|Proper name||Sri Kalahasthiswara Swamy Devasthanam|
|Primary deity||Srikalahasthiswaraswamy (Shiva)|
|Consort||Gnana Prasunambika Devi (Parvati)|
|History and governance|
Srikalahasti Temple is located in the town of Srikalahasti, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is one of the most famous Shiva temples in South India, and is said to be the site where Kannappa was ready to offer both his eyes to cover blood flowing from the Siva linga before the Lord Siva stopped him and granted him mukti.
Sri Kalahasti temple, situated 36 km away from Tirupati is famous for its Vayu linga, one of the Panchabhoota Sthalams, representing wind. The inner temple was constructed around 5th century and the outer temple was constructed in the 12th century by the Chola kings and the Vijayanagara kings. Lord Shiva in his aspect as Vayu is worshiped as Kalahasteeswara.
The temple is also associated with Rahu and Kethu (of the nine grahams or celestial bodies in the Indian astrological scheme). The river Suvarnamukhi takes the northerly course at Sri Kalahasthi almost washing the west wall of the famous temple . Inside this very large temple, situated between two steep hills Sripuram and Mummidi-cholapuram, is the Sivalinga set to represent the element of Vayu.
This temple is considered as the Kailash of the South or Dakshin Kailash. Saivaite saints of the first century sang about this temple.
This temple is one of the most impressive Shiva temples in India. This temple features an enormous, ancient gopuram (entrance tower) over the main gate. The tower is 36.5 m (120 ft) high. The entire temple is carved out of the side of a huge stone hill.
The initial structure of this temple was constructed by the Pallava dynasty in the 5th century. The Chola kings and the Vijayanagara kings also gave great help for the temple development. Like other great temples, the construction period of Sri Kalahasthi temple lasted centuries. Around the 10th century, the Chola kings renovated the temple and constructed the main structure.
Temple Constructions during Chola dynasty
According to R. Nagaswamy, former Director of Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, Sri Kalahastiswara temple has a recorded history that goes back to a minimum of 1600 years and is closely associated with the “unparalleled devotion” of hunter-prince Kannappa to Lord Siva. “Kannappa’s devotion is an outstanding story in the Saivite literature and he is VENERATED as one of the 63 Saivite nayanmars (saints),” said Dr. Nagaswamy, who is a scholar in Tamil and Sanskrit, and an epigraphist of international repute 
Srikalahastiswara temple held a special appeal for the Chola kings, who lavished it with gifts and kept expanding it with additional structures and converted it into a big complex that it is today. The temple complex abounds in lithic records (stone inscriptions) of Chola kings such as Rajaditya (regnal years 947-949 CE), Raja Raja Chola (regnal years 985-1014 CE), his son Rajendra Chola (1012-1044 CE), his son Rajadhiraja (1018-1054 CE), Kulottunga I (1070-1120 CE) and Kulotunga III (1178-1218 CE).
The temple is also replete with the inscriptions of later Pandyas and almost all the rulers belonging to the Vijayanagara dynasty. While the inscriptions of the Chola and the Pandya kings are in Tamil, those of the Vijayanagara dynasty are in Telugu. The story of Kannappa is fully told in a long inscription of the Cholas. The inscriptions of the Chola and Pandya rulers provide a wealth of information on the donations they made to the temple for its maintenance, for performing pujas and celebrating festivals.
During the Chola rule, Sri Kalahasti fell under the revenue division of Attrur Nadu of Perumbanaipadi, which was a sub-division of Tiruvenkata Kottam (Tiruvenkata Circle) under the larger division of Jayamkonda Cholamandalam. Raja Raja Chola had a soft corner for the Srikalahastiswara temple, and according to Dr. Nagaswamy, the emperor sent a golden diadem to the deity from his capital of Thanjavur, which was carried with VENERATION by his army commander and officials. The temple has bronze portrait sculptures of Chola Mahadevi, one of the queens of Raja Raja Chola, and of Kulotunga III, with inscriptions on their pedestals.
Raja Raja Chola founded a big commercial centre near Sri Kalahasti under the name Mummudi Cholapuram. This commercial centre was in existence for more than 500 years and was active even up to 1600 CE – till the decline of the Vijayanagara empire.
The temple has an interesting inscription which refers to a Brahmin from a village called Tiruindalaur, near Mayiladuthurai (Tamil Nadu), who made donations to the temple. Recently, an 85-copper plate charter issued by Rajendra Chola and 12 exquisitely beautiful bronzes were unearthed from the Kailasanatha temple premises at Kazhukkanimuttam in Tiruindalur.
Dr. Nagaswamy said another interesting inscription is about a local chieftain who killed 150 tigers in the forests around the hills and protected the people from attacks by the animal. This inscription in Tamil, dated to Saka year 1289 (that is 1367 CE), refers to “Valli Arasan, the lord of Ayodhyapuram,” who killed 150 tigers and also assumed a title.
