Srisailam is a holy town located in the Nallamalai ranges of the Eastern Ghats and houses the Bhramaramba Mallikarjunaswamy Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy (a form of Shiva) and Devi Bhramaramba (a form of Parvathi). The specialty of this temple is that it houses one of the 12 JyotirLingas and is also one of the 18 Shakti Peethas. Both these deities are self-manifested (Swayambhu).
Our Day2 started at 6.30 in the morning. The temple was just a stone’s throw away from where we stayed and our Abhishekam slot was between 7-8AM (you can choose the slot when you book tickets online). Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy is the presiding deity of Srisailam. Srisailam is also the The best thing about the Abhishekam seva is that you get to perform the same yourself. You pour water over the Shiva Linga, also rose water, offer flowers and then pray to the Almighty by placing your head on the Linga. Every single person, irrespective of his caste, creed or sex is allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum (Garbagriha) to do this. I also found that there was absolutely no one asking you for any extra money in the temple, people employed being helpful and patient with handling the lonnnnnng queues and the premises being maintained very clean too. We finished the Abhishekam, offered our salutations to Bhramaramba Devi (the divine consort of Lord Mallikarjuna), collected our ladoo prasadam and moved on. The ladoos are very very tasty and so is the Pulihora, that you get in the Prasadam counters – you would not want to miss them 😛 (You get 4 ladoos free with every Abhishekam ticket)
Legend of the Srisailam temple:
Long ago, Princess Chandravathi of the Chandra Gupta dynasty faced a domestic calamity and decided to forsake royal comforts. She went to the Srisailam forests and was living on fruits and cow’s milk. One day, she noticed that one of the cows around was not yielding milk. Later she learned through her herdsman that the cow was going to a secluded spot and showering milk on a Linga amid mallige (jasmine) creepers. The next day she herself went to that spot and witnessed the miracle. The same night Lord Shiva appeared in her dream and asked her to build a temple at this spot. Since the Linga was entangled in mallige creepers, the deity was named Mallikarjuna.
Legend behind Bhramaramba Devi:
Bhramaramba means the Mother of bees. Once upon a time, a demon named Arunaasura ruled the whole world. Chanting Gayatri mantra, he performed Tapasya (meditation) for a very long time, and pleased Lord Brahma. Arunaasura wished that he should not be killed by anybody with either two or four feet. Lord Brahma granted his wish. The Devatas were worried about this and prayed to Adi Shakti. She assured them that Arunaasura was her devote and can’t be killed unless he stops worshiping her.
As per the plan, Brihaspathi (Jupiter), the Deva guru meets Arunaasura. The demon wondered and asked Brihaspathi the reason for his vist. Brihaspathi told him that it was not a matter of surprise, given that the two of them worship the same deity (Goddess Gayatri). Arunaasura felt ashamed of himself for worshiping Gayatri, who is also being worshiped by Devatas and stopped worshiping her. With this, Adi Shakti became angry and took the form of Bhramari / Bhramarambika. She created innumerable bees, which had six legs. These bees kílled Arunaasura and his whole army within seconds.
Interesting, aren’t they? There are many more legends associated with this temple and all of them equally interesting. You can read them all here 🙂
Photography was not allowed inside the sanctum ofcourse, but I could not take pics even outside because I did not carry the camera along. The temple looks marvellous, thankfully not altered in the modern and sophisticated way, and hence maintaining that old world charm with exquisite carvings in stone all over. The temple also houses 5 Shiva lingas installed by the Pandavas.
After our darshan at the temple, we were all packed up and ready to leave for Mahanandi, but not before visiting a few other significant places in Srisailam.
We first visited Shivaji Spoorthi Kendra, but more about that in the next post, since it is a post in itself 🙂
This post is getting really long, eh? But that is Srisailam, so many interesting places to see and talk about 🙂
Picture this! Hemareddy Mallamma, an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva shed tears of joy when Lord Shiva appeared before her. There is a temple dedicated to her in which, to this day, tears keep flowing and have formed a small pool. You can actually see the tears streaming down from two sides! Amazing, isn’t it? This temple is just about a kilometer from the main temple.
There are statues depicting her life all around the temple garden. Here is one!
The view while coming out from the temple towards the entry/exit gate
Our next destination was Phaladhara-Panchadhara, where Adi Sankaracharya, a spiritual leader, performed penance and composed the Shivananda Lahari. It is a narrow valley approached by a flight of about 100 steps, where two streams known as “Phaladhara – Panchadhara” flow uninterruptedly throughout the year. This place is about 4 kms from the main temple, on the way to Mahanandi itself. Infact, all the other places which I will mention below and even Sakshi Ganapati shrine which I had written about yesterday fall on the way to Mahanandi.
Devotees collect the water from the stream in their hands and pour it over this Linga.
Adi Sankara and Goddess Saraswathi
You can see Sankaracharya’s footprints in front of the idol.
More clear now?
Let us now proceed to Hatakeswaram temple 🙂 This place is just about a km or even lesser from Phaladhara – Panchadhara. At this very spot , Lord Shiva appeared inside a pot (known as ‘Atika’ ), before a potter devotee and hence came to be known as ‘Atikeswaram’, which later got metamorphosed into ‘Hatakeswaram’.
The last place we visited in Srisailam was Shikaram. Supposed to be the most sacred spot in Srisailam, Shikaram is located about 8kms away from the main temple. It is the highest peak of the Srisailam hills at a height of 2830 feet above the mean sea level. Legend has it that that a mere glance of this Shikaram frees the human soul from the fitters of rebirth, while some people believe that you will be freed from the cycle of birth and death (i.e attain Moksha), if you are able to see the Gopuram of the main temple from between the horns of the Nandi (Shiva’s vehicle, bull) located here. You can also have a beautiful bird’s eye view of the whole of Srisailam from this spot, which also houses the Shikareswara temple.
Phew! Now you know how much Srisailam has to offer 🙂 From here, we started tracing our path to Mahanandi. Mahanandi is about 170 kms from Srisailam, located near Nandyal town of Kurnool district. Within 15 km of Mahanandi, there are nine Nandi shrines known as Nava Nandis. The place is named after Mahanandi, which is also one of the Nava Nandis.
The nine Nandis are known as Mahanandi, Shivanandi, Vinayakanandi, Somanandi, Prathamanandi, Garudanandi, Suryanandi, Krishnanandi (also called Vishnunandi) and Naganandi.
We visited Vinayakanandi which is the one inside the temple premises itself.
The Garudanandi is very close to the Mahanandi.
This is the Garuda Nandi facing the Shiva Linga inside the temple.
A closer look
And this is how the Shiva linga inside looks like. Somehow, I love this pic 🙂
I so wish to see all the nine Nandis during our next visit there! Ya, I am already talking about the next visit – that is how crazy I am about trotting around 😉
Before you all go away, let me wind up this post right here. I think I will post another one today, given that I have to make up for the two posts I could not put up during the vacation too 😛 Have a steaming hot cup of coffee and be back for more please 😉