Simhachalam temple, a beautiful art of architecture is located in the suburbs of Vishakhapatnam city, Andhra Pradesh. This temple is typically dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There kept the Man-Lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu called Narsimha. This temple is one of the eighteen “Narasimha Kshetras (temple)”, in India.
There were many legendry stories attached with the temple. It is said that Prahlad, the son of Hiranyakashyapu, had made this temple. Hiranyakashyapu had taken a boon from Lord Brahma that he safe from death either at day or night, either by human or beast and neither at day or night. As Prahlad was a die-heart devotee of Lord Vishnu, requested him to kill Hiranyakashyapu who was bothering all the Gods and human beings too. So Lord Vishnu taken the incarnation of “Narsimha” and killed the beast. Prahlad again requested him to stay there with his two incarnation faces, so the result is seen at Simhachalam temple.
After Prahlad, the temple decayed due to lack of care. Later, Pururava of Lunar dynasty and Urvashi, the main apsara at Indra’s bhawan, got visions of resettling that temple. They located the idol but dint find its feet. The divine voice asked them to wait for an auspicious time. Later on the third day of Hindu month “Vaishakh”, which we now know as Akshaya Tritiya, the idol’s feet got visible. Since then, the practice is been made regular.
There is also stories of a poet Krishnamacharyulu who composed praising songs for Varaha Narasimha. But as he saw the deity dancing on his songs, he became arrogant towards others. Once there visited Saint Ramanuj, but Krishnamacharyulu didn’t treat him properly. Ramanuj requested him for Lord’s salvation which he obeyed. But to teach him a lesson, Narsimha denied and said that Ramanuj himself is capable of giving salvation to others. This denial was taken as an insult by Krishnamacharyulu and he cursed that the temple would be attacked. In 18th century, Muslim invaders attacked the temple which was supposed to be the effect of that curse only.
Simhachalam Temple History
Simhachalam temple has a past of more than 1000 years. One can find many inscriptions in the temple complex. Those are written in Sanskrit and Telugu. The Chola dynasty had made endowments to this temple. Later Chalukyas renovated the original shrine in 11th century. In 1949, the temple came under ministry of state government. Currently the Pashupati Gajapathi family members are the trustees of the temple who are serving since last three centuries.
Simhachalam Temple Architecture
Simhachalam temple is a perfect example of Kalinga architectural art. The temple boasts of a shining stone chariot drawn by horses. The interiors are also built very beautifully. There are two large halls for special occasions. Next to them, there is 16 pillared dance hall where the pillars featuring lion heads. In Kalyana mandapa, thirty two manifestations of Narsimha are carved on the pillars.
The major festival of Simhachalam temple is Chandanotsavam which is celebrated at Akshaya Tritiya every year. Usually the deity is covered with sandal paste for the whole year. Only on chandanotsavam, the idol is uncovered and kept in simple dhoti. This is called the “NIjaroopa Darshan” of the deity. It is open for visitors for 12 hours on that day.
Another important festival is Kalyanotsavam. It is like a wedding festival of Hindus. This festival is celebrated for five days.
One major festival is Giri Pradakshinam, in which the deity is taken out for procession around the hills. This signifies that the deity is out to see the pains and reliefs of his devotees.
Modes of Transport to Simhachalam temple
Simhachalam temple is easily reachable. It is just 12 kms from Vishakhapatnam bus stand and 16 kms from railway station. Buses are available quite frequently so transportation is not a matter of fact.
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