Ahobilam, the abode of Narasimha Deva, the avatar of Lord Vishnu as a human with a Lion’s head, is situated in the Nallamala forest of Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh.
We were desirous of visiting this holy place along with a few more temples, so we planned a trip to Kurnool. We set up base at Nandyal, in Suraj Hotel. It is a decent hotel, with comfortable rooms at a reasonable price.
To go to Ahobilam, we booked a cab. Ahobilam is 60 Km from Nandyal. The road is good so the journey took an hour and a half.
Ahobilam is divided into Eguva(Upper) Ahobilam and Diguva(Lower) Ahobilam. Narasimha Deva is manifested in 9 forms in this hilly forest. It involves a lot of trekking amidst the beautiful forest. Some treks are strenuous, so it is not easy for people with health issues to go to all 9 temples. But many people do visit all temples. The ideal way to visit all 9 temples is to break the journey into two days. That way, it becomes less strenuous for people with no experience of trekking. Before starting on this trip, went through a lot of reviews regarding the place and decided to see 5 temples out of the 9, which are not too strenuous, because we were with some health issues.
As soon as we reached Ahobilam, we stopped and waited for a person who came to show us the temples. I got down from the car and my gaze fell on this small mandapam. It is beautiful, with Yali’s carved on the pillars. Such an architechtural beauty is being used as a place to relax by people beside the road. Such fortunate people, they are relaxing in a part of history.
Then we started to Upper Ahobilam. On the way up, we stopped at our first Narasimha temple, KARANJA NARASIMHA, so named because he manifested below a Karanja(Pongamia) tree.
Karanja Narasimha Temple. Broken pillar with Vishnu murthy carved.
At the entrance some broken pillars were placed which had carvings of gods. Entering the Temple complex, I was enveloped with a serene feeling. Some temples have that aura. After the darshan of Karanja Narasimha Deva, continued to Upper Ahobilam.
Mandapam in the forest, seen from the car park area.
The hill which looks as if it has been ripped apart.
At the car park area, to go to the upper Ahobilam temples, two scenes attracted me. One was a Mandapa a little into the forest, and another was the way the hill looked with a huge divide in between. It looked as if Deva himself separated the hill with his bare hands.
Mandapam Gopuram of Ugra Narasimha
Entrance with carvings.
Climbed some steps to go to the main temple of upper Ahobilam, which is the UGRA NARASIMHA. Here again saw a mandapam with carved pillars, where people were relaxing. The temples were built first in the 8th century by the Chalukyas and when they deteriorated, they were rebuilt by the Vijayanagara rulers in the 15th century. The gopuram is small compared to many south Indian temples. It is 3 tiered. The wall of the temple has carvings on either side of the entrance. Inside Deva is in a cave where he had self manifested, so is a Svayambhu. Besides him, his wife Chenchu Lakshmi is worshipped. Lighting a diya/deepam for Chenchu Lakshmi is considered auspicious. Chenchu Lakshmi was Lakshmi Devi reborn in the Chenchu tribe, to cool down the angry Narasimha Deva. Till today, the Chenchu’s(a tribe) treat the goddess as their daughter and Deva as their son-in-law. Special honours are accorded to the local Chenchu tribes.
After the darshan, started the trek to KRODA NARASIMHA, also known as Varaha Narasimha. It is 1 KM from Ugra Narasimha temple, into the forest. The trek is not too strenuous and can be covered easily.
On the way, saw the steps to go to PAVANA NARASIMHA. The trekking way is covered in 7 KM, of which there are steep steps for 2 KM and if we want to visit Pavana Narasimha by jeep, we have to travel 20 Km from Lower Ahobilam through bumpy roads. Since we were not planning to visit Pavana Narasimha, we went ahead to Kroda Narasimha.
Way to Kroda Narasimha.
Kroda Narasimha Temple
Kroda Narasimha temple is a small temple and the garba griha is in a cave. Deva is in the Varaha avatar, so he is also called Varaha Narasimha. There are carved pillars in the temple.
From Kroda Narasimha, there are two paths. One leads to JWALA NARASIMHA and another leads to MALOLA NARASIMHA. Since we were not in a condition to trek to these temples, we decided not to go.
On the way to Kroda Narasimha, there is another mandapam with many pillars. only a few were carved. The kings must have made these mandapams for the piligrims to relax, as it must have been very strenuous for them, before the paths and steps were created.
Then we started for Lower Ahobilam.