Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Mangalagiri

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Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Mangalagiri

Lakshmi Narasimha Temple is a vaishnavite temple and one of the eight sacred places of Lord Vishnu in India. It is situated at the foot of the Auspicious Hill in Mangalagiri of Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the temple in the series of three temples located on and at the bottom of the hill, the other two being Panakala Narasimha Temple on the hill and Gandala Narasimha Temple at the top of the hill. It has one of the highest gopurams in South India and only one of its type in this part of India. It is 153 feet (47 m) in height and 49 feet (15 m) wide and has eleven storeys.

It is believed that this Kshetram grants “Moksha” with a single visit. Lord Rama visited this temple for his mental peace and physical tenor. He got what he lost after praying in this Kshetram. Legend is that Anjaneya dwells here permanently as Kshetra Palaka at the instance of Lord Rama. It was also visited by spiritual dignitaries like Sri Sankara Charya, Ramanuja, Chaitanya Prabhu and Monarchs like Sri Krishna Deva Raya.
It is a regular practice in the temple to offer beverage made of jaggery and water as Naivedya. To fulfil the vows devotees offer this beverage and Lord glady accepts the Panaka Puja. The pecularlity of the above offering is that He receives it whole-heartedly and drinks to his satisfaction by a strange gurgling sound while pouring the beverage in his mouth. Half of the quantity of the beverage again comes out of his mouth which is distributed as prasad. Another strange fact one could experience here is the absence of flies or insects of any kind. Though jaggery brought for making “Panakam” is found in abundance in Garbhagriha one could notice that there is no passage for this huge quantity of beverage to let it out. Nobody knows where and how the Panakam goes leaving the entire area always dry and hot.
place is one of the 8 important Mahakshetrams (sacred places) in India. The eight places where Lord Vishnu manifested himself are (1) Sri Rangam (2) Srimushnam (3) Naimisam (4) Pushkaram (5) Salagamdri (6) Thothadri (7) Narayanasramam (8) Venkatadri. According to sayings, Thotadri is the present Mangalagiri.
The temple of Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy is situated on the hill. On the right side of the steps (provided to reach the temple), there is a stone inscription by Sri Krishna deva Raya of Vijayanagar, and a little further up, the foot prints of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu can be seen. Midway up the steps, there is a temple of Lord Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy; there is only the face with the mouth opened wide.
A dhwajasthambham was erected in front of the temple in 1955. Behind the temple, there is the temple of Sri Lakshmi; to the west, there is a tunnel which is believed to lead to the on the banks of the Krishna River.The stone inscription of the kings of Vijayanagar relate besides to the conquest of Raya over Kondaplli etc., that Siddiraju Thimmarajayya Devara granted a total of 200 kunchams (10 kunchams make one acre) of land in 28 villages of which Mangalagiri was one and gift of 40 kunchams by China Thirumalayya to Ramanujakutam

Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy – God Who Drinks Panakam :-

One of the amazing things to notice in Panakala Narasimha Swami temple is that when the “archakas” (or the priests) offer Panakam (jaggery water) with a conch to the Lord, a gargling sound is clearly audible. The voice rises to a high pitch and then lessens towards the end of the offering.
Interesting things to note are, only half the quantity of Panakam offered to God goes inside the mouth while the remaining spills out and not even a single ant can be traced though a large quantity of jaggery water is offered.
While the intake of Panakam by the Lord is looked up as a divine phenomenon by some people, some atheists believe that there is a scientific reason behind the intake of jaggery water. It is said that the hill was once a volcanic hill and sugar or jaggery water neutralizes the sulphur compounds present in the volcano, thus preventing the volcanic eruption. Whatever be the reason, the sanctity and divinity present in the temple, makes every devotee visit Mangalagiri again and again.

