Lapped in the lush green Nallamalla Hills of Kurnool district and located at an altitude of 3000 ft, the temple of Nava Narasimha Swamy rightly satisfies the satiety of nature lovers and ardent devotees as well.
It is the place where Lord Vishnu reincarnated in Narasimha Avatar (Human with lion head) to save Prahalada by killing his father Hiranyakasipu. Goddess Mahalakshmi incarnated as Senju Lakshmi among the Senju tribals of the hills and married the Lord. The deity is referred to as Nava Narasimha as God is worshipped in 9 different forms in separate temples located in 8Km periphery.
- While some temples can be easily accessed others are in thick forests and can be reached by trekking with the help of local tourist guides.
- The temples are built by Vijayanagara Kings around 16th century while inscriptions of 8th century indicating the involvement of Chalukyas are also found.
- At the foot hills is the temple of Prahalada Varada Vardhan which houses the Utsava vigrahas of all the nine temples. The sacred ranges of Nallamalla hills are believed to be personified Adisesha whose head is Tirumala middle portion Ahobilam and tail portion is Srisailam.
Sri Ahobilam Mutt is one the foremost Sri Vaishnava religious institutions in India. The Utsava Moorthy of the Malola Narasimha Swamy, one the nine shrines in Ahobilam is the presiding deity of Sri Ahobilam Mutt.
Puranas indicate that Devas saw the manifestation of Lord Vishnu as half-lion and half-man and shouted as Ahobala (great strength) as well as Ahobila (a huge cave where the current sanctum is present). It is the place where Lord Vishnu appeared from the Stone pillar or Ugra stambha to slay Hiranyakasipu and hence this place is called Ahobilam.
Another Sthala Purana says that Garuda performed intense penance to have vision of Lord Vishnu in the Narasimha Avatar. Thereafter, Lord Narasimha took nine different forms in the hills.
Remnants and relics of the palace of Hiranyakasipu are found in this location. The pillar from which Lord arose is marked by its base stone and can be accessed after a vertical climb of the hill. It is believed that the hill has split into two under the impact of the shattering of the pillar from which the Lord arose. The idol in the lower Ahobilam is said to be installed by Lord Venkateswara of Tirumala before his wedding.
Another popular legend about Chenchu Lakshmi says that Devas worried about the fierce form (Ugra Roopa) of Lord after slaying of the demon. They urged the Goddess to pacify him. She subsequently took the form of a tribal girl, Chenchu Lakshmi. On seeing her Lord asked her to marry him. After conducting several tests to Lord, she agreed to marry Lord.
The whole complex of temples is divided into Lower (diguva) Ahobilam and Upper (eguva) Ahobilam. The lower Ahobilam has a single shrine of Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy connected by road. The Sthalapurana of Ahobilam gives an account of the nine shrines of the Lord.
- Bhargava Narasimha Swamy: situated 2 km from lower Ahobilam near the sacred pond of Akshaya tirtham where Bhargava Rama performed penance. Worshiping God after a dip in the lake is said to bestow blessings.
- Yogananda Narasimha Swamy: the place is ideal for meditation and Prahlada is believed to have obtained prosperity after meditating upon Lord at this place.
- Chatravatha Narasimha Swamy: Astrological planet Ketu is said to have worshiped Lord and said to have gained all comforts. Students willing to study arts seek blessings from this Lord.
- Ahobila Narasimha Swamy: is the earliest of all temples located in the upper Ahobilam and 8km from lower Ahobilam. The idol depicts the fierce aspect (Ugra Narasimha) of the Lord is the presiding deity of the place and considered as Swayambhu (self-manifest).
- Krodakara (Varaha) Narasimha Swamy: Just one kilometer away from the main temple of Ahobila Narasimha Swamy. The statue is inside a small rock cut formation facing perennial stream of water.
