(Last Updated on : 28/07/2011)
Srikalahasti Temple in Chittoor district
, Andhra Pradesh
is one of the important ancient Shiva Temples of South India. Srikalahasti Temple occupies the area between the river bank and the foot of the hills and is popularly known as Dakshina
Kailasam. This temple was built during the period of King Krishnadevaraya
Location of Srikalahasti Temple
Srikalahasti is a holy town and a municipality near Tirupati
in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. This temple was constructed in the 12th century by the Chola king, Raja Rajendra. This is an important temple dedicated to Lord Shiva
. This temple`s main idol is the vayu (air) linga. Kalahasti is surrounded by two hills. The Durgamba temple is on the north hill and the shrine of Kannabeswara on the south hill is in memory of the Sage Kannappa, who offered an eye to the Lord. A river flowing in the north washes the foot of the temple
Legend of Srikalahasti Temple
As per the legend, the town got its name because of the temple named after Sri (spider
) Kala (serpent) hasti (elephant
) after the three ardent devotees of Lord Shiva. These three animals attained divinity by worshipping Lord Shiva. The spider was Lord Vishwakarma
`s (architect of the deva ganas) son Oornanabha. He was trying to replicate Lord Brahma
`s creation and thus annoyed Brahma who cursed him to become a spider. Shiva himself cursed the snake. The elephant was god Pramadha cursed by Shiva`s wife, Parvati
, when he intruded on their privacy. The Shiva linga here is an amalgamation of the three animals.
Sanctum Sanctorum of Srikalahasti Temple
The main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the destroyer among the Trimurties. The linga here is one of the Panchabhuta lingas (made up of the five elements) - wind, water, fire, earth and ether. The linga at Srikalahasti is Vayu linga or one made of wind. Jala linga is made of water, at Jambukeswara; Jyothir linga is made of fire, at Arunachalam; Aksha
linga is made up of ether, at Chidambaram; and Prithvi
linga, is made of earth, at Sivakanchi - the four elements of the universe. The main linga remains untouched by human hands; even the priests do not touch it. Abhishek (bathing) is done by pouring a mixture of water, milk, camphor and panchamrita. Sandal paste, flowers and the sacred thread are offered to the utsava-murti, and not the main linga.
Architecture of Srikalahasti Temple
The hill adjacent to temple has still carvings in Pallava style. The Cholas renovated the old Pallava temple in 11th century. Kulottunga Chola I
constructed the Galigopuram, the main entrance facing south and Kulottunga III
constructed few other temples. In 12th Century A.D., King Veeranarasimha Yadavaraya built the present Prakaras, and the four Gopurams connecting the four entrances. According an inscription of Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara Empire this temple was constructed in 1516 A.D. In 1529 A.D., King Achutaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire got his coronation performed here, before he celebrated in his capital City.
The marvellous temple architecture represents Chola, Pallava, Pandya and Krishnadevaraya style of architecture. According to the scriptures, the Kshetra is praised as Dakshina Kailasam, Dakshina Kashi
, Satya Vrata Maha Bhaskara Kshethram, Sadyomukthi kshetram and also Rahu-Ketu
Parihara Kshethram. It has an enormous, ancient gopuram over the main gate, which is 36.5 metres (120 feet) high and the entire temple is carved out from the side of the hill. The temple is very ornate with elaborately designed pillars, altars, etc.
The three gopurams are remarkable in their architecture. A hundred-pillared mandapam is another important feature of this shrine. The tower was established nearly a thousand years ago. The various stupas and temple testify to the antiquity of the place.
The `Rajagopuram` or main gate of the 500-year-old Srikalahasti Temple in Andhra Pradesh`s Chittoor District collapsed on 26th May, 2010. The Skanda Purana
, Shiva Purana
and Linga Purana
have a mention about Srikalahasti. The Skanda Purana says that Arjuna
visited this place, worshipped Kalahastiswara and met the sage Bharadwaja
on the top of the hill. It is believed that Kannappa (also known as Bhakta Kannappa), a tribal devotee has worshipped Shiva at Srikalahasti. Tamil saints Nayanars like Appar, Sundarar
and Sambanthar praised the deity in their hymns tevaram.