Srisailam is so ancient that references have been found in Mahabharata and Puranas. Sri Adi Sankara had visited the shrine and sung in praise of Lord Mallikarjuna and His consort in Sivananda Lahari and Bhramaramba Ashtakam.
A special feature in the Srisailam temple is that anybody can go inside the sanctum and perform abhisheka and pujas. The tribals of this region (Chenchus) have the privilege of worshipping the Lord in the sanctum, for Siva as a hunter came to this place and married a Chenchu girl, who was none other than Parvati Herself.
Long ago, a princess by name Chandravathi of Chandragupta dynasty was residing on the hills worshipping Lord Siva. One day she noticed a cow showering milk on a Lingam in a desolate spot. Later the Lord appeared in her dream and asked her to construct a temple there. As the Lingam was entangled in jasmine plants, it was named Mallikarjuna. The temple, which shines like a jewel on the Neelamalai range, is known by different names like Srigiri, Srimala and Srinagara.
Pilgrims bound for the hills first worship Sakshi Ganapathy nearly two km away. There are sub-shrines for Chandramamba, Rajarajeshwari, Veerabhadra and Annapoorni around the main temple. A mandapam with Sahasra Lingam and a shrine of Pancha Nandeeswara are worth visiting. The Mukha Mandapam in front of the sanctum was erected by Vijayanagar rulers.
Pathala Ganga is the holy Theertham, where pilgrims bathe and carry the sacred water uphill for the Lord's abhisheka.
Access: Srisailam is 232 km from Hyderabad and 158 km from Nandyal. The hill shrine can be approached from Guntakal, Kurnool, Mahanandi and other places.