines here too, with a handful of temples consecrated in their name. There is a dearth of the female community, when divinity is concerned. Most of the temples were built in between the 12th-15th centuries.

Kotilingam Temple
Location: Panchadarla near Anakapallee
Deity: Lord Shiva

This temple is situated close to the `five fountains` - five jets of water fed by a perennial spring. The presiding deity Shiva has 12 rows of 85 lingams carved on a single lingam. This temple has inscriptions dating back to the 15th century Eastern Chalukyas.

Simhachalam Varaha Lakshminarasimha Temple

Location: Simhachalam near Vishakapatnam
Deity: Narasimha (Incarnation of Vishnu)

Architecture: An ancient temple, it was renovated by the Chalukyas in the 11th century and again by the Eastern Gangas in the 13th. The Tamil Cholas and Vijayanagar emperors patronized this temple. Built on a hill, this temple has exquisitely carved halls. There is extensive use of both Chalukyan and Orissa architecture styles. The shrine is dedicated to Lord Narasimha. The temple is 800 feet above sea level. A flight of steps goes all the way from the foot to the top of the hill, to the temple. At the foot of the hill there are choultries for the pilgrims to stay. They have a bath in the Pushkarani located close to the foothill. The way up is through a glen of trees, close to the top on the north side there is a wooded hollow surrounded by a wide circle resembling an amphitheater, this is the temple of Lord Narasimha of the Northern Circars.

Simhachalam Varaha Lakshminarasimha TempleOne of the pillars in the Mukhantantapa is named Kappam Stambham or the pillar of tribute. It attracts a large number of pilgrims. There is a popular belief that this pillar has the power to cure cattle disease, and barrenness in women. The deity is covered with a thick coating of sandal paste, which appeased the fury of the Lord after the destruction of Hiranyakasipu. This coating is removed only once a year, on the Visaka day in May. The temple comprises of a square shrine, with a tall gopura and mukhamantapa has a small circular tower over it. The natyamandapam has a stone car drawn by two horses, and is enclosed by a veranda, here scenes from the vishnupurana have been sculpted with great skill.

Outside the enclosure, to the north is the kalyanamantapam that has 96 exquisitely carved pillars where the Kalyana Utsava is performed on the eleventh day of the Suklapaksha, Chaitramasa every year. Here Lord Vishnu is represented as Matsya, Dhanvantri and Varuna. There are many murtis of Narasimha here. A perennial spring called gangadhara is found here and is said to have medicinal properties. The Sthalapurana for the temple describes the temple in 32 chapters, and Vedavyasa wrote about the original temple in the Skanda Purana.

The inscriptions on the walls and pillars throw a light on the history of the temple. There is an inscription dated 1099 AD belonging to King Kulottungachola, who conquered Kalinga. Another belongs to the Velnati Chief, Gonka III and is dated 1137 AD, and states that he covered the image of the Lord with gold. There are a number of inscriptions from the Eastern Ganga kings of Kalinga. King Narasimha I constructed the central shrine, the Mukhamantapa, the Natyamantapa etc. The Reddy king of Rajahmundry, the Vishnu-Vardhana Chakravarthins of Panchadarla and others contributed thus enriching the temple. Krishandevaraya visited this temple twice in 1516 and 1519 AD and the jewelry offered by him to the Lord can still be seen here.

Legend: The Puranic legend states that Hiranyakasipu, in order to punish his son Prahlada threw him into the sea, and placed Simhachalam hill over his head in order to drown him. Lord Narayana as Narasimha rescued Prahlada, tilted the hill by standing on one side so that Prahlada could escape. Later Prahlada founded this shrine. Lord Narayana incarnated as Lord Narasimha in order to kill Hiranyakasipu without violating the boons Shiva had granted him. After his death, his fury did not abate, and Lord Siva assumed the shape of a bird or Sarabha and pacified Lord Narasimha. The consecration of this image is said to destroy enemies, secures success in battles, cures ailments, and procures good.

