Saturday, October 14, 2017

Kalahasteeswara Swamy Temple, Sri Kalahasthi – The Temple

Kalahasteeswara Swamy Temple, Sri Kalahasthi – The Temple
Sri Kalahasti Temple is one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams, enshrining one of the elemental Lingas, the Vayu (Air) Linga. This is the only shrine for the God of Wind in India. Here, God Vayu is incarnated as Lord Shiva and worshipped as Kalahasteeswara / Kalatheeswarar and his consort is Goddess Gnana Parasunambikai / Gnanapoongothai / Gnanasundari. The temple faces south, while the sanctum faces west. The temple is located on the foothills of a hill, while there is also a belief that the temple was carved out of a monolithic hill. The temple architecture is a treat to the eyes for all those who visit Srikalahasthi.

The Mandapams and Galigopurams facing east were developed by the Vijayanagar rulers in 16th century. Finally, the Nattukkottai Chettiars of Devakottai gave a final touch to the temple in 1912 by contributing 9 lakhs of rupees. The tower built by Krishnadevaraya in 15th century over the main gate stands at an imposing height of 120 ft. Alongside, the hundred pillared Mandapam (hall inside temple) is another architectural splendour that Srikalahasthi is famed for. The Prakara or the compound and four gopurams were built by Veeranarashimha Yadavaraya in 12th Century.

The vast west facing Kalahasteeswara temple is built adjoining a hill, and on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi. At some points, the hill serves as the wall of the temple. The temple prakarams follow the contour of the adjoining hill and hence the temple plan is rather irregular. North of the temple is the Durgambika hill, south is the Kannappar hill and east is the Kumaraswamy hill. The Srikalahasthi Temple occupies the area between the river bank and the foot of the hills and is popularly known as Dakshina Kailasam. The three lofty Gopurams of the temple are remarkable for their architecture.

The present structure of the temple is a foundation of the Cholas of the 10th century, as testified by inscriptions; improvements and additions were made during the subsequent years of the Chola rulers of Tamilnadu and the Vijayanagar emperors. The temple is a huge one, spread over around 5 acres. The Shivalinga inside the sanctum is white and is considered Swayambu, or self-manifested. It has a plinth and is seen in the shape of the trunk of an elephant with tusks on either side or like that of the spider at the bottom. When seen from the top, the Shiva Linga looks like that of a snake with five hoods.

The lamp inside the inner sanctum continuously sparkles, even without the air movement inside. The main Shivalinga of Sri Kalahasti Temple is not touched by human hands, even by the priests. A mixture of water, milk, camphor, and Panchamritham is used for Abishekam. The Kavacham covering the Lord has the symbols of the planets, hence there is no separate shrine for the Navagrahas except for Saturn. An idol of Kannappar is installed in the Mandap adjacent to the sanctum sanctorum. There are two Nandhis (bull vehicle of Lord Shiva) in front of the presiding deity, one made of white stone and other of brass. The sanctum sanctorum is constructed in the shape of an Agazhi – a deep and broad water defense arrangement around the palaces of the kings to prevent entry of enemies.

There are Ganapathi, Dakshinamurthy, Lingodhbava, Brahmma, Durga on the inner corridors. There is a metal covered flag post and a 60 feet tall flag post made of a single stone. There are also a Balipeeta and Nandhi in front of the temple. There is a large shrine of Gnana Parasunambikai, the consort of Kalahasteeswarar. The statue of Goddess Gnana Prasunambika Devi – the flower of divine knowledge, assumes great importance here, as this is considered one the 108 Shakti Peethas of Goddess Shakti. It is said that the skull fell here at Srikalahasthi Temple. According to the legends, the Goddess is a representation of Santana Lakshmi.

There are two large halls namely Sadyogi Mandapa and Jalkoti Mandapa. There is a rock cut shrine of Vinayaka called Pathala Ganapati, 9 ft. (2.7 m) below the ground level located in the temple complex. Pilgrims should make it a point to visit this interesting place. One must bow down carefully to worship this Ganapati 20 feet below on a very narrow staircase. Sthala Vriksham is Vanni Tree.

Vallaba Ganapathi, Mahalakshmi-Ganapathi and Sahasra Lingeswara are some of the rare images found in the temple. There are smaller shrines in the temple for Kasi Viswanatha, Annapurna, Suryanarayana, Sadyoganapathi and Subramanya. There is also a Vishnu shrine in this temple. There was a Temple dedicated to Kannappa Nayanmar on top of the hill adjoining Hill. The entrance to the hill is within the temple premises. As you climb up the hill, you get a view of the Kalahasti temple. At the top of the hill, is the temple where Kannappa is believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva, the Linga has carvings in the shape of eyes. The route on the other side of the hill would lead to the Bharadhwaja Ashram.

·        Sahasra Linga Theertham
·        Narada Theertham
·        Harahara Theertham
·        Mayura Theertham
·        Suka Theertham
·        Kalinga Theertham
·        Bharadhwaja Theertham
·        Markandeya Theertham
·        Tatwa Prakasa Theertham
·        Manikarnika Theertham
·        Brahma Theertham
·        Saraswathi Theertham
·        Surya Pushkarani
·        Chandra Pushkarani
·        River Ponmuhali (also called as Swarnamukhi river)