weekend exploration of srikalahasti

Abhinav’s first trip within India, we planned on a one day weekend visit to a temple near Tirupati known as Srikalahasti.

Conventional visits to such famous temples are like a formula – go in, perform some pooja/ritual, and leave – either to the next temple or back home. We had heard that there wasn’t much to see here and we were wondering what to do for the other half of the day. But at the end of the day, we felt that even one whole day is hardly enough to see and experience this place.

Bird’s eye view of the temple…

Birds eye view of Srikalahasti temple

The main entrance…

The temple was quite crowded but we did not feel it congested except in a few places where we had to stand in a queue. A very interesting aspect is that after entering, there is a paataaLa Ganesha cave. This is a Ganesha in a cave that is about two storeys deep. Entering and exiting is through a steep hardly a foot wide steel railing staircase, just like one enters one of those old wells. Only batches of 10 at a time are permitted. Esp with slightly aged or not so agile people, standing in the queue can be quite time consuming. Entering the cave was like crawling into a tunnel, which then opens up to the staircase descending into the huge somewhat dark enclosure inside. Getting down there along with Abhinav was quite a challenge but Anand (my brother in law) seemed to manage quite effortlessly. We were the first in our batch, so when we went down we were there alone for a few moments till the others joined us, quite fascinating moments.

Just a minute or so and we were on our way out, that’s all the time else the queue will never move!

The main temple is quite big with many interesting sights to see along the way. Its quite important in such ancient temples that one takes time to sit and really experience the ambience. There were many huge lingas, and one of them was made of spatika (it looked like glass but this is crystal I think). It is hardly noticeable and looks like metal, except if you observe that the light from it is not a reflection but light coming through it!

The main sanctum was magnificient… very beautifull illuminated with lamps inside…

Excerpts below about temple are from wiki

There is a lamp inside the inner sanctum that is constantly flickering despite the lack of air movement inside . The air-linga can be observed to move even when the priests close off the entrance to the main deity room, which does not have any windows. One can see the flames on several ghee lamps flicker as if blown by moving air. The linga is white and is considered Swayambhu, or self-manifested.

This was quite distant and we could not observe the details mentioned here esp because we had only a few moments and we had to keep moving.

There was another interesting place in the temple courtyard, where there was a skylight in the roof, through which one could see the pinacles of three other distant pillars/temples from three points marked on the floor. There was a priest who explained this to us, and he seemed to be one of those harikathe speakers, his voice was so wonderfully melodious, and he was so dramatic in his explanation. (If priests of the world had this kind of joy and involvement this priest had, maybe all of humanity’s religious structures would really serve their purpose hmm 🙂 )

There were two hills, and we went up one of them. Sunset was quite spectacular.

On top of the hill, we found the legendary Shiva temple depicting Kannappa which was made into a movie Bedara Kannappa starring Dr. Raj Kumar. Here is the main part of the story based on wiki (with some trivial editing)…

(Of course what happened here is a story but there have been cases of blind devotion inspired by this story, as per news links given at the end of the wiki page above). Let love be the inspiration and not the act itself.

…one day Thinnan noticed that one of the eyes of the Shiva linga was oozing blood and tears. Sensing that the Lord’s eye had been injured, Dheeran proceeded to pluck his one eye out with one of his arrows and placed it in the spot of the bleeding eye of the Shiva linga. This stopped the bleeding in that eye of the linga.

He noticed that the other eye of the linga has also started oozing blood. So Thinnan thought that if he were to pluck his other eye too, he would become blind, and wouldn’t be able to exactly locate the spot. So he placed his toe on the linga to mark the spot of the bleeding second eye, and proceeded to pluck out his other remaining eye.

Moved by his extreme devotion, Shiva appeared before Thinnan and restored both his eyes.

“Nillu Kannappa” (“Stop Kannappan!”)

Looks like Abhinav was in form and this pose is a cute coincidence (he probably won’t win any prizes for best dressed kid though heh heh)…

There was a statue here which he started cleaning with a hanky.

Upendra had told me how cleaning can also be a form of meditation. We can clean a vessel or the floor with the intention that “let my heart also become clean as I am cleaning this” and then we automatically do it with more immaculately with awareness, and what looks like a menial chore actually becomes a very nice activity. In a way as babies we all start off as natural meditators (but of course we gradually start losing touch with the process as we grow up).

Rest of us including pujari there gave so many suggestions and he more or less followed all of them…!

Kalahasti is surrounded by two sacred hills. The Durgamba temple is on the northern hill. On the south hill there is the shrine of Kannabeswara, in memory of the Sage Kannappa, who offered his eyes to the Lord. There is also a temple dedicated to Lord Subramanya on one of the surrounding hills.

This is the Durgamba hill seen from the river bank.

