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Srikalahasti is a place of Hindu pilgrimage with a temple here dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located at 36 km from Tirupati, 578km from Hyderabad and 326 km from Vijayawada, Srikalahasti is a town in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh.
The temple enshrines one of the five prominent Lingas. The presiding deities of Srikalahasti temple are Srikalahastiswara and his consort Gnanaprasunambika. This temple is situated between two steep hills on the banks of river Swarnamukhi. Chola kings built the main temple. The great Chola king Kuluthungal constructed the Caligopuram in 11th century A.D. Veeranarashimha Yadavaraya built the present Prakara (compound wall) and the four Gopurarns in 12th century AD. Krishnadevaraya built 100 pillared Mandapa in 1516 A. D. According to the inscriptions, the temple was built at the base of the Kailasagiri by great Pallava kings and later by Tondaman Chakravarthi (Pandyam Kings).
The Shiva Linga of Srikalahasti is one of the five supreme Lingas representing five great elements, which are installed in the five great Kshetras. The Kshetras are dedicated to five elements namely - Water, Fire, Ether, Air and Earth. Here Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Vayu Linga (The wind God). Even today the flame placed in Garbhagraha inside the temple flickers indicating the presence of the wind while there is no entry of wind to disturb the flame. The air is just sufficient to breathe in. This according to a belief is the existence of Shiva in the temple.
There is a legend that a Spider (Sri) built the web over it, a snake (Kala), placed a gem on the Linga and an elephant (Hasti) washed the Linga with water from its trunk, had offered prayers in their devotion and worshipped the Linga. The marks that correlate the legend are still visible on the Linga, which is a Swayambhu (Natural). Sri,Kala and Hasti put togather becomes the name of this temple Srikalahasti
There is another legend of sacrifice and devotion of a well-known, Saint, Kannappa. He was once a hunter and a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He used to offer part of his hunt to Shiva everyday. One day while he was offering the hunt, both eyes of the deity appeared. One of the eyes of the deity was profusely bleeding. In the state of helplessness to remedy the deity, he pulled out his own eye in total devotion and fixed it on the deity’s eye. While the bleeding stopped in one, the other eye of the deity started bleeding. Kannappa’s endless devotion made him pull out his second eye also and offered to the deity. The diety pleased with the depth of his devotion granted him Moksha (Salvation)
It is believed that the goddess with divine powers here has cured women who were possessed by evil spirits. The main festival in this temple is Mahashivratri, which lasts for 10 days in the month of February and March. This temple has a reference in the Skandapurana where Arjun is said to have worshipped Srikalahastiswara during his Theerth Yatra, (pilgrimage).
In the precincts of the temple is a mini market where utensils, pujasamigri, items of wood carving etc are sold. Devotee can seek accommodation in T.T.D.Guests houses and dharamshalas. There is regular Stae Transport bus service from Tirupati.
article published 1/23/2002