The Sthalapurana consists of an account of the foundation of the temple. This temple was a favorite resort of the gods but fell into disuse. Urvashi, the divine Apsara, informed Pururavas that she had come to the Simhadri hill when Lord Narayana came as Narasimha in order to save Prahlada. Urvashi with Pururavas found the Gangadhara rivulet flowing west. Pururavas thought of finding the lord through penance. On the third day of meditation he saw the Lord in his dream, who told Pururavas that an ant-hill in front of the king held the idol and the king should offer flowers, sandal wood, music, light lamps, and scented smoke to the Lord.

The king woke up, searched the anthill, found the idol, renovated the temple and consecrated it. But did not find the Lord`s feet. The lord spoke to the king that the feet will not be visible and are hidden in the earth, for their sight will get them salvation. And so he should not be seen in his pure form, but only as covered with sandal paste, except for one day on Akshaya Tritiya, where the mere sight was enough to bestow salvation.

Festivals: The Chandana Yatra festival is performed on the third day of the Sukla paksha of Visakha, which corresponds to Akshaya Tritiya day. On this day, the sandal paste, is removed, and the devotees can have darshan of the lord. The Vyasa pournami and the Ashadha pournami days, and the Kalyanotsava in the first week of April are also important festivals.

Nalgonda Temples

Yadagirigutta Temple, Yadagirigutta

Location: Yadagirigutta, Nalgonda
Deity: Narasimha incarnation of Vishnu

The sanctum is a natural cavern on the hill. Jwala Narasimha, Ghandabheranda Narasimha (without an image) and Yoga Narasimha are worshipped here, in addition to a silver image of Lakshmi Narasimha and a shrine to Aandaalamma. Two rock formations in Silver image of Lakshmi Narasimha sanctum wall are revered as Jwala Narasimha and Yoga Narasimha respectively. The Jwala Narasimha resembles a serpent, while the Yoga Narasimha image shows Narasimha in meditation. This temple is at a height of 300 feet on Yadagiri hill. At the foothill there is Vaikuntha Dwara entrance. At the entrance there is a shrine dedicated to Hanuman with a gap in the rock representing Ghandabheranda Narasimha. There is also a temple to Shiva on the Yadagiri hill.

Legend: Yadava, the son of Rishyasringa meditated on Vishnu desiring a vision of three different forms of Narasimha. His wish was granted and the hill was named Yadavagiri, and later Yadagiri. Local belief is that worshipping here for a period of 40 days relieves the devotees of incurable diseases.

Khammam Temples

The place Khammam has been derived from the name of a temple ‘Narasimhadri’, later ‘Stambha Sikhari’ and finally it was termed as ‘Stambhadri’. The vertical rock under the temple is known as ‘Kamba’. This very evidence shows the importance laid on temple architecture in this district. Khammam can be called a tribal land with stress laid on the agrarian sector. However, the fact remains that temples and pilgrim tours are considered significant for god-fearing devotees, who visit places like- Jeellacheruvu, Lord Shiva Temple-Kallur, Lord Venugopal Swamy Temple, Peddama Thalli Temple, Sree Seetharamachandra Swamy temple, Sri Lalitha Maha Tripura Sundari Temple. The places of Jamalpuram and Parnashala are considered extremely holy sites for the Hindus. While some of them were built in ancient times of 12th or 14th centuries, some were built in recent times by prominent people holding fundamental positions. Lord Shiva dominates in almost all the shrines, with a few exceptions. The temple structures were mostly of stone.

