Simhachala Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swami Temple:
Simhachalam 16 kms. away from Vishakhpatmam, it is Eleventh Century old temple dedicated to Lord Varaha narasimha.Moreover it is also called “Simhagiri” or “Lion’s Hill” .It is lies in the northern direction of Visakhapatnam, which is a District Headquarters of Andhra.It has been hailed as the most famous and the best sculptured shrine.It has Sri Varahalakshmi Narasimha Swamy as the presiding deity.Simhachalam temple is known as the second richest temple (after Tirupati) for earning a revenue.
It is highly popular among the devotees of Lord Vishnu. The temple architecture represents a combination of Orissa and Dravidian style.
The image of the deity in the shrine is overcovered with a thick coating of sandal paste, which is said to have appeased the fury of the Lord after the destruction of Hiranyakasipu. This coating is removed only once a year, on the Visaka day in May, and that day is considered to be specially sacred, and people visit the shrine to have Darshan of the Lord on the day. Lord Siva assumed the shape of bird or Sarabha and pacified Lord Narasimha. The consecration of this image of the Lord in this form is said to be destroy enemies, secure success in battles, cure all ailments and procure every good.
According to some Telugu and Tamil inscription traced back to 500 years ago Krishnadevarayar made huge donations in gold to this temple along with many other famous temples. But no one is able to find the where about of these treasures as no genuine investigation is made so far in this regard. Records related to gold and jewelry is available only from 1970, and there is only remote chance of the list of gold donated by Krishnadevaraya to be included in it. As per inscriptions, this particular zone has many temples which received land holdings and jewels as offerings from the king in the name of his mother Nagalamba. Krishnadevaraya donated a necklace studded with 91 pearls, a pair of anklets, one pendant and a gold plate to Simhachalam temple.
Buddhist settlements are found on almost all hill-tops but little known fact that there were Buddhist settlements on Simhachalam hill-range has come to light during a recent renovation and restoration works taken up by the Endowments Department. Assistant Director in Department of Archaeology K. Chitti Babu told The Hindu that the architecture of the Chalukyan period had come out transparently after the lime wash cover was removed on the khondalite rocks used for building the temple. “These stones are available in the Eastern Ghats, but the interesting part of the structure got revealed when large earthen bricks were found in the mast region,” he added.
Varahalakshmi Narasimha Swamy as the presiding deity. The deity at Simhachalam, the lion-man incarnation of Lord Mahavishnu is usually covered with sandalwood paste. 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 (ancientOrissa) (1137-56 AD) covering the image with gold while a third inscription says the eastern Ganga King of Orissa, 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 a historically important monument.
Sri Krishna Deva Raya after defeating the Gajapati ruler of Orissa 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 jewellery 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.
The Sthala Purana of Simhachalam recounts the history of the great devotee Prahlada Maharaja and his demonic father, Hiranyakashipu. After many unsuccessful attempts to kill Sri Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu orders, as a last resort, to hurl Sri Prahlada into the sea and place a huge mountain over him. The servants chose to do this at Simhachalam. But before they could finish, Narayana rescued Prahlada by jumping over the hill and lifting him from the sea. Simhachalam, therefore, is the place where the Lord rescued Prahlada. It is also said that since the Lord jumped at once to rescue Prahlada, the Lord’s lotus feet went into Patala. The local Sthala Purana says that the Darshana of Lord’s lotus feet is available only to inhabitants of Patala Loka.
At Prahlada’s request, the Lord then assumed the form of the Varaha-Narasimha Deity, so that Prahlada could see both aspects of the Lord—the one by which He had already killed Hiranyaksha and the one by which He would soon kill Hiranyakashipu.
After the death of Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada built a temple around the Deity. It is said that after Prahlada handed over the kingdom to his son, he worshipped the deity personally. However at the end of Satya Yuga, owing to neglect perhaps, a huge anthill gathered around the Deity. But at the beginning of another yuga the Deity was rediscovered by Pururava, the king of the lunar dynasty, who is mentioned in the Ninth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Riding with his wife, Urvashi, in an aerial chariot over the hills of the South, Pururava was drawn by a mysterious power to Simhachalam. Some say that Narasimhadeva had appeared in Pururava’s dream and then he went to Simhachalam and he discovered the deity in a Garden of Malati trees.
Nonetheless, he discovered the Deity and cleared the earth around Him. Pururava then heard a voice from the sky which told him to cover the Deity with sandal paste, worship the Lord in this form, and expose Him only once a year, on the day of Chandana-yatra. Following this instruction, Pururava covered the Deity with sandal pulp equal to the earth he had removed, worshiped the Deity, and rebuilt the temple, which has flourished ever since.
