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Simhachalam Temple, Andhra Pradesh

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Simhachalam Temple, Andhra Pradesh
Simhadri or Simhachalam temple is a Hindu temple located near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, South India. It is dedicated to the incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu known as Narasimha (the man-lion).


It is one of the eighteen "Naarasimha Kshetras" i.e. shrines of Lord Narasimha in India. Simhachalam temple is known as the second richest temple in India (after Tirupati) earning a revenue of Rs. 520 million. The statue of the deity gives "nijaroopa darshan" (holy appearance in true form) for only 12 hours in a year i.e. on Akshaya Tritiya day, the rest of the time the statue is covered with Sandalwood paste. The darshan described as 'Chandana yatra' or 'Chandanotsavam' falls every year in Vaisakha masa (May).

Simhachalam Temple, Andhra Pradesh


Hiranyakasipu was a Rakshasa king. He was in fact one of Vishnu's Dwarapalakas or gate keepers in Vaikuntha, Jaya and Vijaya. They had to take birth in the mortal world thrice because of a curse given by Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanathana and Sanathkumara, who were not allowed to take darshan of Mahavishnu by them. The other palaka was born as his brother Hiranyaaksha.

Hiranyakasipu wanted to become immortal and hence performed austerities (tapasya) to propitiate Lord Brahma. However, Lord Brahma said that was not possible so Hiranyakasipu asked Lord Brahma to grant him a boon so that he could not be killed by any animal or a man neither in the morning nor in the night, by any weapons, neither in sky nor on the earth.

Hiranyakasipu wanted the entire world to worship him. But, Prahalada, his son, was a devotee of Lord Narayana and always expressed his bhakti towards Him. In spite of warning him several times, Hiranyakasipu could not alter Prahlada's devotion.

This made Hiranyakasipu angry and he made numerous attempts to get Prahlada killed. One of them was to throw him off the top of a mountain. However, Vishnu rescued him by moving the mountain and made a small path for Prahaladha. It is said that in the place where the Lord stood to protect Prahaladha is the place where the temple is built.

Simhachalam Temple, Andhra Pradesh
The most important thing about this temple is that here we can't see the God's feet. It is said that the feet is buried inside the earth. Lord Narayana came to rescue Parahalada on Garuda and when they threw Parahalada Lord Narayana jumped from Garuda to save him and in this process his feet went deep into the earth.

Temple History:

Simhachalam Temple, Andhra Pradesh
It has Sri Varahalakshmi Narasimha Swamy as the presiding deity.Giripradhikshana [cirum ambulation] 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.

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 (ancient Orissa) (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 word Simhachalam means the hill of the lion. refers to the 11th century temple of Lord Narasimha - an incarnation of lord Vishnu. It has been hailed as the most famous and the best sculptured shrine Millions of devotees from round the world visit this temple every year. 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. A famous pilgrim centre Simhachalam, also known as Simhagiri, devotees coming over here steadily growing and this is the west facing temple. According to religious belief, An east-facing entrance brings prosperity while the west - facing one brings victory.
There is a Trekking route available for trekking lovers from Madhavadhara side, two hours climbing to temple premises with steep natural stone steps and a beautiful view of Vizag city and at the other side the temple view from hill top. The presiding deity in this most revered temple gives 'Nijaroopa Darshan' (holy appearance in true form) for only 12 hours in a year, on all the remaining 364 days and 12 hours, the Lord is covered with sandalwood paste. The real shape of the deity can can be viewed only during Chandanayatra Festival (March-April).

The local people believe that an ancient image of Sivalinga was converted into Varahanarasimha form (the present idol of the temple) by Ramanuja, the founder of the Visistadhvaitham of Hinduism. It signifies the celebration of Kamadahana (burning of the god of Love) festival. The origins of the temple are shrouded in mystery.

The artwork here has elements of similarity with that of Konark. Elephants, flowers and plants are portrayed in plenty. This temple boasts of a beautiful stone chariot drawn by horses. Within the temple the Kalyana Mandapa 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.

Elephants, flowers and plants are portrayed in plenty and the artwork here has elements of similarity with that of Konark. The outer walls of the sanctum depict images of a royal personality (said to be King Narasimha) in various postures.