Bhadrachalam Rama Temple

Bhadrachalam near Khammam. This ancient shrine is built on a hill, accessed by a flight of steps.
Deity:Lord Rama

This temple is vast in size. The vimana and the mandapams are of fine craftsmanship. This temple is associated with Bhadrachala Ramadas an ardent devotee of Rama. The temple underwent renovation in the 17th century. Valmiki has sung the story of Sri Ramachandra here. The spot where the temple stands was where Lord Rama lived before Ravana carried Sita away. Lord Rama is said to have given Ramachandra darshan and liberated his soul. That is why it is called Bhadrachalam in the memory of the Saint Bhadra. The temple has beautiful pieces of sculpture that captivates the attention with their sheer beauty and excellence of workmanship. Sri Rama is shown here as handsome, well-built, holding the Dhanus-bow and arrow, and standing in the Tribhanga pose. Sita stands close to him, also in Tribhanga pose, with a lotus in one hand and the other hand in the katyavalambita posture.

Bhadrachalam Rama TempleLegend: The temple was consecrated by manushya pratishtha according to local legends the temple finds its first mention with a Bairagi or mendicant who came from Ayodhya. He resided on a small hillock overlooking the mighty Godavari. Here he carved out an image of Srirama and built a small temple. Ramadas were a Taluk official who was sent here to collect the revenues for his masters. He collected the revenues, but instead of remitting them to his masters, he thought that the money could be better used for constructing a temple for Srirama, and hence spent all the money for enlarging the small temple. He was found a guilty of embezzlement and was sentenced to prison by Tanashah for 12 years.

Lord Rama, pleased with his devotee, he chose to appear before the Kutub Shahi ruler, in the form of Gopanna and showered lakes of rupees. The king freed Saint Ramadas and was also allowed to mint gold coins, popularly known as ramatangi. An unlettered woman Dammakka is said to have lived in the hamlet near the hill. She saw a vision of the images of Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana lying sheltered in an unfrequented spot on the hill. Next day, she climbed the hill and discovered the idols on the very spot she had dreamt. Dammakka is said to have built a small mantapa to house these idols.

Festivals: Ramadas expanded the temple and constructed mantapas and gopuras for conducting several festivals for the Lord particularly Sri Ramnavami which is celebrated on a grand scale here. The temple till recently got an endowment of Rs. 20,000/- from the Nizam`s treasury, for the maintenance of worship of Sri Rama. It was at Bhadrachalam that Sri Rama lost Sita, and it was here that he manifested himself to save his devotee Ramadas. During Sri Rama Navami endless streams of pilgrims do the famous Bhadrachala Yatra.

The Yatra follows a serpentine track, creeping up many ancient hill and passes through many dales and woods, which are a part of the Dandakaranya forest (of Ramayana), which form a part of his exile.

Other Shrines: close by are in the vicinity: Parnasala, 32 km near Bhadrachalam is said to be the site of the hut where Rama, Sita and Lakshman lived in exile. Ushnagundam, a hot water spring 6 km near Bhadrachalam is another site visited by them.

Gunti Malleshwara Swamy Aalayam Temple
Location: Khammam
Deity: Lord Shiva
It is built on the river Munera and was called Moudgalya in the past. The Sivalinga is self- manifested and very powerful. There is also an image of Virabhadra, adjacent to it. There is another temple by the name of Narasimhaswamy Aalayam close to it.

Karnool Temples

Sri Sailam

It is located in the forests of the Nallamalai hills, on the Rishabhagiri hill of Kurnool district.
Deity: Lord Shiva as Srisailam. The temple here is known as Mallikarjuna, which is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.

Legend: A reference to Srisailam is found in the Mahabharata in the Vanaparva which states that the Lord Siva abides with his consort Parvati on Srisailam. Brahma also stays here with other Gods. A bath in the sacred lake has the same value as the performance of an Asvamedha sacrifice. The pilgrim benefit and his entire race are freed from sins. The Lingapurana also refers to the Jyotirlinga here. The goddess here is known as Brahmaramba. The place is one of the eight main sthans of Lord Siva and is a Shakti peetha of the Goddess.

