A serene temple in the midst of a bustling college, the Sri Saranya Venkateswara Swamy Temple adds a holy aspect to the college premises in Vizag. An impressively tall majestic statue of Garuda, standing next to a white edifice, attracts the eye as you drive into the spacious green campus of Pydah College of Engineering & Technology at Gambheeram.
The temple dedicated to Lord Venkateswara is a two-storied structure with green lawns, a kitchen and a yagna-shala in the vicinity. The temple itself has two huge life-size elephants in the front and two stately statues of Garuda and Hanuman on either side. Two curved staircases lead up to the main temple on the first floor. There is also a lift and wheelchair provision, ensuring that anyone can access the temple. Inside the main sanctum, the Lord, Sri Saranya Venkateswara Swamy stands decked in finery and beautiful flowers, looking mesmerising, graceful and magnificently regal. ‘Sri’ alludes to Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu, and ‘Saranya’, a Sanskrit word, means ‘to surrender’. Venkateswara is a form of Lord Vishnu. Thus, this temple encourages the devout to surrender to His grace and munificence.
The temple in Vizag was inaugurated by the then Finance Minister, Konijeti Rosaiah in 2009. It was built under the aegis of the Chairman of the Pydah Institutes, Dr. Pydah Krishna Prasad along with his wife Rama Devi, with the guidance of H Tridandi Sreeranga Ramanujan Jeeyar Swamy, popularly known as Kannada Jeeyar. Conceptualised as a small sized project, Dr. Krishna Prasad shares how the work wouldn’t proceed due to some hurdle or the other. After this went on for eight months, a sthapati (Master Builder), visited the site and informed that the size wasn’t suitable. He suggested the present plan. The construction from that point picked up the pace, and the temple was completed in 6 months.
This is one of the few temples that organises ‘Agnihotram’ (prayers to the sacred fire) on a daily basis. Not only is the idol similar to the famed idol in Tirumala Tirupati, but even the daily rituals and annual festivals are also performed in a similar manner. On Saturdays, and festive days including New-Year’s Day, the temple sees a sizeable crowd. Every month under Sravan Nakshatra, Kalyanam (celestial wedding) of the Lord is performed. The Godadevi Kalyanam is also celebrated on the day of Bhogi in January. Brahmotsavalu, like in Tirumala are also conducted here with utmost reverence for 3 days with Chakrasnanam being an important element. Special darshan is arranged for auspicious days like Vaikunta Ekadasi, Ugadi, Thole Ekadasi and even on New Year’s Eve. On special days, the Lord is adorned with a vajra kavacham (a shield of gems) and swarna kavacham (a shield of gold). Every Suddha Ekadasi, Abhisheka is performed on a grand scale. Adding to the spirituality of Dhanurmasam, the Dasavatarams are displayed on all the 30 days. On every Saturday, Sahasranamarchana (chanting of the thousand names of the Lord) and Annadanam (Lunch prasadam to the devotees) is organised. The elaborate arrangement of flowers on the idol is changed daily along with the ‘alankaram’ or dressing.
A temple steeped in religious activity and not too far from the city, a visit to this temple in Gambheeram is worth the drive.