Tuesday, January 20, 2009

7. Bhadrachalam

Name: Sri Rama Temple, Bhadrachalam
Deities: Lord Sri Rama, Goddess Sita, and Lakshmana
Location: Khammam District, Andhra Pradesh

Bhadrachalam is situated on the banks of the River Godavari. Bhadrachalam is 120 km from Khammam, 161 km from Rajahmundry, 201 km from Vijayawada, and 320 km from Hyderabad. Famous temple of Lord Sri Rama is located in Bhadrachalam. The temple was built by Kancherla Gopanna popularly known as Bhakta Ramadasu in 1630 A. D. The temple has the four-armed idol of Sri Ram holding a bow, arrow, conch shell and chakra, accompanied by his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. There are 24 small temples surrounding the main one. There are temples of Lord Shiva and Narasimha that are near the main temple. Sri Rama Navami is grandly celebrated here.

Bhadrachalam is said to have been closely associated with the Ramayana. Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are said to have stayed at Parnasala, 35 km away from Bhadrachalam. This is said to be the place where Ravan abducted Sita. 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. There is also a temple of Sri Rama at Parnasala.

According to the legends, a saint named Bhadra did penance here to seek Rama’s blessings. Sri Rama appeared before him and Bhadra asked Sri Rama to be seated on his head. Sri Rama granted him the boon and Bhadra transformed into the hill and Sri Rama transformed into the idol and stayed on him. Thus this place came to be known as Bhadradri or Bhadrachalam.

Pokala Dhammakka was devotee of Sri Rama who lived in the 17th century in Bhadrireddypalem, which is a mile away from this temple. One night, she had darshan of Sri Rama in her dream and was asked by Sri Rama to trace the idols of Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana on the hill of Bhadradi. On the very next day morning she started searching for the idols and found them. She then constructed a temporary shrine for Lord Rama with the help of local villagers and worshipped the idols daily.

Kancharla Gopanna popularly known as Bhakta Ramadas build this temple in the year 1630 AD. He was the Tasildar working under Tanishah, the Nawab of Golconda. Gopanna heard the news that the villagers of palvoncha paragana were celebrating Jatara at Bhadrachalam. He visited Bhadrachalam and found the idols of the deities. Gopanna then asked the villagers to donate money for the construction of the temple.

Soon after the construction of the temple, he was dismissed from service of Golcond Nawab for mis-utilisation of revenue for constructing the temple and was kept in jail for 12 years in Golconda Fort and was tortured. While he was in jail, he spent his time by singing songs on Sri Rama, which later became popular as Dasaradhi Sathakam and Bhakta Ramadasu Keertanas.

The legend is that Lord Sri Rama and Laxmana appeared in the dream of Tanishah and repaid the revenue collected by Goppanna and when the Nawab woke up he saw the money in his room and therefore released Goppanna from the imprisonment.

The main attractions of Bhadrachalam include Temple of Lord Srirama, River Godavari, Parnasala which is 35 km from Bhadrachalam, and Papikondalu which are 50 km away from Bhadrachalam. Many tourists also visit this place during the Srirama Navami festival in March- April for 10 days.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

6. Antarvedi

Name: Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple, Antarvedi
Deities: Lord Narasimha Swamy and Goddess Lakshmi
Location: West Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh

Antarvedi is located in West Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. It is 10 km away from Narsapuram by boat and 24 km from Razole by road. Vasisht Godavari (one of the seven branches of River Godavari) joins the sea at Antervedi. Antarvedi is famous for the Laxmi Narasimha Swamy temple constructed between the 15th and 16th centuries. It is one of the main pilgrim centres of Andhra Pradesh. Antarvedi is also known as Sapta Sagara Sangama Pradesam and also as Dakshina Kasi. . Antarvedi is the last and the most important of the seven sacred bathing places.

Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple is located on the bank of Vasishta Godavari. There is also a light house near the meeting point of Godavari into the sea. The surrounding is rich with irrigated land because of several tributories of river Godavari. Speciality of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple is that, the God is facing towards West instead of East (usual direction of other temples). Vashishta Sevashram is located near the river where one can have a trip to a small island. LakshmiNarasimha Swami Kalyanam is celebrated on the Bhimsa Ekadasi day, which occurs usually in the months of January or February. Thousands of pilgrims visit this temple on that occasion.

There are five important spots of this Holy shrine namely.
1. The Sea
2. The Sagar Sangam
3. The Vasishta River
4. The Raktakulya River
5. The Chakrateertham

Sthala Purana
Lord Brahma made this place as Vedic to perform Rudra Yaga to get free from his sins and therefore this place is known as Antarvedi. There was a demon king called Raktavilochana who is the son of Hiranyakshapu. He killed one hundred sons of Vashista who was not present at the time. Vasishta could witness the scene with his divine power in Brahmaloka. Vashista prayed Lord Narasimha to save further destruction in the hands of Raktavilochana. Lord Narasimha therefore descended and fought with the demon.

