Shiva, the epitome of pure consciousness is widely loved across India and across all ages. Celebrating this day in his honour, Mahashivratri is a divine day that is believed to overcome the darkness and ignorance in life and the world. The unique Hindu festival which is celebrated at night is believed to honour the heavenly dance of Lord Shiva, the Tandava Natyam. With many theories existing around its birth, the celebration seems to be unanimous. People observe fast, do Jagran, visit Shiva temples or go on a pilgrimage tour in order to attain nirvana.
With his presence felt all around us, he has also become one of those deities with who we have built a deep inner connection. The supreme mighty, the destroyer of evil and creator of good has also blessed the people of Andhra Pradesh with many powerful temples. If you are planning to go on a pilgrimage tour or visit the oldest temples of Lord Shiva in Andhra Pradesh, here is a list for you.
#1 Sri Kalahasteeswara Temple, Sri Kalahasti
Also famously called Dakshin Kailasam (Kashi of the South), the main temple area is considered to be built in the 5th century by Rajendra Chola I. Located 36 km from Tirupati, the temple is famous for its Vayu Lingam, one of the Panchabhoota Sthalam (a group of 5 temples dedicated to Lord Shiva with each of them representing the 5 prime elements of nature). Believed to be carved out of a monolithic hill, the temple carries the legacies of many kingdoms. It is also regarded as the only temple in India to remain open during both Solar and Lunar eclipses.
#2 Mallikarjuna Temple, Srisailam
The holy place is considered as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Brimming with power and energy, this temple worships both Goddess Parvati as Mallika and Lord Shiva as Arjuna. Mahashivratri being the main festival celebrated here, a visit to the temple on this holy day is sure to be divine. The inscriptions of the Satavahana Dynasty prove that the temple is in existence since the 2 century. The Vijayanagara empire is believed to have made most of the modern-day additions. The temple is located in Srisailam close to Hyderabad and at a distance of 600 km from Visakhapatnam.
#3 Veerabhadra Temple, Lepakshi
Know to be a place of the fierce incarnation of Lord Shiva, the temple was built in the 16 century. One of the most spectacular Vijayanagara temples, it is covered with carvings and paintings depicting the great epics of Ramayana, Mahabharatha, and the Puranas. The Nandi (Lord Shiva’s mount) placed a little away from the temple is believed to be carved out of a single block of stone. The walls of this temple depict the 14 avatars of Lord Shiva, while the fresco of Lord Shiva in the ceiling of the Mantapa is said to be Asia’s largest measuring 23 feet by 13 feet. This magnificent architectural brilliance is located in the town of Lepaksi, 140 km from Bangalore.
#4 Mukalingeshwara Temple, Srikakulam
Mukhalingam is the erstwhile capital of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, which is also home to the famous Mukhalingeshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located at a distance of 170 km from Visakhapatnam, the temple is said to be constructed in 8 century, making it one of the oldest temples of the region. The temple is also very famous for its architectural brilliance comprising intricate designs and carefully structured domes. One of the most visited sites on the holy day of Mahashivratri, you must plan a visit to this temple.
#5 Pancharama Kshetras
The Pancharama Kshetras represent 5 ancient temples depicted to Lord Shiva, all of which are located in Andhra Pradesh. The legend believes that all the 5 Shivalingas are a part of a single Shivalingam. It is believed that in an attempt to kill Tarakasura, Lord Kumara Swamy used his weapon of fire to break the Shiva Lingam around his neck which broke into 5 pieces and has been planted in 5 different places namely, Amarama in Amaravati, Drasharamam, Somarama in Bhimavaram, Ksheerarama in Palakollu and Kumararama in Samalkota. Similar to the Chardham yatra of the North, visiting the Pancharama Kshetras is believed to help attain moksha among the devotees.
If you plan to visit any of these divine Shiva temples in Andhra Pradesh, let us know which one was your favourite.