Temples of Andhra Pradesh - Srisailam Temple

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

The Srisailam temple is situated on the border of the ancient sacred hill of Srigiri on the south bank of the Krishna River, in the Nallamalai range of Andhra Pradesh at 232 km south of Hyderabad. The Srisailam is also known as Sriparvata has the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which is considered as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Shiva. The existing temple complex dates back to 2nd century AD and Shiva here is worshipped as Mallikarjunaswamy with his wife Bhramaramba Devi. It is also one of the eighteen most sacred goddess shrines, or Shakti Pithas.
 It is believed that when Vrishabha, the sacred bull of Lord Shiva performed penance here, Lord Shiva appeared before him, with his consort Parvati in the forms of Mallikarjuna and Bharamaramba. The images of these deities which are extremely old are enshrined in the more recent temple built by the Vijayanagar king Harihara Raya around 1404 AD. This temple is bounded by a great fort like wall that is 20 ft high, 6 ft wide and 2120 ft in circumference. This wall was built in 1520 AD and has 3200 stones, each weighing over one ton. These stones are decorated with fine relief carvings displaying images from Hindu mythology.
 The temple abounds in sculptural beauty and has about 116 inscriptions in and around it. The great Chalukyas rulers, the Vijayanagar rulers, and the Maratha rulers are associated historically with this temple. Sri Adi Shankara is also believed to have worshipped the deity of this temple. Even the references of the temple can be found even in the works of the Buddhist pilgrims, Fahiyan and Hieun t`sang.
 The most appealing significance of this temple is that anyone of any cast and creed can touch the deity and worship. There is a cluster of minor shrines within the temple enclosure which include the Sahasra Linga, Panchapandava temples and Vata Vriksha. The Sikhareswara Swamy temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is situated at Sikharam, the highest of the Srisailam hills. There is a beautiful temple is Sri Ganapathi temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesh.
 The river Krishna is known as Pathalaganga in this place is referred as a very sacred river for pilgrims. The Maha Shivaratri festival is the most important celebration at Srisailam temple. There is also a festival of Goddess Bhramaramba which comes a month or two after Shivarathri. The region also has the 512m long Srisailam Dam and the Paladhara and the Panchadhara waterfalls apart from the Srisailam wildlife sanctuary.


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