Sri Kalahasti is named after the staunch devotees of Lord Shiva. They were the Spider (Sri), the Serpent (Kala) and the Elephant (Hasti). Appeased with their unflinching devotion, Lord Shiva gave them a boon that their names be merged with the Vayulinga and called as Sri Kalahasteeswara.

Views from the top of the Kannappa hill…


They’re definitely enjoying their practice…

Never seen anything like this before…

On the way back from the temple, Anand and me just meandered offtrack to see what was around the corner…

Pity we didn’t have more time but it was good we saw atleast this much…

Went till here and returned back…

And Anand spotted this rather unusual rock – do you see what he saw in it?

It was pretty good advice from a friend to not return to Tirupati in the afternoon but to take a return bus to Bangalore from Kalahasti itself. This way we got more time there. And looks like we did not miss much as there was a magnificient miniature in our hotel lobby!

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17 Responses to “weekend exploration of srikalahasti”

  1. Vijay Says:

    Had been there as well about 3 months ago…unfortunately we just did the ritual in the main temple and then left..

  2. msanjay Says:

    well… as long as your journey was enjoyed as much as the destination! :mrgreen: Next time will always be there anyway 😉

  3. Simon Says:

    Really very nice photos :mrgreen:

  4. srik Says:

    Very nice 🙂

    I have visited SriKalahasti a couple of times; both the times not having company to explore the surroundings of the temple. Temple in itself is huge that one feels tired after exploring it!

    Very nice snaps you’ve captured too 🙂 Best however is you and Abhinav in the backdrop of sunset.

    Wonderful narration as well, as usual. Good to know you could do what people tend to think unimportant

    Cheers,
    Srikanth

  5. Aravind Says:

    Unfortunately, you didnt go to Lobavi! Its one of the most beutiful spots around… From the hill, where you took the picture of the town, if you climb down (stairs) on the the other end, theres a valley surrounded by all small hills. IN the middle there is this lake (smaller for a Lake, bigger for a pond) covered with lotus leaves and few flowers.. Theres a small temple, people belive its the picic spot for Lord SHiva himslef on the first fullmoon following maha shivrathri!

    Srikalahasti is my hometown. I spent all my child hood in Srikalahasti.. Still I couldnt get enough of it. When I was a kid, we used to climb down the hills to get there to pick few wild berries.. (I dont know what it is called, but its called EEtha pandu in telugu) from bushes around that lake.

    Now there is a well consturcted road (they hit down a small portion of one hill and formed a road.. some tourist cottages are built near this beutiful spot, not too close to disturb its peaceful atmosphere! Its called officially as Bharadwaja Theertham.

    There are few places further to this spot too, called Sukha Brahmashramam.. And even futhrer to it Vedam! You will come across a lot of greenary on your way! we used to walk when we were kids… There is festival called Konda Chuttu (meaning going around the hills). As part of that festi every one walks for few miles carrying the god’s idols around the hills…

    I am 29 years old and there is still a lot for me see around this small but beutiful place…

  6. Sanjay M Says:

    Delightful to read your addition Arvind! 🙂 I quite regret the afternoon nap I was stupid enough to take else we’d have got some more time and quite possibly discovered this lake you’re talking about as well! Anyway good to know there’s something left for a next trip in fact a lot more, in fact now I look forward to going there again sometime! You’re really lucky to have such a hometown, it would be ultra-cool if you had a chance to join us as welll whenever we plan a next visit! 8)

  7. Iti Says:

    do you know any genuine pundit who can perform kalsurpdosha puja there.

    thanks

  8. Gautam Says:

    I have been told that there are cottages within the temple premises. Please let me know if we have to book them in advance and if you have their phone numbers. Are there any direct buses to Sri Kalahasti from Hyderabad.

    Thanks,

    Gautam

  9. Sanjay M Says:

    Gautam, you could enquire about the cottages using the temple info numbers given on its SriKalahasti temple website. Since there are direct buses from Bangalore, I’m pretty sure there must be some from Hyderabad as well. In any case, there are lots of buses from Tirupati.

  10. deepti Says:

    very beautiful pics

  11. Sanjay M Says:

    thank you deepti, its a nice place 🙂

  12. R. Eswaran Says:

    We are asked to perform certain parihara pujas in Srikalahasthi temple. We would like to know the sequence of visiting both tirupathi and kalahasthi. Should we go to thirupati first and then to kalahasthi or the vice versa.Pl confirm
    Thanks
    R. Eswaran.

  13. msanjay Says:

    Dear R. Eswaran:

    Best wishes for your prihara pujas. I am quite ignorant of such details.

    If you ask me, here is what I say would be the right sequence for you Sir, Mr. Eswaran: First go within R. Eswaran. After that any other sequence becomes irrelevant and natural like the unwritten choreography of the universe.

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