What is of relevance now is an inscription in Telugu, of Krishnadeva Raya, which clearly states that it was he who built the Rajagopuram of the temple. This lithic record is inscribed on the western wall of the second prakara (corridor) and is dated to Saka year 1438 (that is, 1516 CE). The dhamma sasanam (inscription) talks about how Sri Krishnadeva Maharayalu built the peddha gopuramu (the big tower) for the Lord in “Sri Kalahastiswarani temple.”
There are inscriptions that talk about local chieftains who had the title “Yadavaraya” and controlled the area around Sri Kalahasti. Called “Sri Kalahasti deva,” they were proud that they were devotees of both Sri Venkatachalapathy of Tirumala and Sri Kalahasti Natha. The Nagarathar community (Nattukottai Chettiars) of Devakottai in Tamil Nadu have liberally donated for Sri Kalahastiswara temple’s maintenance.
There is a temple called Sri Mani Gangisvara (Sri Manikanteswara) temple behind the main temple complex and it dates back to the Raja Raja Chola Chola period, said Dr. Nagaswamy. On the rock surface near this temple is a series of beautiful bas reliefs, representing various manifestations of Lord Siva. Unfortunately, they have been garishly painted over in a riot of polychromatic colours.
This ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the five Panchabhootha stalams (temples celebrating Lord Shiva as the embodiment of the five primary elements), air (wind) being the element in this case; the other elements being water at (Thiruvanaikaval), fire at (Annamalaiyar Temple), earth at (Ekambareswarar Temple) and space at (Chidambaram Temple) that Shiva embodies.These five lingas are praised by Muthuswami Dikshitar in his celebrated Panchabhuta Kirthis.
There is a lamp inside the inner sanctum that is constantly flickering despite the lack of air movement inside. The air-linga can be observed to move even when the priests close off the entrance to the main deity room, which does not have any windows. One can see the flames on several ghee lamps flicker as if blown by moving air. The linga is white and is considered Swayambhu, or self-manifested.
Kalahasti is surrounded by two sacred hills. The Durgama temple is on the northern hill. On the south hill there is the shrine of Kannabeswara, in memory of the Sage Kannappa, who offered his eyes to the Lord Shiva. There is also a temple dedicated to Lord Subramanya on one of the surrounding hills.
The main linga is untouched by human hands, even by the priest. Abhisheka (bathing) is done by pouring a mixture of water, milk, camphor, and panchamrita. Sandal paste, flowers and the sacred thread are offered to the utsava-murti, not the main linga.
Sri Kalahasti is named after the staunch devotees of Lord Shiva. They were the Spider (Sri), the Serpent (Kala) and the Elephant (Hasti). Appeased with their unflinching devotion, Lord Shiva gave them a boon that their names be merged with the Vayulinga and called as Sri Kalahasteeswara According to Hindu mythology, the elephant or Hasti used to clean the Shiva deity by watering the idol with the help of river-water carried in his trunks and pray for him by placing Bilva leaves. The spider or Sri tried to protect the deity from external damage by weaving his web and to provide shelter for the Shiva lingam. The snake or Kala used to place its precious gem on the linga to adorn the lord. In this way, they all worshipped the Vayu linga separately without knowing what the other was doing.
One day, the spider had built a very big and thick web around the deity to protect it from dust and weather while the snake places its gem. The elephant not knowing this and assuming that this form of puja by Sri and Kala is a desecration by the seeming miscreants, pours water on it and cleans it up. This causes a war between the three. The snake punishes the elephant by entering its trunk and in the process kills itself while the elephant runs amok and hits its trunk and head against the shiva linga. During this struggle, the spider is squashed against the linga by the elephant's trunk and the elephant dies due to the snake's poison. Lord Shiva then appeared and gave moksha to all three of them for their selfless devotion. The spider takes rebirth as a great king while the elephant and the snake reaches heaven for satisfying all its karma.
This king continues his good work from his previous birth and builds a variety of temples that seeks to protect the underlying deity with tons of stones. It is interesting to note that all his temples, keep the deity beyond the access of an elephant. In this temple, access to the deity is through a narrow passage in the side of the building that prevents an elephant from extending its trunk over the lord from any side.
Goddess Parvati's curse
There are several other legends connected to the glory of the temple. Prominent among them is of Parvati who was cursed by Lord Shiva to discard her heavenly body and assume the human form. To get rid off the above curse Parvati did a long penance here. Pleased with her deep devotion Lord Shiva again recreated her body – a hundred times better than her previous heavenly body and initiated various mantras including the Panchakshari. Consequent of this, Parvati gained and came to be known as Shiva-Gnanam Gnana Prasunamba or Gnana Prasunambika Devi.
Cursed to became a ghost Ghanakala prayed at Srikalahasti for 15 years and after chanting Bhairava Mantra many times Lord Shiva restored her original form.
Mayura, Chandra and Devendra were also freed from their curses after taking bath in the river Swarnamukhi and prayed at Srikalahasti.
To Bhakta Markandeya, Lord Shiva appeared in Sri Kalahasti and preached that a Guru alone could make esoteric teachings and, therefore he is Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara.
At Sri Kalahasti, Lord Shiva tested the unshakable devotion of Thinnadu (Later became Bhaktha Kannappa) before the sages gathered at SriKalahasti. With his divine power, Lord Shiva created a tremor and the roof tops of the temple began to fall. All the sages ran away from the scene except Kannappa who covered the linga with his body to prevent it from any damage.