Temple Architecture:

Simhachalam Temple, Andhra Pradesh
The Simhachalam temple faces the West unlike so many others which face to the East. An east-facing entrance is said to bring prosperity, while the west-facing entrance brings victory. This ancient temple was renovated by the Chalukyas in the 11th century and again by the Eastern Gangas in the 13th century. Tamil Cholas and Vijayanagar emperors also patronized it. Built on a hill, the temple has exquisitely carved halls, with extensive application of both Chalukyan and Orissan styles of architecture.

Simhachalam Temple, Andhra Pradesh
The inscriptions on the walls and pillars provide a great deal of information on the temple's history. There is an inscription dated 1099 AD belonging to King Kulottungachola, who conquered Kalinga. Another belongs to the Velnati Chief, Gonka III and is dated 1137 AD, and states that he covered the image of the Lord with gold. There are a number of inscriptions from the Eastern Ganga kings of Kalinga. King Narasimha I constructed the central shrine, the Mukhamantapa, the Natyamantapa, etc. The Reddy king of Rajahmundry, the Vishnu-Vardhana Chakravarthins of Panchadarla and others also contributed to enriching the temple. Sri Krishna Devaraya visited this temple twice in 1516 and 1519 AD, and the jewelry offered by him to the Lord, including an emerald necklace, can still be seen here.

The temple is 800 feet above sea level. A flight of steps leads all the way from the foot to the top of the hill, to the temple. At the foot of the hill there are choultries for the pilgrims to stay. Many take bath in the Pushkarani, located near to the foothill. Pilgrims process up through a grove of trees. On the top north side is found a wooded hollow surrounded by a wide circle, resembling an amphitheater. This is the temple of Lord Narasimha of the Northern Circars.

Simhachalam Temple, Andhra Pradesh
Simhachalam is surrounded by large mountain upon which grow many trees with great medicinal values. By visiting this sthalam, pilgrims are not only blessed by getting darshan of Sri Narasimhadev, but also benefit from His mercy by way of the air, which is mixed with medical herbs that will cure many diseases.

The temple comprises of a square shrine, with a tall gopura and mukhamantapa having a small circular tower over it. The natyamandapam has a stone car drawn by two horses, and is enclosed by a veranda, into which scenes from the Vishnu Purana have been sculpted with great skill.

The temple artwork is similar to that of Konark, with elephants, flowers and plants carved into the walls and lintels. On the outer walls of the sanctum, images of King Narasimha are presented in various postures. The Kalyana Mandapa within the temple has 16 pillars with a bas relief depicting the incarnations of Vishnu.

Simhachalam Temple, Andhra Pradesh
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 also many murtis of Lord Narasimha here. A perennial spring called gangadhara is found here and is said to have medicinal properties.

One of the pillars in the Mukhantantapa is named Kappam Stambham, or the Pillar of Tribute. It attracts a large number of pilgrims, in part due to the belief that the pillar has the power to cure cattle of diseases, and to eliminate barrenness in women.

Temple Timings:

Morning 7am to 4pm ; Evening 6pm to 9pm.


Chandanayatra: In May every year, the sandalwood paste is removed ceremoniously at the festival called Chandanayatra.

Kalyanotsavam: This occurs on the 11th day, 'Ekadasi' in the first half of the lunar month of March - April and extends over a period of 5 days; that is, from the 11th day to the full moon day.

Narasimha Jayanti: The Narasimha Jayanti festival, which occurs on the Fourteenth day of the first half of month of 'Vaisakha' is celebrated as Birthday of the Lord.

Giri Pradakshina: On the full moon day in the month of 'Ashadha', June, the devotees of the Lord, hailing mainly from the countryside, observe a fast on this day and go around the hill over a distance of about twenty miles. They eat their dinner after completing the Pradakshina and after having ' Darshan ' of the Lord. Those, who cannot undertake this, satisfy themselves by making 108 rounds in the temple itself.

How to get there:

Air: The nearest airport is at Vishakhapatnam, which is well connected with flights from important cities.

Road: The nearest major railway station is Vishakhapatnam on the Chennai - Calcutta section which is around 20-km from here 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.

Rail: 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 15-minutes.

Where to Stay:

Simhachalam Devasthanam provides accommodation facilities for pilgrims. There are choultries, cottages and guesthouses with all amenities like water, lighting etc.

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