Nrsimhadev Shrines in Andhra Pradesh


BY: SUN STAFF - 20.4 2021


Touring some of Lord Nrsimhadev's glorious abodes in Andhra Pradesh.

The three most well-known Narasimha shrines in Andhra Pradesh are Ahobilam, Simhachalam and Mangalagiri. Mangalagiri means The Auspicious Hill. This place is one of the 8 important Mahakshetrams (sacred places) in India. The eight places where Lord Vishnu manifested himself are (1) Sri Rangam (2) Srimushnam (3) Naimisam (4) Pushkaram (5) Salagamadri (6) Thothadri (7) Narayanasramam (8) Venkatadri.

Thotadri is the present Mangalagiri. Lakshmi Devi has done tapas on this hill, and that's why it was named "The Auspicious Hill". There are three Narasimha Swamy temples in Mangalagiri. One is Panakala Narasimha Swamy on the hill, another is Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy at the foot of the temple, and the third is Gandala Narasimha Swamy at the top of the hill.

From all the directions, the shape of the hill looks like an elephant. The mountain is said to have come into existence when Pariyatra, an ancient king, had a son name Hrasva Srungi who visited all the holy and sacred places to regain normal bodily stature. He finally visited the holy place of Mangalagiri and stayed for three years, performing penance. All the devathas advised him to stay at Mangalagiri and continue to do penance in praise of Lord Vishnu. The father of Hrasva Srungi came with his retinue to take his son back to his kingdom, but Hrasva Srungi took the shape of an elephant to remain and become the abode of Lord Vishnu, who is locally known as Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy.

The temple of Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy (shown above) is situated on the Auspicious Hill. On the right side of the steps provided to reach the temple there is a stone inscription by Sri Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagar. A little further up, there are the worshipable Footprints of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Midway on the steps there is a temple of Lord Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy (Pana-nrsimha, pictured above) with His mouth widely opened.

A dhwajasthambham was erected in front of the temple in 1955. Behind the temple there is the temple of Sri Lakshmi, to the west of which is a tunnel believed to lead to Vundavalli caves on the banks of the Krishna. The stone inscription of the kings of Vijayanagar also relate to the conquest of Rayalu over Kondapalli, and Siddhiraju Thimmarajayya Devara's granting of a total of 200 kunchams (10 kunchams make one acre) land in 28 villages, of which Mangalagiri was one, and a gift of 40 kunchams by China Thirumalayya to Ramanujakutam.

Pana Narasimha, who resides in a hill shrine at Mangalagiri. Devotees pour sweet water (pani)
into the Lord's open mouth, and worship it as prasadam.

The steps to the temple were constructed by Sri Channapragada Balaramadasu in 1890. There was a cave next to the Devi temple on the hill. It is said that there is a way to Vundavalli from that cave, and the sages used to go that way to take bath in Krishna River. Now the cave is very dark, and the way cannot be seen.

The Demon Namuchi

Lord Nrsimhadeva has established Himself on the hill in His man-lion form, assumed to kill the demon Hiranyakasipu, who was the rakshasa father of the great devotee, Prahlada. The Lord is also called Sudarsana Narasimhaswamy. After great penance, the rakshasa Namuchi obtained a boon from Lord Brahma that he would not be killed by anything wet or dry. He then began to harass Indra and the devathas. Encouraged and supported by Lord Vishnu, Indra commenced destroying the army of rakshasa Namuchi, who died in a cave in Sukshmakaram (small size), giving up his sthulakaram (physical manifestation). Indra dipped Sudarsanam, the disc of Lord Vishnu, into the foam of the ocean and sent it into the cave. Lord Vishnu manifested Himself at the centre of the disc, destroyed the Pranavayuvu (life breath) of the rakshasa with the fire of His exhalation. He thus got the name of Sudarsana Narasimha.

The blood that flowed from the body of the rakshasa seemed to have formed into a pool at the foot of the hill. The devathas themselves were unable to withstand the fire of the anger of the Lord and they prayed for appeasement. The Lord took amritam (nectar) and cooled down. This was in Krithayugam. The Lord said that he would be satisfied with ghee in Threthayugam, with milk in Dwaparayugam and with panakam (jaggery water) in Kaliyugam. Hence, in Kaliyugam the Lord is known as Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy.