Friday, 16 September 2011

Shri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, Srisailam

Location: Sri Sailam near Kurnool. Located in the forests of Nallmalai hills, on the Rishabhagiri hills by the banks of Patal Ganga, Krishna river in Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh. This celebrated mountain is also named as Siridhan, Srigiri, Sirigiri, Sriparvatha and Srinagam.

Bhramaramba Mallikarjunaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy (a form of Shiva) and Devi Bhramaramba (a form of Parvathi) is located here. It constitutes one of the 12 Jyotirlingam shrines of Shiva and is one of the greatest Shaivite shrines in India. The presiding Deities of this kshetram Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy is one of the twelve Jyothirlingas and Goddess Bhramaramba Devi is one of the eighteen Mahashaktis and both are self-manifested.  The unique feature of this kshetram is the combination of Jyotirlingam and Mahashakti in one campus, which is very rare and only one of its kind.
Bhramaramba Shrine

Located adjacent to the Mallikarjuna temple is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Jagdamba known as Bhramaramba here. It has great significance. According to legend, Parvati assumed the shape of a Bee and worshiped Shiva here and chose this place as her abode. One can hear the buzzing sound of a bee though a tiny hole in this temple where Parvati, in the form of a bee, slew the demon Mahisasura.

Legends of Mallikarjun Jyotirlinga
Reference is found in Vanaparva of Mahabharata which states that Lord Shiva abides with his consort Parvati on Srisailam. Brahma also stays with other Gods. Lingapurana also refers to the Jyotirlinga here. A number of legends have grown round Srisailam and its principal deities-
1. Parvatha, son of Silada Maharshi performed penance, pleased Shiva and made him agree to live on his body.  Parvatha then assumed the shape of big hill Sriparvatha and Shiva lived on its top as Mallikarjuna Swamy.
2. According to Shiva Purana, when Lord Ganesh was married before his brother Kartikeya due to which Kartikeya became angry. Despite being stopped and consoled by his parents Shiva-Parvati, Kartikeya went away to the Kraunch Mountain. Even the Gods went and tried consoling Kartikeya but all their efforts were in vain. Because of this incident Shiva-Parvati were very sad and both decided that they would themselves go to Kraunch Mountain. However, when Kartikeya came to know that his parents have arrived, he went away. Eventually Lord Shiva assumed the form of Jyotirlinga and resided on that mountain by the name of Mallikarjuna. Mallika means Parvati, while Arjuna is another name of Shiva. In this way both Shiva and Parvati came to reside in this lingam. It is said that by merely seeing the tip of mountain one is emancipated from all his sins and worries. The person becomes free from the vicious cycle of life and death.
2. A princess Chandravati, daughter of the ruler of Chandraguptha Patana situated near Srisailam on the opposite bank of the river Krishna settled down there with few servants.  One day she noticed one of her cows standing above a natural rock formation resembling the Shivalinga and shedding its milk over it.  The princess in dream was informed that the piece of the stone was a self-manifested Linga of God Mallikarjuna and started worshipping it.  This story is mentioned in the Skanda Purana.  Two sculptures of the Prakara Wall of the temple also represent this story. It is written on the stone records of the 16th century in this temple.

3. Tribals say the Chenchus lived in these hills. Once Lord Shiva came to Srisailam on a hunt and fell in love with a beautiful Chenchu woman. He married her and accompanied in hunting expeditions to the forests. Hence he is also known as the Chenchu Malliah. This story is corroborated by beautiful bas-relief, on the prakara of the temple-showing a tiger being killed by Shiva with his trident 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. They drag the rath during the festivals and perform minor services of the temple. On Shivratri, chenchus perform the puja without priests in garbha griha.
4. Sri, the daughter of a Rishi did penance, pleased Shiva and got her name associated with the name of the Hill (Sailam) which thereafter came to be known as Srisailam.

5. Shiva's sacred bull Nandi is said to have performed penance at the Mahakali temple till Shiva and Parvati appeared as Mallikarjuna and Brahmaramba. Lord Rama himself installed the Sahasralinga, while the Pandavas lodged the Panchapandava lingas in the temple courtyard.
6. Skanda Purana has dedicated a chapter called Srisaila Kandam to it. It is said that Adi Sankara visited this temple and at that time composed Shivananda Lahiri. Buddhist pilgrims Fahiyan and Hieun Tsang have made references to the Sriparvata hills in their writings.
7. It also gained prominence in the 12th century due to Sharana Movement and Vachana Sahitya headed by Basavanna. Akka Mahadevi, famous poet and social reformer did penance here and achieved salvation. Srisailam is also a principal seat of Veersaiva sect. There people wore Shivalingas 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.
Festivals: Main festival period is February to May during which the temple comes under the Pushpagiri Math of Kadapa district while otherwise the management remains with the Jangam priest who is associated with the local Chenchus. Chenchus take part in festivities both before and after Shivratri. Goddess Bhraramba's festival comes a month or two after the Shivratri.
Daily ritual Palki is taken out around the main temple in the courtyard with idols of Shiv Parvati and after Parikarma is taken to another hall where their marriage is organised by devotees.
Darshan: Darshanam start at 04:30 AM and continue till temple closes at 10 PM. Devotees can opt for special darshanam provided by the Devasthanam by prior booking.
Puja & Seva
Devasthanam has arranged for about 31 types of Abhishek & Puja to Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Ganesh, Kala Sarpa Dosh Nivaran, Go (cow) pooja etc which Devotees can perform after getting the tickets/bookings at different tariffs. (During Shivratri & Ugadi festivals ticket puja are not allowed).
Chhatrapati Shivaji used to worship the Jyotirlinga and constructed a Gopuram on northern side in the year 1667 A.D.

