रामालयम्

img_20160918_195306Location: Map (17.567341, 78.522580). Rama temple (KODANDARAMAALAYAM) in Devarayaamjal (YAMJAL) village, Beyond Kompally, Secunderabad.

Timings: Closed in afternoon (Pujari resides just beside temple.)

Highlights:

  1. Temple from Ramanujacharya era (11th century).
  2. Rare temple where Raama and Lakshmana, BOTH hold Shankham and Chakram.

Details of the Temple: This temple is constructed perfectly as per aagama-shastras and according to the style in Ramanujacharya era. Experts consider this structure to be built in the 11th century. This temple has 28 pillars, which is considered to be particular of Raamaalayams. Seeta-Raama-Lakshmana-Anjaneya give darshan in the Garbhalayam. Interesting here, both Raama and Lakshmana hold Shankha, Chakra, and Kodandam. The main mandapam has naaga-bandha yantram and Kurma yantram in the centre. Swamy’s pushkarini is on the right side. A few locals have seen a very rare sight related to this Pushkarini. In this Pushkarini there is a very long and old Naagam. Some locals saw it during it’s trips to the temple. However, because of the Naaga-bandham, there is no fear from venomous creatures. Here is a video documentary on this temple: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYCE6I9KEBGsf8ir7CMD0Sni6Syqgz34z .

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काशी विश्वेश्वर देवस्थानम्

KASHI VISHWESHWARA TEMPLE.

Location: Map (17.644975,78.065205). Kalpagur village (Kalbagur), Near Manjeera Dam, Sangareddi Mandal, Medak District.

Timings: All Day?

Highlights:

  1. Very ancient temple built in 11th century.
  2. Very rich sculptural architecture, resembling the 1000 pillar temple of Warangal.
  3. This is a Trikutaalayam, i.e., the Garbhalayam houses 3 dieties: Kashi Vishweshwara, Ananta Padmanabha Swamy and Venugopala Swamy.

Details of the Temple: This temple was built in 11th century by Ontimitta Obalayya, the Army commander of Kakatiya king, Prataparudra. The sculpture and architecture of this temple are really outstanding. One gets reminded of the 1000 pillar temple in Warangal on seeing this glorious temple. Just in front of the garbhalayam, there is a mandapam for a huge Nandi. This mandapam also has nicely carved pillars.

On the south side (left while facing the temple) resides Kashi Vishweshara in a great Linga form. In the front (West side) is Anatha Padmanabha swamy in Yoga-nidra on Sesha, performing in-interrupted Shiva-abhishekam. Various our dieties like Lakshmi, Brahma, Dikpalakas, Dashavatarams give darshan along with PadmanabhaSwamy. On the North side (right) Rukmini-Satyabhama-sahita-VenuGopala Swamy resides. He gives darshan with shankham and chakram.

When sunrays touch the murti of PadmanabhaSwamy, the entire temple glows with light! Ganga (Manjeera) flows beneath the Shiva Lingam into the nearby sacred Pushkarini of the Temple!! Here is a video of the temple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdpQ0adSzpY

बालाजी देवस्थानम्

IMG_20161015_090252.jpgLocation: Map (17.264695, 78.455589). Balaji temple in Mamidipalli village, Badangpetnagar Panchayati, Saroornagar district, Rangareddi.

Timings: Closes in afternoon.

Highlights:

  1. 500 year old temple.
  2. Nearby there is the original Svayambhu murti on a hill.

Details of the Temple: The original swayambhu murti of the Lord appears on top of a hill opposite the current temple structure (Location: 17.262156, 78.458378). Since ascending the hill top may be difficult for devotees, the Lord wished to appear below also (at the current temple location). The current temple structure was built around 400 years back. It is beautiful and well-maintained. The temple is popular among the surrounding villagers.

Logistic Tips (as of 2016): One needs to ascend around 200 steps to reach the Svayambhu temple on the hill.

चीकटि वेङ्कटेश्वरस्वामि मन्दिरम्

IMG_20161015_100356.jpgLocation: Map (17.090671, 78.432788). 40kms from Hyderabad, in Pulimamidi village, Kandukur mandal.

 

 

 

Timings: Open only on Saturdays 8am-11am (contact Pujari @ 9848238080)

Highlights:

  1. Very ancient temple from times unknown (atleast 500 years old as per historical evidences).
  2. Swayambhu murti on a rock inside a cave beneath the earth.
  3. Current temple structure built by Akkanna and Madanna.

Khetra Purāam:

Details of the Temple: This is an ancient cave temple located below the earth level. The narrow steps leading down into the cave are steep and are very difficult for aged people. However, there are only a few (5-6) such steps. Inside the cave, onto the left there is a rock on which Lord Venkateshwara Swayambhu murti appears. There are few steps one has to ascend to reach this rock. Since the murti is extremely ancient, only the Shankha, Chakra and Tiru-naamams are visible currently.

