Sunday, 6 May 2012

Jagannatha Gutta Temple, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh

Jagannatha Gutta Temple is a very old temple of Lord Shiva on top of a Hill called Jagannatha Gutta. It is about 3 km on the outskirts of Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India towards Anantapur High way.

Gnana Saraswati Temple, Basar, Andhra Pradesh

Gnana Saraswati Temple is a Hindu temple of Goddess Saraswati located on the banks of Godavari River at Basar, Andhra Pradesh, India. It is one of the two famous Saraswati temples in India, the other being in Jammu & Kashmir. Saraswati is the Hindu Goddess of knowledge and learning. Children are brought to the temple for the learning ceremony called as Akshara abyasam. 

Basar is a census town in the Adilabad district in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is about 30 km (19 mi) from Bhainsa, 50 km (31 mi) from Nizamabad, 70 km (43 mi) from Nirmal, and 205 km (127 mi) from Hyderabad.

According to legend, Maharishi Vyasa and his disciples and sage Śuka decided to settle down in a cool and serene atmosphere after the Kurukshetra War. In the quest for a peaceful abode, he came to Dandaka forest and, pleased with serenity of the region, selected this place. After his ablutions in the Godavari, Maharishi Vyasa used to bring three fistful of sand and place it in three small heaps and made images of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kali with his mystic power and later conducted prayers. This idol made of sand has its face smeared with turmeric. Eating a little bit of this turmeric paste, it is believed, will enhance one's wisdom and knowledge. Since Maharishi Vyasa spent considerable time in prayers, the place was then called "Vasara" and turned into Basara due to the influence of the Marathi language in the region. 

Bhimesvara Swamy Temple/Draksharama, Andhra Pradesh

Draksharama is a temple in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh in South India. 

The Siva deity is known as Bhimesvara Swamy. The temple is situated on the eastern bank of Godavari River. The consort of Lord Bhimesvara is Manikyamba. According to local belief the Siva linga at the temple was installed and established by the god Surya. Maha Shivaratri, Devi Navaratrulu, Karthika Masam, and Dhanurmasam are the main festivals celebrated at this temple. 

According to local legend, the temple was built by angels in one night. The construction of the perimeter wall could not be completed before sunrise and still stands incomplete. Several attempts have been made to construct the uncompleted part of the wall but all those efforts have failed with the constructed wall collapsing within a few months. 

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Devipuram Temples, Vizag, Andhra Pradesh

Devipuram is a Hindu temple complex located near Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India. Belonging primarily to the Shakta school of Hinduism, it is dedicated to the goddess Sahasrakshi (lit., "she who has a thousand [infinite] eyes", a form of Lalita Tripurasundari or Parvati), and her consort Kameshwara (a form of Shiva).

Devipuram's primary focus is the Sahasrakshi Meru Temple, a unique three-story structure built in the shape of a Sri Meru Yantra; i.e., a three-dimensional projection of the sacred Hindu diagram known as Sri Chakra, which is central to Srividya upasana (an ancient and intricate form of Tantric Shakta worship). Measuring 108 feet (33 m) square at its base and rising 54 feet (16 m) high, the temple has become an increasingly popular pilgrimage destination over the past decade. Two other shrines, the Kamakhya Peetham and Sivalayam, are located on hills adjacent to the main temple. 

The sanctum sanctorum of the Sahasrakshi Meru Temple is reached by circumambulating inward and upward, past more than 100 life-sized murthis of various shaktis or yoginis (deities expressing essential aspects of the Devi) who are, in Srividya cosmology, said to inhabit and energize the Sri Chakra. Their exact locations are "mapped" in an elaborate ritual called the Navavarana Puja ("Worship of the Nine Enclosures"), which was in turn condensed into a mantric composition called the Sri Devi Khadgamala Stotram ("Hymn to the Auspicious Goddess's Garland of Swords"), forming the basis of the temple's layout. 

Visa Balaji Temple, Chilkur, Andhra Pradesh

Visa Balaji Temple or Visa God is an ancient Hindu temple of Lord Balaji on the banks of Osman Sagar Lake near Hyderabad, India. It is 33 km from Mehedipatnam. It is one of the oldest temples in the Telangana region built during the time of Madanna and Akkanna, the uncles of Bhakta Ramadas the shrine is instrumental for the temple's popularity as Visa God. 