Laxmi Narasimha Swamy Temple :-

At the foot of the hill, there is another temple whose origin is traced to the time of Yudhishtira, the eldest of the pandavas. Yudhishtira is said to be the founder of the chief image of this temple and the deity here is called Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. In Vijayawada itself, which is 8 miles from Mangalagiri there is a hill called Indrakeeladri in which Arjuna is said to have done tapascharya (penance) in order to obtain the weapon Pasupata from Lord Siva. About 200 years back Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu who ruled from Amaravati as his capital constructed a stupendous gopuram (tower) on the eastern gate of the Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy. It is one of the highest gopurams in South India and only one of its type in this part of India. It is 153ft. in height and 49 feet wide with 11 storeys, and gates facing east and west. This great and imposing tower dwarfs the central shrine. The devoted patience of thousands of skilled craftsmen and the labour of many more apprentices which had gone into this great structure is a testimony to the religious fervour which characterized the builder. After constructing the gopuram, it was leaning towards one direction. The Kancheepuram Architects suggested to dig a tank opposite to the tower. After digging the tank, it is said that, the tower became straight.
The Image of the Lord in the form of Narasimha (man-lion) and that of Lakshmi Devi to his left are of stone. The garland of the Lord with 108 saligramams is of special significance here. Dakshanavrutha Sankham, a special conch believed to be one that was used by Lord Krishna and resented by the Maharaja Sarfoji of Tanjore, is one more possession of significance of the Lord. There is also an ancient ratha (temple car) belonging to the temple with ornamental wood carvings depicting the scenes from the great epics of Bharata, Bhagavatha and Ramayana. Thimmaraju Devaraju a military chieftain of the Vijayanagar rulers improved this temple. He had constructed prakarams (compound walls), mandapas, gopurams (towers), five images of Lord Bhairava, a festival chariot, ten varieties of courts for annual ceremonies, flower gardens lakes and tanks. He had also installed utsava vigrahas in the temple (metal images intended for being taken out in procession). To the north of the temple there is a temple of Sri Rajyalakshmi to the south that of Rama with Sita and Lakshmana and to the west vahanasala (the store house for the vehicles of which the golden garudavahanam, the silver Hanumanthavahanam and ponnavahanam are noteworthy). The Lakshmi narayana temple and the Anjaneya Mandiram in Pedda Bazar are the other places of worship in the town.
The archa vigraham in this temple is in the form of Narasimha with His consort Lakshmi Devi to His left. One of the significant features of this temple is the garland of the Lord that is made of 108 “Saligramam”. A special conch called “Dakshanavrutha Sankham”, believed to be the one used by Lord Krishna, is still used in this temple during daily rituals. This conch was gifted to the temple by the Tanjore king Maharaja Sarfoji.
The stone inscription of the kings of Vijayanagar relate besides to the conquest of Rayalu over Kondapalli etc., that Siddhiraju Thimmarajayya Devara granted lands to the temple and gift of 40 kunchams by China Thirumalayya(son of Annamacharya) to Ramanujakudam in 1561.

History :-

Mangalagiri means that ‘The holy hill’ near the foot of the stone flight of steps may be a stone pillar with a Telugu inscription, recording grants of villages. It dated AD 1520 and mentions the capture of Kondavidu by Timmarusu, general of Krishna Deva Raya, in 1515 from the Gajapati Raju rulers of Kalinga (ancient Odisha). Another stone near to the temple of Garudalvar has inscriptions on four sides recording grants within the reign of Sadasiva Raya of Vijayanagara Empire AD 1538. The lofty gopuram in the temple at the foot of the Hill was erected by “Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu” in 1807-1809, and in terms of sculpture and design this temple stands to be a final testimant for the traditional vishwakarma sthapathis in designing and sculpting these temples.
This place was underneath the management of Golkonda Nawabs for an extended period. It had been looted by in 1780 by Hyder Ali however couldn’t be conquered. In 1816, a gang of Pindaris once more pillaged the place. It slowly recovered from these 2 attacks throughout the time of Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu WHO ruled the place from Amravati. There’s a giant koneru (tank) within the center of the place that visited dry in 1882. As several as 9,840 guns and forty four bullets which could are associated with pindaris are found here when the pindaris pillaged this place.
The picturesque hill was visited by the great Sri Krishna Deva Raya.

Gali Gopuram (Tower) :-

Thoorpu Gali Gopuram (Tower on East Side) is the main attraction for the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple. Vijayanagara kings constructed three storeys and Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu constructed another 8 storeys. Raja Vasireddy constructed this from 1807 to 1809. Height of this temple is 153 feet and width is 49 feet. It is very rare to find out towers, which have less width and more height like this tower. Utthara Gali Gopuram (Tower on North Side) is opened on the Vaikunta Ekadasi (Mukkoti) day. It was constructed by Rangapuram Jamindar Madapati Venkateswararao in 1911. When Padamati Gali Gopuram (Tower on West Side) was being constructed, accidentally some stones fell down and some workers died. By this incident, the work was stopped and had not been started till now. Dhakshina Gali Gopuram (Tower on South Side) was renovated in 1992 for Krishna pushkaras by the initiative of the Executive officer Sri Nootakki Kotaiah.