Sri Adi Sankara stayed here and composed the beautiful verses in praise of Mallikarjuna swamy in Sivanandalahari. The Sthalamahatmyam of the temple has an interesting story, of the origin of the temple. A princess Chandravati, the daughter of Chandragupta offered a garland of jasmine flowers to Srisailam and eventually married him. This legend is written on one of the stone records of the 16th century in this temple.

Among the bas-reliefs on the outer side of the courtyard, there are two panels, which illustrate this legend on stone. There is another legend concerning the origin of this temple. The tribal say the Chenchus lived in these hills. Once Lord Siva came to Srisailam on a hunt and fell in love with a beautiful Chenchu woman. He married her, she accompanied him in his hunting expeditions to the neighboring forests. Hence he is also known as Chenchu Malliah. This story is corroborated by beautiful bas-relief, on the prakara of the temple - showing a tiger being killed by Lord Siva with his trident. He is followed by Parvati dressed as a forest woman with a quiver full of arrows and four dogs. Chenchus are allowed admission into any part of the temple even today. The garbha griha enshrines a linga. The tribal people drag the car - rath during the festival of the temple and perform minor services within the temple.

During the great Mahashivratri festival, thousands bathe in the waters of the Pathalaganga and worship Lord Mallikarjuna, the Chenchus also perform worship from inside the garbha griha without the priests. Everyone is allowed to perform abhishek - they have to be just Hindus with the waters of Pathalaganga or offer flowers directly. The Buddhist pilgrims, Fahiyan and Hieun Tsang have made references to the Sriparvata hill.

Festivals: The main festivals period lasts from February to May, during this period, the temple comes under Pushpagiri Math of Cuddapah district, while otherwise the management is taken care of by the Jangam priest who is assisted by local Chenchus. The Chenchus take the leading part in the festivities both before and after Sivarathri. Goddess Bhramaramba`s festival comes a month or two after Sivarathri.

Architecture: The temple stands in a little hollow on top of Srisailam hill overlooking river Krishna and is surrounded by forests. On the eastern side there is a causeway from Nagaluti down the hill, to the bed of the river, which is here known as Pathalaganga. The river is two miles from the temple, with a flight of stone steps leading to it. An inscription inside the temple records these steps were built by a Reddi king from the Kondaveedu Reddi dynasty.

The enclosure of the temple forms a rough square measuring 500 feet from east to west and 600 feet from north to south. On the north, south and east sides there are lofty gateways. The center of the outer enclosure stands a stone enclosure with the main temple. The main temple of Lord Mallikarjuna stands in the center of this inner courtyard and is surrounded by a number of minor shrines. The temple of Bhramaramba or the Amman temple as it is popularly known is in a separate enclosure to the west of the inner courtyard.

The main temple is a little structure of a single cell enshrining the Lord in the form of a linga with a small-pillared porch to the front. The main temple of Mallikarjuna is a stone-built structure, and up front is the exquisitely carved Mukhamantapa. It contains several beautifully sculptured stone pillars and ornamental stone eaves. The most valuable object in the temple is a beautifully carved bronze image of Lord Siva as Nataraja. Between the Mallikarjuna temple and the eastern gateway two pillared halls, one contains the Nandi. On the northern side under the tree - Vata vriksha is another shrine dedicated to Mallikarjuna. Local legends say this contains the original linga where the black cow of the princess Chandravati gave its milk.

On the northern side of the pillared Mukhamantapa, is a small Siva temple containing a carved linga known as Sahasra Linga. This is famous for having twenty-five facets, each representing forty lingas thus making a total of 1000 lingas. The three-headed Naga is wrapped around the linga, which is mounted on a stone pedestal. Over the main shrine there used to be a stepped tower, the door frames, eaves of the pillared hall, and figure of bulls were all said to be engraved in copper gilt plates and covered in ornaments.

