Monday, April 26, 2010
Shri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Simhachalam.
The temple of Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha in Simhachalam stands on a hillock, about 18 km from Visakhapatnam. The image of the Lord combines the features of Sri Varaha and Sri Narasimha. The deity is kept covered with sandalwood paste throughout the year and looks like a linga. Only once in a year, devotees can see the real image when the old coat of sandalwood paste is removed and a new coat is applied. This ritual is known as "Chandana Visarjana" celebrated on the third day of Vaisaka (April-May). Prahlada is believed to have built the shrine when he was saved from his father Hiranyakashipu. Vaishnavite saint Narahari Theertha established a religious center here in the 13th century.
The Vengi Chalukyas of Andhra Pradesh renovated the original shrine in the 11th century. Much of the structure as it stands to day is the result of renovation by Narasimha I, of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, in the 13th century. The temple has two exquisitely carved mandapas, the Kalyana and the Natya. The former has sixteen pillars and one of the pillars in the Mukha-mandapa is named Kappam Stambam or "the tribute pillar", which attracts large number of crowds on account of its power of curing cattle diseases and granting children to barren women. There is also a beautiful stone chariot, drawn by stone horses. The columns in the Kalyana Mandapa have splendid bas-reliefs depicting Lord Vishnu's incarnations. The artwork is similar to that of the work at the Sun temple at Konark.
Legends & Myths:
The well-known legend of Lord Vishnu in His incarnation as Narasimha is associated with this temple. Once there lived a demon king Hiranyakashipu who was blessed with immense powers by virtue of his penance to Brahma. He was blessed with a boon that neither man, nor beast nor weapon could kill him, nor would he die indoors or outdoors, he assumed total invincibility and conquered the earth and the nether worlds. He declared himself as the Lord of the universe, and directed his subjects to worship none other than himself. But his own son Prahlada, a staunch devotee of Vishnu defies his orders. Hiranyakashipu tried several means to convince his son, and then to kill him indirectly, and none worked. Finally he challenged him to show him Narayana, whom he worshipped so fervently. Prahlada insisted that Vishnu was omnipresent and that there was no need to show him. An enraged Hiranyakashipu broke open a pillar in front of him, to disprove his son's assertion, and out of this pillar sprang out Narasimha, the man-lion form of Vishnu, who killed him on his doorstep, placing him on his lap.
Festivals: Chandan Yatra is the ritual celebrated during April-May.
Location: Simhachalam, Andhra Pradesh
Transportation: Air: Visakhapatnam 20km. Road: Visakhapatnam 20km
Near by Temples: Sri Tirupurantaka Swamy temple.