Legend :-

According to legend that, in Tretayuga, Lord Rama could not get liberation in spite of strict observance of the Dharma and therefore he was advised to visit this temple to get Mukti. That is why this hill is also called the Totadri. In the Kritayuga, when the ocean Ksheeraodadhi was being churned by the Mandara hill, Sri Mahalakshmi came out of it. The Devas constructed a Pushkarani by bringing the waters from all the ancient and holy rivers of the land and Sri Mahalakshmi after a bath in this holy Pushkarani offered herself to Lord Narayana as his beloved consort. This Pushkarani is said to exist in Mangalagiri and hence it is even now called as Lakshmi Pushkarani. There is another temple at the foot of the hill, which traces its origin to the time of Yudhishtiira the eldest of the Panavas. In Vijayawada itself, which is eight miles from Mangalagiri, there is a hill called the Indrakila Parvata in which Arjuna is said to have done his tapascharya in order to obtain Pasupata from Lord Shiva. This hill Indrakila is said to be the scene of the Kiratarjuniya where Lord Shiva in the form of a hunter had a fight with Arjuna. Hence, there is legendary connection between Vijayawada and Mangalagiri which is very near and the five Panadava brothers. Yudhishtiira is said to be the founder of this temple and the deity here also is called Sri Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy. The Kshetrapala of this place Lord Anjaneya and it is stated that Anjaneya wanted to follow Lord Rama to Vaikunta but the Lord advised him to stay at Mangalagiri with his blessings so that he may remain for ever in the world for the Lokakalyanam. Hence, Anjaneya is said to have taken his abode at this place.
Lord Chaitanya has visited the temple in the year 1312 AD and the imprints of his feet and a verse dedicated to his honour are still seen in the temple. At the foot of the hill, there is an inscription of the time of Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagar dynasty who had visited the temple. On the Eastern gate of the lower temple a beautiful Gopuram has been built over 170 years ago by Sri Vasireddi Venkatadri Nayudu who was famous figure in Andhra Pradesh ruling from Amaravati. The Gopuram has eleven stories with gates facing east and west and is an excellent example of solid construction with big proportions. There is also an ancient Radha belonging to temple with ornamental wood carvings depicting the scenes from the great national epics of Bharata, Bhagavata and Ramayana.
There is a motivating legend to point out however the mountain came into existence. The mountain itself is in the sort of an elephant. Pariyatra, Associate in nursing ancient king, had a son – Hrasva Srungi. He visited all holy and sacred places to regain traditional bodily stature and at last visited this place of Mangalagiri and stayed for 3 years activity penance. All the Devathas (Gods) suggested him to remain at Mangalagiri and still do penance in praise of Lord Vishnu. The father of Hrasva Srungi came along with his retinue to bring his son back to his kingdom. However Hrasva Srungi took the form of an elephant to become the abode of Lord Vishnu WHO is regionally called Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha swamy.
Mangalagiri Temple of Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha swamy Temple is located on Capitol Hill. On the correct aspect of the steps (provided to succeed in the temple), there’s a stone inscription by Sri Krishna deva Raya of Vijayanagaram, and a little more up, the foot prints of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu will be seen. Midway up the steps, there’s a temple of Lord Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy; there’s only the face with the mouth opened wide. A dhwajasthambham was erected before of the temple in 1955. Behind the temple, there’s the temple of Sri Lakshmi; to the west, there’s a tunnel that is believed to steer to the Undavalli caves on the banks of the Krishna watercourse.
The stone inscription of the kings of Vijayanagar relate besides to the conquest of Raya over Kondaplli etc., that Siddiraju Thimmarajayya Devara granted a complete of 200 km (10 kunchams build one acre) of land in twenty eight villages of that Mangalagiri was one and gift of forty kunchams by China Thirumalayya to Ramanujakutam.
In 1970′s there was a large water insufficiency in Mangalagiri. Goli Gopala Rao, the then Municipal Chairman of Mangalagiri has brought installation to the city through water pipelines and he was referred to as as “Apara Baghiratha” because of his best services to the general public.