Raktavilochana was granted a boon from Lord Siva that the number of sand particles drenched by the drops of his blood take the form of his body. Lord Narasimha created Maya Shakti, which would prevent the blood of the Raktavilochana falling on the ground and cut the hands of Raktavilochana and ultimately killed him. There after Sage Vashista in the presence of Gods installed the image of Lord Narasimha at Antervedi.

Antharvedi is located at a distance of 130 Kms from Kakinada, 100 kms from Rajahmundry and 65 Kms from Amalapuram. Antarvedi can be reached by boat from Narsapuram, which is 10 km away from Antarvedi. Narsapuram is 112 km from Rajahmundry. One can also reach Antarvedi by road from Razole, which is 24 km away. One can also cross the river by the bridge newly built over the river at Chinchinada by travelling from Narsapur on the Palakol Road till Digamarru and turn for the bridge, which brings one to the East Godavari District, and then proceed to Antervedi by road. Buses are available from Razole to Antervedi. The nearest railway stations are at Rajahmundry and Narsapuram. There are devastanam choultries available for accommodation. There are also hotels located at Narsapuram.

Monday, January 12, 2009

5. Amaravati

Name: Amareshwara Swamy Temple, Amaravati
Deities: Amareshwar (Lord Shiva)
Location: Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh

Amaravati is located on the banks of the River Krishna in the Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh. Amareshwara Swamy Temple, which is one of the five Pancharama Lingas is located in Amaravati. According to Vajrayana tradition, the Buddha preached at Amaravati (also known as Dharanikota and Dhanyakatakam) and conducted Kalachakra ceremony. This ancient temple dedicated to Shiva enshrines a 15ft high white marble Shiva Lingam, and is surrounded on all the four sides by towering gopuras of the usual Dravidian type of temple Architecture. The 'Vimana' of the temple also shows the same style of architecture. Amaravati was also the capital of Satavahanas, the first great Andhra kings who ruled from the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd century CE, after the downfall of Maurya empire.

Mahachaitya Stupa, being the biggest of its kind, is a major attraction of Amaravati. As per the historical records the Mahachaitya Stupa of Amaravati had been formed during the reign of king Ashoka. The unique features of the great Stupa in Amaravati include platforms with 95 feet high cardinals and circular vedika. The entire Stupa was constructed with bricks. A property of the Government museum of Chennai, this Stupa of Amaravati is visited by large number of tourists round the year. Art historians regard the Amaravati art as one of the three major styles or schools of ancient Indian art, the other two being the Gandhara style and the Mathura style. Chinese traveller and Buddhist monk Hiuen Tsang (Xuanzang) visited Amaravati in 640 AD who stayed here for sometime and studied Abhidhammapitakam. The Dalai Lama of Tibet conducted a Kalachakra initiation in Amaravati in 2006.

According to the ancient Hindu beliefs, the places where the river takes a different course for short distances were considered to be very holy and sacred places and thus, temples were built there to pay homage to the Gods. The present holy shrine of Amaralingeswara (Lord Shiva) Swamy Temple was constructed during the reign of Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu who ruled the region before the advent of the British rule. The Mula Virat in the Garbhagriha is a long vertical marble cylinder that have been used extensively in the Buddhist monuments and the white marble lotus Medallion above it has the delicate and ornate style, typical of the early Buddhist sculptures.

Amaravati is situated 35 Km northwest from Guntur and 46 Km southwest from Vijayawada. Buses and private vehicles are available from Guntur. The nearest railway stations are at Guntur and Vijayawada.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

4. Ahobilam

Name: Nava Narasimha Swamy Temple, Ahobilam
Deities: Narasimha Swamy and Chenchu Lakshmi
Location: Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh

Nava Narasimha Swamy Temple of Ahobilam is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. There are nine shrines in Ahobilam that are situated in Eastern ghats. In addition to this nine temple there is Prahaladavardhan Temple at the foothills of the mountain. Ahobilam is the place where the Lord Narasimha Swamy killed Hiranyakasipu and saved Prahalada. Consort of Narasimha Swamy here is Chenchu Lakshi who is the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. She born as Chenchu Lakshmi in the Chenchu tribe who live in this mountains.

Sri Ahobila Mutt is located in Ahobilam. This mutt was established by Sri Athivan. Ahobilam is the one of the 108 Divya Desams.This place was visited by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The eastern ghats in this area are also known as Nallamala hills. Nallamala hills are personified as Adisesha with his head at Tirumala, middle at Ahobilam and the tail at Srisailam. Lord Narasimha is in nine different forms in nine shrines in Ahobilaml. They are 1) Varaha Narasimha Swamy 2) Malola Narasimha Swamy 3) Yogananda Narasimha Swamy 4) Pavana Narasimha Swamy 5) Karancha Narasimha Swamy 6) Chatravata Narasimha Swamy 7) Bhargava Narasimha Swamy 8) Jwala Narasimha Swamy and 9) Ahobila Narasimha Swamy.

