The Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna Temple, more commonly known Srisailam Temple is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. The temple is built on the top of the Nallamala hills situated on the banks of River Krishna. The town of Srisailam is one of the oldest Kshetras or Regions in India. The famous hill is also known as Siridhan, Srigiri, Sirigiri, Sriparvatha and Srinagam. It is one of the most important Saivite pilgrimage sites in India.
There are two separate temple complexes present inside – one is dedicated to Lord Mallikarjuna and the other one to Goddess Bhramarambha. The Linga of the presiding deity Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The deity Goddess Bhramarambha Devi is one of the eighteen Mahashaktis or the Shakthi Peethas in India.
The sanctity of the hill is mentioned in Mahabharatha, Skanda Purana and many other religious scriptures. The temple is surrounded by walls as high as 6 meters and several towers. The Srisailam Temple is adorned with beautiful and intricate sculpture work.
The srisailam temple has four main Gateways in four main directions:
- Tripuranthakam facing eastwards – It is located in the Prakasam district. The presiding deities are God Tripuranthakeswara Swamy and Goddess Tripurasundari.
- Siddhavatam facing south – It is located in the Kadapa district on the banks of River Penna. God Jyotisideswara Swamy and Goddess Kamakshi are the presiding deities.
- Alampur facing towards the west – It is located in the Mehboobnagar district on the banks of the River Tungabhadra. The famous Navabrahma Alayas, a group of nine temples are situated here. They were all built in the Chalukya period.
- Umamaheswaram facing northwards – It is located in the Mehboobnagar district. God Umamaheswara Swamy and Goddess Umamaheswari Devi are the main deities worshiped here.
Apart from these main gateways, four other secondary gateways are present:
- Eleswaram in the North East – It is currently submerged in the Nagarjunasagar Dam.
- Somasila in the South East – It is located on the banks of River Penna.
- Pushpagiri in the South West – Santana Maheshwara is the presiding deity of the Srisailam Temple.
- Sangameswaram in the North West – It is located at the confluence of the Rivers Krishna and Tungabhadra. However, the temple has been submerged in the Srisailam dam.
Srisailam Temple History
- The origins of the Srisailam Temple are unknown and are mired in controversy. The earliest mention of the Srisailam hills can be traced to the Nasik inscription of the Satavahana King Vasisthiputra Pulumavi in 1st century AD.
- The Ikshavakus kingdom ruled Srisailam from AD200 – 300. The inscriptions dating around AD 375-612 states that the Vishnukundis were the devotees of Sri Parvathsawamy also known as Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy.
- The Pallavas and the Kadambas also ruled the Srisailam region from AD 248-575 and AD 340-450 respectively. The Srisailam Temple architecture gives clues that the Chalukyas and the Kakateeyas also influenced several aspects of the temple administration. Mailamadevi, sister of Ganapathideva of the Kakateeya kingdom is said to have constructed the vimana gopuram of Mallikarjuna Garbhalayam.
- The Golden Age of Srisailam temple is considered to be under the Reddi Kings (AD 1325-1448). They constructed the 854 steps that go down to River Krishna or the PaatalaGanga.
- The Vijayanagara rulers were responsible for major renovation works carried out at the Srisailam Temple. The Second Harihararaya of Vijayanagara empire constructed the Mukhamandapam of Mallikarjuna Temple. He also raised a Gopuram on the south of the temple complex. Sri Krishnadevaraya is credited with the construction of the Rajagopuram of the temple.
- In 1674, Chhatrapati Sivaji visited the Srisailam Temple and carried out renovations under his name. The North Gopuram was constructed by him.
- After the fall of Mughal Emperors, this place came under the control of Nizam of Hyderabad. After independence, the Srisailam Temple was opened to the public in 1956.
- According to the Shiva Purana, when Lord Ganesha got married before Lord Karthikeyan, Lord Karthikeyan got angry and left for the Kraunch Mountain. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati tried to console him but were unable to stop him from leaving. Several other Gods went to Lord Karthikeyan to convince him to come back but were unsuccessful. Finally, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati went to convince them but were unable to do so. Dejected, Lord Shiva took the form of Jyotirlinga and settled on the mountain-top.
- As per another legend, Parvatha who was the son of Silada Maharshi performed penance here. Lord Shiva was impressed and granted him the wish that he will live in his body. As a result, Parvatha became the big hill Sriparvatha with Shiva living on the top as Mallikarjuna Swamy.
- There is another legend associated with the Srisailam Temple. Chandravathi, daughter of Chandragupta Patana ran away from her father who made amorous advances towards her. She crossed the River Krishna and went up the hill top where she lived with her servants. She observed that one of her cows would stand over a rock formation and shed milk over it daily. The Princess dreamt that the rock was a self-manifested Linga of Lord Shiva. She dug the ground and a glowing Linga emerged out of it. She worshipped the Linga daily by adorning it with Jasmine (Mallika) flowers. Lord shiva was very pleased and granted her Mukti and salvation by sending her to Kailasa. This legend is mentioned in the Prakara of the temple wall as well as in the Skanda Puranam.
- The local tribal Chenchus, believe that Siva comes to Srisailam forest as a hunter. He fell in love with a Chenchu girl, married her and settled down on the hill. They believe that Mallikarjuna Swamy is their relative and refer to him Chenchu Mallayya.
Significance of Srisailam Temple
- The Mallikarjuna Linga is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. He is supposed to have appeared in a fiery column of light. The Linga is also supposed to be self-born in nature. The Brahmaramba temple is one of the eighteen Shakti Peethas in India. It is believed that the neck of the Sati Devi fell here when her corpse was cut through by the Sudarshana Chakra in the Daksha Yoga episode.
- Anyone, irrespective of caste, creed or religion can perform Abhishekam and Archana to the Mallikarjuna Linga. The unique feature is that you can touch the Linga and perform the Puja yourself.
- It is believed that Lord Rama himself installed the Sahasralinga in the Srisailam Temple. The Linga is divided into 25 facets which in turn represent 40 Lingas each. This leads to a total of 1000 small Lingas carved on a single Linga.
- The Pandavas placed the Panchapandava Lingas in the temple courtyard. The five Lingas are named after the different forms of Siva – Sadyojatha , Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Eesana. Stories from the Mahabharata are carved on the walls of the temple. The Srisailam temple is mentioned as a holy hill in the Mahabharata.
- It is believed that the Goddess Adisakthi turned into a bee (Bhramaram) to slay the demon Arunasura. After slaying the demon, she settled in Srisailam. In the Brahmaramba temple, it is believed that you can hear this buzzing sound of a bee through a hole in the wall.
- According to scriptures, Adi Sankara visited this temple and then composed the Sivananda Lahiri. In the Sivananda Lahiri, he sings praises for Lord Mallikarjuna and Goddess Brahmarambha in forms of several hymns.
- It is postulated that Hiranyakasipu, father of Bhakta Prahlad conducted poojas to Lord Shiva here.
- It is the common faith that anyone who worships this Linga is forgiven of all their sins and is blessed with wealth and all his / her wishes are realized.
- The River Krishna is in the form of an underground spring. Hence, it is called Paatalaganga. Devotees take a holy dip in this river before going for the darshan.
- On the full moon day of the Karthigai month (8th month of the Indian calendar), Jvalathoranam is performed in the temple. It is believed that by viewing the Jvalathoranam, one’s sins are forgiven.
Srisailam Temple Timings
- Srisailam Temple opens at 4:30 AM and closes at 10 PM.
- General darshan or free darshan – 6:00 AM to 3:30 PM and 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
- Special Queue – Rs. 50 will be charged per person and the darshan will happen between 6:30 AM to 1 PM and 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM.