This temple is famous for its bas-relief work on the outer courtyard walls particularly the south and east walls. The scenes and figures are numerous and different. They act as a museum and a library of the past. All the forms of Siva can be seen here and the legends connected with them in great detail. Srisailam is also a principal seat of Veerasaiva sect. These people wore Sivalingas openly and would defend it with their lives. This was in open defiance of the Jains who persecuted them, and hence these lingas came to be called Pranalingas. The temple dates back to Mahabharata. Even the Puranas declare this the place where Vrishabha or the sacred bull of Siva performed penance to please him.

Alampur Navbrahma Temples, Kurnool , Andhra Pradesh

Location: Situated on the confluence of Tungabhadra and Krishna rivers in Kurnool. Alampur has a number of sacred shrines including Sangameswara and the Nava Brahma temples.

Architecture: The main temple is a cluster of shrines dedicated to the Nava Brahmas. It is situated inside a fortress and resembles the Papanatha temple at Pattadakal. The sikharas are curvilinear and decorated with amalakas - decoration at angles that creates a beautiful effect, blending naturally with masonry for the tower. The temples have a striking resemblance to the temples of Orissa but not on the inside. The inside is similar to the rock-cut temples of western India. There are nine temples in this complex.

Alampur Navbrahma TemplesThe shrines are square with a passage for pradakshina around them. The interiors imitate the rock-cut temples. Carvings on the pillars are identical to the cave temples. The main entrance of the Brahma temple is to the north and has excellent sculptures carved. The panels facing the temple have gods and lingas carved on it. The towers show a northern influence. The shrines show very little of Dravidian architecture. But the sculptures remind one of Gupta art.

Ahobala Narasimha Temple

Location: Ahoblam near Kurnool
Deity: Lord Narasimha It is a place of great antiquity. As the nine shrines are situated within a radius of five kosa or 10 miles, this Tirtham is also known as Panchakosa Tirtham.

This complex has nine temples enshrining the nine images of Narasimha. At the foothill there is the temple of Prahladavarada Narasimha. This temple lies in the center of three prakarams, and is built in the Vijayanagar style. Some distance away is the temple of Alwar Koneru, that supplies good drinking water. About a mile and a half from the temple is the Chatravata Narasimha. Thorny bushes surround the deity and the image is installed under a peepal tree. From the foot of the hill one has to climb to reach Upper Ahobalam. The lower Ahobalam temple is built in the Vijayanagar style and on the way up you keep encountering more shrines. The uppermost temple is the Pranava Narasimha shrine. The path uphill is about six miles through virgin hills and forests. Here you will also find the Karanda Narasimha and Yogananda Narasimha temple.

After destroying Hiranyakasipu, Narasimha taught Prahlad several yoga postures and this position is called Yogananda Narasimha. At this spot the Gobhila and Bharadwaja rishis did penance to rid themselves of the sins they had committed. The temple has a magnificent mantapa and gopura. Very close to the shrine of Guha Narasimha is a huge pillar.

The upper Ahobalam is a plateau at 2,800 above sea level. The two crests of the hill are called Vedadri and Garudadri through which the sacred river Bhavanasani Tirtham flows. The Tirtham divides the two Kumadavati and Pennar rivers and then joins them. The Tirtham is said to be antarvahini - a river that flows underground for a large part of its course. On the southern slope of the hill the Lord is seen as the fierce Ugra Narasimha. According to the Puranas this is the same pillar that was kicked by Hiranyakasipu asking his son if Lord Vishnu existed in this pillar and it was from here that Ugra Narasimha emerged to kill him. Close to this shrine is the shrine of Kroda Narasimha, where he is worshipped as a boar.

It is stated that if narayana satakshari japa and parayana of Varahakanda (prayers) are recited here for three days, it bestows immense benefit to the devotee. Two miles ahead is the shrine of Malola Narasimha. The deity here is called Santaroopa and is seen with Lakshmi. The Kakatiya king Prataparudra donated the utsava vigraha made of gold to this temple. Further up is the shrine of Jwala Narasimha, where Ugrakala can be seen. This is exact spot where Narasimha is said to have torn Hiranyakasipu apart.