Additionally, the locals recently installed Venkateshwara murtis in the middle of the same cave. There are also newly installed murtis of Ganesh and Shiva in the premises. Lord Hanuman is the Kshetra Palaka and resides outside the cave in the same premises. The temple is located in the middle of fields and is in a scenic environment. Here is a video on the temple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wMAPO6qe7Y .

Logistic Tips (as of 2016): The cave is completely water-logged when it rains. Hence it is better to avoid visiting in rainy season (especially if travelling from far). Please note the odd temple timings mentioned above. It is recommended to call the Pujari to confirm his presence during the visit on a Saturday.

चेन्नकेशव भ्रमराम्बामल्लिकार्जुन देवस्थानम्

IMG_20160918_101707.jpgLocation: Map (17.323697, 78.479184) in Hyderabad.

Timings: Closes in afternoon (Pujari resides on the same Keshava hill. contact no.: 9849796057)

Highlights:

1) 5000 year old ancient, and once glorious, temple.

  1. 2) Locality goes by Lord’s name as “Chenna-raayani-gutta”, meaning the hillock of Lord Chennakeshava. Now Chennaraayanigutta is being called as Chandrayangutta.
  2. 3) Temple houses both Vishnu and Shiva in Swayambhu-murti forms, which is quite unique and supports Advaita philosophy.

 

Khetra Purāam: Once a great Rushi performed severe Tapas in a cave on Keshavagiri. Pleased with his Tapas, Lord appeared and accepted to stay on Keshavagiri as a Swayambhu-murti to bless the devotees. This is the ChennaKeshava murti we now see in the main Temple. To the left of the murti, there is the cave passage where the Rushi performed his Tapas. Owing to the Tapas-shakti of the rushi, the waters in the Swami’s Pushkarini has medicinal value and poison cannot harm the living creatures on this Hillock.

Details of the Temple: The current Temple structure is quite old and built as per agama-shastras. It is built around the cave where the Swayambhu-murti appeared. The garbhaalayam also has another consecrated murti of Chennakeshava just in front of the Swayambhu murti. Both the murtis have Lord Chennakeshava with a mustache. Aandal Devi is His consort who is in the left-side mandir whose gates open only on Vaikuntha-Ekadashi. Lord Hanuman is the Kshetra-paalaka of the Temple. Hanuman here appears with four hands, which is quite unique. Swami’s pushkarini (pond) is located almost at the highest point of the Hillock, which the locals have experienced to have medicinal powers. Another interesting feature of this great Kshetram is that it also has a Swayambhu murti of Bhramaraamba-Mallikarjuna Swamy (not to be confused with the new Shiva temple built beside Chennakeshava Temple). It is quite unique that Mallikarjuna appears here in murti form rather than Lingam form. Also, there seems to be a secret cave passage between these two temples. It is also interesting that Lord Ganesha appears here on the branch of the Kshetra-Vruksham, located beside the main sanctum. In the olden days, this was a very glorious temple having huge area of land and directing multiple other temples. Infact, the Temple area was once so big that the four Gates and corresponding Temples (which themselves are quite old) are located kilometres away. Unfortunately, because of the agnostic nature of Hindus, the temple is now barely known even to the locals residing near Keshava-giri. Here are videos related to this temple: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYCE6I9KEBGvd-1zd4BELkldtjpLaqfK5 .

Logistic Tips (as of 2016): Though the location of the Temple shared above is exact, there are atleast six different ways of reaching the top of Hillock (where Temple is situated). It is unfortunate that many locals are not aware of the greatness of the Temple and will hence not be themselves capable of giving you the best directions. The easiest route is a tar road that reaches the very front entrance of the Temple, starting at the bottom of the hillock in the same direction (front-side of the temple). However, the road is very narrow and can barely allow two cars side-by-side.

 

Kalyāṇa Veṅkaṭeśwara Swāmi (Nārāyaṇa Vanam)

Location: 45km SW of Tirupati (route)

Timings: Not closed on afternoons.

Kṣhetra Purāṇam: This is the place where the Lord was married to Śrī Padmāvatī Devi, who is the daughter of King Ākāśarāja and avatār of Goddess Lakṣhmi. This temple was constructed by the brother-in-law of the Lord in commemoration of the divine marriage.

About the Temple: The Lord appears here with a contradicting alaṅkāram:  He has a Khaḍgam, as He came here for mrgayā-vihāram, and also simultaneously has a Kalyāṇa Rakṣhā-bandhanam, as He got married to the Goddess here. The temple has many antique artifacts which were used during the divine marriage: e.g., a stone used to grind turmeric etc. Nārāyaṇa Vanam was the capital of the king Ākāśarāja and hence has many Temples near-by which were patronized by him. This temple is currently maintained by TTD.

Other Main Deities: Śrī Padmāvati Devi, Śrī Ānḍāl, Sīta Lakṣhmana Sameta Śrī Rāma Chandra Swāmi and Ranganāyaka Swāmi.

Sevas & Festivals: Please refer TTD site.

Near by Temples: Temples in and around Nagari (route) and other temples in Narayana Vanam.

Vaidya Vīra Rāghava Swāmi (Tiruvallūr)

Location: 44kms (NW) from Chennai (route) or 103kms (SE) from Tirupati (route). District: Tiruvallur, State: Tamil Nadu

Timings: 6:30am-12:00pm and 4:00pm-8:00pm

Kṣhetra Purāṇam: Long, long time ago, in kṛtayugam, there lived a great maharshi by name Purupuṇyar and his wife Satyavati. Once they performed the great Putrakāmeṣhṭhi (Śāli) yāgam, at the end of which Lord Vishnu appeared before them and gave a boon that they will be blessed with a child and he should be named Śālihotra. In young age itself Śālihotra was a great bhakta of Vishnu. Once he was old enough, he set out for a pilgrimage. On one great day he reached Tiruvallur and before Swami darshan took a holy dip in Htpāpanāśini pushkariṇi. This pushkariṇi is so great that as soon as he took a holy dip, he decided to perform a penance for the Lord. After two years of severe penance, on the last day of penance he made prasadam and divided it into three parts. One for the Lord, one for atithi and the remaining for himself.  The lord in the form of an old man then came and Śālihotra happily offered him prasadam. After eating it he asked if he can lie down for which Śālihotra readily agreed and the old man lied down putting his head towards south and legs towards north and facing east. Then the Lord took his real form and Śālihotra prasied the Lord in thousands of ways. Impressed by the Bhakti of the maharshi, the Lord asked his wish for which Śālihotra asked for Mokṣham and also requested the Lord to stay in this form and bless the bhaktas. This form of the Lord sleeping is what is presently worshipped as Vaidya Vīra Rāghava Swāmi.

Here is a shlokam from Saraswati sahasram starting with the maharshi’s name:

“शालिहॊत्रप्रॊक्तविद्या शालिरक्षणतत्परा ।
शालारण्यकृतावासा शललीकृतलॆखना ॥”

There is an interesting story about the consort of the Lord, Shri Vasumati Devi too. Vasumati, the avatar of Lakshmi, was the daughter of King Dharmasena who belonged to the lineage of the great king Dilipa. Vasumati was a great bhakta of Vishnu and always dreamed of marrying Him. Once lord took the form of a prince (Lord Rama) and appeared before Her with a proposal for marriage. Dharmasena agreed to it and the holy marriage happened. As per the tradition, the new couple were taken to the Tiruvallur temple and there before everyone, the Lord submerged into the idol and blessed that He will henceforth be known as Veera Raaghava Svami and His consort Vasumati will be known by the name Kanakavalli and the Dharmasena couple will attain moksham.

Mahātmyam: The temple is one (93rd) of the 108 Vaishnava divya deshams. This is a rare kshetram in which Lord Rama appears in a sleeping position. The bhaktas offer a mixture of salt and pepper to the Lord and get blessed with good health. The temple has a big  pushkarini and is aptly named Htpāpanāśini. Bhaktas who take a holy dip in the pushkarini are relieved of all paapas including those done through the manas and also gain good health. It is here that the vedas were releaved to Lord Brahma by Mahavishnu. Lord Shiva cleansed His brahma-hatya-paapam (of killing Daksha) by worshipping this Lord only. Very uniquely, the only vastram used for the Lord is a simple red-white checked lungi. The other name for Tiruvallur is Vīkṣhvāraṇya Puram. Narasimha swami gives darshan in two forms here — Lakshmi Narasimha and Ugra Narasimha. One cannot directly see and withstand the Ugram of Ugra Narasimha, so the idol is turned back facing a mirror, through which bhaktas can see Him and in the front, the Lord gives darshan as Sudarshana-murti. There is a huge Yajña Śāla in which every day, Yajñams are performed and it is believed that whoever sees the Agni here will be liberated from the cycle of birth-death!

Other Main Deities: Kanakavalli tāyār or Vasumati (consort of the Lord, ~4ft tall idol), Lakshmi Narasimha and Sudarshana murty (with Ugra-Narasimha idol at the back), Andal. Shri Rama, Venugopala swami.

Structure & Sculpture: The temple in its present form (though existant from krtayuga) was built with rich sculptures by the Chola kings. It is in a big area with a 5-leveled Rājagopuram and 7 kalaśams on it. The main deity is sleeping on a 5-headed Ādi Śesha. Here Lord Vishnu is with dvibhujam only with one hand taking support of Śālihotra maharshi. The name of the Vimānam is Vijayakoti Vimānam. There is 30-pillared mukha-maṇḍapam with tall idols of Dvārapālakas. Towards the south, there is a vast Kalyāṇa-maṇḍapam with several pillars and rich sculptures. . There are many śilpas and śāsanas on the borders of the pushkarini, including those on which excellent sāhityam is inscribed.

Near by Temples: Tiruppāccūr (Vasīśvara swami temple at distance ~1km), Tiruninḍravūr (~20kms map), Tiruvalangaḍu (~22kms map)

Useful Links: link1, link2, link3, link4, link5