Ahobilam temple is a holy place for Hindus that is located in Karnool district of Andhra Pradesh in India. It is situated in the hills of the Eastern Ghats, about 400 km northwest of the city of Chennai. Nandyal and Kurnool are the district headquarters from which the temple is 70 km and 150 km away respectively. The temple is divided into two houses, the lower Ahobilam and upper Ahobilam. It is believed that the Ahobilam temple is where the Lord Narasimha, fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu had blessed Prahlada and killed his demonic father Hiranyakashipu and freed him from his oppressions. The temple follows the mode of worship called Vadakalai.
It is said that the Ahobilam temple was initially built bu Chalukyas in the 8th century, but most of its current structures and edifices are believed to have been rebuilt and renovated by the Vijayanagar kings around the 15th century. It is situated amidst the dense forest of Nallamala, the temple of Ahobilam is also known as Narasimha Kshetra as lord Narasimha or the incarnation of a is worshiped in 9 different forms and there are separate temples for each of the forms within the radius of 5 km of the main structure or the main temple. Most of these are easily accessible but few of them are located at certain heights that require trekking all the way through thick forest and rocky path to the temples.
The upper house of the Ahobilam temple includes the following narasimha temples:
- Ahobila Narasimha: It is the main temples of the nine Narasimha temples. It is located in the upper house of Ahobilam almost 8 km from Lower house of Ahobilam. It is said that when the devas saw the half-lion and half-man form of lord Vishnu they called out Ahobala or Ahobila, this is how the place got its name.
- Kroda Narasimha: It is recognised as Varaha Nrasimha temple, this temple is situated 1 km ahead of the chief temple of Ahobilam Narasimha temple. One has to trek all the way through the rocky and dense forest to reach this structure. The icon of the lord has the hog’s face and is seen with his partner, Lakshmi.
- Jwala Narasimha: It is said that this is the place the fierce lord and his anger reached a climax when he tore the chest of the demonic Hiranyakasyapa. The temple is located on the edge of the hill, when you see it from a distance it looks like a rock cave temple.
- Molala Narasimha: It is situated up in the hills like other temples of the upper house of Ahobilam temple; he is seen here with the divine mother Lakshmi. The deity here has been donated by the Kakatiya King Prataparudar which is made of gold.
The temple that is situated somewhere between the upper and the lower houses of the Ahobilam temple
- Karanja Narashimha: This shrine or temple is situated 1 km away from the upper house of the Ahobilam and little away from the road that leads to the lower Ahobilam. The idol of the divine lord is situated beneath a tree known as ‘Karanja Vruksham.
The lower house of the Ahobilam temple includes the following narasimha temples:
- Yogananda Narasimha: The temple is situated 2km in the south-east of the lower Ahobilam. The popular legend says that after killing Hiranyakasipu, lord Nrasimha gave few yogic lessons to Prahalad.
- Chatravata Narasimha: It is situated 3 km away from lower Ahobilam, the deity is placed under a peepal tree, bordered by thorny bushes, and it falls on the same route to Pavana Narasimha.
- Pavana Narasimha: It is situated on the bank of the river Pavana, it is 6 km away from upper ahobilam. This is reason the shrine has been named as Pavana Narasimha Swamy.
- Bhargava Narasimha: It is located 2 km ahead of the lower house of the Ahobilm, near a pond Bhargava Theertham that is considered sacred by the people, Bhargava Rama is alleged to have performed reparation here.
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