MALLIKARJUNA JYOTHIRLINGA IN SRISAILAM
Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple is dedicated to Shiva and is located at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh. Shiva is worshipped as Mallikarjuna. His consort Parvati is depicted as Unnamulai Amman. The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the Nayanars and classified as Padal Petra Sthalam.
The temple is established on the Shri Sailam Mountain near the banks of the Patal Ganga river. It is fondly known as Kailash of the South. The temple complex covers 2 hectares and houses four gateway towers known as gopurams. The temple has numerous shrines and many halls. The huge temple is built in the Dravidian style with lofty towers and sprawling courtyards and is considered to be one of the finest specimens of Vijayanagar architecture. Temples of Tripurantakam, Siddavatam, Alampura and Umamaheswaram located in the vicinity of Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga are considered to be the four gateways to Srisailam.
The temple is situated facing East. The central mandapam has several pillars, with a huge idol of Nandikeshwara. The temple is enclosed by tall walls measuring 600 ft by 499 ft and 28 ft tall. There are a number of sculptures in the precinct each rising above another. There are inscriptional evidences from the Satavahana Dyanasty which establishes the temple’s existence from the 2nd century. Most modern additions were done during the time of King Harihara of Vijayanagara Empire. The Mukamandapa, the hall leading to the sanctum, has intricate sculpted pillars. The shrine where Mallikarjuna is housed is considered the oldest in the temple, dating back to 7th century. There is a Sahasra Linga believed to have been commissioned by Rama and five other Lingas believed to have been commissioned by Pandavas. A mirror hall in the first precinct has images of Nataraja. The present masonry structure was built during the Vijayanagar rulers of the Sangama Dynasty.
When Shiva and Parvati decided to find suitable brides for their sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya there was an argument as to who is to get wedded first. Shiva bade that the one who goes round the world in Pradakshinam could get married first. By the time Kartikeya could go round the world on his vahana, Ganesha went round his parents 7 times ( according to Shastras, going in pradakshinam round one’s parents is equivalent to going once round the world)– Bhupradakshinam. Siva got Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity) married to Ganesha. Kartikeya on his return was enraged and went away to stay alone on Mount Krauncha in the name of Kumarabrahmachari. On seeing his father coming over to pacify him, he tried to move to another place, but at the request of the Devas, stayed close by. The place where Siva and Parvati stayed came to be known as Srisailam.
As per Hindu legend, the presiding deity in the form of Linga (an iconic form of Shiva) was worshipped with jasmine (locally called Mallika), leading to the name of presiding deity as Mallikarjuna.
Srisailam Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple is one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas. The mythology of Daksha Yagna and Sati’s self immolation resulted in the emergence of Parvati in the place of Sati Devi and making Shiva a house holder. This mythology is the story behind the origin of Shakti Peethas. They are holy abodes of Adi Parashakti formed due the falling of parts of the body of Sati Devi’s corpse when Shiva carried it and wandered. It is believed that Sati Devi’s Upper lip has fallen here.
Located at about a distance of 215 kilometers from the city of Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana, Srisailam is situated atop the Nallamala hill. En route to Srisailam the mighty Krishna River geographically divides the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The temple complex has the main Jyotirlinga besides an idol of Goddess Shakti (female power) and several other Lingas like – Surya Linga, Chandra Linga, Akash Linga, Jal Linga, Prithvi Linga, Agni Linga etc.
But before you visit the actual temple complex, you will find a temple dedicated to Sakshi Ganapati. The sculpture of the temple shows Ganesha holding a notebook in his left hand and a pen in his right hand. It is believed that he keeps a note of all those who visit his father’s idol at the main temple complex, thus becoming a witness to a devotee’s trip to the divine place.
The place where Lord Siva and Parvati stayed came to be known as Srisailam. Lord Siva visits Lord Kartikeya on Amavasya day and Parvati Devi on Poornima.
The presiding deities of Mallikarjuna temple are Mallikarjuna –Lord Shiva and Bhramaramba Devi. Goddess Bhramaramba Devi is considered among one of the eighteen Mahasakthis and both the deities are self-manifested. The temple sculptures depict the epics from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
This temple is considered extremely holy. The unique feature of the temple is that all the devotees who visit the temple are allowed to touch the idol. Anybody can enter the Sanctum Sanctorum to perform puja. The Srisailam temple has rich sculptural art, tall walls and towers. The temple is constructed in Dravidian style with sprawling courtyards.
Located adjacent to the Mallikarjun Temple is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Jagdamba who is known as Bhramaramba here. The Bhramaramba shrine is considered to be of great significance. Legend has it that Durga is said to have assumed the shape of a bee and worshipped Shiva here, and chose this place as her abode.
There was a princess Chandravati whose father was the ruler of Chandraguptapuram on the bank of the Krishna river. The King returned home after a long journey and fell in love with his own grown up daughter. When she came to know of his evil intention, she left her house cursing her father and stayed in Srisailam. The ruler was drowned in Patalaganga. One of the cows of the Princess yielded no milk. She enquired and found out that the cow voluntarily poured out its milk on a Shivalinga. The princess dreamed of a Shiva who was manifesting himself in the form of a Shivalinga. She then constructed the first temple of Lord Shiva over that Linga. She worshiped there daily with jasmine or malllika flowers and therefore this Shivalinga became known as Mallikarjuna. This legend is engraved on a panel on the courtyard wall.
Another legend says that Lord Shiva came here as a hunter and married a beautiful girl of the Chenchu tribe. This legend is illustrated in one of the bas-reliefs on the courtyard wall. The Chenchus believe themselves to be self-appointed guardians of the Mallikarjuna Temple.
In one of the smaller temples in the complex there is a beautifully Linga carved so as to have in it one thousand miniature Lingas. This Sahasra Linga is surrounded by the three-headed Naga and is placed on a very beautiful pedestal or Yoni Mandala.
The Shivaratri festival is the most prominent festival of the temple.