Nava Nandis of Nandyal

Mahanandi is a famous temple near Nandyal, Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. Many people do not know that there are 9 Nandis totally and are around Mahanandi in a 15 km diameter range.

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The iconic Nandi statue built in front of Mahanandi temple.

It is said that we should have a darshan of Mallikarjuna Swamy at Gudipatagadda area before we start forthe Nava Nandis darshan & end with a darshan again after going to all the 9 temples. Also Sakshi Ganapati is supposed to see our trip. So we took a cab and started with the trip, making Mallikarjuna Swamy temple our first stop.

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The beautiful gopuram of Mallikarjuna Swamy temple.

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Gajalakshmi carved on the doorway of the Garbhagriha.

Mallikarjuna Swamy temple, the Shivalinga is said to be svayambhu. It is at a lower level and we have to descend steps to have the darshan. Entrance to garbagriha has dwarapalakas carved and Gajalakshmi on top. After the darshan, started on the Nava Nandi tour.

1. Prathama Nandi

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This Nandi is big. Since my focus was to photograph all 9 Nandis, first had a darshan of Nandeeshwara, then turned to capture Prathama Nandi.

2. Naga Nandi

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This Nandi is located in the Hanuman temple. Had a divine darshan of Hanumanji. The aura is amazing. Beside it there is a small Shivalinga and Naga Nandi in front of him. It is said that the nagas worshipped for Shiva here.

3. Soma Nandi

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This temple looks very old.

4. Shiva Nandi
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This temple is ancient. Said to be from the time of Chalukyas.
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The entrance with the dwarapalakas and Gajalakshmi on top.
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Shivalinga here is supposed to be svayambhu and the garbagriha has an aura. Ceiling of garbagriha is low & we have to be careful during parikrama.
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All around the temple there are structures like mini temples with Shivalinga inside them.
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Ganesha carved beside on one of them and Ma on one.
5. Vishnu Nandi or Krishna Nandi.
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This temple also is out of the regular road. A little into a wooded area & peaceful. This temple also looks quite old.
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Temple tank                                                   Vishnu nandi
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Sagara manthan and Elephants and nandis on the wall
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Nandis and Rishis on the wall.
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Doorway to garbagriha of Shiva again very beautiful. It has Vishnu & Lakshmi on one side, Brahma Saraswati on other and Shiva Parvati on top. Nagas also are there and notice the banana tree with fruits.
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Door of Amma’s temple with lovely carvings. Dwarapalakas below, on top we have Ganeshji, Gajalakshmi in between & Trimurti – Brahma, Shiva & Vishnu above. Mayuras (peacocks) beside.
6. Mahanandi
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Temple                                                                     Mahanandi
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Brahma and Shiva carvings
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Dasavataras carved
7. Vinayaka Nandi.
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The way to this temple is from the inner prakaram of Mahanandi temple.
8. Garuda Nandi
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This temple is within walking distance of Mahanandi entrance.

9. Surya Nandi

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This temple is special because the rays of the sun fall on the Shivalinga everyday. And this temple too has an peaceful aura. Of all the Nandis I found this Nandi most beautiful. The face has life in it, what we call jeevakala (lively presence), ornamentally carved too.

With this, finished darshan of all Nava Nandis. Returned to Nandyal, stopped at Mallikarjuna Swamy temple again, thus finishing the tour. Anybody going to Nandyal, do not miss these nine nandis.

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Papikondalu – In the lap of serenity

Papikondalu or Papi Hills is a range of the Eastern ghats between the West and East Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh state. The river Godavari flows through this hill range and tours to Papikondalu are famous as a weekend getaway.

There are various tour operators, that start from Rajahmundry. Few who take you on a one day tour, some tours have an overnight stay at bamboo huts and some tours club the trip with a drop at the holy shrine Bhadrachalam, the temple of Lord Rama.

My colleagues and me planned on a trip to Papikondalu with an overnight stay at the bamboo huts at Sirivaka, with a drop off at Bhadrachalam. It was an all ladies trip and we planned to enjoy the tour.