It is also the only temple in India that does not accept any money, does not have a hundi, from the devotees, no green channel or privileges for VVIPs, and it fought and won the right to stay out of government control except for the temple "Ramanuj Kot", a temple in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

From the style, structure and appearance, it can be inferred that the temple was built half a millennium ago. Set in sylvan surroundings, Chilkur Balaji Temple attracts thousands of pilgrims every year and is an ideal place for sequestered retreat and meditation. It enjoyed in the past, great days of pomp and glory. 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Gangamma Temple, Boyakonda

Gangamma is the incarnation of Shakti. Located at Chowdepalli, Chittoor District, near Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, her temple is dedicated to the sister of Venkateswara.

Centuries ago the tribals Boyas and Yelikas lived in the forest area around the hillock. They stood up and resented the repressive and automatic rule of the Nawabs. They retaliated against the Muslim soldiers and chased them. The Golconda Nawab rushed additional troops to crush the revolt. Boya tribals could not withstand the onslaught of the Muslim army and fled into the forest and prostrated near the hillock and prayed Almighty to save them. The spirit of the Goddess Shakti descended from the hillock, shielded the tribals and crushed the Nawab's army. Local people say that the Shakti has tied the heads of soldiers to banyan tree branches. 

Bhadrakali Temple, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh

Bhadrakali Temple in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh is known to be one of the oldest temples for Goddess Bhadrakali in India. This temple is located on the banks of the Bhadrakali lake, a picturesque location between Hanamkonda and Warangal. This temple is believed to be constructed by the King Pulakesi II of Chalukya dynasty around 625 A.D to commemorate his victory over Vengi region of Andhra Desham. This can be observed from the square pillars used in the temple structure which were different from the circular pillars commonly used in temples constructed by Kakatiyas. 

The Kakatiya kings of "Orugallu empire" which is the present Warangal city have adopted Goddess Bhadrakali as their "Kula Devatha" giving her preference over other gods. The lake was built later by Ganapathi Deva, a minister in Kakatiya Dynasty. A road leading to the temple was also added during that period. 

Due to the fall of Kakatiya Dynasty to the Muslim ruler of Delhi Ala-ud-din Khilji, his general Malik Kafur and later to Ghias-ud-Din Tughlak, and during the rule of Bahamani Sultans and Golkonda rulers, the temple lost its prominence over the period and the place has become dilapidated.

Before the temple was renovated in 1950 there were Animal Sacrifices at the temple (an old custom at Kali temples in India). This practice was stopped from 1950 onwards after the renovation of the temple. During the renovation, Chandi yantra was installed in the temple and amrutha beejaksharas (holy shlokas) were written on the deity's hanging tongue and modified the deity's fierce looking eyes and tongue to a pleasant looking face. Since then everyday poojas, Sharannavaratras, Vasantha navarathras are being conducted regularly as per the Vedic rites. 

Bhadrachalam Temple, Bhadrachalam, Andhra Pradesh

Lord Sree Sita Ramachandra Swamy Temple in Badrachalam is a Hindu temple of Lord Rama located in Andhra Pradesh, India. The area is called as Bhadrachalam and is the venue of grand celebrations on Rama Navami day, when the wedding anniversary of Lord Rama and his consort Sita takes place with much fanfare.

The temple in Bhadrachalam is closely connected with the life of the 17th century saint composer Kancharla Gopanna who was known as Bhakta Ramadas. Gopanna was the Tahasildar of Bhadrachalam (second half of the 17th century), is said to have used 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 innumerable number of 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 and Menaka, 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. 

Ayappaswami Temple, Sabarimala, Kerala

Sabarimala is believed to be the place where the Hindu God Ayyappan meditated after killing the powerful demoness, Mahishi. Ayyappan's temple is situated here amidst 18 hills. The temple is situated on a hilltop at an altitude of 468 m (1535 ft) above mean sea level, and is surrounded by mountains and dense forests. Temples exist in each of the hills surrounding Sabarimala. While functional and intact temples exist at many places in the surrounding areas like Nilackal, Kalaketi, and Karimala, remnants of old temples survive to this day on remaining hills. 

