Simhachalam

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

Origin of the name

SIMHA: Lion

Chala: hill

Atop the hill is a famous temple said to be the abode of narasimha swami, and hence the hill itself is called (nara)simhachalam.The temple is situated in the city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

Legend

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.

Temple History

It has Sri Varahalakshmi Narasimha Swamy as the presiding deity. Simhachalam temple is known as the second richest temple (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).

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.

This temple was build in the style of Orissa temple architecture.

Recent Developments

In October 2007, the Government of Andhra Pradesh approved a master plan for the development of the region into Divyakshetram on similar lines of Tirumala.

Trivia

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.

References

* [http://www.vizagwaves.com/visakhapatnam/temples/index.html VIZAGWAVES - Simhachalam Temple Picture Gallery]
* [http://www.templenet.com/Andhra/simha.html Simhachalam Temple]
* http://www.go2india.in/ap/simhachalam.php
* [http://www.my-telugu.com/tour/districts/visakhapatnam/visakhapatnam-temple-simhachalam-sri-lakshmi-narasimha-swamy.shtml details of Simhachalam temple]


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