- Suprabhatha Darshanam – It will take place daily at 5:00 AM. The temple charges Rs.300 per couple/single.
- Mahamangala Aarathi – It starts at 5:30 AM in the morning and 5:00 PM in the evening. The ticket fees are Rs. 200 per person.
- The Suprabhatham, Aarathi darshanams and the Abhishekam timings will be held in advance by 30 minutes on every Monday.
- Items such as Belts, Mobile phones, ladies handbags, Cameras and Shoes are not allowed inside the srisailam temple. These items can be stored at the Cloakroom located opposite to the darshan queue starting point.
- The Srisailam Temple maintains a Central Reception Office at the Ganga-Gouri complex near the Bus Stand to provide assistance to the pilgrims.
- The srisailam temple arranges several cultural programs such as Hari Katha, Burra Katha and Sampradayas Nrityam on every Saturday, Sunday and Monday. It takes place in evenings at the Akkamahadevi Almkara Mandapam.
It is advised to take a bath and wear clean clothes by the srisailam temple management. Smoking, Alcohol consumption and Non-Vegetarian food are not allowed in the temple premises.
Festivals celebrated at Srisailam Temple
- Mahasivaratri Brahmothsavams – The Mahasivaratri Utsav is celebrated in the month of February or March. The Mahasivaratri day (29th day of Magham) marks the beginning of a seven day festival period. The important events are Ankurarpana, Dhwajarohana, Vahana Seva to God and Goddess, Lingodhbhavakala Maharudrabhishekam to God, Pagalankarana, Kalyanothsavam, Radhothsavam and Dhwajavarohana. The temple is visited by nearly 5 lakh pilgrims during this period.
- Ugadi – The celebrations happen for five days in which lakhs of people visit the temple for God’s blessings. The festival begins 3 days before Ugadi (Telugu New Year) which occurs in late March or early April. The important events of the celebrations are Vahana Seva to God and Goddess, Alankaras to Goddess, Veerachara Vinyasalu and Rath Yatra. Pilgrims walk from states like Karnataka and Maharashtra carrying offerings like tamarind, kumkum, nandikavaallu etc. on their shoulders.
- Dasara – The Dasara or the Devi Sarannavaratrulu festival is celebrated for 9 days starting from the 1st day of the seventh month of the Indian calendar. It usually falls in September / October. Goddess Brahmarambha Devi is worshipped on these days. Various religious rituals like Srichakrarchana, Navavarana pooja, Anustanams, Devi Sapthasathi, Parayanas and Yagnas are performed. Kumari Pooja and Suhasini Pooja are also conducted at evening hours. Girls of age group 2 to 8 years and married women or Soubhagyawati women are worshiped as deities.
- Kumbhothsavam – This festival is celebrated on the first Tuesday or Friday (whichever comes first) after the full moon of Chaitra month.
- Sankranthi – This Utsav is celebrated for a period of seven days with Panchahnika Deeksha in the month of Pushyam (the 10th month of Indian Calendar) which falls in the month of January.
- Kartheekai Mahothsavam – It is one of the most auspicious months in the Indian calendar. Large numbers of deepams are lighted in the srisailam temple premises. On the full moon day of the month, Jvalathoranam (bonfire) performed in the temple.
- Sravanamahothsavam – This festival is celebrated in the Shravan month (August / September). The Akhanda Sivanama Sankeerthana (Bhajans) is performed round the clock throughout the month.
Srisailam Temple Poojas and Rituals
Around 27 types of Poojas and Sevas are performed at the Srisailam Temple. The main types of Poojas performed here are:
- Special Abhishekam to Swamyvaru in Garbhalayam – Any person irrespective of caste, religion or creed is allowed to perform this Abhishekam to the Linga itself. The material needed for the Pooja and the Prasadam is provided by the temple itself.
- Abhishekam to Sri Vruddha Mallikarjuna – This Abhishekam can be done between 6 AM to 1 PM and then between 6 PM to 8:30 PM.