Ahobilam is located in the Nandyal Taluka of Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. It is located at a distance of 40 km from Nandyal. The nearest town from Ahobilam is Allagadda, which is 30 km away. There are buses available from Hyderabad, Kurnool, Nandyal and other cities to Allagadda. The nearest railway station is in Nandyal.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

3. Srirangam

Name: Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple, Srirangam
Deities: Sri Ranganatha Swamy (Lord Vishnu)
Location: Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu

Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple of Srirangam is situated on an island formed by River Cauvery and its tributary Kollidam. Srirangam is home to a significant population of Vaishnavites. The temple covers a vast area of 156 Acres with a perimeter of 4 km. The temple consists of seven concentric rectangular enclosures round the sanctum sanctorum. The temple of Srirangam is the only one in India with seven enclosures. There are 21 magnificent towers (gopurams) in all prakaras providing a unique sight to any visitor.

Srirangam is the most important of the eight self-manifested shrines (Swayam Vyakta Kshetras) of Lord Vishnu . It is also considered the first and most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples (Divyadesams). This temple is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam, and Bhogamandabam.

The three sacred Ranganatha temples on the banks of the River Kaveri are:
Adi Ranga: The Ranganatha Swamy Temple at Srirangapatnam.
Madhya Ranga: The Ranganatha Swamy Temple at Shivanasamudram.
Antya Ranga: The Ranganatha Swamy Temple at Srirangam.

The nearest airport is Trichy international airport running flights to Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvanathapuram, Singapore, Dubai, Sharjah, Kuwait, Colombo, and Malaysia. Srirangam has a railway station 320 km away from Chennai railway station. Trichy Central bus stand has direct services to most parts of Tamilnadu. From the bus stand, local buses, taxi, autorickshaw are available.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2. Rameswaram

Name: Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram
Deities: Lord Shiva
Location: Ramachandrapuram District, Tamil Nadu

Rameswaram is famous pilgrimage center in Tamil Nadu. Rameshwaram is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Rameshwaram is a town located on an island separated from the mainland India by the Pamban channel. Rameshwaram is the place where Lord Rama has built the bridge across the sea to Lanka. This is also the place where Lord Rama worshipped Shiva after killing the demon Ravana. This place is known as the Varanasi of the south. Pilgrimage to Kasi is incomplete without the visit to Rameshwaram. The presiding deity is Rameshwaram is Sri Ramanatha Swamy.

According to the legend, upon the advice of rishis, Lord Rama installed and worshipped the Siva Linga in Rameshwaram to expiate the sin of killing Ravana who is a Brahmin. Lord Rama sent Anjaneya to Mount Kailas to bring a lingam. As Anjaneya could not return in time, Sita herself made a linga of sand. When Anjaneya returned with a linga from Mount Kailas the linga was already installed and Anjaneya was disappointed. So Lord Rama also installed the Visvalingam brought by Anjaneya along the side of Ramalinga. Devotees first visit the Visvalinga and worship it before visiting the Ramalinga.

The places of interest in Ramaswaram are Ramanathaswamy Temple, which was built in the seventeenth century. There is a place known as Agnitheertham where Rama worshipped Lord . There is a temple called Gandamadana Parvatham 2 kms away from Rameshwaram. A place called Dhanushkodi named after Rama's bow at a distance of 8 kms from Rameshwaram.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

1. Bonthapally

Name: Sri Veerabhadra Swamy Temple, Bonthapally
Deities: Lord Veerabhadra Swamy and Badrakali
Location: Medak District, Andhra Pradesh

About 40km away from the city of Hyderabad, there is a village named Bonthapally. This village is situated in Zinnaram Mandal of Medak District in Andhra Pradesh. There is a famous temple of Lord Veerabhadra Swamy in this village.

Many people from twin cities and from distant places visit this place and receive the blessings of Lord Veerabhadra. There are facilities available for pilgrims to stay here. APSRTC is running buses to this temple from Secunderabad Jubilee Bus Stand. There is a committee established to look after the temple management. Priests of Jangama and Thambali castes serve the lord here.

According to the legend, long time ago there was only the small temple of Sri Veerabhadra Swamy in Bonthapally. One night a shepherd was passing through in front of that temple. He heard someone is calling and turned back and saw Lord Veerabhadra Swamy. He was shocked. Lord said to the man that he does not like the place of the temple and he wanted it to be shifted to another place. So he asked the shepherd to carry him on his shoulder to another location until he is tired. Then the shepherd carried the lord on his shoulder and walked to about a kilometer and placed him where the current temple is located. Then the Lord asked the shepherd to go to his home without turning back and if he turns he will become a statue. The shepherd went accordingly, but after walking to some distance, due to enthusiasm he turned back and became statue. This statue is still there in this village. Lord then came in dream of a preist and the village heads and said them to build a temple for him at that place. Now a big temple is located at this new place.