Ahobilam Narashimha, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India


Deities: Narashimha Bhagwan
Location: Kurnool, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
Best time to visit: All year around
Known as: Ahobilam Narashimha
Festival & Event: Narashimha Jayanti

Introduction:
The Himalayas rise high to the Everest in the north while the far south of India shows the deep sea – rather communion of the three oceans. The western region and the eastern region of the Peninsular India, on the other hand, while tapering towards Kanyakumari, exhibit a wide range of mountains known as Western Ghats present wholesome sceneries and adventurous travel both by rail and road, the Eastern Ghats display not only picturesque view but demonstrate divinity as well. The Eastern Ghats are likened to the great serpent Adisesha basking in the sun with its head (or hood) at Tirumala, its middle at Ahobilam and its tail- end portion at Srisailam – all the three with famous temples on them.

The subject we have before us is Ahobilam. Of course, Tirupati and Srisailam are also frequented pilgrimage centres. Ahobilam because of this special issue. Not only Mahabharatha; but also ancient Puranas like Koorma Purana, Padma Purana and Vishnu Purana mention about Ahobilam and its presiding deity Narasimha. In fact, Brahmanda Purana says that this place was once the palace of Hiranyakashipu who was slain by Sriman Narayana manifesting as Narasimha from a pillar there for the sake of his staunch devotee Prahlad. Vagaries of time brought about the destruction of the then existing structures yielding place to nature’s creation of the mountain range that preserved the site of incarnation as “Svayam Vyakta Kshetram” of Lord Narasimha.

According to Sthala Purana, there are two popular legends for the derivation of the word ‘Ahobilam’. It is stated that the Devas (Gods), while witnessing the terrific aspect (Ugra Kala), the lord took on in order to tear to pieces Hiranyakashipu sung in His praise as ‘Ahobala‘ (Lo: the strength). Hence this place has come to be known as Ahobilam. In support of this, there is a Prapatti sloka about-Ahobilam that reads:-

“Aho Veeryam Aho Souryarn Aho Bahuparakramah
Naarasimham Param Daivam Ahobilam Aho Balam”

The other version is that because of the great cave, the Ahobila, where Garuda worshipped, did penance and realised the lord, the place itself has come to be called Ahobilam. The Ahobilam ‘Kaifiyat’ gives support to this legend. (The Ahobilam Kaifiyat forming part of Mackenzie collections gives very valuable information regarding the Ahobilam temples. Kaifiyats – the digests from ‘Kaviles’ or village registers containing information on the political, social, religious and other conditions of the villages in Deccan were prepared by Pandits and Mussadis working under Col. Mackenzie.) The Ahobilam Kaifiyat is in Telugu and available in the State Archives at Hyderabad (vide “Ahobila Narasimhaswami temple” – Monograph by P. Sitapati, Commissioner of Archives).

As per this record, “On one of the mountains in the Nallamalai hills range, eight amadas from Srisailam Kshetra, Garuda commenced silent penance to obtain a vision of Lord Narasimha who destroyed Hiranyakashipu. The Lord in his grace, after long years of the tapas of Garuda, manifested Himself in the cave of a mountain”.

“Ten ‘Paruvus’ to the north-east of the mountain, where Garuda was doing penance, a vision of His manifestation was then granted to Garuda, who after obtaining a sign of the location of the mountain-cave, gladly travelled thither and saw the embodiment of the Sathsvaroopa,’ Mahapurusha, Lord Jwala Narasimha – not easily accessible to common people. Garuda then worshipped the Lord and praised him that ‘Ahobilam is Mahabalam’ (Ahobilam is a great sustainers with strength). The Lord’s Divya Mangala Vigraha was worshipped by him with several stotra- Garuda then considered himself as blessed after a vision of the Lord. This divine place thereafter obtained the deserving name of Ahobilam”.