- Ganapathi Abhishekam – Abhishekam is performed for Sri Ratnagarbha Ganapati at 7 AM daily. Laddu as a prasadam is also given to the sevadars.
- Ganapathi Homam – This homam is done between 7 AM to 7:30 AM.
- Rudra Homam – It is done between 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM. The materials required are provided by the Srisailam Temple administration.
- Laksha Bilwarchana – This Pooja is done at 11 AM. The temple has to be informed two days in advance as they have to collect the Bilwa leaves.
- Sahasralingam Abhishekam – It is performed between 6:30 AM to 1:00 PM and 6:00 AM to 8:30 PM. The Pooja materials are provided by the Srisailam Temple itself.
Some of the other important poojas performed at the temple are Maha Mrityunjaya Homam, Navagraha Homam, Chandralinganhishekam, Suryalingabhishekam and Namakaranam.
- Kumkuma Pooja – This is performed between 7 AM to 1 PM and 6 PM to 8:30 PM.
- Gouri Vratham – This pooja is performed especially for ladies at 8 AM.
- Other Poojas performed are Suvarnapushparchana, Lakshakumkumarchana, Navavarana Pooja and Chandi Homam.
How to reach Srisailam Temple – Road, Rail, and Air
- By Road – The Srisailam Temple is situated just 1 km away from the Srisailam Bus Stand. The town is well connected to all cities in Andhra Pradesh like Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Tirupati and Warangal. Buses from cities like Chennai, Bangalore and Kochi are also available.
- By Train – The nearest Railway Station is Markapur which is 80 km away followed by Nandyal and Kurnool. Direct trains to Markapur are available from cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Vijayawada and Vizag.
- By Air – The nearest airport is Rajiv Gandhi International airport at Hyderabad. It is 202 km away from Srisailam. Regular flights are available to Hyderabad from all major cities in India and abroad.
Where to stay in Srisailam
- The Kuteera Nirmana Pathakam, a donation scheme has been launched by the Devasthanam or the Temple management under which several suites, cottages, rooms and dormitories have been built for the pilgrims. Please visit the site http://www.srisailamonline.com/ for online booking of these rooms. Please bring your Identity card to confirm booking. The booking once done cannot be cancelled.
- There are up to 70 private hotels / choultries in the area where accommodation and food is provided.
Where to Eat in Srisailam
- Annadanam (Prasadam distribution) is provided at the Annadana Mandiram or the Annapurna Bhavanam to all the pilgrims visiting the Srisailam Temple. The scheme is run by the Temple administration. On an average, it provided free meals for 2000-3000 people every day.
- Several small private hotels and restaurants are available in the town for a wider variety of food.
- Sakshi Ganapathi – It is located about 3 km away from Srisailam. It is believed that Ganapathi keeps attendance / Sakshi of the pilgrims visiting the Srisailam holy town. In the sculpture, the god holds a book in the left hand and a pen in the right hand to note down the names.
- Hatakeswaram – It is 5 km away from Srisailam. The legend says that God Siva appeared to a potter in Atika (Piece of Pot). Hence, this place is named as Atikeswaram which later became Hatakeswaram.
- Sikhareswaram – It is located at a distance of 8 km away from Srisailam. The temple is located at 2830 feet above the sea level making it as the highest peak in Srisailam. The temple is an ancient stone structure. According to the Skanda Puranam, a glance at the peak will relieve the curses of re-birth.
- Phaladhara Panchadhara – It is located 4 km away from Srisailam. Sri Adisankara performed penance at this place and composed the famous Sivanandalahari.
- Akkamahadevi caves – It is located 10 km away from Srisailam. It is said that Akkamahadevi, a lyricist and philosopher spent some years in these caves in 12th Century AD doing penance and worshiping the Sivalinga. The Linga naturally existed in the deep parts of the cave. These caves are also home to Siddhas who practiced Alchemy.