The travels were charging us Rs 3,000 to start at Rajahmundry at 8 am, with a night stay at Sirivaka bamboo huts till 3 the next afternoon and dropping us at Bhadrachalam at 6 pm. We had got tickets for APSRTC bus to get back home at 6 pm at Bhadrachalam. Hence we asked the tour operators to drop us at Bhadrachalam by 1pm. For this he had to book another boat exclusively for our party of 12 ladies, hence he charged us an extra 1,000 per person.

We took our trip in the second weekend of November. The weather was pleasant. Neither too hot nor too cold.

At 8 am we boarded the bus arranged by the travels to take us to the boat.

Previously, the boats used to start at Rajahmundry, but now they add Polavaram project to the sightseeing and hence take us by bus till the boats. Honestly, it is not worth it. The road is so bad that we can feel all the bones in our body, by the time we reach the boats. And the journey is close to 2 hours, thus even more painful.

By the time we departed from  the bus, we were thanking our stars that the ride was over. Then a colourful scene awaited us.

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Boats of various tour operators were waiting for the passengers. Got onto the boat and went to the seating area on top. The boat ride was good. Each tour operator arranges music, DJ’s and dancing on their boats for the passengers to enjoy. Our boat had a guy who was a good dancer, who not only danced, but also made many passengers participate in various dances, thereby thoroughly entertaining us. Lunch was served on the boat. Simple vegetarian fare that was good.

We stopped at Perantallapalli, which is a small tribal village. A 20 minute break is given for us to go for sightseeing. There is a small Shiva temple inside and many tribals selling their tribal products.

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After that, we were dropped at the bamboo huts of Sirivaka.

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There are a few cement cottages and the rest are Bamboo huts. The huts don’t have any doors, except for a curtain for a little privacy. As this was a new phenomena for us and we were not expecting it, we didn’t know how to react. But within 10 minutes, seeing some families around, we were assured of safety. The huts are a feet and a half to 2 feet above ground level, so getting in can be problematic if older people come to stay. Inside, 3 mattresses were placed with pillows. Since we were carrying our bedsheets, that was enough for us. The washrooms for the tourists are decent, so no worries there. We can pay a little money and ask for hot water to bathe.

Towards the left side in the above picture is where food is served for all the tourists. People who want to have Bamboo chicken, which is a tribal delicacy can order beforehand and have it during dinner. The organisers provide vegetarian food.

Few of our friends went for trekking into the forest. Going in past 5.30pm is strictly discouraged, as the terrain can make you lose yourself in it. We had some anxious moments when the ladies who went for the trek didn’t come soon. Thankfully everyone returned safely, though a couple of them had got lost for a few minutes in between.

Some parties arranged for campfires. We all just sat out, enjoying the rustic and peaceful surroundings, in the lap of nature. From the time we get onto the boat, we do not have phone signals, hence we are not disturbed with any distractions. Nowadays everyone is so addicted to whatsapp and facebook, that no matter how peaceful your surroundings are, instead of enjoying it, people tend to spend time with their phones. Here that chance was not given, so it was a blessing.

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Early morning the next day, I was up by 5 am as I didn’t want to miss the sunrise. The above picture is before sunrise, with lots of fog and mist. I enjoyed the beautiful sunrise, though my pictures didn’t come out well, so I am not sharing it and later at 8 am had breakfast.

The boat that was booked exclusively for us arrived at 9.30 am, but we started at 10 am.

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Having an entire boat exclusively for us was fun.

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Beautiful scenery around

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This is the narrowest place where the Godavari flows between 2 hills. It is a mere 500 metres. The serenity envelops you and you are at peace.

Later we were dropped at a point from where we had to board a van to go to Bhadrachalam.

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Bhadrachalam is in the Bhadradri district of Telangana state. Built by Kancherla Gopanna in the 17th century, it was built for Lord Rama. The deities are Lord Rama with Sita Devi and his brother Lakshmana. After having a darshan of Bhagvan, had lunch and  took rest for sometime as we had to take a bus at 6 pm to get back home.

Thus ended our weekend getaway to Papikondalu. Peaceful and lovely.

 

ALAMPUR 4 – Papanasi

From the Sangameshwara temple, we went to the Papanasi Temples which is a cluster of 23 temples. The Papanasi Temples were also relocated to avoid damage by the Srisailam hydro power project.

