Historically hill tops and banks of the sacred rivers have been abodes of Hindu Dieites. Amareswara Swamy temple of Amaravathi located on the southern banks of river Krishna ascribes to the same traditional convention. The temple built in the ancient town of Amaravathi derives its name from Amareswara Swamy is now regaining its past glory and splendour as it is designated as capital newly carved state of Andhra Pradesh. A visit to Amaravathi will be an enchanting mythological experience as the place is interspersed with the richness of Hindu and Buddhist cultures.
The place also referred to as Amararama, is one the pancharamas of Andhra Pradesh. The other four pancharamas are- Kumararama, Ksherarama, Bheemarama and Draksharama. Lord Shiva is worshipped in five Linga forms known as Pranaveswara, Agasteswara, Kosaleswara, Someswara and Parthiveswara. In Amaravathi he is worshipped as Amareswara with his consort Bala Chamundika considered as the fourth of the 18 of the Hindu Pantheon of Goddesses. Amaravathi is regarded as a Datta Kshetra where Lord Dattatreya is worshipped.
– The temple was constructed on a hammock Krouncha Shaila by the side of river Krishna.
– It exuberates in Dravidian style of architecture and is surrounded by imposing gopuras on four sides.
– Krishna River near Amaravathi hill flows in the north-south direction for a distance as against the regular direction of west to east. This feature is considered remarkable and devotees take a dip in the river before proceeding for darshan.
– The most unique feature of the temple is the 15ft tall white marble Shivaling.
There are several fascinating legendary tales connected to the place. The Sthala purana says that the pantheon of Gods unable to bear the atrocities of the asura or demon Tarakasura performed a penance to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva ordained his son Lord Subramanya to exterminate Tarakasura. During the duel, when Subramanya tried to kill Tarakasura the Shivaling in his throat broke and fell in five different places which became pancharama kshetras.
The biggest piece of white marble fell in Amaravathi and started elongating towards sky. Indra, the king of devas embedded a nail on the top of linga to stop it from growing. The red spot on the top of the linga even now reminisces of the blood oozed by Shivalinga. The Shivalinga was installed by Indra, Brihaspathi, the guru of Devas and Sukra, the preceptor of Asuras towards the end of Dwaparayugam. Since the Shivalingam is very tall, Archakas perform the Abhisekhas from a high pedestal.
- According to Skanda Purana, at the end of Dwaparayuga, 5053 years ago Sounakadika munis asked Saint Narada as what is the best way to obtain liberation or moksha. Narada told the rishi group that Lord Krishna created Krishna River and advised rishis to live near the river and bath in its holy water to attain salvation. It is believed that if any devotee remains in this place for three days and takes a dip in the river and worships Lord Amareswara, he will be liberated of all sins.
- Another legend from the Kshetramahatyam says that demons defeated Gods after they obtained a boon from Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva then vowed to kill all the demons and Gods started living the place called Dhanyakatakam or Amaravathi.
- A tale from the Panditaradhya Charitam narrates an interesting story about Sripathi Panditaradhya the embodiment of Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy. He was believed to be born during the Lingodbhava (Linga creation) of Srisaila Mallikarjuna Swamy, a jyotirlinga on Shivaratri day. Sripathi later commenced the Surya Simhasana Panditaradhya Peetham to spread devotion towards Lord Shiva in people.
- No traces of artifacts dating before 11th century can be found in the temple premises suggesting its late origins. Even the epigraphs on the temple architecture have inscriptions of Kota Kings, one by Sri Krishnadevaraya and that of wife of Proli Nayudu. These compelling evidences suggest that temple was originally Buddhist and was adapted for Hindu worship. The mula virat in the sanctum sanctorum is seen with a white marble lotus medallion made in ornate style a signature sequence found in Buddhist monuments. The 15 ft tall Shiva Ling is believed to be the Ayaka Stambha or Ayaka pillar found in Buddhist monuments might have been consecrated as the Shivalinga.
Under the Rule of Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu
The most befitting tale associates the temple with Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu who ruled these regions before the advent of British. It is believed that temple was constructed to instill peace after the brutal massacre of thousand tribal, Chenchus who plotted against the King. A carnival was organised in this place to capture and kill them. Following the deceitful plan of trapping Chenchus and killing them, the king lost his mental peace.
Upon the counsel of his Ministers, King Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu shifted his capital to Amaravathi devoted his entire time, life and revenues towards building the temples of Lord Shiva. He renovated the temple of Amareswara Swamy temple and appointed 12 archakas to carry out religious rituals. The current structure attributes its existence to the benevolent act of the king.
The temple campus is very huge and comprises of three circles.
– The first circle has Mahishasura Mardini, Veerbhadra Swamy, Guru Dattatreya, Omkaareswara Swamy and Agasteswara Swamy.
– The shrines of Vinayaka, Anjaneya, NagendraSwamy, Kalabhairava, Kumaraswamy and Lord Krishna are present in second circle.
– To reach the third circle one has to take a flight of steps where shrines of Kasi Viswanatha, Mallikarjuna Swamy, Pushphadanteswara Swamy and Kalahastiswara are present.
– In the centre of three circles is the idol of the Lord Amaralingeswara Swamy. The base of the Shivalinga is not visible as temple is built in two storeys which hid the base. This was believed to stop flow of river Krishna into the temple.
– The idol of Bala Chamudika is to the south of the main deity. The walls of the temple compound have numerous inscriptions giving an insight about the kings who ruled the land.
– The Divine aura and splendour attracts thousands of devotees to the holy abode of Lord Shiva. Amaravathi is considered as a sacred place for its three attributes- the Krishna River, an important kshetra with Sthalamahaytam and the Sri Mahalinga Murthy.
The main festivals celebrated in temple are Mahashivaratri, Navaratri and Kalyanam Utsavas.
Other Attractions Nearby
Amaravathi Buddhist Sites
Panakala Narasimha Swamy Temple
Public Works Department Travellers Bungalow at Amaravathi can be ideal resting place. Besides there are several choultries and sheds for pilgrims stay.
How to Reach Amaravathi Amareswara Swamy Temple
The temple can be reached by road or boat on the Krishna river.
By road: It is connected by Amaravathi Road, 32 km from Guntur
46km from Vijayawada
40km from Sattenapalli
By Rail: Nearest Railway Station is Vijayawada
By Air: Gannavaram, north of Vijayawada is the nearest airport