About the temple:-
Lord Varaha Narasimha Swami's temple is located in Simachalam .Located on the Hill top, at a height of 244 mts, popularly called the Hill of the Lion Lord, is the temple of Lord Vishnu in the avatara of Sri Narasimha Swami varu. This great temple built in the 11th century by the King Sri Krishnadevarayam .
The presiding deity here is Varaha Lakshminarasimha, combining the iconographic features of Varaha and Narasimha. The image resembles a Shivalingam covered with sandal paste. It is only once a year, during the Chandana Visarjana that the sandal paste is removed, and the image is seen by pilgrims. The artwork here has elements of similarity with that of Konark. Elephants, flowers and plants are portrayed in plenty. The outer walls of the sanctum depict images of a royal personality (said to be King Narasimha) in various postures. The Kalyana Mandapa within the temple has 16 pillars with bas relief depicting the incarnations of Vishnu.
Varaha Lakshminarasimh temple boasts of a beautiful stone chariot drawn by horses. The Kalyana Mandapa within the temple has 16 pillars with bas reliefs depicting the incarnations of Vishnu. Narasimha, the man lion incarnation of Vishnu is seen in several depictions throughout the temple.
Millions of devotees visit this temple every year especially during the Chandanotsavam Festival Season. On the annual ritual Chandanotsavam day, the Lord is covered with a new fresh layer of Sandalwood.
A unique statue of Lord Narasimha ... in a standing posture.
The architecture of the temple is a combination of that of Konarak's Sun Temple, those of Chalukyas and the Cholas. In fact coastal Andhra — from Visakhapatnam to Srikakulam — was under the Gajapathis of Orissa (1470-1541 A.D.) As in Konarak, the three-tier sikara rising over the sanctum sanctorum is shaped like a stepped pyramid, and is profuse with ornamentation. The temple was built in the 9th or the 10th century, and was extensively rebuilt in the 13th century. There are 525 inscriptions in this temple, and the earlier one dates back to 1087 A.D.
The corners of the base of the sikara bear lion statuettes symbolising Lord Narasimha. On the eastern face of the sikara are found the sculptures of Indra on his mount, Iravatha, and lower down Gajalakshmi. Capping the sikara is the gold plated dome with the Vaishnavite symbol held aloft.
Around the inner prakara is found the 96-pillared Kalyana mantapa. The shape of the pillars, the ornamentation on them, and the cornices stand on a unique pedestal. To the right of the northern entrance is the 16-pillared natya mantapa. These pillars carry simhalalathas or lion's head at the base. While the `jagatti' or the railed parapet around the ardha mantapa carries a row of well-sculpted elephants, which denotes strength, the inner `jagatti' around the garbagraha carries a row of swans. Just above this is the scrollwork with sculpted figures at intervals. Then above this is a row of smaller simhalalathas interspersed with other figures. By the side of niches are the simhalalathas riding over elephant on the supporting pillars. The capital, architrave, frieze and cornice of the column are beautifully shaped. In between the pillars is the convolution carrying figures. The eaves of the sidewalls carry excellent filigree work in stone. A study of the pillars in the Kalyana mantapa and the sculptures in the niches reveals that basalt and schist appear to have been the media with which the artisans worked.
Devout pilgrims have their heads tonsured as a sort of offering to the Lord. Since Simhachalam was for sometime under Vijayanagar empire, its influence is also felt on this temple. In fact Krishna Devaraya of Vijayanagar captured Udayagiri (Nellore district) in 1541 A.D. and Kondavidu (guntur district in 1515 A. D. from Prataparudra Gajapathi of Orissa.
Kappastambham One of the pillars in the Mukhantantapa is named Kappam Stambham or the pillar of tribute. ‘Kappam’ means (offerings) many devotees take oaths to come to this temple and make their offerings for the fulfillment of their much cherished wishes. This may be the reason why this pillar is known as Kappastambham. It is widely believed that this pillar had the miraculous power to cure cattle diseases and provide barren women with fertility. We can see many childless couples embracing the stambham with the belief of getting the bliss of parenthood. Thus this divine pillar attracts lot of devotees with the hope of realising their dreams
The temple comprises of a square shrine, with a tall gopuras and mukhamantapa has a small circular tower over it. The natyamandapam has a stone car drawn by two horses, and is enclosed by a veranda, here scenes from the vishnupurana have been sculpted with great skill. Outside the enclosure, to the north is the kalyanamantapam that has 96 exquisitely carved pillars where the Kalyana Utsava is performed on the eleventh day of the Suklapaksha, Chaitramasa every year. Here Lord Vishnu is represented as Matsya, Dhanvantri and Varuna. There are many murtis of Narasimha here. A perennial spring called gangadhara is found here and is said to have medicinal properties. The Sthalapurana for the temple describes the temple in 32 chapters, and Vedavyasa wrote about the original temple in the Skanda Purana.