“The mountain on which Garuda performed tapas became famous as Garudachala. In the days of yore when truth and dharma prevailed, great heat was observable near the mountain- cave of Ahobila; according to legend when green grass was put in the cave, it would catch fire and smoke would be emitted. Several great Rishis lived there for a time; after sometime with the knowledge that great places would become common Janapadas in the Kali age, they left for northern lands, covering up the Narasimha cave with boulders. Traditionally therefore this place is being called the Narasimha Kshetra. There are thus nine Narasimha places, Nava-Narasimhas; Rishi- installed and worshipping areas”

“Jwala Ahobila Malola Kroda Karanja Bhargava
Yogananda Kshatravata Pavana Nava Moorthayaha”

The Nine Narasimha sthalams are:-
1. Jwala Narasimha
2. Ahobila Narasimha
3. Malola Narasimha
4. Krodha Narasimha
5. Karanja Narasimha
6. Bhargava Narasimha
7. Yogananda Narasimha
8. Kshatravata Narasimha
9. Paavan or holy Narasimha
.

How to Reach:
Before visiting these nine shrines, let us see how we approach the place. Situated in the Nallamalai Hills, Ahobilam is about 24 Kms. from Allagadda Taluk Headquarters, 112 Kms. from Cuddapah and 65 Kms. from Nandyal in Andhra Pradesh and can be reached by bus from Hyderabad and also by rail via Kurnool and then by bus from there. Long time ago, the Tamil mystic bard, Thirumangai Azhwar sang that Singavel Kunram (Ahobilam) was accessible to none but Gods. This is partially true even today since the area and the hills are covered with thick vegetation, thorny bushes and forests where leaves rustle and crickets screech. The whole complex is in two parts – one called Eguvu Ahobilam (Upper Ahobilam) with Nava Narasimha shrines and the other called Diguvu Ahobilam (Lower Ahobilam) with a single shrine for Lakshmi Narasimha connected by a road, stretching a distance of about 12.8 Kms. from Lower Ahobilam to Upper Ahobilam. From there, the other shrines are to be reached only by trekking and managing difficult terrain, flowing streams ad slippery rocks. The nature is bounteous there affording plenty of water by way of ponds, brooks and resting places under shades of forest growth. One can witness several cave like rocks on the way. Quite an adventurous trip indeed to be enjoyed, if one has faith, will-power and devotion. Lions dwell in the forest and no wonder the half-lion manifestation that Narasimha took, chose to dwell in similar surroundings. If one can undertake a strenuous traverse of 8 Kms. from Upper Ahobilam, one can see the Ugrasthambham and have a darshan of the Ukkukambamu (pillar) on the mountain said to be the one from which Lord Narsinh emerged in response to Prahlad’s prayers. Now to deal with Nava Narsinh shrines:-

The Sthalapurana of Ahobilam in Sanskrit gives an account of nine forms of Narasimha, worshipped here. They are:-

1. BHARGAVA NARASIMHA SWAMY: The Bhargava Narasimha Swamy is situated at a distance of two kilometres from the Lower Ahobilam, on a hill, near the sacred pond, known as ‘Bhargava Theertham’, where Bhargava Rama performed his penance. Hence the Lord of the temple is known as Bhargava Narasimha Swamy.

2. YOGANANDA NARASIMHA SWAMY: This temple is to the south-east of Lower Ahobilam at a distance of 2 kilometres. The popular legend is that after killing Hiranyakashipu, Lord Narasimha taught Prahlad several yogic postures. Therefore, the Lord in this aspect is called Yogananda Narasimha.

3. CHATRAVATA NARASIMHA SWAMY: About three kilometres from lower Ahobilam, the image of the deity is installed under a Peepal tree, surrounded by thorny bushes. Hence, the Lord is called as Chatravata Narasimha Swamy.

4. AHOBILA NARASIMHA SWAMY: The temple, situated on the Upper Ahobilam, at a distance of eight kilometres from the Lower Ahobilam, is the main temple and the earliest of all the nine temples there. The Lord here appears in his fierce aspect, called Ugra Narasimha, who is the presiding deity of the temple and is known as Ahobila Narasimha Swamy. It is firmly believed the Lord Narasimha was ‘Swayambhu’ (self-manifest) here.

5. KRODAKARA (VARAHA) NARASIMHA SWAMY: The temple of this Lord is one kilometre away from the main temple of Ahobila Narasimha Swamy on the Upper Ahobilam. The image of the deity has the face of a boar (Varaha or kroda) and the Lord is seen along with his Consort, Lakshmi. Hence the Lord of the temple is known as Krodakara (Varaha) Narasimha Swamy here.

