About the Temple
A famous temple of South India, the Ahobilam Temple is located in the Nallamala ranges near Nandyal Railway Station, in Karnool district of Andhra Pradesh. The Nallamala ranges are called `Sesha Parvatha, south of the river Krishna, down to Tirupati.
The Legend behind the Name
Legend says that the name Ahobilam was coined when the demon Hiranyakashipu exclaimed `Ahobilam! Ahobilam!’ on seeing the fierce and enormous form of Lord Narasimha.
Lord Lakshmi Narasimha of Ahobilam asked Sri AthivanSatakopan to start the Ahobila Mutt. The Utsavamurthy of the Malola Nrisimha temple is the presiding deity of Sri Ahobila Mutham and accompanies Srimad Azhagiya Singar, the spiritual and titular head of Sri Ahobila Mutt on his travels.
The king of serpents is known as Sesha. The Eastern Ghats are compared to the great serpent Adisesha basking in the sun with its hood at Tirumala, body at Ahobilam and tail at Srisailam. All three have famous temples on them.
There are nine shrines dedicated to Lord Narasimha and they are in a 5 km radius. Apart from these, there is a temple for Prahaladavarada Varadhan in the foothills of the mountain. Due to security reasons and the difficulty in the logistics of performing daily puja in all, most of the Utsava Vigrahas of the nine shrines are housed in this temple.
Ahobilam is the place where the Lord Narasimha slew Hiranyakashipu and saved Prahalada. Mahalakshmi took avatar of Chenchu Lakshmi among the Chenchu, tribal hunters of the hills, and married the Lord. In the annual festival, their romance and marriage are celebrated in an extravagant way. The `Usavamurthi`or idol in the temple is made of gold, installed by the Kakatiya king, Prataparudra. Now, the spiritual Jeeyars of Ahobilam Mutt worship it.
The shrine at the Ahobilam temple is split into two parts. The part on top of the first range is referred to as Upper Ahobilam and down below is known as Lower Ahobilam. A vast temple enclosed by a number of buildings can be seen at the Upper Ahobilam. The central shrine at Upper Ahobilam was sculpted out of a large oval rock with mandapams. The Jwala Narasimha shrine is situated in the Upper temple where the Trikala of Lord Narasimha can be seen. This is said to be the spot where the Lord unleashed his anger and slew Hiranyakashipu.
King Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagar is said to have visited this temple while returning from the victory of Kalinga A towering Jayasthambham was erected in the spacious courtyard of the temple walls to mark this victory.
The Lower Ahobilam is similar with a temple and other structures. The architecture is in typical Vijaynagar style. The priests of both the temples reside here and the temple has provision for housing thousands of pilgrims. Due to the increasing number of pilgrims many-pillared halls have been added at the Lower Ahobilam temple. Lakshmi Narasimha is the presiding Deity and the main temple consists of a sanctum, Mukhamandapam and Rangamandapam with several pillars intricately carved with sculptures.
There are three smaller shrines for Lakshmi, Andal and Azhwars. The Utsava idols of PrahladaVarada, Pavana Narasimha and the processional idols of Jwala Narasimha endowed with ten hands and with Sreedevi and Bhudevi are placed on either side. An idol of the first Jeeyar Swami, Sri AdivanSatakopa is also placed here.
All the Nava or nine Narasimhas; PrahladaVarada, Chatrata, Garuda, Yoga, Urga, Krodha, Malola, Jwala and Lakshmi Narasimha are venerated here.
Best Time to Visit
The annual Utsavam or Brahmothsavam performed in February every year is the best time to visit.
How to Reach
The temple is located at a distance of 40 km from Nandyal and about 150 km from Kurnool, the district headquarters. Pilgrims visit Ahobilam often and it is well connected with access to trains from Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Bombay. In addition, several tourist operators also frequently arrange religious trips to Ahobilam from major cities.