Sabarimala is linked to Hindu pilgrimage, predominantly for men of all ages. Women between the ages of 10 and 50 are not allowed to enter the temple, since the story attributed to Ayyappa prohibits the entry of the women in the menstrual age group. This is because Ayyappan is a Bramachari (Celibate). The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja (approximately November 15 to December 26), Makaravilakku (January 14- "Makara Sankranti") and Vishu (April 14), and the first six days of each Malayalam month.

The devotees are expected to follow a vratham (41-day penance) prior to the pilgrimage. This begins with wearing of a special Mala (a garland made of Rudraksha or Tulasi beads). In general from then they are to refrain from non-vegetarian food of any kind (except dairy) alcohol, and tobacco, engaging in sex, using foul language, hair-cuts and shaving. They are expected to bath twice and visit the local temples regularly and only wear plain black, blue or saffron coloured traditional clothing. The visit to Sabarimala is thought for settling the shani-dasha to make the planet give better life and lifespan. This is according to astrological principles of controlling shani-dosha. 

Hundreds of devotees still follow the traditional mountainous forest path (approximately 52 km) from Erumely, believed to be taken by Ayyappa himself. The part starts from Erumely to Aludha river, then crosses the Aludha mountain to reach Karivilam thodu. Now comes the sacred Karimala crossing, from there to Cheriyanavattom, Valliyanavattom and finally Pamba River. Then have claim neeleemala and we enter into the ganesh bettam, shreeram betta padam. Aranmula kottaram is one of the halt place of holy journey 'thiruvabharana khosayatra'. But many people use vehicular traffic which can go till the Holy Pamba River by an alternate road. Thereafter, all the pilgrims have to follow a mountainous forest trekking path approximately nine kilometers up a steep hill (Neeli Mala) to Sabarimala. This path, now developed, with shops and medical aid by the sides, used to be a mere trail through dense forest.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Ashtalakshmi Temple, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

Ashtalakshmi Temple is a popular Hindu temple of Goddesses Ashtalakshmi in Hyderabad, India. This magnificent temple dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi stands distinctly on the outskirts of the city. Amidst the varied Islamic architectural monuments in the area, this temple has a different style — a touch of south Indian architecture. 

Among the Hindu pantheon, the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, finds a special place in the hearts of the people for she brings prosperity and happiness as well as salvation. But very few temples have Goddess Lakshmi in her eight splendorous forms.

Built under the auspices of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, the temple was consecrated in April 1996. It is one of its kind in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This temple is located between Dilsukh Nagar and LB Nagar, Alkapuri near Kothapet.

Ardhagiri Sri Veeranjaneya Swamy Temple, Andhra Pradesh

Ardhagiri Sri Veeranjaneya Swamy Temple is located one and a half km. up of the hill in Aragonda village, Chittor District, Andhra Pradesh, 15 km away from Kanipakam.

According to legend, during Tretayuga, Hanuman brought Sanjeeva Parvatham in order to save Lakshmana during a war when Lakshmana fell unconscious. During the journey, half of Sanjeeva Parvatham fell, and the place where it landed came is known as Aragonda. Aragonda, initially is called as Arakonda (In Telugu language, "Ara" (sounds A'raw)means 'Half' and "Konda" (sounds Kon'Da) means Hill or Mountain).

With the time, the people changed their way of pronouncing this word "Arakonda" as "Aragonda" which is now the name of the village under this hill. This hill is famous with name "Ardhagiri" (Ardha means Half and Ge'ree means mountain). In Ardhagiri, it is believed that Sanjeevaraya Pushkarini (pond containing the holy water) never gets dried nor spoiled, even when kept for long periods of time. When devotees drink this theerham (or holy water) from the Sanjeevaraya Pushkarini, all types of diseases are getting cured. 

Arasavalli, Andhra Pradesh

Arasavalli is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to the sun god Surya, located near the Srikakulam town of Andhra Pradesh, India. The original name Harshavalli means abode of joy.

The temple is believed to have been built in the 7th Century AD by the Kalinga rulers Devendra Varma of Orissa. 