In another incident, Kannappa plucked out one of his eyes and placed in the eye of Linga which was oozing with blood and tears. When the tears and the blood were still trickling from another eye, Kannappa decided to remove his second eye and placed one of his feet on the spot of the right eye of the Shiva Linga. Before he could pull out his second eye with the arrow, Lord Shiva appeared and restored his eye while granting him a boon to occupy a place close to him.
According to Swami Sivananda's book, Sixty-Three Nayanar Saints, pg. 44, some Saivite traditions believe that Kannappa was the reincarnation of Arjuna. Arjuna, worshipped Siva for seeking the Pasupatha Astra and failed to recognize Him in the form of a hunter. Thus, according to this tradition, Arjuna had to be born as a hunter and adore the Lord before attaining final liberation.
Mahasivaratri is an important festival when lakhs of people offer prayers to seek the blessings of the Lord to attain Mukti.
Rahu – Kethu Sarpa Dosha Nivarana Puja
Srikalahasteeswara Swamy Temple is reputed as the Rahu Kethu Kshetra, If the People who have Rahu Kethu Doshas and Sarpa Doshas, the un married and No children and those who are facing various problems for long period and perform the most effective Rahu – Kethu Sarpa Dosha Nivarana Puja in this Temple all the Doshas get removed and desired results occur. Thousands of Devotees from the country and abroad perform this puja and fulfill their vows again and again after receiving good results.
Rahu – Kethu Sarpa Dosha Nivarana Puja can be performed daily between 6:30 A.M and 9:00 P.M. This is a popular puja undertaken by devotees at this temple. This is offered in three variations, all of which serve the same purpose but offer varying degrees of comfort and special treatment for the devotee. There are 3 rates for pooja; Rs. 300/, Rs. 750/- and Rs. 1500/-. While Rs. 300/- and Rs. 750/- pooja is performed outside prakaram(outer courtyard), and Rs. 1500/- is performed within temple premises. While you can perform pooja at any time, performing pooja during rahu kalam is considered to be auspicious. Sunday and Tuesday are the best days to perform pooja as Sunday and Tuesday are the days considered to be for Rahu and Kethu.(The Devastanam will arrange all Puja Materials)
Nithya Kalyana Seva is conducted to Sri Siva – Parvathi daily in the name of the donors along with abhisheka aradhana payment of Rs. 550/-. The devotees who make permanent endowment of Rs. 5500/-, for Nithya Kalyanotsavam, can perform this seva on any day chosen by them (except on 12 days of maha sivaratri Brahmostavam), The devotees who perform their puja will receive swamivari prasadam, Seshavastram, Lamination photo and Special Asirvachanam.
Nithya Annadana scheme
Annasritani bhutani, annam paranamitrisruti
tasmad annasn annamhi paramohini
There is no gift superior to Annadanam, the tradition of providing food to the hungry has been followed since the Vedic period. Annadata Sukhibhava (may the provider of food be happy) say the ancients, several crores of merits occur due to this pious act.
Sri Gnana Prasunambika Devi Nithya Annadana scheme was set up to provide free food to the devotees visited the sacred temple of Srikalahasthi, no fewer than 200 devotees are fed daily under this scheme.
Annadanam is arrange in the name of the donor, on the day chosen by him/her making use of the interest secured on the donation. Donors can contribute any amount over Rs. 1116/-. Annadanam is provided every year on the day of donor's choice using only the interest derived from the endowment.
- Donors of Rs. 50,000 will be mentioned as "Maharaja Sikhamanis"
- Donors of Rs. 25,000 will be called "Raja poshakas"
- Donors of Rs. 10,000 will be called "poshakas"
- Donors of Rs. 5000 will be mentioned as "Bhakta Sikhamanis".
Those who contribute lesser amounts toward this scheme will be considered as Donors by the Devasthanam. Generous contributions of the devotees on the basis of this scheme will be welcomed in the form of D.D. in person drawn in favour of the executive officer.....
Temple tower collapse
The RajaGopuram of SriKalahasti Temple collapsed on 26 May 2010 as feared. According to sources, vibrations from borewell digging in the vicinity directly contributed to the collapse. "The digging goes on up to a depth of 500–600 ft," a geologist reasoned.
Archaeologists and experts, looking into the reasons of the imposing structure crashing down, found that it stood on a foundation that had a depth of only one-and-a-half feet.
- "Welcome To Sri Kalahasthi Temple". srikalahastitemple.
- "Legend". srikalahastitemple.
- Sree Kalahasti – One of the Pancha Bhoota Shrines of Shiva. www.srikalahastiswaraswamy.webs.com Retrieved on 1 September 2012.
- Srikalahasti temple tower crashes . the Hindu (27 May 2010). Retrieved on 1 September 2012.
- The tower with the cracks before the crash[dead link]
- P Neelima (27 September 2010). "Srikalahasti 'rajagopuram' an architectural wonder," The Times of India
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Srikalahasti Temple.|