Giripradhikshana (circumambulation) around the hill range (40 km) from Hanumantha vaka/MVP colony to Simhachalam is done by piligrims during the auspicious days. Crowds of elderly people/youth/children are observed walking the 40 km stretch over night. They visit the temple after the long journey and give their offerings to the deity.
Morning 7am to 4pm And Evening 6pm to 9pm
Asthottaram – 50.00
Sata Namarchana - 100.00
Sahasra Namarchana – 100.00
Visista Nitya Kalayanam (Special) – 500.00
Visista Nitya Kalyanam (Ordinary) – 100.00
Garuda Seva – 200.00
Laksha Kumkjumarchana - 500.00
Laksha Tulasi Puja – 1000.00
Kappasthambham Aliganam – 10.00
Dampathalinganam – 15.00
Kodedooda Pradkshina – 15.00.
Fairs and festivals:-
Four major festivals are being celebrated every year which were introduced and traditionally celebrated.
Chandanotsavam or Nijaroopa Darshanam:-
Chandanotsavam at Lord Lakshmi Nrusimha Swamy Temple, Simhachalam
Simhachalam is one of the best places in India which resembles the rich Culture and Heritage. Simhachalam Hill Ranges are the host for one of the most unique temples of Lord Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swami is India.
The Chandanotsavam or the Nijaroopa Darshanam Day, is the annual ritual conducted at the temple. It is only on this day that devotees would have a chance to see the actual shape of the lord ( Nirjaroopam ). On normal days, the Lord in the temple is visible with a layer of Chandanam (Sandalwood paste) covered. This process is conducted on the Vaisakha Suddha Tadiya as per the Telugu almanac. It is on the Chandanotsavam day that the Lord's Sandalwood paste is removed and is covered with a fresh layer of Sandalwood paste brought from Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The ceremonial process would take some time and during the process of removal of the sandal paste, the sanctum sanctorum doors will be closed. Abhishekam and special pujas will be performed after the diety is fully uncovered. This happens at around 3:00 PM. Heriditary Trustee of the temple, Ananda Gajapathi Raju will be the first person to have the darshan of the Lord on this day at around 4:00 PM.
Millions of people from round the world, particular from the coastal states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu vist the Temple to take the darshan of the Lord in his true form.
As like any other Chandanotsavam Day, authorities of the Temple have taken additional steps to make this festival day an easy one for the Devotees. The Executive Officer of the Devasthanam oversees and ensures that all facilities were implemented so that devotees can take the darshan of the Lord easily. Special Queues will be setup for both Tickets and the Prasadam's. An estimated 50 Lakh laadoos will be sold and thus the Devastanam has made arrangements for the production of the same. About 3 Lakh people will be provided with free food (Anna-Danam) on this day alone.
The Visakhapatnam City Police will look at all Security arrangements and Special Police teams will be deployed to make sure no brench of security takes place. APSRTC is running special Buses from many parts of the state. Special City buses will also be run from various parts of Visakhapatnam to Simhachalam.
A representative from the Government of Andhra Pradesh will generally be presenting the slik-woven clothes to the Lord on this day.
On the Chandanotsavam Day, special tickets in the denominations of Rs. 30, Rs. 100, Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 will be sold at the temple premises. Of course, there is always a Dharma Darshanam, or a free Darshan that generally draw huge crowds.
This occurs on the 11th day, Ekadasi in the first half of the lunar month of March or April and extends over a period of 5 days that is from the 11th day to the full moon day.
The narasihma jayanti festival, which occur on the Fourteenth day of the first half of month of Vaisaka is celebrated as Birth day of the lord
How to reach:-
The temple is just 18 mk away from Visakapattanam
The nearest airport is at Vishakhapatnam, which is well connected with flights from major cities.
The nearest railway station is Vishakhapatnam Railway Station. From Chennai - Calcutta lane, it is around 20-kms, and is well connected with trains to all important destinations in A.P. and India viz. New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar etc.
There are frequent buses operated between Vizag and Simhachalam and the main bus stand is at Vishakhapatnam. APSRTC operates buses to all important towns/cities in Andhra Pradhesh like, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Rajahmundry, Tirupati and so on. There is bus facility from the foot of the hill to the temple for every 10 to 15-minutes.