6. KARANJA NARASIMHA SWAMY: This shrine is situated at a distance of one kilometre from the Upper Ahobilam and one furlong from the road leading to Lower Ahobilam. The image of the deity is installed under a tree, called ‘Karanja Vriksham’. Hence this Lord is called Karanja Narasimha Swamy.

7. MALOLA NARASIMHA SWAMY: Nearly two kilometres from the main temple of Upper Ahobilam, is the famous shrine of Malola Narasimha Swamy. The deity here appears in ‘soumya’ (graceful) form. As Lord Narasimha is seen with his consort, Lakshmi, He is known as Malola Narasimha Swamy. The word ‘Malola’ means beloved to Lakshmi (Ma=Lakshmi, Lola= beloved). It is said that the ‘utsavamoorthi’ of the Lord appeared to Srimad Adivan Satakopa Jeeyar, the first Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt. Right from the founder, i.e., the first Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt down to the 44th pontiff, Srivan Satakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatheendra Mahadesika, the present Jeeyar, the utsavamoorthi of Malola Narsinh Swamy is worshipped and it is taken by them whenever they are on religious tours, visiting the villages every year. Recently, the 45th Jeeyar Srivan Satakopa Sri Narayana Yatheendra Mahadesikan has taken over the worship.

8. JWALA NARASIMHA SWAMY: The temple of Jwala Narasimha Swamy, lies higher up the above temple, on a hill called, ‘Achalachaya Meru’. This is about four kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple. This place is said to be the actual spot, where the fierce anger of the Lord reached its culmination when he tore Hiranyakashipu.

9. PAVANA NARASIMHA SWAMY: Nearby the above temple, is the shrine of Paavan Narasimha, on the banks of the river, Paavan and it is about six kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple. Hence the Lord of the shrine is known as Paavan Narasimha Swamy.
In addition to the shrines mentioned above, there is a famous shrine dedicated to God Narasimha Swamy in the Lower Ahobilam, which is popularly known as Prahlad Varada Sannidhi. The other objects of this place are ‘Ugrasthambham’ and ‘Prahlad Mettu’.

(a) UGRA STHAMBHAM- At a distance of eight kilometres from the Upper Ahobilam temple, we can see a cleft of the mountain dividing it into two visible parts. It is a long-held view that from the cleft, the Lord appeared in the form of Narasimha and this cleft is known as ‘Ugrasthambham’.

(b) PRAHALADA METTU- The small shrine, situated in a cave on the hill, is in between Ugrasthambham and the Upper Ahobilam. It is dedicated to Prahlad Narashimha Swamy. The image of the Prahlad is installed in a small cave.

There are a number of holy ‘Theerthes’ (water ponds) round this place. Of these, Rakthakundam is the most important. It is stated that Lord Narashirnha after killing the demon Hiranyakashipu, washed his hands in this ‘Theertham’ and hence the water is still reddish in appearance. (History of the cult of Narasimha in Andhra Pradesh by Dr. M. Narashimhacharya).

LOWER AHOBILAM:
The temple surrounded by three Prakaras in the Lower Ahobilam is dedicated to Prahlad Varada i.e., the Lord whose grace bestows on Prahlad. With Vijayanagar style noticeable in the structure, there are a number of Mandapams outside the temple. A shrine dedicated to Sri Venkateswara exists to the south west of this Narasimha temple and lends view to the episode that Lord Venkateswara obtained the blessings of Narasimha just before his marriage with Padmavati. The Mukha Mandapam there, is now used as the Kalyana Mandapam of Narasimha Swamy. With Lakshmeenarasimha as the presiding Deity, the main temple consists of a sanctum, Mukhamandapam and Rangamandapam with numerous pillars intricately carved and carrying rich sculptures. There are also three smaller shrines for Lakshmi, Andal and Azhwars. In the sanctum are also kept the Utsava idols of Prahlad Varada, Paavan Narasimha and the processional idols of Jwala Narasimha endowed with ten hands and with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi on His either side. A small idol of the first Jeeyar, Sri Adivan Satakopa Swami is also kept before them.

