Somarama or the Abode of the Lord Someswara Swamy, is a Pancharama Kshetra in the Gunapudi village of Bhimavaram in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. The existence of this temple can be traced to 4th century and was believed to be constructed by the King Chalukaya Bheema.
This oldest shrine now appears new due to proper upkeep and maintenance. A tinge of modernity becomes conspicuous due to the coloured paintings and sculptures on the wall.
The temple has elegant architecture with an overwhelming Gopuram or edifice at the entrance.
A large lake Chandrakundam swamped with beautiful lotuses is present in front of the temple.
Within the premises on to the left side of the entrance lie the shrines of Lord Hanuman, Lord Sriram, Lord Kumaraswamy and Navagrahas in a hall. On to the right is an open hall with a huge statue of Nandi.
The Shiva Lingam of the temple called as Someswara was believed to be installed by Lord Chandra (Soma).
The most unique feature of the Lingam is that it changes it colour according to the lunar aspect. At the time of Pournami (full moon) Shiva Lingam is white in colour and attains darker hues during Amavasya. The Lingam is smaller, unlike at other Pancharama Kshetras.
Over the main sanctum sanctorum is the shrine of Goddess Annapurna, an extremely rare feature found in any of the temples in India. This exemplifies the Lord Shiva bearing Goddess Ganga on his head. Another distinct feature is presence of five Nandi statues opposite to Shiva Lingam.
To the south lies the shrine of Goddess Adi Lakshmi and to the east there is a Pushkarini or pond referred to as Somagundam. Lord Shiva of this temple is popular as Sri Someswara Janardhana Swamy and his consort is called Goddess Rajarajeswari.
As per local legends, Somarama was called as Pagunaraseema or Pavunaraseema during the olden days. River Gosthanee flows adjacent to the village of Gunupudi.
Tale of Gandharvas and the Missing Moon
The Sthala Purana says that Gandarvas took the moon away to their land, depriving Earth of the pristine moon light and its splendor on full moon nights. The disappointed deities of earth sought the help and advice of Lord Brahma to reclaim the Moon from the Gandharavas. Lord Brahma revealed that Moon was in the Gandharava Loka and asked the deities to request those Gandharvas to send the moon back to Earth. But the dejected deities felt that Gandharavas wouldn’t heed to their request. In the mean time, Goddess Saraswati advised deities that they can give her to the Gandharvas in exchange for the Moon.
The deities then took Goddess Saraswati to Gandharva Loka and by offering her to the King of Gandharvas brought back moon to Earth. Goddess Saraswati with her wisdom won the hearts of Gandharvas and got back to Satyaloka of Lord Brahma. Gandharvaras slowly realised the trick played by deities of Earth and hitched plans to bring the Moon once again to their Loka. Cognizant of the plans of Gandharvas, deities alerted Moon to worship Lord Shiva and seek his blessings.
Demon Tarakasura and Kumara Swamy
A popular legend narrates a fascinating tale with regard to existence of Pancharama Kshetras in Andhra Pradesh. The demon King Tarakasura performed severe penance to Lord Shiva, whereby he had Shiva Lingam in his throat that made him invincible. Overpowered by the strength, he began to commit grave atrocities. In order to slay the demon, Lord Shiva ordained his son Kumara Swamy. But whenever Kumara Swamy tore the demon’s body into pieces, all of them would reunite again due to the power of Shiva Lingam present in his throat.
Confused and embarrassed, Kumara Swamy sought the help of Lord Vishnu who suggested that the Shiva Lingam should be first broken into pieces to kill the Asura and warned that the pieces of the Lingam would also reunite quickly. To prevent that from happening, the pieces have to be fixed at various places on earth where they fall, by worshiping them and by building temples.
Formation of the Pancharama Kshetras
Upon the advice of Lord Vishnu, Kumara Swamy wielded Aegneyasthra on the Shiva Lingam, which broke into five pieces. In the meanwhile, Lord Vishnu ordered Lord Surya to fix five pieces of Shiva Lingam in their places and offer prayers to them by building temples. Upon construction of these temples, the pieces stopped moving and became popular as Pancharama kshetras. All the Shiva Lingams in these five temples bear a scaly mark, believed to be formed by the power of Aegneyasthra.
Lord Someswara Swamy was first worshiped by Lord Chandra (Soma) and hence in the name of Moon God, Lord Shiva attained the name of Someswara and the place is called Somarama.
Important festivals celebrated in the temple are Radhotsavam and Teppotsavam performed during Sivaratri and Navaratris.
Comfortable accommodation can be availed either at Bhimavaram or Rajahmundry
How to Reach Somarama Kshetram
Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) runs buses frequently from Palakollu, Rajahmundry and Vijayawada
By Road: Bhimavaram is 20 km from Palakollu
70 km from Rajahmundry
107 km from Vijayawada
270 Km from Visakhapatnam
By Rail: Temple is 2 km away from Bhimavaram railway station
By Air: Nearest Airport is at Rajahmundry/ Vijayawada