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These temples built between 7th & 11th century CE. Some started at the time of early Chalukyas but completed during the time of Rashtrakutas & later Chalukyas. The site has two main temples with carved pillars, the rest are small temples.

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Papanaseshwara Temple

The largest temple is the Papanaseshwara temple. It consists of pillared mandapa, antarala and garbagriha.
The Shiva linga of Papanaseshwara is a 1400 year old markata lingam. Greenish in colour and shining.

After entering the temple, sat down to hear the sthala puranam from the Panditji. And casually looked up and saw Nataraja with the Asta Dikpalas on the ceiling.

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Panditji has a commanding voice and had us listening to him with interest.

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To one side we have Mahishasura mardini in the temple with latticed windows and another side we have Vidya Ganapati and Saptamatrikas.

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The Saptamatrikas Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshwari, Indrani, Kaumari, Varahi & Chamundi are the 7 Mother Goddesses, different forms of Aadi Parashakti.

After the darshan and archana of Eswara, concentrated on the pillars.

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The middle carving of the 1st pillar is Narasimha slaying Hiranyakashipu.
2nd pillar is a 10 century inscription.

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Sita Devi being taken away in a chariot, Hanuman, Rama beside a fallen Jatayu. Down last image is of Rama.

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Top line, Shiva Gajasura episode. Bottom middle is Lingodbava Murthy with Brahma & Vishnu on either side.

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Middle in top line is Rama, Lakshman talking to Hanuman mostly. Last is Sita Devi in Asokavan.

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Gurulingeshwara Temple

The temple on the left of the main temple is called Gurulingeshwara. This temple also has a sculpted pillared mandapam and a garbagriha.

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The entrance has dwarapalakas on either side. Note the difference in the stone on the ceiling. While the garbagriha is of the same type of reddish stone as the main temple. The Mandapam and pillars have blackish stone and the carvings on these pillars are better preserved.

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The 1st pillar depicts a war scene with two warriors on chariots. I think it is the Rama Ravana Yudh.

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On the pillar is a beautiful depiction of Shiva Parvati Kalyanam, with Brahma Vishnu on one side and rishis on the other. Below you can see dancers.

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Mahadev in center, I think with Deva’s on 1 side & Gana’s on the other. Below we can see scenes of Tapasya on one leg.

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Story of Trivikrama

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Sagara manthan

Notice the kirtimukhas on each pillar

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10 headed Ravana fighting Rama. We can see the vanaras too.

 

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Episode of going to kill the golden deer.

 

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Ravana abducting Sita Devi, Jatayu telling about it to Rama & Lakshman.

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This is an entrance to a smaller temple, with Gajalakshmi on the doorway and I think Ganga & Yamuna below.

After doing pranam in all the small temples, finished the Papanasi Temples visit.

For lunch we stopped at AP tourism, Haritha Hotel which is nearby. If we have a Haritha Hotel or Resort in any tourist destination, we can be assured of decent washrooms, which is an issue during travel in India, specially for women.
Sadly there was nothing much to eat. They just had Fried rice and curd rice. Had to make do with it.

Though we went to Alampur during December ending, it was pretty hot over there, which we did not expect.

Thus ended my Alampur visit.
Blessed to have seen these wonderful temples.

For anyone interested in ancient temple sculpture, do not miss Alampur, if you are nearby.

 

 

 

ALAMPUR 3 – Glory of Badami Chalukyas

Sangameshwara Temple

Today I will share with you a temple showcasing the splendor of the Badami Chalukyas.
The SANGAMESHWARA temple was first located at the Sangam of Krishna & Tungabhadra rivers at a village called Kudavalli, 16 km from Alampur.

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Though the board mentions that it was built during the time of Vikramaditya I (655-81CE), it is believed to have been built by Pulikeshin.

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Nandi in a mandapam opposite the steps to the temple.

Due to Srisailam hydro power project, the temple was at risk of submerging, so it has been relocated to outskirts of Alampur by ASI.
ASI did a fantastic job of replanting the temple, without disturbing the architecture. They took pictures, removed the stones layer by layer & rebuilt it

The interior has 12 carved pillars in the interior and place around the garbagriha for a pradakshina. It has flow of air and light through the latticed windows.