What is apparent and observable is Lord Narashimha’s posture in three places including the one in a polar of a divine ascetic presenting ascetic order to the first Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt. Both in the Upper and Lower Ahobilam, it is a common sight on the pillars of Lord Narasimha wooing His consort Chenchulakshmi. The Lord chasing Hiranyakashipu in one pillar and bursting forth from another pillar to tear him are very realistic. Thanks to the 44th Jeeyar’s efforts as also that of the Endowments Department of A.P. Government, the complex has been renovated, though a lot is desired to be done. It would not be out of place to mention that good resting places, free or paid boarding arrangements (as is done in Tirupati), provision of enough drinking water and Devasthanam canteens would go a long way to attract more number of pilgrims. The annual Utsavam (Brahmotsavam) performed in February every year is a great attraction that lure both the common folk and the religious Pandits to participate in them. Though under the care of the Ahobila Mutt who’s Jeeyars are hereditary trustees, co-operation from the public and the government would help improve Ahobilam further.

There is a tall Jayasthambham erected in the spacious ground outside the temple walls to mark the victory of Krishnadeva Raya. The Kakatheeya Kings especially Pratap Rudra had also contributed towards additional structures and maintenance of this Ahobilam complex.

The text found in this site belong to Sri Ahobila Mutham.

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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Sri Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga, Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh, India

Deities: Mallikarjuna (Shiva)
Location: Srisailam, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh
Best time to visit: All year around
Festival & Event: Mahashivaratri

“Jay Mallikarjuna! Jay Mallikarjuna”

Srisailam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. This whole area is full of forests of Kadali, Bilva trees, mountain ranges and Patalaganga (Krishnaveni river). All of them echo from these joyous voices of devotees.

Legend:
When Kumar Kartikeya returned to Kailash after completing his trip around the earth, he heard about Ganesha’s marriage from Narada. This angered him. In spite of being restrained by his parents, he touched their feet in obeisance and left for Krounch Mountain. Parvati was very distraught at having to be away from her son, implored Lord Shiva to look for their son. Together, they went to Kumara. But, Kumara went away a further three Yojanas, after learning about his parents coming after him to Krouncha Mountain. Before embarking on a further search for their son on each mountain, they decided to leave a light on every mountain they visited. From that day, that place came to be known as JyotirLinga Mallikarjuna. It is believed that Shiva and Parvati visit this place on Amavasya (No moon day) and Poornima (full Moon day) respectively. Visiting this JyotirLinag not only blesses one with innumerable wealth, but also name and fame and fulfils all the desires.

Once, a princess named Chandravati decided to go to the Jungles to do penance and meditation. She chose Kadali Vana for this purpose. One day, she witnessed a miracle. A Kapila cow was standing under a Bilwa tree and milk was flowing from all of its four udders, sinking into the ground. The cow kept doing this as a routine chore everyday. Chandravati dug up that area and was dumb founded at what she saw. There was a self-raising Swyambhu Shivalinga. It was bright and shining like the sun rays, and looked like it was burning, throwing flames in all directions. Chandravati prayed to Siva in this JyotirLinga. She built a huge Shiva Temple there. Lord Shankara was very pleased with her. Chandravati went to Kailash wind borne. She received salvation and Mukti. On one of the stone-inscriptions of the temple, Chandravati’s story can be seen carved out.

Location and Development:
Shaila Mallikarjuna’s holy place is located on the banks of River Krishna. Here River Krishna is in the form of Patalaganga (underground spring). Lakhs of devotees take a holy dip here and then go for the Darshan of the JyotirLinga.

During the Karnataka Movement, Chatrapati Shivaji used to come to take a Darshan of the JyotirLinga during the Maharatri. He built a tower on the right side of the Temple and also opened a free-meal center.

The kings of the Vijaya Nagar Dynasty too built a Temple, Tower, Portico and a pond. Ahelyadevi Holkar, a great devotee of Siva built a strong bathing wharf consisting of 852 steps on the banks of the Patalganga.

Earlier, this part of the Shaila mountains was an unreachable tough terrain and fraught with danger. Even then, devotees, with their sheer will power, used to reach there in large numbers. Hiranyakashipa, Narada, Pandavas, Shri Ram are some of the great mythological personalities who have visited this holy shrine.

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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