Kanaka Durga Temple: Deity with Golden Glory
Vijayawada is famous all over the world for the pilgrimage of Kanaka Durga Temple, also called as Sri Durga Malleswara Swami Temple. It is one of the largest temples in India and 2nd largest temple in Andhra Pradesh. One of the most popular temples in and around Vijayawada, it is located on a hill Indrakeeladri overlooking the city as well as the River Krishna. Mother Kanakadurgeswari is considered as the supreme Goddess of Andhra Pradesh, seated atop the Indrakilaparvatha at Vijayawada.
There is a ghat road which was laid in 1969, most of the pilgrims prefer to climb the steps leading to the temple an arduous task for women and children. Some devotees climb the hill, decorating the steps with turmeric powder and vermilion. There are inscriptions of different dynasties found in the temple. Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese traveler visited this temple. It is mentioned in the Vedas that, the deity in the Kanaka durga temple is regarded as ‘Swayambhu’ or self-manifested, hence considered very powerful. It is also believed that Adi Sankara visited this temple and installed the Sri Chakra here.
Kanaka Durga Temple History
- In good olden days a Yaksha named ‘Keela’ had been performing awful penance about holiest goddess Durga. Goddess Durga was pleased with his penance and appeared to him. She asked him to beg a boon. Keela was so happy by the words of goddess Durga and begged her to be in his heart always. Goddess Durga gave the boon, by showering the lunar lights of smile and said “My Son! You remain here at the holiest planes of river Krishna in the form of a mountain. In Krithayuga, after the assassination of demons, I will remain in your heart”. As per the orders of the Goddess Durga, Keela was waiting for the Goddess in the form of a mountain.
- Thus, Keeladri became the abode of Durga. She took the form of Mahisasura Mardini with eight arms holding different weapons, riding on a lion and trampling Mahishasura on the hill of Indrakeeladri. Her consort Shiva took his place on an adjacent hillrock as Jyothirlinga. He was worshipped by Lord Brahma with jasmines (Mallelu) whereby he got the name of Malleswara Swamy. As celestial beings like Indra visited the place, the hill came to be called Indrakeeladri.
- According to another mythology associated with this place is that Arjuna prayed to Lord Shiva on top of Indrakeela hill to win His blessings and the city derived its name “Vijayawada” after this victory. Since goddess Durga shined on this mountain with golden colour glowing, the name ‘Kanakachala’ also attained by this mountain.
- Vijayawada is surrounded by many hillocks and the most important of them is Seethanagaram while the less important is called the Kanakadurga or Kanaka konda. On the southern side of the Kanakadurga temple, is a hillock with sculptures bearing inscriptions, indicating the names of Gods and Goddesses.
- It is believed that the great saint Sri Sri Sankara Bhagavatpadulu visited this temple in the 8th century and installed “Sri Chakra” at the feet of the goddess. The temple was constructed during the rule of Moghal rulers where the Moghal Emperor Thanisha, with the assistance of his Ministers Akkanna and Madanna, managed the temple.
- The nose-ring of Goddess Durga is never removed in this temple. As per the legends, Goddess Durga once borrowed the nose-ring of Krishna and did not return it. Krishna took a vow that by the end of Kaliyuga it would take back the nose-ring by raising its level to the hill top.
Significance of Kanaka Durga Temple
- Goddess Kanaka Durga, the epitome of beauty, is the main deity of Kanaka Durga Temple and the Sanctum is covered with gold. Next to Kanaka Durga Temple is the shrine of Lord Malleswara Swamy, the consort of Goddess Kanaka Durga and the other deities located in this temple are Lord Krishna, Goddess Kali, and Nandi etc.
- The epics Kaalika Puraana and Durgaa Sapthashati and other Vedic literature have mentioned about the epitome of beauty, Goddess Durga.
- This place was an uninhabited area and the prays made by the people forced Lord Shiva to ask the Hills to make way for the flow of the river and the river started to flow via a tunnel is known as Bejjam which is believed to be constructed by Lord Shiva and this is the reason why this area is known as Bezawada.
- This is a place of peerless spiritual significance and a very attractive pilgrim in Andhra Pradesh, which occupies a very special place in the scriptures of great Siva-Leelas and Shakti Mahimas. The scenic beauty of this place attracts both pilgrims and nature lovers.
Kanaka Durga Temple Timings
- The Kanaka Durga Temple opens at 4.00 AM in the morning and closes at 9.00 PM.
