Vijayawada is situated in idyllic surroundings between Krishna River and its tributary Budameru. References to the city are found in Mahabharata. In the temples here, Lord Shiva is worshipped as Malleswara. Arjuna came to the Indrakila Hills to meditate in order to get astras (weaponry) from Lord Shiva before the battle at Kurukshetra started. The Lord appeared before him as a hunter and a fight ensued. At the end of the battle the Lord blessed Arjuna with Pasupatha Astra.
One of the popular temples here is the Kanaka Durga Temple. It is situated on the hills attracts lots of pilgrims. Sri Adi Sankara had worshipped the Goddess here and installed a Sri Chakra.
Mangalagiri is at a distance of 12 km from Vijayawada. It is known for the shrine dedicated to Panaka Narasimha. As the name itself suggests, the hill is held very sacred.
In Krita Yuga, a prince by name Hrusva Sringi did penance in this place to get rid of his deformities. When Lord Vishnu appeared before him the prince desired that the God remained there for ever to bless devotees. The prince first transformed himself into an elephant and then into a hill. It is interesting to note that Mangalagiri is in the shape of an elephant.
The presiding deity is Lord Narasimha. A unique feature is that only Panakam (water mixed with jaggery) is offered to the Lord as Neivedyam.
It is believed that ghee, honey and milk were offered in previous `yugas` or ages.
When a devotee offers a pot of Panakam, the deity accepts only half of it. The rest is given to the devotee as `prasadam.` Strangely though the mandapam is wet with jaggery water, not a fly or ant is found in the area.
At the foot of the hill is a temple dedicated to Sri Lakshmi Narasimha. The deity is believed to have been installed by Yuddhishtira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers. At the entrance is a lofty but narrow gopuram.
A shrine of Malleswara with His consort Bhramaramba is situated on the way up the hill.
Mangalagiri is also a special abode of Hanuman. Sri Rama, at the end of His avatar, advised Hanuman to stay in Mangalagiri for ever. He is the Kshetrapalaka of the shrine.
Narasimha Jayanti on Full Moon day during March-April and Vaikunta Ekadasi are important festivals that are celebrated with lots of enthusiasm here.
Amaravati, 30 km from Vijayawada, is a famous city of learning, art and culture. It is held sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists. The temple of Lord Amareswara is on the banks of river Krishna. The Lingam is 15 feet high and carved out of marble. The temple is known for both Dravidian and Buddhist architectures.
Legend says that when Lord Subramanya killed Tarakasura, the Lingam in his throat fell over five places, making them all holy Siva Kshetras. Amaravati is one of the main pilgrim centres. Since Indra and Devas worshipped the Lord here the city was named Amaravati after Indra`s capital. Goddess Shakti is worshipped as Bala Chamundika Devi at this shrine.
Rajamundry Rajamundry is the venue of Kumba Mela or Pushkaram where lakhs gather to have a holy dip in Godavari. It is celebrated once in 12 years. This place is located155 km from Vijayawada.