Close by Pavana Narasimha is worshipped as Shakta. Thus the Nava Narasimha -
1. Prahlada - Varada Narasimha or Lakshmi Narasimha
2.Chatravata Narasimha
3. Karanda Narasimha
4. Yogananda Narasimha
5. Guha Narasimha
6. Kroda Narasimha
7. Malola Narasimha
8. Jwala Narasimha
9. Pavana Narasimha is worshipped here.

The lord in upper Ahobalam is said to be Swayambu or self-manifested.
Legend: There are two legends associated with Ahobalam. The gods while witnessing the work of Ugrakala sang his praise and hence the name Ahobalam. The other version is that because of the presence of the cave Ahobila, where Garuda worshipped it came to be called Ahobila.

The Chenchu tribe are associated with Srisailam as well as Ahobalam. According to legend Lord Narayana was born as Narasimh avatar, Goddess Lakshmi was born in the Chenchu tribe, and both lived here happily. He refused to go back to Vaikuntam and this love is the theme for many Chenchu folk songs. There are other shrines here including Raktakundam. Lord Narasimha is said to have washed his hands here after killing Hiranyakashyapu and hence the water has a reddish appearance. There is a shrine of Lanja- koneru two miles to the north east en route to Bhargava.

The Ramatirtham is the sacred tank and is five miles from lower Ahobalam. The temple is very old. Vikramaditya (1076-1106 A.D.) is said to have worshipped the Moola Vigraha of this temple. Prataparudra Deva, last of the Kakatiya kings, installed the utsavavigraha of this temple. He halted at Rudravaram, 16 miles from Ahobalam and the idol was cast, and the poem Prataparudriyam was composed to commemorate it.

King Krishandevaraya visited this shrine after the conquest of Kalinga and offered a diamond necklace, wristlet, a gold plate and thousand pieces of gold to the deity. The Upanishads state that Narasimhavatara is suited for worship for it`s anger. According to the Pancharatratstavam of Vaishnavism, the four faces of Lord Vishnu are said to be the four Vyuhas - Vasudeva, Sankarshana (Lion), Pradyumna (Boar) and Aniruddha. Thus the Narasimha type of manifestation is important vyuha of the Lord. It is stated in the Nrisimha Purvathapani Upanishad that God appeared before Brahma as Narasimha first, and gave him the mantra - Narasimha Anushtrup, with which he developed the four Vedas. In the Anushtrup, there are nine forms of Narasimhaswamy, corresponding to the Nava Narasimhas.

Those are the Ugra - angry, Veera - fighting, Mahavishnu - Lakshmi Narasimha, Jwalantha - emitting flames, Sarvathomukha - Narasimha with many faces, the Narasimha - ordinary Narasimha, the Bhishana - frightful, the Bhadra - terrible and the Mrithyormrithyu - killer/death.

Festivals: The important festival of this place is the annual Brahmotsava, that takes place on the first fortnight of Phalgun month, a fortnight after Sivaratri. They have a peculiar custom - the Padmasalis claim the divine consort was a maiden from their own class, and so claim the right to perform the Kalyanotsava of the Lord. During this festival the Lord and the Goddess are brought out to the Kalyanamantapam, and negotiations for the marriage and dowry is begun between the Padmasalis and the Lord himself. The Padmasalis form a group, and select a person to perform the marriage ceremony.

Mahanandi Temple, Nandyal, Kurnool

Location: Nandyal, Kurnool
Deity: Lord Shiva

Legend: Rasa Siddha is said to have built the Vimana and for wages he made the workers set up sand mounds, which he converted into wealth by his power. Proof of this is seen on the main gate of the temple facing the west. A copper plate by Krishandevaraya states that Mahanandi is one of the sacred places where the king`s brother Simha Deva Raya gave valuable gifts. The Sthalapurana states that Nanda ruled over Navanandis where Mahanandi is situated. The king once thought to anoint the idol and perform abhishek with milk. Herds of cows were brought in which included a black cow. This cow gave a lot of milk and was allowed to travel freely and graze in the forest.