- Karanja Narasimha Swamy: The idol of the deity here wields a bow and is installed under the Karanja tree. As per a legend, Lord Hanuman meditated here and when Lord Narasimha appeared, he refused to recognize his God in any other form other than Rama. As per his wish the Lord then appeared with Rama’s weapon, bow and arrow.
- Malola Narasimha Swamy: It is in the distance of 2 km from main temple on Upper Ahobilam and the Lord manifests himself in a Soumya (graceful) form with his consort Lakshmi. Malola means beloved to Lakshmi, the Utsavamoorthy appeared in the dreams of first Jeeyar of Ahobila Matt, Srimath Advan Satakopa Jeeyar.
- Jwala Narasimha Swamy: This temple is toughest to reach of all the Narasimha temples. A small red water pond named “ Raktha Gunda Theertam” can be seen on the way to temple the place where Lord Narasimha washed his hands after slaying Hiranyakasipu.
- Paavana Narasimha Swamy: This is most peaceful of all Nava Narasimha Swamy deities and referred to as Kshetra Ratna (jewel among Kshetras) or Pamuleti Narasimha Swamy. It is believed that Lord liberates devotees of all sins of past life and present life.
Legends say that Navagrahas attained power after worshiping all the deities of Lord Narasimha and people suffering from malefic effects of any planet get some reprieve by worshiping the Lord.
Besides these shrines other two important places to visit are the Ugra Stambham– a hill cleft from which Lord is believed to have emerged and Prahlada Mettu– a small shrine located situated in a cave between the Ugra Stambham and Upper Ahobilam.
The temple of Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy in the lower Ahobilam clearly reflects the architectural style of the Vijayanagara kings with a Mukha Mandapam used as Kalyana Mandapam of Narasimha Swamy, Rangamandapam with numerous intricately carved sculptures and the sanctum sanctorum housing the idols of Prahlada Varada, Pavana Narasimha and processional idol of ten-handed Jwala Narasimha with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi on either side. There are small shrines of Lakshmi, Andal and Azhwars.
Another significant construction within the temple premises is Jayastambham erected to commemorate the victory of SriKrishnadevaraya. Temple inscriptions suggest that Kakatiya Kings too immensely contributed towards the maintenance and construction of these temples.
The temple at the Upper Ahobilam also called Ahobileshwar is 8 km from Lower Ahobilam. The shrine is located on a steep hill and the motorable road ends at a narrow passage near Bhavanasiri River after travelling for 5km from Lower Ahobilam.
The temple can be reached by trekking upon the hill or by well laid out steps for 2 km. The Lord here appears fierce or Ugra called the Ahobilam Narasimha is a Swayambhu. The streams of Bhavanasiri flow close to the temple and merges with river Krishna. The gopuram of the temple is adorned with beautiful sculptures.
Major festivals celebrated in the temple include the Brahmotsavas (ceremonies performed by the Lord Brahma) in the Phalguna month, Gramotsavas (village ceremonies) celebrated every month on the day of Swati Nakshatra, the birth star of the Lord where Thirumanjan Seva (service) is performed with 108 kalashas.
Abhohilam Mutt maintains a Malola Guest House where accommodation can be availed. Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) Haritha Hotel at Ahobilam has air-conditioned and standard rooms with good dining facilities for the tourists visiting the temple.
Package Tours of APTDC
APTDC operates Chennai- Srisailam tour every day that covers Mahanandi, Srisailam and Ahobilam. Departure: 10 pm (Friday) and Arrival: 5 am (Monday).
Fare: Adult-Rs 2500, Child-Rs 2000. Fare includes accommodation, ropeway and boating.
How To Reach The Temple
By Road: The nearest temple to Ahobilam is Allagadda 26 km away.
65 km from Nandyal
110 km from Cuddapah
120 km from Kurnool
By Train: Ahobilam is inaccessible by rail. Nearest railway stations are Nandyal (on Bangalore-Visakhapatnam route) and Cuddapah (on Mumbai-Chennai route)
By Air: Nearest Airport is Bengaluru airport 175 km away.