Situated in the southeastern coast of India, Andhra Pradesh is the 4th largest state in India. Andhra Pradesh is known for its pilgrimage sites especially for the famous Sri Venkateswara Temple at Tirupati, the world’s richest temple. Most of the temples were built during the reign of Vijayanagara Empire. The temples are magnificent in architecture and exquisite to look at. A number of festivals are organized with thousands of tourists visiting them.
Trawell.in presents the top most famous & sacred pilgrimage sites in Andhra Pradesh.
Tirumala / Tirupati
Tirumala, the adobe of Lord Sri Venkateswara (also known as Balaji – an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), is situated in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. Tirumala Balaji Temple is one of the most celebrated pilgrimage sites in India and it attracts millions of devotees every year. The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple is situated atop the Tirumala Hills which consists of seven peaks known as Sapthagiri at an altitude of 3,200 feet. The temple of Lord Venkateswara was built by the Tamil king Thondaimaan. It is considered as the world’s richest temple with an estimated annual income of over 300 crores and also one of the top pilgrimage sites in Andhra Pradesh not to miss in a South India tour packages.
The Tirumala temple is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture. The main sanctum contains 2 m high standing idol of Venkateswara on a lotus flanked by his consorts Bhudevi and Sridevi. The most striking feature of the awe-inspiring black idol is its fabulous diamond crown, which is said to be the most precious single ornament in the world. The Sanctorum ‘Ananda Nilayam’ has a glittering gold covered Vimana and gold covered gates. Apart from the Thirupathi devasthanam, other tourist places in Tirumala include Akasa Ganga, Srivari Padalu, Chakra Theertham, Papavinasam, Shilatoranam, etc. There are several attractions in Tirupati tour which include Varahaswami temple, Tiruchanur temple of Goddess Padmavati, Govindaraja temple, Srinivasa Mangapuram, Avanakshamma temple, and ISKCON Temple.
Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
Srisailam is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva situated on the banks of River Krishna in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the most important Shaiva pilgrimage centers in India and also one of the top temples in Andhra Pradesh. Srisailam is also one of the most popular weekend getaways from Hyderabad. Srisailam is famous for Sri Mallikarjuna Temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The sanctum enshrines Lord Mallikarjuna in the form of a linga protected by a three-hooded cobra. This ancient temple built in the Dravidian style with lofty towers and sprawling courtyards is one of the finest specimens of Vijayanagara architecture.
The unique feature of this place is the combination of Jyothirlingam and Mahasakthi Peetham (in the form of Bhramarambika) in one campus, which is very rare and only one of its kind. The great religious leader Adisankaracharya is said to have visited this shrine and composed his immortal Sivananda Lahiri here. Srisailam Dam, Akka Mahadevi Caves, Pathala Ganga, Shikaresvara Temple, Sakshi Ganapathi Temple, Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Sanctuary and Mallela Theertham are the other attractions here. Mahasivarathri festival in the month of February/March is celebrated as Brahmotsavam (annual festival) at this temple and is visited by large number of devotees.
Reference : Srisailam Tour Packages
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Vijayawada, the sacred abode Goddess Durga, is the second largest city in Andhra Pradesh. Sri Kanaka Durga Temple is situated atop Indrakeeladri hill on the banks of Krishna River in Vijayawada. The goddess is considered as the presiding deity of Vijayawada and is one of the top temples in Andhra. The shrine also called Sri Durga Malleswara Swami Temple which dates back to 8th century. Legend says that Goddess Durga killed demon Mahishasura and enshrined on the Keela Mountain with eight arms in the form of Mahishasura Mardini.
The deity in the temple is regarded as Swayambhu (self-manifested) and considered very powerful. In the central sanctum, the 4 feet high image of the deity is decorated in glittering ornaments and bright flowers. Goddess is shown with eight arms, each holding a powerful weapon, in a standing posture over the demon Mahishasura. Adjacent to the Kanaka Durga temple on the Indrakeeladri is the shrine of Malleswara Swami. Apart from these, other tourist attractions include Prakasham Barrage, Undavalli Caves, Mogalarajapuram Caves, Victoria Museum, Hazarat Bal Mosque, Kondapalli Fort, Rajiv Gandhi Park, Mangalagiri Temple, Amaravathi and Bhavani Island.
