As several devotees observe Ratha Saptami today, here’s an insight into the revered Sun temple of Arasavalli in Srikakulam. Ratha Saptami is celebrated with great festivity here as well as Kalyanostavam, Ksheerabdi Dwadasi Teppa Tirunallu, Kamadahanostavam, and Dolostvam. 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.
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. As per the Padmapuranam legend, the idol was installed by Sage Kasyapa for the welfare of mankind. But, according to the Sthalapuranam (legend associated with the temple), the temple was built by Lord Indra and was designed by Vishwakarma, the chief architect of the Gods. Supposedly, Balarama, brother of Lord Krishna, consecrated many temples on Earth. One such temple was the Sri Umarudrakoteswara Swami (Lord Shiva) temple in Srikakulam.
One day Lord Indra, the Lord of Heaven, paid a visit to the temple at an odd time and was stopped at the entrance by Nandi, the Dwarapalaka of Lord Shiva. When He tried to enter forcibly, Nandi kicked Lord Indra who fell about two miles away, unconscious. While unconscious, the Lord had a dream, according to which, when he regained consciousness, He unearthed a beautiful idol of Sun God with his three consorts Usha, Chaya, and Padmini. He installed the idol of God at the very place where He fell and also built a beautiful temple.
The most distinctive feature of the temple architecture is that on Ratha Sapthami the Sun rays directly fall on the deity. Even during the months of March and September the early morning Sun rays drench the feet of the presiding deity. It is believed that ailments like skin diseases, blindness, and barrenness are cured when people worship at the temple.