Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Deity Combining The Iconographic Features Of Varaha & Narasimha - Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple - Simhachalam, Visakhapatnam

Simhachalam (the lion hill), which rises to about 800 feet about the sea, stands just north of Visakhapatnam. Near the top of the north side of it, in a wooded hollow surrounded by a wide circle of higher ground, is the temple to Narasimha, the man-lion incarnation of Vishnu, which gives the hill its name. Simhadri or Simhachalam is a Hindu temple located in Visakhapatnam city suburb of Simhachalam in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is dedicated to Lord Narasimha (the man-lion), an incarnation (avatar) of Lord Vishnu. The central shrine was built in Kalinga architectural style. The Kshetrapalaka of Simhachalam is Kalabhairava and pilgrims must visit the Kalabhairava Temple in the area prior to visiting the Narasimha Swamy temple.

Aerial View Of Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
Aerial View Of Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
From Ancient times 'Simhachalam Temple' in Andhra Pradesh is a popular Vaishnava Shrine.The shrine is also known as 'Kailasanga',which is about 1500 feet above sea level located 10 miles north of the town of Visakhapatnam. Most of the forests in the area, is surrounded by hills. These complex droplet hills, are full of narrow canals and the most important flow is the Hanumantha dhara which is in the north-east of the hill. Some important dhara's are Seethamma dhara, Simhachal dhara, Madhavadhara, from which the biggest is the Simhachal dhara. Simhachalam means 'Lion Hill'. This Hill is considered to be the fourth incarnation of Vishnu,Narasimha. "Sarvam Vishnu mayam Jagat" means Lord Shiva present everywhere as the symbol of Narasimha, who is the incarnation of Lord Shiva. Srivaraha Narasimha Swamy is the main deity of the temple. Devotees worship Narasimha in many form as seen in Yadagirigutta-Yoga Narasimha Swamy and Vedadri-Laksminarasimha Swamy. From all the Dasaavatara's the Nuclear avatar is of the Varaha and Narasimha, both avatars appear as Varahanarasimha form which is the uniqueness of this Simhachalam temple. Varaha face, the human body, and the body with tail of lion is not found elsewhere. The people of here call the diety as "Simhadri Appanna". Thus the presiding deity here is Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha combining the iconographic feature of Varaha and Narasimha. The image resembles a Shivalingam covered with sandal paste. It is only once a year, during the Chandana Visarjana that the sandal paste is removed, and the image is seen by pilgrims.

Main Gopuram Of Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
Main Gopuram Of Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
"Simha" in Sanskrit means lion; "Adri" or "Achala" in Sanskrit means hill. The temple is located at the top of a hill; hence the temple is called Simhachalam. Sri Varahalakshmi Narasimha Swamy, the lion-man incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is the presiding deity of the temple. The temple is one of the eighteen "Narasimha Kshetras", the shrines of Lord Narasimha, in India. The deity is usually covered with sandalwood paste year round and can be seen without sandalwood ("nijaroopa darshan" – holy appearance in true form) for only 12 hours per year. On Akshaya Tritiya Day, the deity is re-covered with sandalwood paste. The festival of 'Chandana yatra' or 'Chandanotsavam' falls every year in Vaisakha (May).

The deity is in the tribhangi posture, with two hands and the head of a lion on a human torso. An inscription dated 1098 AD of the Chola King Kuloththunga provides a clue as to its antiquity. Another inscription names a queen of the Eastern Ganga of Kalinga (ancient Odisha) (1137–1156), while a third inscription says the eastern Ganga King of Odisha, Narasimhadeva II (1279–1306), built the central shrine in 1267. More than 252 inscriptions in Odia and Telugu describe the antecedents of the temple.

Sri Krishna Deva Raya visited the shrine in 1516 and 1519. He offered numerous valuable jewellery, of which an emerald necklace is still in the temple. For the last three centuries the royal family of Vizianagaram, the Pusapati Gajapathi Raju,s have been the temple's trustees. The last Maharaja of Vizianagaram Dr.PVG Raju donated Lakhs of acres of land to Simhachalam Devastanam.

Art Work In Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
Art Work In Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
Hiranyakasipu was a Rakshasa king and a reincarnation of one of Vishnu's Dwarapalakas (gatekeepers) in Vaikuntha (heaven). The other palaka was born as his brother Hiranyaaksha. The gatekeepers, Jaya and Vijaya, were cursed by Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanathkumara, and Sanathsujatha because the gatekeepers did not allow these four to take darshan of Mahavishnu. As a result, the gatekeepers were reincarnated three times. Hiranyakasipu decided to perform austerities (tapasya) to appease Lord Brahma, which would allow him to become immortal. However, Lord Brahma said that it was not possible. Then brahma gave a boon to hiranyakashaka that " he can not be killed by human or animal, neither during day time nor night time, neither on land nor in water nor on sky nor by any weapon". Thus, Hiranyakashaka becomes confident that he has almost conquered death!

Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple Vimanam
Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple Vimanam
Hiranyakasipu's son Prahlada was a devotee of Lord Narayana and always expressed his devotion (bhakti) towards him. Hiranyakasipu could not alter Prahlada's devotion and became infuriated. He made several attempts to have Prahlada killed, including throwing him off a mountain top, putting him in a chamber of snakes and throwing him into a cage of a hungry tiger. Vishnu rescued Prahlada by moving the mountain and creating a small path, burning up the snakes and vanished the tiger. As the avatar Lord Narayana, Vishnu came to rescue Prahlada. When Lord Narayana jumped to save Prahlada, his feet sunk deep into the earth. Therefore, the god's feet are not shown anywhere at the temple, as it is said that his feet are buried in the earth. The legend says that the Simhachalam temple was built on the exact spot where Vishnu stood to protect Prahlada.

Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple Tank
Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple Tank
A second legend says that when the Muslims were about to destroy and plunder the temple during an invasion, a poet named Kurmanatha implored Lord Varaha Narasimha to save the temple and the Hindus. In response to these prayers, a huge swarm of copper hornets suddenly appeared and attacked the invading army, driving them out of the city. The swarm then disappeared behind a hillock now known as Tummedala Metta (Tummedala: of hornet; Metta: hillock).

Main Deity Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha
Main Deity Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha
This temple boasts of a beautiful stone chariot drawn by horses. The Kalyana Mandapa within the temple has 16 pillars with bas reliefs depicting the incarnations of Vishnu. Narasimha, the man lion incarnation of Vishnu is seen in several depictions throughout the temple. The artwork here has elements of similarity with that of Konark. Elephants, flowers and plants are portrayed in plenty. The outer walls of the sanctum depict images of a royal personality (said to be King Narasimha) in various postures. Simhachalam temple is known as the second richest temple (after Tirupati) in earning revenue.

Temple Timings:

Morning Timings : 07:00 AM to 04:00 PM
Evening Timings : 06:00 PM to 07:00 PM
On Special Occasions timings might differ.

Temple Location:

Simhachalam is a hill temple that is almost 18 KM away from Vizag or Visakhapatnam. It is just 13 KM away from Vizag International Airport. It is 19 KM away from Visakhapatnam Railway station. It is 20 KM away from R.T.C complex, Visakhapatnam. One can reach Simhachalam from almost anywhere in Vizag.

Temple Address & Contact Details:

Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Temple,
Simhachalam,
Visakhapatnam,
Pin Code : 530 028,
Andhra Pradesh.
Phone : 0891 2764949 ; 0891 2979666 ; 95737 73408

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