Demon Namuchi :-

The Lord who has established himself on the hill is in the form of Narasimha (man-lion), which Lord Vishnu assumed to kill Hiranyakasipu, a rakshasa father of Prahlada, a great devotee. He is also called as Sudarsana Narasimhaswamy. The legend says that Namuchi, a Rakshasa after great penance obtained a boon from Brahma that he would not be killed by anything that is either wet or dry. He began to harass Indra and the Devathas. Encouraged and supported by Lord Vishnu, Indra commenced destroying the army of Rakshasa Namuchi, who hid in a cave in Sukshmakara (small size) giving up his sthulakara (Physical manifestation).
Indra dipped Sudarsana, the disc of Lord Vishnu in the foam of the ocean and sent it into the cave. Lord Vishnu manifesting himself at the centre of the disc destroyed the Pranavayuvu (life breath) of the Rakshasa with the fire of his exhalation. He thus got the name of Sudarsana Narasimha. The blood that flowed from the body of the Rakshasa seemed to have formed into a pool at the foot of the hill. The Devathas themselves were unable to withstand the anger of the Lord and they prayed for appeasement. The Lord drank amruta (nectar) and cooled down. This happened in Krithayuga. The Lord said that he would be satisfied with ghee in Threthayuga, with milk in Dwaparayuga and with panakam (Jaggery water) in Kaliyugam. Hence the Lord is called in Kaliyuga as Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy.

Story in Threthayuga :-

In Threthayuga, the second of the four yugas, people who were in heaven as a result of their good deeds in the world were most unwilling to return to this world (when once the fruits of good deeds are exhausted, the soul has to come back to the world). They prayed Indra, the Lord of heaven to save them from the impending fate. Indra advised them to spend their time in the world at Mangalagiri to attain heaven again. In Krithayuga, the first of the four yugas when the sinners were few, Yamadharmaraja, the Lord of hell advised them to wash off their sins by doing penance at Mangalagiri.
Mangalagiri is in existence from the beginning of the Universe with the names Anjanadri in Krithayuga, Thotadri in Threthayuga, Mangaladri and Mukthyadri in Dwaparayuga and Mangalagiri in Kaliyugam affording salvation to sinners also. In Krithayuga, Vaikhanasa Maharshi worshipped the Lord and the idol is worshipped even today in the temple. It is also believed that Lord Rama while departing for Vaikunta after completing his mission in that incarnation advised Anjaneya to stay at Mangalagiri and after obtaining his blessings to remain in this world forever. Anjaneya took his adobe at Mangalagiri as Kshetrapalaka.

Other Temples

Ksheera Vruksham (milk tree) :-

Ksheera vruksham on the Mangalagiri hill is of great attraction particularly to the women. The legend goes to say that king Sasibandi was advised by Narada to go on pilgrimage. The king left the kingdom and his queen, and started on a pilgrimage. The queen came to know about this, and grew furious and cursed Narada to become a Ksheera vruksham on the hill within the easy reach of devotees, blessing women at its very sight, with property, children and washing off the sins they committed out of ignorance or oversight, for having ill-advised her husband to desert her and take to penance. Narada took this not as a curse but as a boon as it meant service to humanity, blessed the queen with happy life with her husband and a thousand children. Even today the milk tree is on the Mangalagiri hill and throughout the year, thousands of women visit and worship the tree for begetting children.

Sri Lakshmi Devi Temple :-

Behind the main temple, there is a temple of Sri Lakshmi Devi, the consort of Lord Narasimha. Here, to the west of the temple, you can find tunnel which is said to end at Undavalli on the banks of River Krishna. It was believed that sages used to pass through this tunnel to have bath in River Krishna.

Gandalayam :-

On a small hillock behind the Panakala Narasimha Swami temple there is a small shrine of Lord Narasimha where He is called as Gandala Narasimha Swami. There is no particular deity inside the temple except a provision to light a lamp. It is believed that this lamp was visible from many villages in good old days. People who suffer from miseries come here and light the lamp with cow ghee which is believed to ward off all their troubles.

Temple Tank Lakshmi Pushkarini :-

The temple tank is known as the Lakshmi Pushkarini. Legend has it that this pushkarini was created by the Gods, combining the waters from several holy rivers of the land, and that Mahalakshmi (who came out of the milky ocean when it was churned by the gods and the asuras), bathed in this pushkarini and married Vishnu thereafter.