|Architecture and culture|
|Architectural styles:||Kalinga Architecture , South Indian|
Simhadri or Simhachalam is a Hindu temple located in the Visakhapatam City, suburb of Simhachalam in Andhra Pradesh, South India. It is dedicated to the incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu, known as Narasimha (the man-lion). The architectural style of the temple’s central shrine is Oriya; while, its entrance is Dravidian.
Origin of the name
Simha: Lion; Adri or Achala: Hill (one which cannot be moved, viz. hill).
On the top of the hill is the famous temple which is said to be the abode of Varaha Narasimha Swami, and hence the hill is called (nara) Simhachalam.
It is one of the eighteen "Narasimha Kshetras" — the shrines of Lord Narasimha — in India. The main deity inside the temple sanctum gives "nijaroopa darshan" (holy appearance in true form) for only twelve hours in a year. On Akshaya Tritiya day, the rest of the time, the deity is covered with Sandalwood paste. The darshan described as 'Chandana yatra' or 'Chandanotsavam' falls every year in Vaisakha maasam (May).
Hiranyakasipu was a Rakshasa king. He was one of Vishnu's Dwarapalakas or gatekeepers in Vaikuntha(heaven), Jaya, and Vijaya. They were cursed by Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanathana and Sanathkumara, because the gatekeepers did not allow them to take darshan of Mahavishnu. As a result, the gatekeepers were reincarnated three times. The other palaka was born as his brother Hiranyaaksha.
Hiranyakasipu decided to perform austerities (tapasya) to appease Lord Brahma which would allow him to become immortal. However, Lord Brahma said that it was not possible. Hiranyakasipu asked Lord Brahma to grant him a boon that he could be killed: neither by animal nor by man, neither in the morning nor in the night, neither by astra (throwable weapon) nor by shastra (handy weapon), neither in sky nor on the earth. Hiranyakasipu wanted the entire world to worship him. However, his son, Prahlada, was a disciple of Lord Narayana and always expressed his devotion (bhakti) towards Him. Despite warning him several times, Hiranyakasipu could not alter Prahlada's devotion.
Hiranyakasipu became infuriated and engaged in numerous attempts to have Prahlada killed, including the act of throwing him off a mountaintop. Vishnu, however, rescued Prahlada by moving the mountain and creating a small path. It is said that the Simhachalam temple was built in the exact place where the Lord stood to protect Prahlada. Most significantly, God's feet are not shown anywhere at the temple, as it is said that the feet are buried inside the earth. Lord Narayana came to rescue Prahlada on Garuda. When Lord Narayana jumped to save Prahlada from Garuda, his feet sunk deep into the earth.
It has Sri Varahalakshmi Narasimha Swamy as the presiding deity. The deity at Simhachalam, the lion-man incarnation of Lord Mahavishnu is usually covered with sandalwood paste whole year and can be seen without sandlewood for only 12 hours. The original shape of the deity in the tribhanga posture has two hands with the head of a lion on a human torso. An inscription dated as far back as 1098 AD of the Chola King Kuloththunga provides some clue as to its antiquity. Another inscription shows a queen of the Eastern Ganga of Kalinga (ancient Odisha) (1137-56 AD) covering the image with gold while a third inscription says the eastern Ganga King of Odisha, Narasimha Deva, built the main/central shrine in 1267 A.D. With more than 252 inscriptions in Oriya and Telugu describing the antecedents of the temple, it is an important historical monument.
Sri Krishna Deva Raya after defeating the Gajapati ruler of Odisha Gajapati Prataparudra Dev visited the shrine twice in 1516 AD and 1519 AD and offered numerous villages for maintenance of bhogam (worship) along with valuable jewelry of which an emerald necklace is still in the temple. For the last three centuries the royal family of Vizianagaram, "The Pusapati Gajapathi's" have been the temple's trustees. Giripradhikshana (circumambulation), which is situated around the hill ranges (~40 km) from Hanumantha vaka/MVP colony to Simhachalam, is done by pilgrims during the auspicious days. Crowds of elderly people/youth/children are observed walking the 40 km stretch overnight. They visit the temple after the long journey and give their offerings to the deity.
It is said that during an invasion, when the Muslims were about to destroy and plunder the temple, a poet, Kurmanatha, implored Lord Varaha Narasimha to save his temple and the Hindus. In response to his fervent prayers, a huge swarm of copper hornets suddenly appeared and attacked the invading army, driving them out of the city. The swarm disappeared behind a hillock after driving out the Muslim armies. That hillock is now known as Tummedala Metta (Tummedala=of hornet, Metta=hillock).
The Simhachalam temple faces west, unlike so many others which face east. An east-facing entrance, according to religious belief, brings prosperity, while a west-facing one brings victory.
The hilltop road and the location of the eastern ghat ranges are beautiful and picturesque. The hills are densely populated with trees like cashew, shrubs and mango groves. The forestry is protected and well-conserved. The greenery attracts tourists and nature lovers.
There is also the Simhachalam railway station at Gopalapatnam, which is also a stop for some express trains.
The neighbourhoods near the pilgrimage include Srinivasanagar, Prahladapuram, Sainagar colony, Simhapuri colony, Simhapuri Layout and many other housing areas.
Wooden chariot at Simhachalam Visakhapatnam
- Sri Simhachala Kshetra Mahima, 1965 Telugu film.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Simhachalam.|
- "Simhachalam". Retrieved 6 August 2013.
- About Simhachalam Temple
- VIZAGWAVES - Simhachalam Temple Picture Gallery
- Simhachalam Temple
- details of Simhachalam temple