Ahobilam Adventurous & Beautiful Temple, Nature, Trekking Ahobilam
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 to save Prahalada. Though the initial temples were built by Chalukyas in 8th century, most of the current structures were rebuilt by Vijayanagara kings around 15th century.
The Ahobilam temple is on the hill in the middle of dense Nallamala forest and It is one of the 108 Divya Desams. Besides, this place is also called as Nava Narasimha Kshetra since Lord Narasimha is worshipped in 9 different forms. Additionaly, separate temples exist for all the forms within a radius of 5 km from the main temple. Jwala Narasimha, Ahobila Narasimha, Malola Narasimha, Kroda Narasimha, Kaaranja Narasimha, Bhargava Narasimha, Yogananda Narasimha, Chathravata Narasimha and Paavana Narasimha are the nine forms of Lord Narasimha in Ahobilam. Few of these temples have easy access, but most of them have to reach by difficult treks through thick forest and rocky paths. Especially, Ugra sthambha is the most difficult trek among all as it is slightly steep.
The Ahobilam town is divided into two parts, Lower Ahobilam and Upper Ahobilam. Among these nine shrines, Yogananda, Chathravata and Bhargava Narasimha swami shrines are in Lower Ahobilam and the remaining six are in upper Ahobilam. Therefore, there is also another temple of Lord Narasimha Swami in the lower Ahobilam. Here in this temple, the people believe the idol of the Lord is installed by Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati.
How did the name of the place Ahobilam derived?
There are two popular stories for the derivation of word Ahobilam. Firstly, it is said that Devas while witnessing the fierocious form of lord and the teriffic action he took on, in order to tear Hiranyakashyap into pieces, Hiranyakashyap sang praising lord as
“Narasimham Paramam Devam Aho Balam Aho Balam”
and hence the place is known as Ahobilam . Secondly, another version is that because of the great cave,Ahobila, where Garuda worshipped and realised the lord. And the place itself is called as Ahobila.
History and architecture:
It is at a distance of 250 m from Ahobilam Bus Stand. The impressive and beautiful 800 years old Prahladavarada Narasimha Temple is in the town of Lower Ahobilam. It is the abode of the Prahladavarada Narasimha, the form of Lord Narasimha blessing Prahlada. Furthermore,It is among the top places to visit in Ahobilam. Especially, in lower Ahobilam, Narasimha Swami will be seen in a peaceful form.
The Lower Ahobilam temple lies in the center of three Praakaras built in Vijayanagara style. As the main temple at the lower Ahobilam consists of a Sanctum, a Mukhamantapam and a Rangamantapam of these have excellent sculptures on the pillars. Similarly,the massive composite pillars in the Rangamantapam are carved with figures of Yakshas riding on Yalis and the horses with their rear legs mounted on the Makaras. Specially, large figures of musicians, sensuous women, divine figures of Rama and Laxmana are in good shape. Stunningly,the Narasa Nayaka figure of Vijayanagara Empire in this temple is very attractive.
It is a common practice to worship the Prahlada Varada Narasimha in lower Ahobila before worshipping Eguva (upper) Ahobila Narasimha, who is situated 8 km away on a hilltop inside a cave. After worshipping the Lord, it is another practice to visit all Nava Narasimhas (nine Narasimhas) of Ahobilam.
A shrine of Sri Venkateswara exists to the south west of this Narasimha temple and provides view to the episode that Lord Venkateswara obtained the blessings of Narasimha just before his marriage with Padmavathi.
At a distance of 8 km from Lower Ahobilam, Upper Ahobilam is the abode of main shrine called Ahobaleswar. This is the main temple and the earliest of all nine Narasimha temples in Ahobilam. It is the prime place to visit in Ahobilam.
According to history of Ahobilam, Lord Narasimha gave his darshan to Prahlada after killing Hiranyakashipa. His anger was so intense when he finished slaying Hiranyakashipu that none of the Gods including Lord Shiva could calm him down. So they went to Mahalakshmi to seek her help. She came down as a girl from the Chenchu tribes and married him after which his anger got reduced.