Reference: Vijayawada Tour Packages
Kanipakam is a village and pilgrimage center located in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. This place is famous for Varasiddhi Vinayaka Temple (Kanipakam Temple) and is one of the top Andhra Pradesh Temples to visit. The temple was constructed in the 11th century CE by Chola king Kulothunga Chola I and was expanded further in 1336 CE by Vijayanagara Kings. Kanipakam Temple is a famous and historical temple dedicated to Lord Vinayaka. It is a rare temple with a self-manifestation (swayambhu) idol of Lord Ganesha. Here the deity is placed in middle of a well where it’s actually found. The striking and strange feature of this Swayambhu idol is that it is still growing in size.
The Annual Festival (Brahmotsavam) is conducted for 21 days starting on the Hindu festival Vinayaka Chavithi or Ganesh Chaturthi. It is celebrated with all traditional pomp and gaiety. Kanipakam Temples is one of the top places to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi with great pomp and fervor. There are few other temples to visit in Kanipakam like Sri Manikanteswara Swami temple and Sri Varadaraja Swami Temple. Sri Ardhagiri Veeranjaneya Swami Temple, Sri Boyakonda Gangamma Temple, Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swami Temple and Tirumala Tirupati are some other pilgrimage sites near Kanipakam.
Srikalahasti, popularly known as Kalahasti, one of the ancient and most important Shiva Kshetras in South India, is situated on the banks of the River Swarnamukhi in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. Srikalahasti is famous for Srikalahasteeswara Temple built in 10th century AD. The town got its name from three words – ‘Sri’ meaning a spider, ‘Kala’ meaning a serpent and Hasti meaning an elephant, as these three creatures are believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva at this place and attained salvation. Srikalahasti is regarded as one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalas of Lord Shiva; the other four includes Tiruvannamalai, Thiruvanaikaval, Chidambaram and Kanchipuram. The place is representative of the Vayu Sthala or the Element of Air.
The Kalahasti Temple is one of the most impressive Siva temples in Andhra. The entire temple is carved out of the side of a huge stone hill. This temple is also associated with Rahu and Ketu. It is believed that a visit to this temple will provide relief to those who have the planet Rahu in inimical positions in their horoscopes. Srikalahasti is associated with Bhakta Kannappa, one of the greatest devotees of Lord Shiva who offered his eyes to the lord. The festival of Maha Shivratri is celebrated with great zeal in February to March. Pathala Vinayaka Temple, Varadaraja Swami Temple, Bharadwaja Tirtham, Kannappa Temple, Tirupati and Tirumala are the popular places to visit in Kalahasti.
Annavaram is a village situated on the banks of river Pampa in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Annavaram is famous for Sri Satyanarayana Swami Temple and is one of the famous temples in Andhra Pradesh. It is believed that all the wishes of devotees will be fulfilled when Satyanarayana Vratam is performed here. Annavaram temple was constructed in the Dravidian style in the year of 1891 by Raja Ramanarayana, the then zamindar of Gorsa and Kirlampudi estates. Subsequently the temple was reconstructed during 1933-34 and during 2011-2012.
The shrine of Lord Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swami is situated on Ratnagiri hill top. The main temple was constructed in the form of a chariot with four wheels at each of the four corners. The temple is constructed in two floors; the ground floor contains the yantra and the peetham of the Lord. In the 1st floor the idol of Lord Satyanarayana Swami is placed in the center, the image of Goddess Anantha Lakshmi is situated towards his right side and Lord Shiva on the left. The 13 ft idol of Trimurthis – Brahma, Vishnu and Siva is unique attraction. Most of the people in Andhra Pradesh perform Satyanarayana Vratam during housewarming ceremony and during marriages. There are also temples of Sri Rama and the shrines of Vana Durga and Kanaka Durga nearby. Visitors can also visit Vizag, Simhachalam, Samarlakota, Draksharamam, and Uppada Beach during their Annavaram Trip.