Ahilyadevi Holkar, built a bathing wharf consisting of 852 steps on the banks of the Patalganga.
Architecture of Mallikarjun Temple
 Mallikarjun temple is built in the Dravidian style with lofty towers and sprawling courtyards and is considered to be one of the finest specimens of Vijayanagar architecture. The temple has fort like walls, towers and a rich endowment of sculptural work.
Enclosure of the temple forms a rough square (measuring 500 feet x 600 feet). There are lofty gateways on north, south and east sides of courtyard. Main temple of Lord Mallikarjuna stands in the centre of inner courtyard surrounded by a number of minor shrines. Temple of Bhramaramba (popular name - Amman temple) is in a separate enclosure on the west side of the inner courtyard.
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. It is stone built structure and upfront is the exquisitely carved Mukhamantapa. It contains several beautifully sculpted stone pillars and ornamental stone leaves. The most valuable object of the temple is the beautifully carved bronze statue of Lord Shiva as Nataraja at the entrance of the main temple. Statue of Nandi is located in one hall between the Mallikarjuna temple and the eastern gateway.

On the northern side under the Vata Vriksha tree there is another shrine dedicated to the Lord which the local legends say 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 Shiva temple containing a carved Shiva linga known as Sahasralinga. This is famous for having twenty-five facets, each representing forty lingas thus making a total 1000 lingas. The three headed Naga is wrapped around the linga, which is mounted on a stone pedestal. The temple has bas-relief work on the outer of the courtyard wall particularly the south & east walls. Scenes and figures depicted act as a museum and a library of the past. All the forms of Shiva and the legends connected with them can be seen in great details.
Tradition, literature as well as epigraphical sources state that the sacred hill of Srisailam has four gateways in the four cardinal directions namely -
1.   Tripuranthakam: (east of Srisailam) located in Prakasam District where God Tripuranthakeswara Swamy and Goddess Tripurasundari Devi are Presiding Deities.
2.   Siddhavatam (South of Srisailam): on the bank of the river Penna in Kadapa District where Jyothisideswara Swamy and Goddess Kamakshi Devi are the presiding Deities.
3.   Alampur Navabhrama temples (West of Srisailam): located on the bank of the river Tungabhadra in Mahaboobnagar District where Navabrahma Alayas – a group of nine temples of Chalukya period are situated. This Kshetram is also the seat of Goddess Jogulamba, one of the Eighteen Mahashaktis.
4.   Umamaheswaram (North of Srisailam): Located in Rangapur, Achampeta Mandal, Mahaboobnagar District where God Umamaheswara Swamy and Goddess Umamaheswari Devi are the presiding deities.

Secondary Gateways

Besides the main gateways, there are four Secondary Gateways in the four corner directions-
1. Eleswaram: Located in Mahaboobnagar District now submerged in the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam in the North – East with Eleswara Swamy and Katyani as presiding deities.
2. Somasila: Located on the bank of the river Penna in South – East with Skanda Someswara as the presiding deity.
3. Pushpagiri: Located in Kadapa District in the South-West with Santhana Malleswara as presiding deity.
  1. Sangameswaram: Located at the confluence of the River Krishna and Tungabhadra in Kurnool District on the North-West and submerged at Srisailam Dam with Sangameswaram as presiding deity. This temple has been re-built at Alampur.
Other temples of interest one can take taxi (shared or booked) to visit the local sightseeing-
·    Paladhara Panchadara: The spot where Adi Sankara is said to have meditated.
·    Hatakeswaram: Another Shiva temple near Paladhara Panchadara where the lingam was originally made of gold.
·    Sakshi Ganapati: important to visit this temple before visiting Sri Sailam.
·    Kailasa Dwaram: The main entrance to Sri Sailam for those trekking to the temple.
·    Shikharam: After completion of Darshan at Srisailam, the devotee has to visit Shikhareshwara Temple, 8 km away from Srisailam. It is situated at the height of 2811 feet. One can get a view of the Srisailam temple through the space between horns of the Nandi idol here. It is said that if one can see the Dhwaja of Srisailam, one can get moksha. Binoculars are also available. The temple is situated at the highest point in this region. 
·    Patalaganga: bathing ghats associated with Sri Sailam are located. (Krishna River).
·    Others: The Panchmathams, Bheemuni Kolanu, Istkameswari temple, Kadalivanam, Nagalooty, Sarveswaram, Guptha Mallikarjunam temples.
·    Hemareddy Mallamma Temple is about half a kilometer on west side to Sri Mallikarjuna temple and was built in memory of Hemareddy Mallamma at Kaneeru by Karnataka Veerashaiva Reddy Samaj. In the adjoining ashram is the place where she lived with cattle. The place is visited by lakhs of pilgrims.
Other places of interest
Chenchulaxmi Tribal Museum: This is a tribal museum showcasing tribal style and it is just on the outer side of Srisailam temple premises.