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Wasn’t able to take pictures of the interior and pillars except for this statue. Veerabhadra with Daksha Prajapati beside him.

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Yamuna standing on her vehicle, the turtle. Makaras carved above.

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Harihara in a carved niche.

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Lord Vishnu with Adisesha on his head.

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All the stone windows have different designed lattices. Makaras, Mayuras, Vidyadharas, Kinnaras and Gandharvas are carved above them.

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This looks like a different version of Gajalakshmi. The Gajas are carved in such a way that you may get confused thinking they are Makaras.

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Though this window design looks like a flower, it is a matsya yantra, 8 fish converged together. You can enlarge and see. Kinnaras above the window.

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Mahadev slaying asuras. Ganesha beside him.

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Of all the sculpture of this temple, This Nataraj was the only one that was damaged similar to the ones at Nava Brahma temples, making me wonder whether this Nataraja was brought from a ruin of the Nava Brahma temples.

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The wall full of sculpture

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The temple is on an elevated platform which is richly sculpted all around.

The pujari who does the worship of Deva is the descendant of the family of archakas who have been attached to the temple for the past many centuries. They have shifted to Alampur, along with the temple from Kudavalli.

I had planned to go to Pattadikal and Aihole last May but the trip didn’t materialize. Luckily this trip to Alampur in December has shown me the splendor of the Badami Chalukyas.

 

Alampur – 2 Nava Brahma

Continuing with the Nava Brahma Temples, the 9 temples of Lord Shiva which are around the Jogulamba temple of Alampur.

 

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5. Kumara Brahma Temple.

This temple was probably built during the time of Vikramaditya, 655-681 CE. The outer walls dont have much carving but the pillars in front are carved.

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Floral carving on the ceiling inside. This design is in almost all the Nava Brahma ceilings.

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The next temple is

6. Arka Brahma Temple.

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This temple is completely ruined. All sculpture has been destroyed.

7. Veera Brahma Temple.

 

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On the vimana we can see a Nataraja sculpture. This temple also has been badly damaged.

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Dwarapalakas on either side of the door. One is so badly damaged.

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A naga on the ceiling inside. These nagas were sculpted in a couple of temples along with the floral carving.

 

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A beheaded Nandi.

8. Vishwa Brahma Temple.

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This temple, atleast parts of the sculpture were visible.

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Through the destruction, you cannot fail to appreciate the sculpture.

 

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It makes me so sad seeing the destruction.

ASI Museum

The ASI museum is right beside these temples. Though it is small, it has some wonderful pieces salvaged from the ruins and displayed.

 

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The first picture is of Lord Shiva as Pashupati, the Lord of animals.

The third picture is of Shiva, Parvati with Nandi being worshipped.

Fourth depicts the story where Mahadev comes as a tribal hunter killing the boar, that Arjuna was chasing, to teach humility to Arjuna.

 

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The upper portion of sculpture is Shiva slaying Gajasura. Lower portion is Narasimha slaying Hiranyakashipu.

9. Taraka Brahma Temple

 

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Badly ruined Taraka Brahma Temple.

When you cannot make something, you have no right to destroy it. That is what i  believe strongly.

Thus ended my Nava Brahma temples visit. Beautiful but heart breaking too.

Alampur – 1. A jewel of Telangana

Alampur is a town in Telangana state of India which has historical and spiritual importance. Alampur which was previously in the Mahbubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, became part of the Gadwal district of Telangana, post the Bifurcation of the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is on the bank of the River Tungabhadra. It is primarily a Shaivite piligrim centre with Shaktism also worshipped. Historically, Alampur was under the rule of Shatavahana Ishvakus of Nagarjunakonda, Badami Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Kalyani Chalukyas, Kakatiyas, Vijayanagara Empire and Qutb Shahis of Golconda. The Chalukyas (a large part) and Rastrakutas left a wealth of architectural beauty in the temples.

We were staying at Nandyal, and thus booked an Innova to take us to Alampur. The distance between Nandyal and Alampur is 104 Km and takes close to 2 hours. But since most of the way was on the highway, we managed to go in about 1 hour 45 minutes. An acquaintance arranged a person to guide us to all the temples. And we met him at Jogulamba Temple.