Reference: Vizag Packages
Simhadri or Simhachalam is a Hindu temple located in the Visakhapatnam City suburb of Simhachalam in Andhra Pradesh. Simhachalam Varaha Narasimha Swami Temple is dedicated to Narasimha Swami, an incarnation of Vishnu and situated on top of the Simhachalam Hills. The temple is believed to have been constructed in 1098 by the famous Chola king, Kulothunga Chola. The queen of Kalinga gifted golden armor to the statue. Simhachalam Temple is one of the richest temples in Andhra Pradesh.
The temple is one of the eighteen Narasimha Kshetras in India. The architecture of the central shrine follows Kalinga style. Facing towards west, it is a square shrine surmounted by a high tower, a portico in front with a small tower, a carved 16 pillared Natya mantapa. The deity is always kept covered with sandal paste. The actual form of the deity is in the tribhanga posture with two hands & head of a lion, which can be viewed only during the ‘Chandanotsavam’ in April/May. Legend has it that the Ugra form of Narasimha, as he killed the demon Hiranyakashipu, was so fierce that the image is kept covered by sandal paste throughout the year. Besides Simhachalam temple, one can also visit Vishakapatnam, Rishikonda Beach and Beemili Beach.
Ahobilam or Ahobalam is an important pilgrimage center located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. Ahobilam is the holy abode of Lord Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu in man-lion form. According to legend, this is the place where Lord Narasimha killed Hiranyakasipu and saved Prahalada. Situated amidst dense Nallamala Forest, Ahobilam Temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams. Though the initial temples were built by Chalukyas in 8th century, most of the current structures were rebuilt by Vijayanagara kings around 15th century. Ahobilam is one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in Andhra Pradesh and also one of the best places to visit in Andhra Pradesh.
This place is also called as Nava Narasimha Kshetra since Lord Narasimha is worshipped in 9 different forms. Jwala Narasimha, Ahobila Narasimha, Malola Narasimha, Kroda Narasimha, Kaaranja Narasimha, Bhargava Narasimha, Yaogananda Narasimha, Chathravata Narasimha and Paavana Narasimha are the nine forms of Lord Narasimha in Ahobilam. There are separate temples exist for all the forms within a radius of 5 km from the main Ahobilam Temple. Of these nine shrines, Yogananda, Chathravata and Bhargava Narasimha swami shrines are situated in Lower Ahobilam and the remaining six are in Upper Ahobilam. Few of these temples have easy access, but most of them have to be reached by difficult treks through thick forest and rocky paths. There is also another temple of Lord Narasimha Swami in the Lower Ahobilam Temple where the idol of the Lord is believed to be installed by Lord Venkateswara of Tirupati.
Yaganti in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh is famous for Sri Yagantiswami Temple (also called Uma Maheshwara Temple) dedicated to Lord Shiva. Yaganti Temple is one of the most famous Shiva Temples in Andhra Pradesh and also one of the popular places to experience AP Tourism. The temple dates back to 5th and 6th centuries with contributions from Pallavas, Cholas, Chalukyas and Vijayanagara rulers. The temple received significant contribution from Vijayanagara Kings Harihara & Bukka Rayalu, who finished the construction of several structures in and around the temple.
The Uma Maheshwara Temple at Yaganti houses the idol of Shiva & Parvathi (Ardhanareeswara) carved out of a single stone. This is probably the only place where Lord Shiva is worshipped in an idol form instead of Shiva Linga. It is believed that Sage Agastya performed penance for Lord Shiva at this place and requested Shiva to appear in Ardhanareeswara form which is worshipped here. Another unique feature of the temple is Nandi statue which has been growing in the size. There are a several natural caves like Venkateswara Cave, Sankara Cave and Agasthya Cave which were home for several saints. An amazing feature of this temple is its Pushkarini with very pure water. No one knows how the water flows into Pushkarini in all the seasons. Pilgrims can also visit nearby Belum Caves, and Mahanandi.
