(Last Updated on : 23/01/2009)
The Ahobilam is a famous temple of South India. It is situated on the Nallamalai ranges near Nandyal Railway Station of Andhra Pradesh state. The Nallamalai ranges south of river Krishna, down to Tirupati and are called 'Sesha Parvatha'. Sesha is the name of the king of serpents. The hood of the sesha is at Tirupati, the tail at Srisailam and the middle is situated at Ahobilam. Nallamalais at the tail are called Sringiri, at the middle are called Vedagiri and Garudagiri referred to as at the hood.
The shrine of the Ahobilam temple is situated on the top of the first range and is referred to as Upper Ahobilam and down below is called Lower Ahobilam. A huge temple surrounded by a number of buildings can be seen at the Upper Ahobilam. The main shrine or the "sacro sanctum" at Upper Ahobilam was carved out of a big egg like rock with mandapams. There is a tank here, which supplies water to the residents of the Upper Ahobliam temple. It is mainly for growing flowers for the shrine.
There is a Lower Ahobilam in the below with a big temple and enclosures, It was built according to the South Indian style. Thousands of pilgrims can stay here in this temple. The priests of both Upper and Lower Ahobilam stay there even today.
A number of costly and different types of valmnas for processional purposes are found in Lower Ahobilam. Recently, many pillared halls are added at the Lower Ahobilam. It is believed that the presiding deity, Lord Narasimha here have had a romance with a Chenchu girl, who is locally called Chenchu Lakshmi. During the annual festival here, the romance and the marriage are celebrated in a dramatic way.
Ahobilam is one of the ancient Vaishnava shrines of Indian and it has a matha at Srirangam. The idol of the presiding deity Lord Narasimha is shown in a sitting posture with jatagata or matted hair. This is the unique posture of Vishnu and which can only be seen here. A rivulet, popularly known as Bhavanasi flows near the temple, which has crystal clear water. It is believed that there is a cave underneath the temple where stays a Swayambhu (self manifested) Narasimha. Another story says that the demon Hiranyakashipu exclaimed 'Ahobilam! Ahobilam!' when he saw the ferocious and gigantic form of Lord Narasimha. Hence, the place was named as Ahobilam.
There is a shrine of Malola Narasimha on the outskirts of a nearby village. Here goddess Lakshmi is worshipped by the name of Shantha Swaroopa. The Jwala Narasimha shrine is situated in the higher portion trikala of Lord Narasimha can be seen. This is said to be the actual place where the anger of the Lord reached its climax, when he killed Hiranyakashipu.
One more sacred Narasimha shrine is situated at a nearby place, where worship is done in the Shakta form. All the Nava Narasimhas (nine Narasimhas) - Prahlada Varada, Chatrata, Garuda, Yoga, Urga, Krodha, Malola, Jwala and Lakshmi Narasimha are worshipped at this place. This is a very ancient temple.
The inscriptions available at the Ahobilam temple indicate that king Vikramaditya VI of the Western Chalukya line of Kalyani worshipped the Mula Narasimha of this temple. The 'utsava murthi' of the temple is made of gold and it is said to be installed by the famous Kakatiya king Prataparudra. Now, the great spiritual Jiyars of Ahobilam Matha worship it. It is said that while returning from Srisailam, Prataparudra stopped at the Ahobilam and had placed the idol at a place called Rudravaram near the village.
King Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagar also said to have visited this Ahobilam temple on his return from the victory of Kalinga. He is also said to have made offerings of a diamond necklace, wristlet, a gold plate and gold coins here.