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Jogulamba Temple                          Brahmeshwara and Jogulamba

JOGULAMBA TEMPLE

Jogulamba Temple is a Shakti Peeta of Sati Devi.
Sati Devi was Lord Shiva’s wife. She once goes to a yagna conducted by her father Daksha Prajapati, uninvited, and against the wishes of Shiva. Shiva unwillingly sends her, at her insistence. At the Yagna, Daksha insults Sati and hurls abuses against Shiva in front of all the other Gods. Unable to bear the insults towards her beloved husband, Sati jumps into the ceremonial fire and commits suicide. An enraged Shiva sends Veerabhadra, who emerges from his fury, to go and destroy Daksha. Veerabhadra destroys the yagna and decapitates Daksha. As nature would suffer if a yagna was halted midway, Lord Vishnu and Brahma come to pacify Shiva and to request him to come to the Yagna sthal. Shiva goes there and gives permission for the Yagna to continue. A Ram’s head is fixed in place of Daksha’s head and life is given back to him. The grief stricken Shiva carries the half burnt body of Sati and wanders around. To make Shiva come out of his grief and since he was not willing to let go of Sati Devi’s corpse, Lord Vishnu cuts the body with his Chakra. These body parts, which fell at different parts of the Earth are worshipped as Shakti Peeta’s, or sacred abodes of Mother Goddess. The 51 parts are scattered mostly over India, a few on places of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal.

Of these 18 are known as Maha Shakti Peetas, of which Jogulamba is the 5th Peeta. It is said that her upper jaw with a tooth fell at Alampur Shakti Peeta. She is in an Ugra Roopa (fearsome appearance) here. Her hair is piled high and a lizard, owl, scorpian and human skull are in her hair. It is said that worshipping Jogulamba removes ill effects.
The temple of Jogulamba was destroyed by the Bahamani Sultans in 1390 CE. Broken idol was safeguarded in the Bala Brahmeshwara Temple. The temple of Jogulamba was rebuilt after 615 years in 2005. The temple is surrounded by water so as to keep the temple cool, as the wrath of Mother Goddess heats up the place.

After the darshan of Jogulamba, we went to see the Nava Brahma Temples.

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NAVA BRAHMA TEMPLES

Brahmeshwara is the consort of Jogulamba. The Nava Brahma temples are nine temples of Lord Shiva spread around the Jogulamba Temple. These temples are constructed by the Badami Chalukyas starting from 7th century CE. The Badami Chalukyas were great patrons of art and these nine temples have lovely sculpture on it. Sadly many parts of the sculpture was destroyed by the Muslim invaders.

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Balabrahmeshwara Temple

1. BALA BRAHMA TEMPLE
It is in this temple that the broken idol of Jogulamba was safeguarded from the invaders. This temple was built in 702 CE. Regular temple rituals are performed here and Shivaratri is celebrated here every year.

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Swarga Brahma temple

2. SWARGA BRAHMA TEMPLE
Built during 681-696 CE in the Vinayaditya era, it is the most elaborately sculpted temple.

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Lord Surya in the center, Lingodbhava murthy on the right with Brahma and Vishnu doing Pranam to him, left side could be Tripurantaka.

 

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Gandharvas flying above and couples in courtship below.

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Trivikrama. Just notice the multi layered carving. Even through the destruction, we can see the glory of the carving.

Moving to the next temple.

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3. PADMA BRAHMA TEMPLE

Probably the last to be built, it is unfinished in terms of work on the temple.

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Garuda Brahma temple

4. GARUDA BRAHMA TEMPLE

Built between 848-891 CE during the time of Vijayaditya.

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Garuda above the Garbagriha doorway

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Dwarapalaka

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Latticed windows in the stone walls. The alcoves are empty which could mean that the sculpture in it was destroyed.

I will continue with the rest of the Navabrahma temples in my next. I have taken many pictures of the sculptures, though I am posting only a few.

YAGANTI – The growing stone Nandi

Yaganti is the abode of Umamaheshwara Swamy situated in the Erramala hills of Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh.