Architecture of upper Ahobilam:
The Upper Ahobilam Temple consists of mukha mantapa, maha mantapa and faces east but whereas the garbha griha faces north because of the orientation and situation of the natural cave. Adjoining the mukha mantapa, a dwajasthamba and an ornate Bali pith are situated. The sides and eastern gate leads to Malola and Jwala Narasimha shrines.
The main shrine at Upper Ahobila was carved out of a big egg like rock with mandapas. The sanctum is actually a low-roofed cave and it is believed that the idol here is Swayambhu (self-manifest). The Lord here appears in his fierce form, called Ugra Narasimha, who is also known as Ahobila Narasimha. A shrine of Chenchulakshmi is beside the main deity. The exterior of upper Ahobilam is decorated with excellent sculptures. Also, the utsava murthy of Jwala Narasimha is worshipped here every day and Nityaabishekam and Kalyanam are performed here to Jwala Narasimha. Here is a tank near the temple, which supplies water to the residents of the Upper Ahobilam.
The annual Brahmothsavam performed in February attracts large number of devotees from neighboring states.
This shrine is situated on a steep hill accessed from Lower Ahobilam through a narrow ghat road. The motor able road ends at a narrow passage near Bhavanasini River after travelling 6 km from Lower Ahobilam. The main temple can be reached by trekking up the hill from here on well laid steps for about 2 km.
At a distance of 2 Kms from Lower Ahobilam, Yogananda Narasimha temple is the place where Lord Narasimha is appeared in yogic posture.
The history says that, after killing Hiranyakasipu, Lord Narasimha taught Prahlaada the principles of the ancient spiritual system through several yogic postures. Hence, the Lord at this place is called Yogananda Narasimha. This place can be easily accessed by road from Lower Ahobilam.
At a distance of 2 Kms from Lower Ahobilam, Chathravata Narasimha Temple is shrine where the Lord is found in joyful mood.
This shrine is named after the tree under which it’s built, Chatravata, it houses a joyous form of Narasimha. The face of the idol is filled with smile and the left hand is in the position of taala, the rhythm of classical music. The legend says that two Gandharvas once delighted the lord with their soulful music. Pleased with their performance, Lord asked if they had a wish. They requested that their names forever be associated with appreciation of dance and music. And, ‘Aaha’ and ‘Oohu’ came to be the exclamations of praise.This place has an approach road and vehicles can drive up to the temple surroundings.
Timings: 6 AM – 1 PM and 3 PM – 5:30 PM.
At a distance of 2 kms from Lower Ahobilam, Bhargava Narasimha Temple is located on a hill near a sacred pond known as Bhargava Theertham where Bhargava Rama performed his penance. Hence the Lord of the temple is called Bhaargava Narasimha Swamy.
This shrine can be reach by walk from Lower Ahobilam. Part of the route has motorable access and can be reach by private vehicles from Lower Ahobilam Temple. The path is filled with water during monsoons and bit difficult to reach. There are steep steps to reach the sanctum. This is a nice place to enjoy the nature.Timings: 6 AM – 1 PM and 3 PM – 5:30 PM
At a distance of 2 Kms uphill from the Upper Ahobilam Temple, Malola Narasimha can be found in soumya or graceful form. The word ‘Malola’ means ‘beloved goddess’, and the lord is seen here with his consort Lakshmi on his knee.
This place has to be reached by trek from the main shrine of Upper Ahobilam. The surroundings offer excellent view of Nallamala Range.Need to take diversion towards left between Upper Ahobilam Temple and Kroda Narasimha Temple (trekking path). Timings: 6 AM – 1 PM and 3 PM – 5:30 PM
At a distance of 4 Kms from Upper Ahobilam Temple, Jwala Narasimha Temple is said to be the place where the actual destruction of the demon Hiranyakashipu took place. The idol here is in fearsome mood with Hiranyakashipu stretched across his lap. It is one of the important attractions in Ahobilam and a good place for trekking in Ahobilam..