- On Friday and Saturday, the Temple opens at 4.00 AM in the morning and closes at 10.00 PM.
- The Private Vehicles are also not allowed from 10.00 AM to 2.00 PM.
- There are three different Darshanams that are Dharma Darshanam, Mukha Mandapam and Antaralayam Darshanam that takes place from 4.00 AM to 5.45 PM and 6.15 PM to 9.00 PM.
- Every Thursday 5.00PM to 6.00PM one can perform Swarnapushparchana pooja in Antarayalam
- For Mukha Mandapam one has to pay Rs. 20/- for one person and for Antaralayam Darshanam one has to pay Rs. 100/- for one person.
- The entry to Dharma Darshanam is free.
Kanaka Durga Temple Food Timings
The timings for Anna Prasaddam is from 5.00 AM to 10.00 PM where free and unlimited food is offered to all the pilgrims. About 5000 pilgrims are being provided with free meals. According to the Anna Prasadam, scheme devotees may pay Rs.1,116/-., this will be deposited in the bank and with the interest gained by it, 8 people can be fed on one particular day desired by the donar. If these devotees pay Rs. 5,116/-, 35 people will be fed on one particular day in a year.
Dress Code at Kanaka Durga Temple
Avoid shorts, shirts, tanktops and dresses exposing legs. Use of Cell phones and photography is restricted inside the Kanaka Durga Temple.
Festivals celebrated at Kanaka Durga Temple
Vasantotsavam or Vasanta Navaratri in Chaitra masam: A large number of devotees from different places across the country visit the temple for the darshan of the goddess and also be part of the week-long Chaitra Maasa Vasantha Navaratri Utsavaalu. There are different poojas that are performed and there are different varieties of flowers that are offered by the devotees as part of Laksha Pushpaarchana Puja. It is than followed by Chaitra Brahmotsavam which is celebrated in the month of March or April.
Shakambari Navaratri in Ashada masam: This nine-day festival falls on the month of ashadam. Ashada Navaratri uthsavam is also called as Shakambari Navaratri and the celebrations stars from the first day of ashada masad and concludes on Dashami. Sakambari Ammavari Uthsavam is performed in Ashadamasam every year.
Celebrations of Dasara: The festival of Dasara for Goddess Durga is celebrated with great enthusiasm among devotees at Vijayawada. It is also known as Navaratri and there is Saraswati puja and Theppotsavam celebrated which is very significant. It is a nine-day festival when the Goddess Durga is decorated in nine forms for nine days. A large number of pilgrims gather together to take the holy dip in the Krishna river. A symbolic representation of the 10 forms of the triumph of good over evil, the form (known as ‘Alankaram’) of the day for the Goddess is chosen as per the astrological star of each day, in accordance with the lunar calendar.
Day 1 -SRI SWARNA KAVACHALAKRUTA DURGA DEVI
On the first day, halwa and poori are offered to the goddess
Day 2 – SRI BALA TRIPURA SUNDARI DEV
On this day, Durga Devi is decorated as bala which is a small child. Payasam is offered today as prasadam.
Day 3 – SRI ANNAPURNA DEVI
This goddess is the symbol for the one who grants nourishment on every level. Goddess Annapoorna is described as holding a golden spoon in her right hand and a vessel full of Paramannam(rice pudding) in her left hand.Pongal and minapa garelu (vada) are offered are prasadam.
Day 4 – SRI GAYATRI DEVI
The goddess often sits on a red lotus flower and appears with five heads and five pairs of hands and representing the incarnations of the Goddess as parvati and saraswati. Nimmakaya (lemon) pulihora is offered as a prasadam.
Day 5- SRI LALITHA TRIPURA SUNDARI DEVI
She appears enthroned with her left foot upon the sri chakra, holding her traditional symbols like sugarcane, flower, noose (pasam), and goad (amkusam). Daddojanam (curd rice) or Gudannam (bellapu Annam, jaggery rice) is offered as prasadam
Day 6 – SRI SARASWATI DEVI
She is the goddess of knowledge and music and arts, and also she regarded as Vagdevi Goddess of sound, speech, consciousness and wisdom. Offering honey is very important in Saraswathi pooja, as honey represents perfect knowledge. Payasam is offered as parasadam on this day.