Yaganti, is a well known temple of Andhra Pradesh, which has a lot of historical and religious significance.

As the legend goes, Agastya Maharishi wanted to install the deity of Lord Venkateshwara at Yaganti. But when the idol was made, he found that a toe nail had been damaged, thereby making it unworthy for regular pooja. Lord Shiva is said to have appeared in his dream and told Agastya that Shiva and Vishnu do not have two identities and were equal. So Agastya Maharshi requested Shiva that he would like to worship Parvati Ma along with Shiva and not separately. So Lord Shiva took the form of Ardhanareeshwara (half Shiva and half Parvati) and the idol was thus made. Thus the Lord is worshipped as Umamaheshwara Swamy, meaning Parvati and Shiva in a single idol.

This shrine has been worshipped for thousands of years. In 6th, 7th century CE, the Cholas and Pallavas started to the build the temple. Later this temple got its present glory during the time of the Vijayanagara rulers, Harihara and Bukka Rayalu, who are credited with having finished the construction of several prominent structures in and around the temple.

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Pushkarini with pillared mandapa around it.

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Carved panels all around the Pushkarini waters.

As we enter, we come across the Pushkarini first. This Pushkarini has water throughout the year and people do not know the source of this water. It is said that these waters contain healing properties, and many devotees take a dip in this holy water. The beauty of this Pushkarini is that it has carved panels all around, just above the water level. The Pushkarini is surrounded by a pillared mandapa. From there, if we climb a few steps, we come to the temple.

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Cave with Lord Venkateshwara Idol.

To the right we can see the way to go to the cave where the idol of Lord Venkateshwara has been kept. The steps are steep and we didn’t climb up. It was evening time, the light was fading, and we wanted to visit the temple with atleast some light for us to admire it’s beauty.

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Entrance Gopuram                                             Carvings on the entrance

After admiring the 5 tiered Gopuram, we entered the temple compound. To the right again there was a pillared mandapa. Then went for the darshan of Umamaheshwara swamy.

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Carved pillars

There are four pillars in the temple which are carved on all sides with episodes from Ramayana. This temple has been built in the Vaishnavite tradition, thus though the main idol is of Shiva, the carvings on the pillars are of Vaishnava stories. Had the divine darshan and managed to take some pictures of the carvings on the pillars, then we came to the Stone Nandi which is not opposite the lord in this temple but in the mandapam to the right side.

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Had heard many stories about this Nandi, because it is huge and has been growing. The ASI has confirmed that the Nandi has been growing an inch every 20 years. Admired it and took pictures. According to Potuluri Veerabrahmendra Swamy (a seer whose prophesies are famous), the Yaganti Nandi will get up and bellow at the end of Kaliyuga.

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From the temple compound to the right, we can see the Agastya pushkarini, where Agastya Maharshi is said to have bathed before his worship. The whole atmosphere is so serene, peace enveloped me when I was there.

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There is another cave in these hills which is of Veerabrahmendra Swamy where he had written his famous prophesies.

It was a blissful visit and we started back to Nandyal from the temple.

 

 

AHOBILAM – Narasimha Deva – Part 3

We had seen three of the Nava Narasimhas, Karanja, Ugra and Kroda Narasimha by then. Also had the darshan of Lakshmi Narasimha temple of Lower Ahobilam. We had to see two more temples of the five we had decided to visit. But it was lunch time and all the temples were closed for the afternoon.

IMG_20190108_193457Instead of wasting time, we went to see the place where Yagnas were being performed. We were told that every year, for the past few years, Sri Jwala Trust of Tamil Nadu were performing Yagnas at Ahobilam, in December every year, for a period of 10 days.

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We went to the place where the Yagnas were being conducted and were impressed by their arrangements. The Yagnas for the day were over by afternoon, but seeing the 108 Yagna kund along with Narasimha Deva arranged in between was a blissful sight. Seeing all the 108 Homams being performed, and the yagna fire from 108 kunds would have been a wonderful sight to behold. But we were satisfied seeing the arrangements.

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While walking towards the interior, suddenly our eyes fell on an enclosure which had rows and rows of colourful murtis beautifully decorated. The whole aura was so serene.