Mahanandi is a holy Shivaite pilgrimage center located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. Within 15 km radius from Mahanandi, there are nine Nandis (Bulls) known as Nava Nandis. The nine Nandi temples are Mahanandi, Shivanandi, Vinayakanandi, Somanandi, Prathamanandi, Garudanandi, Suryanandi, Krishnanandi and Naganandi. Mahanandi is famous for the Mahanandiswara Temple the foremost shrines of Nava Nandis and is one of the famous temples in Andhra Pradesh. The temple is said to have been built by Chalukyas in 7th century and was later enhanced by local Nanda dynasty (10th century) and Vijayanagara Kings (15th century).
There are nearly three pools in Mahanandi Temple premises. Two pools lie outside the temple. The third pool known as Rudragundam which lies within temple premises has uninterrupted water flow which originates from the basement of garbhagriha where main deity (Shiva Ling) is placed. Here devotees are allowed to offer prayers to Shiva Linga and touch the water underneath the Lingam in the main sanctum. There is a huge Nandi statue outside the Mahanandishwara Temple. Other places of interest include Kodanda Ramalayam and the Kameswari Devi Temple. Maha Shivratri in February / March is the main festival celebrated here. Apart from the temple, visitors can also visit nearby Ahobilam, Alampur, Yaganti and Belum Caves.
Mantralayam, also known as Manchale is situated in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. Mantralayam is associated with the famous saint Sri Guru Raghavendra Swamy who lived between 1595 and 1671. Mantralayam is situated near the border of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh along the banks of River Tungabhadra, a chief tributary of River Krishna. Samadhi Temple or Brundavan is the place where the Vaishnava saint Sri Guru Raghavendra took Jeeva Samadhi (tomb). Mantralayam Temple is one of the popular Andhra Temples.
The main shrine is situated in a large building inside the sprawling temple complex. Followers of the saint consider him to be an incarnation of Bhakta Prahallada, who was saved by Vishnu in the avatar of Narasimha. Sri Raghavendra Swamy is said to have performed many miracles during his lifetime and has a large following even today. Mantralayam is also popular for Manchalamma Temple located near the Samadhi Temple, inside the Mantralayam Mutt complex. It is a custom at Mantralayam that the devotees offer prayers at the Manchalamma Temple before visiting the Samadhi Temple. Panchamukhi Anjaneya Temple, Chinna Tumbalam, Bichchali and Alampur are the nearby attractions to Mantralayam.
Reference: Hyderabad Tour packages
Lepakshi is a small village in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. Lepakshi was founded in the 16th century during the reign of the Vijayanagara king, Aliiya Rama Raya. Virupanna, the royal treasurer was accused of drawing funds without the king’s permission from the state treasury to build the Veerabhadra temple at Lepakshi. However, he blinded himself to avoid the king’s punishment. Lepakshi is one of the important heritage sites in Andhra Pradesh and also one of the popular pilgrimage places in Andhra. Lepakshi is the centre of some of the finest temple architecture and paintings.
Lepakshi consists of three important shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra, of which Veerabhadra temple is the most important place to visit in Lepakshi (this is also referred as Lepakshi Temple). The Lepakshi Temple was built on a low altitude hillock which is in the shape of a tortoise and hence known as Kurma Saila. The Vijayanagar styled temple has several wonderful paintings on the ceiling. The hanging pillar supported from the top is a surprise for the visitors. To the south of the main shrine is a huge Nagalingam, standing on a granite block, shrouded by a seven-headed cobra, magnificently carved out of single rock. The monolithic Lepakshi Nandi village is another attraction. The handicrafts of Lepakshi are also quite popular among women all over the country.
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Santhi is an avid traveler and primary contributor to the blogs at Trawell.in. She has explored most of the states in India and gained vast knowledge on tourist destinations in India and abroad. She also contributes content to other travel websites.