This place can be reached from Upper Ahobila temple by trekking along the Bhavanasini River to the peak of the Achalachaya Meru Hill. The path is filled with gorgeous views of Nallamala Hills and a wonderful waterfall on the way. There is a pond on the way that is filled with dark red water like blood, looks like a place where the Lord must have washed the blood off his hands after killing the demon.After Kroda Narasimha Temple, need to take diversion towards left on the mid way trek to Ugra Stambham to reach Jwala Narasimha Temple. Timings: 6 AM – 1 PM and 3 PM – 5:30 PM
At a distance of 7 Kms from Upper Ahobilam Temple, Pavana Narasimha Temple is the most difficult shrine to access. This is called Kshetra Ratna (the jewel of pilgrimage). It is one of the popular places to visit in Ahobilam shrine.
This shrine is accessed through dense forest and local tribal settlements. The Lord here is accompanied with his consort Chenchu Lakshmi and worshipped as per tribal traditions.There is a motorable road available to reach this temple surroundings, but the road is very bumpy & slippery and often not accessible in monsoon seasons. Timings:6 AM – 1 PM and 3 PM – 5:30 PM
Ugra Narasimha temple is at a distance of 8 kms from the Upper Ahobilam Temple and Ugra Sthamham is said to be the place where the Lord has appeared in the form of Narasimha. This cleft of the mountain dividing it into two visible parts can be seen from long distance. It is a popular place to visit in Ahobilam and especially it is the toughest trek in Ahobilam.
This place need to be trekked from Upper Ahobila Temple. Firstly, the path goes through think forest and secondly, the path is very narrow with deep drops by side. As the duration of trekking from Upper Ahobilam temple is around 2 hours one way, this trek needs good physical strength. No food/water is available after Upper Ahobilam, so better to carry from Upper Ahobilam itself. Need to trek past Kroda Narasimha Temple and go straight at the diversion to Jwala Narasimha Temple (which lies on the left) to reach Ugra Stambha.
At a distance of 9 Kms from Lower Ahobilam and 1 Km from Upper Ahobilam Temple, Kroda Narasimha Temple houses the Lord in two different forms called Varaha (another incarnation of Vishnu) and Narasimha in angry form. This temple is also referred as Varaha Narasimha Temple and is among famous places in Ahobilam. Here the lord is in the form of a boar carrying Mother Earth. And the deity is seen along with his consort Lakshmi.
This place has to be reached by trek from the main shrine of Upper Ahobilam. The trek passes through thick forest with wooden bridges built across beautiful tiny streams.This temple is on the trek way to Jwala Narasimha Temple and Ugra Sthamba. Timings: 6 AM – 1 PM and 3 PM – 5:30 PM
At a distance of 7 Kms from Lower Ahobilam and 1 Km from Upper Ahobilam Temple, situated on ghat road between Upper and Lower Ahobilams, the Karanja Narasimha Temple is named after the tree under which the idol is installed. It is among popular places to visit in Ahobilam.
Here, the idol holds a bow, which in the uniqueness of the idol. According to legend, Lord Hanuman have meditated here and when Narasimha appeared, Hanuman refused to recognize his god in any form but Rama. As per the wish of Hanuman, Narasimha has appeared in Rama’s characteristic weapon, the bow. Timings: 6 AM – 1 PM and 3 PM – 5:30 PM
Lower Ahobilam: 6 AM – 2:30 PM and 5 PM – 8 PM
Other Temples: 6 AM – 1 PM and 3 PM – 5:30 PM
Best time to visit:
The best time to visit Ahobilam is from October to March while the peak season is from February to May. Usually it takes 1 day to visit Ahobilam.
Ahobilam is at a distance of 66 km from Nandyal, 137 km from Kurnool, 114 km from Kadapa, 348 km from Vijayawada, 350 km from Hyderabad and 407 km from Bangalore. Nandyal railway station is the nearest railway station (66km). Lower Ahobilam bus station and Allagadda bus station(25km) are nearest bus stations to Ahobilam.