In South India, Andra Pradesh, Srisailam is reputed for its sacred and primeval nature and is also known as the “Kailash of the South”. It is home to hundreds of temples and shrines, dedicated to different deities. However, the most famous temple is the Mallikarjuna Swami Jyotirlinga, which holds one of the 12 jyotirlingams of Lord Shiva. The temple is also a Mahashakti Peetha.
It is believed that Shiva and Parvati appeared here as Arjuna and Mallika, therefore the name “Mallikarjuna”. The temple stands as a pure example of the traditional Dravidian form of architecture, located on the bank of the Krishna River within the Nallamallai Forest. The temple is a beautiful structure with intricate details, lofty towers and courtyards, attracting a wide range of devotees to spot each year. It is considered as one of the top pilgrimage destinations in the South.
Legend of Mallikarjuna Swamy Jyotirlinga :
A very interesting and wise story is in association with the temple, the nature of the two sons of Shiva and Parvati comes in revelation. It is believed that there came a time when Shiva and Parvati contemplated for their sons’ marriage. The two, Ganesha and Kartikeya got caught up in a disagreement and competition as to who should tie the knot first.
To settle this dispute, Shiva came up with a proposal that the one who took a round of the world could get married first. On hearing this Kartikiya set off to complete his round over the world, while Ganesha took rounds around his parents 7 times. It is mentioned in the Shastras that going round one’s parents in Pradakshinam is equivalent to going across and covering the world. Lord Shiva was impressed with Ganesha’s act and he got him married to, Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity), they are great virtues.
Who Built it :
The Mallikarjuna Swami temple and its devotees are mentioned in the records of the first empire builders, Shathavahanas back in the 1st century A.D. Gradually, came along a series of kingdoms of the Ikshvakus, Pallavas, Chalukyas, Reddi, who were the followers of the Mallikarjuna Swami. Then temple in the hands of several rulers underwent progression and maintenance.
From the Reddi dynasty, in the 14th century, Prolaya Reddi constructed the path way to the temple. Later, the Vijayanagara Empire contributed in the enhancement of the shrine. Finally, the last Hindu King, Chhatrapati Shivaji made a great effort to improve the temple; he constructed the Gopuram on the Northern side, 1667 A.D.
How to Reach Mallikarjuna Swami Temple :
Srisailam, in the state of Andra Pradesh is about 212 km away from one of the major cities and the capital of Andra, Hydrabad. The place does not have direct junctions, but one can easily find a way to get there.
By Air : There are no straight air services from the major cities to Srisailam. Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad is the nearest one and the distance between the two spots is around 156 km. Vijayawada Airport is another airport, at a distance of 199 km in Vijayawada.
By Rail : Direct rail facilities are not available in Srisailam, the nearest railway station, lies at a distance of 60 km. There is another railway station, around the same distance as the previous one, Tarlupadu station.
By Road : There are various public vehicles and private ones too, that takes you to Srisailam. It takes around 6 hours from Hydrabad, express buses is the best way to travel. Enjoy the winding roads of the Nallamala hills on the way to Srisailam, by private vehicles.
Best Time to Visit Srisailam :
Srisailam, experiences a tropical climate, throughout the year, the weather is fairly pleasant. The place receives the summer, monsoon and winter seasons. Summers remain hot and humid while it is cold and breezy during the winters. The best time to visit is from October to February.
Summer : This season starts in March and lasts till May, it is very hot and the temperature can range up to 45 degree Celsius. Not a recommended time for the visitors.
Monsoon : Monsoon begins in June and ends in September; it comes with medium rainfalls and is accompanied by severe gushes of winds.
Winter : It is the perfect time to visit Srisailam as the place remains cool and pleasant. Temperature ranges from 14 to 24 degree Celsius. Winter begins in November and ends in the month of February.
Interesting Facts :
- The Srishailam temple enshrines one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Lord Shiva. The main deities are addressed as Mallikarjuna Swami and Bhramaramba, they are believed to be the incarnations of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
- This spot is rare for it consists of both, Jyotirlingam and is one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peetha within the same complex.
- The bee incident is interesting; it is believed that the demon Mahisasura was defeated by Parvati after she transformed into a bee. Till today, the buzzing of bee can be heard through a small hole in the Bhramaramba temple.
- There are several mythological legends linked with the temple and the place, one of them is that of the son of Silada Maharishi. He had performed a penance and pleased Lord Shiva, in return he asked him to live on his body. It is said that he took the shape of a big hill of Shriparvatha and Shiva resides on the top as the Mallikarjuna swami.
- Srisailam temple held a great significance in the ancient era; references are made in the Puranas and other texts. There is a whole chapter in the Skandha Purana by the title Srisailam Kandam that sings praises of the shrine.
- The temple is also known as Shriparvatha and is enclosed by tall walls, giving it a fortified effect. The surrounding walls were built in 1520 A.D and in total consist of around 3200 stones.
- The heroic events from the Mahabharata and Ramayana are carved on the stone walls of the temple; there are around 116 inscriptions in and around the temple.
- There are innumerable smaller shrines in and around the compound like the Sahasra Linga, Panchapandava, Vata Vriksha. There is a Shiva Temple on the top of the highest hill; a beautiful Ganesha temple is present too. All the sculptures inside the temples are magnificent.
Places of Interest :
- Besides the main Mallikarjuna Swamy Jyotirlinga temple, visit the Bhramaramba Devi Temple.
- Srisailam Dam is one of the major attractions of Srisailam.
- Visit the Mallela Theertham waterfall.
- Visit the Srisailam Sanctuary.
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