Mahanandi TempleThe cow always seemed to take far longer in the forest than usual and the milk supply seemed depleted when she returned. One day a cowherd followed the cow and found her grazing around an anthill and then she stood right over it letting the milk flow over the anthill. From it a young child emerged said to be Lord Krishna, after which the cow returned. The next day the king followed the cow and, hid in a bush expecting to catch a glimpse of the Lord. The cow arrived and circled the anthill, Krishna appeared and accepted the offering. The king in surprise moved forward, scaring the nervous cow, who stepped on the anthill in fright. The child disappeared, the hoof print remained on the anthill. The king realizing his mistake prayed for forgiveness and the Lord ordained the anthill after it dried would become a Swayambhu linga at Mahanandi. The two signs are still visible on top of the Linga.

TankArchitecture: The temple is at the foothill where a mineral spring flows into the fields from underneath the linga, into the tank in front of the temple. The temple is surrounded by mantapas on all sides. The Vimana over the sanctum is in Nagari style. It has a Shikara at the top. The architectural peculiarities show that the temple dates back to ancient times and it was repaired and rebuilt through the ages by many kings. This temple is famous for its curative powers found in the warm tepid mineral water found in the tank in front of the temple. It is a sixty feet square with a mantapa in the centre. The inlets and outlets of the tank are so arranged that the depth of the water remains constant at five feet for the devotees to swim in. The source of this water has never been traced. The water is said to come from five springs called Srisailadhara, Narasimhadhara, Daivodhinidhara, Nanditirtha and Kailasatirtha.

The sanctum contains a linga and is made from a rough uncut rock, with two sockets. Here the linga is seen just above the earth`s surface without the three Peethams underneath. All can touch and worship the Lord. A huge Nandi is at the front of the shrine and hence it is called Mahanandi Tirtha. The tank that lies behind is known as Rudra gundam and there are two more tanks called Vishnu gundam and Brahma gundam. Close to the main shrine is a shrine dedicated to the Goddess. The Srichakra in front of the deity is said to have been installed by Adisankara himself. The popular belief is that if one meditates upon the God then he will receive a darshan befitting his status in front of the mother. The mukhamantapa of the goddess is a recent construction.

Behind the main shrine there are three small shrines containing a Shivalinga each. It is stated that if these are worshipped, they will take one beyond the Sthoola, Sookshma and Karana Dehas to the Turiya stage. Within ten miles of Mahanandi there are other nine other Nandi temples -
1. Padma Nandi,
2. Naga Nandi,
3. Vinayaka Nandi,
4. Garuda Nandi,
5. Brahma Nandi,
6. Surya Nandi,
7. Vishnu Nandi,
8. Soma Nandi and
9. Siva Nandi.

Festivals: The Sivarathri is the most important festival. In the Kartika masa, pilgrims worship in the shrine of Mallikarjunaswamy and then at the shrine of Padma Nandi, which is two miles further ahead. They then go to the Naga Nandi that is a mile to the west, and then proceed to Brahma Nandi, Soma Nandi, and Siva Nandi, which are all nearby. They move on to Krishna or Vishnu Nandi, three miles to the northeast and from there complete the pilgrimage by worshipping Vinayaka Nandi, Maha Nandi, and Surya Nandi. The traditional belief is that the worship of these Nava Nandis should be finished in a day before sunset. The other festivals like Dasara, Ugadi etc. are also important.

Karimnagar Temples

Sri Rajarajeswara Swamy temple

Vemulawada, located 150 km from Hyderabad is known for Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy Temple. It is one of the very few temples devoted to Lord Siva. Popularly known as Dakshana Kashi (Benaras of South India) the temple attracts lakhs of devotees from all over the country.