Day 7 – SRI MAHA LAKSHMI DEVI
She is the Goddess of wealth, prosperity, wisdom and fortune. She is offered with prasadams like Ksheeraannm and pournalu.
Day 8 – SRI DURGA DEVI
Durga Devi is mentioned by Vedas as a supreme power. On this Durgastami day, people believe in praying Durga Devi. Pulagam or Kadambam Annam is offered as prasadam.
Day 9 – SRI MAHISHASURA MARDHINI DEVI
Mahishasura mardhani is the form of Durga Devi after she killed mahishasura. She is offered with Pulihora (tamarind rice) Garelu (lentil dumplings) panakam (jaggery juice) vadapappu (moong dal salad).
Day 10 – SRI RAJA RAJESWARI DEVI
After her victory in the battle with Mahishasura we celebrate Dasami the 10th day as vijayadasami, vijaya means victory dasami means 10th day. Dasara is a very important and famous festival in Vijayawada which is celebrated every year. Here the Devi appears as Sri Rajeswari Devi.
Poojas and Rituals at Kanaka Durga Temple
There are different poojas and rituals that are performed in the Kanaka Durga temple such as Astothoranam Archana, Sahasra Namarchana, Lakshakumkumarchana and many more. Accordingly there are different rates that are charged depending upon the number of persons performing the rituals.
How to reach: Road, Rail and Air
By Air: One can easily get regular flights to Vijayawada from other major cities of the country. There are direct flights to Vijayawada from the major cities as Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Delhi.
By Train: Kanaka Durga Temple is located in the heart of Vijayawada city, the temple is just a 10 minutes drive from the railway station. Vijayawada is located 275 kilometers from Hyderabad. Vijayawada is one of the largest railway station on the South Central Railway.
By Road: APSRTC runs frequent buses from Hyderabad, Kammam, Tirupathi, and Warangal. The nearest airport is, Gannavaram (20km). Bus facility is available to reach Kanaka Durga Temple from Railway station, Bus Stand and Ratham centre for every 15 minutes. If you are in Vijayawada, you can avail the local transportation to reach the temple. The city is served by NH 5 and NH 9 which connects it to cities.
Hotels in Vijayawada: Where to stay
A wide range of facilities for accommodation is available In Vijayawada. There are various Three Stars hotels and Guest houses that are available.
Madapati Guest House: Near by Railway Station 10th platform, One Town, Opposite Rajkumari theatre
Indrakeeladri Guest House: Near by Devasthanam Steps, One Town Arujuna street, Opp Kottagullu Venakateswara Swamy Temple.
The Gateway Hotel: 39-1-63, M G Road Vijayawada Krishna Dist.
Quality Hotel DV Manor: M. G. Road Venkateswarapuram Vijayawada
The Kay Hotel: 48-12-4/1 Gunadala Vijayawada
Fortune Murali Park: 40-1-28, M. G. Road Labbipet Vijayawada
- Nataraja Temple: Temples for Sri Vinayaka, Sivakama Sundari Devi, Nataraja are wide constructed by the way to Malleswara Swamy Temple from Goddess Durga Temple. Every day Astothara and Sahasra Namarchanas are performed here. Adoration to Sri Sivakameswari Devi also will be done along with Goddess Durga on the auspicious days of Dasara.
- Temple of Subrahmanyeswara: Devasthanam has constructed a beautiful temple for Lord Subrahmaneswara Swamy along with Srivalli and Devasena nearby the ant hill of Nagendra. Devotees also can perform these rituals. ‘Sarpa Dosha Nivasraqna Pooja’ also performed daily in the premises of the temple only.
- Ant-hill of Nagendra: Nagendara Swamy was shined long years back at the Nothern part of Goddess Durga on Indrakeeladi. This is very old and powerful ant hill. Devotees believe that by installing Serpant idol(Nagapratistha) barren women will be blessed with children.
- Kshetrapalka Anjaneya Swamy: For every Kshetra there will be a guardian (Palaka). He is called Kshetra Palaka. Lord Sri Anjaneya is the place guardian (Kshetrapalaka) of this Kanaka Durga Kshetra. Sri Anjaneya is visible at the root temple of big fig-tree that is situated in front of Goddess Durga’s main temple.
- Mangalagiri Narasimha Swamy Temple: The renowned temple of Lord Narasimha, one of the nine avatars of Vishnu, is located on the hillock at Mangalagiri, 12k south of Vijayawada. The unique feature of this temple, according to the devout.