Arasavalli is home to an ancient temple to the Sun (Suryanarayana) - said to have been built originally by the Kalinga rulers of Orissa around the 7th century CE. Arasavalli is located at Srikakulam near Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.. Also near Srikakulam are the Mukhalingam temples built in the Orissa temple idiom, and Sree Kurmam bearing a shrine to Vishnu depicting his Kurma avataram. 

Legend has it that Indra the king of Gods attempted to force his entry into the temple of Koteeshwara - Shiva and was thrown away by the gatekeeper Nandi. Repentful of his arrogance in attempting to force his entry, Indra enshrined Surya the Sun God in a temple and performed worship services, at Arasavalli. 

Annavaram, Andhra Pradesh

Annavaram is a village situated on the banks of the Pamba River in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh state in India. The most distinctive feature of Annavaram is the shrine to Lord Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy situated upon the Ratnagiri Hills. The land of the Annavaram is considered to belong to both Lord Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swami Temple and Goddess Anantalaxmi Satyavathi Ammavaru. 

National Highway (NH)-5 passes via Annavaram. The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) operates regular bus services from Kakinada to Tuni, Rajahmundry to Tuni, and Yele-swaram to Tuni via Annavaram. Important trains of the South Central Railways (SCR) passing through are the Vijayawada-Vishakapatnam Ratnachal superfast express, the Chennai-Howrah Mail, Kolkata-Chennai halt at Annavaram, which is the nearest railway station within about 2 miles of the temple. The temple, situated on the hill top is about four furlongs (almost a kilometer) away from its base. It can be reached either by steps covered with canopy, via Ghat road, or trekked via a stone path. 

Amararama, Andhra Pradesh

Amararama is one of the Pancharama Kshetras which is located at Amaravati town near Guntur City in Andhra Pradesh in South India. Lord Shiva is known as Amareswara Swamy or Amaralingeswara Swamy here. The temple is situated on the southern bank of Krishna River. The consort of Lord Amareswara Swamy is Bala Chamundika. The Sivalinga at this place is installed and established by Lord Indra.

The Sivalinga here is very tall that the archakas mount a pedestal platform, and perform the daily rituals as well as Abhisheka. The top of the Linga has a red stain on it. It is said that Sivalinga was growing up in size and to stop its growth, a nail has been hit onto the top of the Sivalinga. When the nail dug into the Linga, blood started to ooze from the Sivalinga itseems. The stain can be seen even today.

Ahobilam, Andhra Pradesh

Ahobilam is located in the Allagadda mandal of Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is located at a distance of 40 km from Nandyal and about 150 km from Kurnool, the district headquarters. There are two temple houses, lower Ahobilam and upper Ahobilam.

It is a major pilgrimage site in South India, is one of the 108 Vaishnava Divyadesams and known in Tamil as Thiru Singavel Kundram. According to the legend, this is where Lord Narasimha blessed Prahlada and killed the demon Hiranyakashipu.

There are nine temples around the Nallamala Forest range, and in terms of sculpture and architecture all these nine temples stands to be an ultimate testament for the ancient sthapathis in planning and sculpting these temples. A few temples can be reached through trekking. Some temples are inside the cave. Some temples are very difficult to trek to. The holy shrines of Ahobilam (all the Nava are Nine Narasimhars) are eulogized by Thirumangai Mannan. Hence, Ahobilam is one of the 108 Divya Desams. The nine planets that define the human fates are believed to have worshipped these nine Lord Narasimhas to get relief from Rakshashas (demons) and curses of sages for their actions. This is main theme of the work of the great Telugu poet Errana, the “Nrisimha Puranam”. The hereditary powers of the temple rest with the Pontiff HH Azhagiyasingar of Ahobila Mutt. Currently the 45th Jeeyar of this lineage is the reigning Pontiff. The Azhagiyasingars have the unique privilege of being Aradhakars to a Divya Desam (a distinction no other Pontiff enjoys). Occasionally when HH Jeeyar performs Mangalasasanam (pays respects at the temple) at Ahobilam, the Serthi Utsavam is performed (the Moolavar of Malola Nrusimhar and the Utsavar) are united.

The Nallamala hills are personified as Adisesha with his head at Tirumala, middle at Ahobilam and the tail at Srisailam.

Lord Narasimha in nine forms are
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