On the Sivaratri day, a record three to four lakh pilgrims throng the sacred temple at Vemulawada. Special poojas and darshans are held to mark the festivity. Mahalingarchana is performed by about hundred archakas. At midnight Ekadasa Rudrabhishekham is performed to the deity. The temple is brightly illuminated in the night, presenting an aesthetic look.

Special arrangements are made for the pilgrims during the festival. Several cultural and social activities are also organised by the authorities. Free boarding and lodging is provided to the students. Besides, the temple also offers donations for other small temples.

The temple at Vemulawada is next only to Tirupati in terms of its revenues. The temple contributes Rs. 8 lakhs anually to the gram Panchayat for developmental activities in the pilgrim town.

The puranic version has it that Lord Siva after having stayed at Kashi, Chidambaram, Srisailam and Kedareswaram chose to reside at Vemulawada.

Presiding Deity
The presiding deity is Sri Raja Rajeswara Swamy, also called Rajanna. To the right of the presiding deity is the idol of Sri Raja Rajeswari Devi and to the left is the idol of Sri Laxmi Sahitha Siddi Vinayaka.
In the temple premises there is a holy tank called the Dharma Gundam. Three mandapas were constructed on it and the statue of Lord Eshwara resides in the middle. The Lord is seen in a meditation posture with five lingas surrounding the holy tank.
Although devotees make offerings to the presiding deity in different ways, the most important one is Kode Mokku (offering of bull to God). The devotees who bring the bull take them round the temple and tie it somewhere in the temple complex. The significance of this ritual is that devotees will be cleansed of their sins and they can beget children.
The lighting of the holy lamp or Ganda Deepam is also considered auspicious by the devotees visiting the shrine.
This temple attracts followers of both Vaishnavism (worshippers of Vishnu), and Saivism (worshippers of Siva), and is also being frequented by Jains and Buddists. The sculptures on the temples also depict the cultures of Jainism and Buddhism.
The Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy Temple is a fine example of communal harmony where both Hindus and Muslims offer obeisance to Lord Siva and Allah.

A unique feature of the temple at Vemulawada is that it also houses a 400 year old mosque inside its premises. It is believed that the mosque was built as a tribute to a muslim devotee of Lord Siva who lived for many years in the temple precincts and breathed his last.

Places to Visit

Kondagattu, about 35 Kms from Karimnagar is the temple of Lord Anjaneya. Situated amidst hills, valley & water springs Kondagattu is blessed by nature and very scenic. According to the folklore, the temple was constructed by a cowherd some 300 years ago. The present day temple has been built 160 years ago by Krishna Rao Deshmukh. It is belived that if a women offers puja for 40 days at this temple then she will be blessed with a child.

Apart from the temple, the fort of Kondalaraya & Bojjapotana caves are worth seeing at Kondagattu.

On the banks of River Godavari, 78 Kms from Karimnagar, is the 15th century temple town of Dharmapuri. According to the legend king Bali Verma performed the Dharma Devta Yagna here. He wanted all his people to follow and live according to Dharma. Hence this village got its name as Dharmapuri.

Dharmapuri is an ancient seat of learning languages, literature, dance and music. Among the prominent temples in the town are the 13th century Sri Lakshmi Narsimha Swamy temple, Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple, Sri Ramallingeshwara Swamy temple where Shiva & Vishnu temples exist side by side. River Godavari adds to the scenic splendour.

Kaleshwaram Travel Information
This pictureque spot, surrounded by thick forests is located 130 Kms from Karimnagar, 32 Kms from Manthani and lies on the confluence of the River Pranahitha and the River Godavari.
The ancient temple dedicated to Mukteshwara swamy is of special significance as two Shivalinga's are found on a single pedestal. Besides several temples situated here the one dedicated to Brahma is rather uncommon.

How to Reach
Located 39 km from Karimnagar.
From the District Headquaters of Karimnagar the temple is 36 km and from Hyderabad 174 kms by road. The A.P.S.R.T.C has provided number of buses for the convenience of the pilgrims.