Annavaram is the second most popular holy shrine after Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. Located at an elevation of 300 feet (91mt) from sea level on the top of Ratnagiri hills of the Eastern Ghats, it is the abode of Lord Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy and Goddess Ananta Lakshmi Satyavathi Ammavaru. The deity is highly revered among the people North Coastal Districts of Andhra Pradesh and traditionally newly-weds of this region soon after marriage visit the temple to seek divine blessings.
The main temple constructed in Dravidian Style is nestled in a small forest enveloped by serene mountains offering a fantastic view of the surrounding villages with the river Pampa flowing at the foot of the hills. The temple about 1 kilometer from the base of the hills can be reached by a flight of 460 steps covered with canopy or by trekking or by vehicles along a well laid out road.
The spacious temple enclave or Devasthanam constructed on the top of Ratnagiri hill is held in high veneration as Divine Trinity are worshipped drawing thousands of Vaishnava and Shaiva devotees.
- The Divine abode built in the form of chariot with four wheels displays the Vishwa Brahmin Stapathi architecture.
- The front corridor of the temple has a Kalyana Mantapa adorned with exquisite pieces of modern carvings.
- The temple building houses a 13 feet idol in a cylindrical form. The base located in the lower sanctum represents Lord Brahma, upper sanctum represents Lord Vishnu and the middle portion represents Lord Shiva.
The idol inside the temple is physically pleasing, materially rich and spiritually enchanting.
The name Annavaram is derived from aninavaram or wanted boon indicating that the presiding diety fulfils the wishes of devotees. Another version of Puranas say that the place was known for continual distribution of free food or annam by the benevolent local people. Hence the place was called Annavaram. Annavaram is a small village and the hillock next to the village is the most sacred hill Meruvu, the Lord of Hills. He and his consort Menaka did great penance to beget two sons from Lord Vishnu- Bhadra and Ratnakara.
Bhadra with his penance and devotion pleased Lord Vishnu and became Bhadrachalam, the holy abode of Lord Rama. Ratnakara emulated his brother, pleased Lord Vishnu with his penance and urged him to settle on him as Lord Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy. Ratnakara turned into the hillock Ratnagiri.
Local legends say that in the year 1891, Lord appeared in the dream of the Zamindar I.V. Ramanarayanam, the Zamindar of Korsa and Kirlampudi estates, ordaining him to trace his idol on the hill. Accordingly, the Zamindar traced the idol, worshipped it and installed the idol in a shed in its current location. By around 1933-34, locals built a temple with locally available stone. Extensive renovations were carried out in 2011-12.
Legendary tales espouse the historical significance of hills saying that Sri Krishnadevaraya used these hills as secret passages to attack the enemies during the Kalinga war. During the British rule, locals say that the Andhra revolutionary Alluri Seetharama Raju built secret quarters in these hills.
Scriptures say that temple is manifestation of Prakriti or Universe. Temple at Annavaram strictly adheres to the philosophy.
- The Chariot shape of the temple is the symbol of seven lokas underneath and seven lokas above with the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord at the centre ruling the Universe.
- The Wheels depict the Sun and Moon reminding that this juggernaut moves on the wheels of time and moves on forever.
- The temple is in two floors, the ground floor contains the yantra and peetham of the Lord. On the four sides of the yantra are four deities-Lord Ganapati, Suryanarayanaswamy, Bala Tripurasundari and Maheswaraswamy. These constitute the panchayathanam.
- On the first floor Moola Virat of Lord Satyanarayanaswamy is at the centre, the idol of Goddess Anantha Lakshmi Satyavathi Ammavaru on its right and Lord Shiva on the left.
- The idols of eternal grace and beauty are encased in golden kavachamas. The adjoining shrine of Lord Rama is the place where the original manifested idol of Lord Satyanarayana Swamy was found.
- Lord Rama is regarded as the kshetrapalaka of this holy abode. There are shrines of Vana Durga and Kanaka Durga nearby.
- Another major temple to be visited is of the local Goddess Nerellamma at the base of the hills.
Popular festivals are Kalyanams performed in May, Devi Navaratri in September, the Swayamvara Vadhanthi of Sraavana Suddha Ekadasi Day, Srirama Kalyanam, Kanaka Durga Yatra, Prabha Utsavam, Teppa Utasavam and Jalatoranam.
Activities in the Temple
Temple has charted out three types of darshan for the convenience of devotees- Sarvadarshanam (darshan free for all), Seegradarshanam (darshan with less waiting time costing Rs 50 per person), Antaralayam darshanam (darshan from a closer distance costing Rs 100 per person).
Devotees who visit the place invariably perform the Satyanarayana Swamy Vratham as it is believed to mollify obstacles and bestow peace of mind, health, wealth, happiness and fulfilment of wishes.
Annavaram temple is very famous for its highly delicious and tasty prasadam. The quality of prasadam remains unchanged over decades and huge numbers of tourists throng at the prasadam counters. The famous Bangi Prasadam remains unspoiled for 10-12 days.
Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) has spacious and beautiful accommodation for tourists visiting Annavaram at Kakinada and Visakhapatnam.
How to Reach Annavaram
National Highway-5 (NH-5) passes via Annavaram.
By road: 125 km from Visakhapatnam,
40 km from Kakinada
80 km from Rajahmundry
Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) operates regular bus services from Rajahmundry, Kakinada and Yeleswaram.
By Rail: Annavaram has a railway station and the temple is 3km away.
Located on the Chennai-Howrah railway lane
Ratnachal Express, Chennai-Howrah mail, Kolkata- Chennai Express halt at Annavaram Station.