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Simhachalam Temple

One of the most exquisitely sculpted shrines of Andhra Pradesh, Simhachalam temple is situated 16 km from Vizag among thickly wooded hills on the Simhachalam Konda. The beautifully-carved 16-pillared Natya mantapa and the 96-pillared Kalyana mantapa bear testimony to the architectural brilliance of the temple. This is the abode of Lord Varaha Narasimha Swami The deity at Simhachalam, the lion-man incarnation of Lord Mahavishnu is usually covered with sandalwood paste. The original shape of the deity in the tribhanga posture has two hands with the head of a lion on a human torso. An inscription dated as far back as 1098 AD of the Chola King Kuloththunga provides some clue as to its antiquity. Another inscription shows a Queen of the Eastern Ganga of Kalinga (ancient Orissa) (1137-56 AD) covering the image with gold while a third inscription says the eastern Ganga King of Orissa, Narasimha Deva, built the main/central shrine in 1267 A.D. With more than 252 inscriptions in Oriya and Telugu describing the antecedents of the temple, it is a historically important monument.

"Simha" means lion; "Adri" or "Achala" means hill. The temple is located atop 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 TritiyaDay, 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 Oriya and Telugu describe the antecedents of the temple.

After defeating Gajapati Prataparudra Dev, the Gajapati ruler of Odisha, Sri Krishna Deva Raya visited the shrine in 1516 and 1519. He offered numerous villages for temple maintenance, along with donating valuable jewellery, of which an emerald necklace is still in the temple. For the last three centuries the royal family of Vizianagaram, the PusapatiGajapathis, have been the temple's trustees.



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