Location: The shrine called ‘Kailash of the south’ or ‘Dakshin Kailash’ , i.e. Srikalahasti Temple ensuring ‘mukti’ or enlightment by the blessing of lord Shiva is located in the town of Srikalahasti which is 36 Km away from Tirupati Panchbhoota Sthalam in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Proper name of the temple: Sri Kalahastheeswara Devasthanamu
Nearby River: River Suvarnamukhi
Prime Deity: Sri Kalahastheeswara Swami (lord Shiva) & his consort Gnana Prasunambika Devi.
Historical era of its foundation: 5th century (the inner part of the temple was built) & in 12th century (the outer part of it was constructed)
- Pallava dynasty
- Chola kings
- Vijayanagara rulers
Historical evidence: Songs sung by Saivaite saints in the honor of this temple.
Famous occasion to visit the temple: The caravan of innumerable devotees heads towards ‘Srikalahasti temple’ to celebrate the pious eve of Mahashivratri festival with the sole aim in heart to get the boon of ‘Mukti’.
- As per the prevalent mythology scripted in scriptures, there used to be three ardent devotees belonging to the wild beasts namely ‘Sri’-the spider, ‘Kala’- the serpent & ‘Hasti’-the elephant which mesmerized lord Shiva by their unflinching reverence. Hasti used to keep the Shivalinga clean by showering water via his trunk & offer Vilva leaves, Sri used to weave web around the lingam in order to shield it from the external damage whereas Kala kept the responsibility of adorning the lingam with a gemstone.
But as time keeps on changing, its spell came into vision through the outbreak of misconceptions among them. Unknowingly, in order to clean up the dusty layer lined-up over the lingam around which Sri had already weaved its web, Hasti attempted to wash it off as its daily schedule. The trio indulged in quarrel. Hasti turned Sri into pulp while Kala injected its venom by entering into the trunk of Hasti. Meanwhile, kala lost its life but succeeded in stinging Hasti. Consequently, Hasti lost its temper and ultimately died.
Pleased with their devotion, lord Shiva combined their names with the Vayulinga which is renowned as the famous ‘Srikalahasteeswara temple’ & blessed them ‘mukti’ or enlightment for their selfless devotion.
By the grace of Lord Shiva, spider reincarnated as a King while the rest of the two met eternity. Being taken rebirth, the spider as King dedicated his life to the devotion of lord Shiva. For identifying his reverence, he gave a proper existence to his devotion by building temple in the name of lord Shiva.
- Other legend goes that on being cursed & abandoned by lord Shiva, Devi Parvati went through ardent penance. Appeased lord Shiva blew life into the lifeless body of the goddess while enchanting hymns (mantras) called ‘Panchakshari ’. As a result, the goddess was brought back to the life that is known as his consort ‘Gnana Prasunambika Devi’.
- Another tale briefs that Ghanakala , being cursed to be a ghost, paid severe penance for 15 years while summoning lord Shiva through the enchanting ‘Bhairav mantra ’. Eventually, Lord Shiva blessed her original form.
- Mayura, Chandra & Devendra were assigned mukti or release from their curse after taking bath in the river Swarnamukhi & worshipping lord Shiva in the temple ‘Srikalahasti’.
- Once Kannappa, a devotee, attempted to cut his eyes just for ceasing the streaming of blood from lingam. The earth started shaking. At this, Kannappa embraced lingam by his hands for protecting it from any damage. Lord Shiva appeared and restored his eyes.
Description of the temple:
- One of the five Panchbhootha Sthalams: Among Panchabhootha Stalams signifying five elements namely air, water, ether, fire and earth, Srikalahasti Temple represents air element.
- Gopuram: The tower like pillar erected at the entrance of the shrine is called ‘Gopuram’ which is 120 feet high (36.5 m) made by Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara dynasty in 1516.
- Flickering lamp: The unknown whiff of air keeps the lighted lamp flickering that is enshrined inside the inner sanctum despite shutting the door of the shrine & having no window there.
- Swayambhu white ‘Air-linga’: The lingam is believed to be manifested from the womb of the earth itself which appears white.
- Nearby temples: The northern hill has shrine called ‘Durgama temple’ while on its south, there is a temple called ‘Kannabeswara temple’ that is dedicated to Kannappa’s devotion.
- Utsav-murti: For Keeping away the swayambhu lingam from the reach of human, all rituals are offered to Utsav-murti such as pouring milk, water,camphor , panchamrita, sandalwood paste, flowers & threads.