Akka Mahadevi Caves: During 12th Century A.D. this cave appeared to have attained its present name Akka Mahadevi caves after the famous ascetic, lyricist and philosopher Akka Mahadevi who hailed from Karnataka. It is believed that Akka Mahadevi did penance in this cave and worshipped the Shivalinga that naturally existed in the deep and dark end of the cave. The A.P. Tourism Department has arranged Motor Boats for visitors to see these caves.

Srisailam Dam

Srisailam dam is built on the Krishna river and is 512 m long. It is set amidst beautiful natural scenery - ghats, cliffs, craggy ridges, plateaus and dense forests. It has twelve crest gates to hold a maximum water level of 885 ft (270 m). It has a live storage of 274 thousand million cubic feet. This reservoir was originally designed for hydropower generation only but was later converted to a multi-purpose facility for water supply and irrigation. Srisailam Hydro Electric Project has been built across river Krishna.

Srisailam Sanctuary
Srisailam also boasts of one of the largest Tiger Reserves in India covering an area of 3568 km². The terrain is rugged and winding gorges slice through the area. The area is covered by dry deciduous forests with scrub and bamboo thickets.
These forests provide shelter to a range of animals like the tiger, leopard, deer, sloth bear, hyena, jungle cat, palm civet, bonnet macaque and pangolin. The down waters of Srisailam Dam is home to a variety of crocodiles.
Mallela Theertham: a waterfall in the middle of the dense forest, 50 km before Srisailam, take a turn to the destination and drive on a bumpy, muddy road which is unmotorable during the rainy season and around 250 steps down the valley to the waterfall.
How to reach

Srisailam can be reached by road from Hyderabad (about 250 Kms distance), there is frequent Bus service by APSRTC & KSRTC from Hyderabad to Srisailam after every hour starting from 05:00 AM and takes about 06 hours journey. Besides, lots of private buses & taxis are available outside Secunderabad railway station & other parts of the Hyderabad. One can start from Hyderabad in the morning & return same day by night or choose to spend few days in the religious environment amidst the picturesque background and explore other important places like Sanctuary, Dam & get a feel of the tribal life.
State-run bus services APSRTC (Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation) and KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) are available from major cities/towns including Hyderabad, Vijaywada, Bangalore, Kadapa, Mahbubnagar, Vinukonda, Kurnool, Tirupati, Markapur, Vishakhapatnam etc. 
Nearest railway stations are Markapur (85 km), Vinukonda (120 km) and Kurnool (190 km) on the Guntur-Hubli section. The Nearest Major Railway Stations like Narsaraopet, Kurnool and Nandyal. Trains easily available from all major cities of the country for Hyderabad (Secunderabad) from where one can take bus/taxi.
Distance (in Kms)
New Delhi
Rajiv Gandhi International Airport of Hyderabad located 195 km from Srisailam is the nearest International airport
Where to Stay
Devasthanam has 25 individual cottages, Pathaleswara Sadan with 23 Deluxe Suites, Sivasadanam guest house with 100 rooms, T.T.D Guest House with 10 rooms, Chandeswara Sadanam with 22 rooms and a dormitory Choultry consisting of 7 Halls. Devasthanam has also constructed a modern complex with 112 suites named as Gangasadan and Gowrisadan. Department of Tourism also maintaining Punnami Guest house. Devasthanam can be contacted for booking/tariff before planning the Yatra.
There are many Dharamshalas (different Samaj) providing economical rooms as low as Rs.200-300 per day. Food is generally free of cost. It is served in large dining halls and is very good quality, hygienic home cooked. Normally visitors give Annapurna donations while departing.
Welfare Schemes: the devasthanam has launched number of schemes and solicits donations towards the main temple, renovation of ancient temples like Temple of Istakameswari,, Pancha Mathas etc, accommodation & fooding for devotees, water supply scheme to households & choultries in the township, allopathic hospital, waterfall etc.
Executive Officer
Srisaila Devasthanam
Srisailam 518101,
Phone: 08524 - 288883,288885,288886,288887,288888.


sudhir k nanda said...

I want to thank Shri Vineet ji for giving us wonderful, splendid & interesting information on such holy destination which lot of people don't even know.

sudhir k nanda said...

vineet ji please accept my sincerest gratitude for this truly splendid spiritual initiative which elaborately portrays the subject and encourages devotional concentration.

Anonymous said...

very informative and very inspiring. shall surely visit the place whenever opportunity comes.

Girish Palkar said...

My visit to Srisailam - Kardalivan-Akkama devi Cave

Indidigital7 said...

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Nice blog
Guys you can visit here to know more
Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga