This summer, indulge in a bit of history, a whiff of culture, a hint of art and sculpture and most significantly, loads of family time. Indulge in a road-trip with a divine purpose, take a temple tour! The best part of Visakhapatnam is that it is a fairly modern city with some highly sacrosanct temples in its close vicinity. Here are 5 temples around the city for going on an ultimate spiritual tour
#1 Annavaram Temple
#2 Arasavalli Temple
Located about 120 Km from Vizag, near Srikakulam Town, the majestic Arasavalli temple was reportedly built by the Kalinga rulers of Orissa, King Devendra Verma during the latter half of the 7th century. This is the only sun temple in India where prayers and rituals have continued uninterrupted since its inception centuries ago. The idol, depicted as riding on a chariot driven by seven horses, has been carved from black granite, 5 feet in height holding lotus buds, surrounded by his consorts Padma, Usha and Chhaaya.
#3 Simhachalam Temple
In Visakhapatnam is the ancient Simhachalam temple. Situated on the Simhachalam range of hills the temple is dedicated to the man lion incarnation of Vishnu, Varaha Lakshminarasimha. The word Simhachalam etymologically means the hill of lion. The image of the deity is small and always kept covered with sandal paste. The exact age of the temple is not known, but it contains an inscription dated as far back as AD 1098-99 of the Chola King Kulottunga-1 who conquered the Kalinga territories. Another inscription shows that a queen of the Velanadu Chief Gonka 111(AD 1137-56) covered the image with gold. A third says that the eastern Ganga King Narasimha-I built the central shrine the Mukhamandapam, the Natya mandapam and the enclosing Varandah in black stone and the other grants inscribed on its walls make it a place of historical importance.
#4 Sri Kurmam Temple
Believed to be built before the 2nd century, this is the only temple dedicated to the second avatar of Sri Mahavishu- Kurmavatara in the entire country. The presiding deity is believed to be the fossil of an actual Tortoise. The most remarkable aspect of this temple is the mandapam, with 200 plus artistically embellished pillars. The original architects of the temple are unknown; however, this temple was developed during the time of Cholas and Kalinga Raja Dynasty. The temple received ample patronage from the Ganga Dynasty, Toorpu Chalukyas, Velnati, Velama dynasty and the Gajapathi rulers. Local rumour has it that this was originally a Siva temple converted into Vaishanva temple by Ramanujacharya during the 12th century AD.
#5 Pancharama Sri Kumararama Bheemeshwara Swamy temple
Further on, at a distance of 40 kms from Annavaram, just 12 kms before Kakinada is Samalkota which is the abode of the famed Pancharama Sri Kumararama Bheemeshwara Swamy temple. Situated just beside the Samalkota Railway Station, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple was built by Chalukya Kumara Rama during the end of 9th century as a celebration of his victories in more than 300 wars. A mantapam supported with one hundred pillars is built here along with Eka Shila Nandi (Single Stone Bull) at the temple entrance opposite to Shiva Lingam. Goddess Shri Bala Thripura Sundari is also worshipped in this temple.