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Satisfied with our visit, by then it was 3 pm, so we started towards the temples.

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Yogananda Narasimha temple

First we went to YOGANANDA NARASIMHA temple, where Narasimha Deva is in a Yogic pose. It is said that Deva taught Yoga to young Prahalad and this form is worshipped as Yogananda Narasimha.

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Nava Narasimha Temple

Very close to this temple is the temple of NAVA NARASIMHA. In this temple, murtis of Narasimha Deva in all Nine forms were placed. The reason being, that if any devotee couldn’t have the darshan of all nine Narasimhas, atleast they can have a darshan of the nine forms, in this temple. Since we were having darshan of only 5 Narasimhas, went to this temple and had the darshan of the rest of the 4 murtis.

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Chatravata Narasimha Temple.

From Yogananda Narasimha, we went to CHATRAVATA NARASIMHA temple. Narasimha Deva is installed below a Chatravata (Peepal) tree and hence he is known by this name. This Narasimha is said to be a music lover and musicians are said to come here to take his blessings.

Thus ended our Ahobilam darshans. Serene, powerful and beautiful.

AHOBILAM – Narasimha Deva – Part 2.

After coming to Lower Ahobilam after the darshan of Karanja, Ugra and Kroda Narasimha, before going to two more temples of the nine that we had planned, we went to the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple or Prahlad Varada Temple.

According to the Dasavatar of Lord Vishnu, he took the form of Narasimha, part man and part lion in his 4th avatar. He took this form to kill the evil Hiranyakashipu, who tried to kill his own son Prahlad, because he was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu had a boon whereby no man, woman, animal or bird could kill him. So Vishnu bhagvan took the form of half man and half lion to kill him. According to Brahmanda Purana, Ahobhilam was the place where the palace of Haranyakashipu existed and where he was killed by Narasimha Deva. Vagaries of time brought about the destruction of the then existing structures yielding place to nature’s creation of the mountain range that preserved the site of incarnation of Narasimha Deva.
The Eastern Ghats are likened to the great serpent Adhisesha basking in the sun with its head (or hood) at Tirumala, its middle at Ahobilam and its tail- end portion at Srisailam – all the three with famous temples on them.

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The Lakshmi Narasimha temple in lower Ahobilam is also called Prahlada Varada Narasimha as he is seen to be blessing young Prahlada. According to the Sthala purana, Lord Venkateshwara seeked Lord Narasimha’s blessings to marry Padmavathi Devi. Seeing Lord Narasimha in the Ugra roopa (angry form) in Upper Ahobhilam, Lord Venkateshwara is said to have installed the deity of Lord Narasimha in a peaceful form in Lower Ahobilam.

The temple that stands now was started by the Kakatiya rulers, mainly Pratapa Rudra. Additions were made by the Vijayanagar rulers in the 15th century.

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Wall beside the entrance on the outer prakara.

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Carving on the entrance wall of the inner prakara.

The entrance of the outer prakaram(temple compound) is carved and then after entering, we go beneath the 5 tiered gopuram to go into the inner prakaram. Here too, the entrance and the walls have lovely carvings of Devas.

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The exquisitely carved pillars are a delight to see. Pillars carved within pillars, What ingenuity. The sheer talent of the sculptors of the time.

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Lakshmi Devi sitting on the thigh of Varaha Narasimha.

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Rangamandapam                                            Mukhamandapam

As the temple was closing for the afternoon, we were supposed to leave the temple, so couldn’t admire every pillar, but managed to take pictures of many of them, to admire at leisure.

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After coming out of the inner prakara, we went for the annadanam prasadam, which the temple provides to the devotees who would like to have it.

Felt extremely happy that I was able to visit this beautiful temple, filled with sculpture and thanked all the sculptors in my mind, who had given us a legacy of such beauty.

From there continued on our visit to see the other temples.

 

AHOBILAM – Narasimha Deva – Part 1.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Mandapam in the forest, seen from the car park area.

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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.

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Mandapam                                                    Gopuram of Ugra Narasimha

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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.

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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.

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Way to Kroda Narasimha.

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Kroda Narasimha Temple

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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.

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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.