Ahobilam!! The land of Narasimha!! My yatra to Ahobilam was most memorable!! Visiting Ahobilam was a big dream of mine but I always hesitated to go, as I have heard it is very difficult to go to Sholinghur and Ahobilam. Recently, with great hesitation and less confidence, I went to Sholinghur. The climb was very steep, but I was able to make it (indeed with difficulty) because of HIS grace. I prayed ‘Akkarakkani’ to give HIS darshan at Ahobilam also. It was after that, I got the confidence to go to Ahobilam. Yes!! Dreams do come true, if you have the courage to pursue them!!! It is HE who boosted my confidence. FAITH MEETS ADVENTURE!!! It is just HIS divine grace that helped us to worship HIM through this yatra, and I felt it is my fortune / blessing to see all the Nine Narasimhars. (கண்டோம்! கண்டோம்! கண்ணுக்கினியன கண்டோம்!).
Before writing this post, let me first offer my obeisances to my Acharyan Srimathandavan. I also pray to Narasimha for His blessings. Let me also beg forgiveness from all the readers if I have mentioned something wrong. This is a long post with all possible details, a travelogue with my divine experiences. Actually, this is a very long post. I was thinking of writing in 2 or 3 parts, but finally decided to post as a single post as I thought this travelogue is more like a complete guide to those who wish to go. If you feel this post is long, you can bookmark this post and read in parts when time permits. Hope it will be useful to all who wish to go to Ahobilam.
Ahobilam is a pilgrimage centre located in Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh, amidst dense Nallamalla forest. Nallamalla hills is considered as Adisesha (the snake on which Lord Narayana rests) with the head at Tirumala, tail at Srisailam and the middle portion in Ahobilam. Ahobilam is situated about 24 kms. from Allagadda (Kurnool dist, A.P.). Allagadda is on the National Highway between Kurnool and Kadapa, about 120 kms. from Kurnool.
Ahobilam (Ahobalam) is the holy abode of Lord Narasimha, the fourth incarnation of Supreme Lord Vishnu in man-lion form. Ahobilam is known as “Thiru Singavel kundram” and is one among 108 divyadesams. Tirumangai Alwar has composed 10 pasurams praising the Lord of Ahobilam. Thirumangai Azhwar refers to this place in his ‘Periya Thirumozhi’ verses as ‘Singavel Kundram’.
முனைத்த சீற்றம் விண்சுடப்போய் மூவுலகும் பிறவும்*
அனைத்தும் அஞ்ச ஆளரியாய் இருந்த அம்மானதிடம்*
கனை த்த தீயும் கல்லுமல்லா வில்லுடை வேடருமாய்*
தினைத்தனையும் செல்லவொண்ணாச் சிங்கவேள்குன்றமே*
In this pasuram, he expresses the difficulty in reaching this sthalam because of the rocky paths, wild animals and tribals.
According to legend, this is the place where Lord Narasimha emerged from the pillar of Hiranyakashipu’s palace, fought with Hiranyakasipu and killed him to save His devotee Prahlada. It is believed that when the Devas saw the manifestation of Lord Vishnu from the pillar in man-lion form, they exclaimed “Ahobala” (great strength) as well as “Ahobila” (great cave). Hence, this place could be called either “Ahobalam” or “Ahobilam”. ‘Aho’ is an exclamatory word. ‘Bhalam’ is strength and ‘bhilam’ is cave and thus Ahobilam/Aho-bhalam of Lord Narasimha. A sloka about Ahobilam explains this:
"Aho Veeryam! Aho Souryam! Aho Bahuparakramah!
Naarasimham Param Deivam Aho bhilam! Aho Balam!
Meaning: Oh! What a great valour he has! Oh his great gallantry! Oh those great powerful shoulders of the greatest of the Gods Lord Narasimha, and what a mighty cave it is! And what a mighty divine strength He has!
Another legend says Lord Garuda did penance to see Lord Vishnu in Lord Narasimha form. So, Lord Narasimha took nine different forms in this hill and hence the name Garudadri for this mountain range.
Ahobilam is ‘Nava Narasimha Kshetra’ as Lord Narasimha is worshipped in 9 different forms. Separate shrines are there for all the forms within a radius of 6-7 kms. Each form is associated with the 9 planets/Navagraha.
Jwala Ahobila Malola Kroda Karanja Bhargava
Yogananda Kshatravata Pavana Nava Harir Namaha.
The nine deities in the kshetra are Jwala Narasimha, Ahobila Narasimha, Malola Narasimha, Krodha Narasimha, Kaaranja Narasimha, Bhargava Narasimha, Yogananda Narasimha, Chatravata Narasimha and Pavana Narasimha in nine forms. It is said that the initial temples were built by Chalukyas and were rebuilt by Vijayanagara kings. Couple of temples can be reached easily while most of them have to be reached by difficult treks through thick forests and rocky paths. It is a good place for people who go for regular trekking.
August to December is considered the best time to visit Ahobilam. Surrounded by scenic beauty of picturesque lush green forests and mountains with ponds, caves and the rocky mystical waterfalls the sacred place is amazingly beautiful and also provides shelter to wild animals. I felt fresh at heart when seeing the beauty of nature around me and really felt the presence of Divine!
Ahobilam consists of two parts: Lower Ahobilam and Upper Ahobilam
Upper Ahobilam is about 8 km from Lower Ahobilam by road.
Temples in Upper Ahobilam:
1. Ahobila Narasimha
(on the way one can trek 4 -5 kms with 250 steep steps through mountains to see the Pavana narasimha and back to upper ahobilam, but we opted for a jeep drive the next day.)
2. Kroda Narasimha
3. Jwala Narasimha (the spot where Lord killed Hiranyakasipu)
3 a. Raktha Kund (the pond where HE washed His lotus hands after killing Hiranyakasipu)
4. Malola Narasimha
Apart from these, there is ‘Prahlada Padi/Mettu’ (School where Prahlada studied, a small shrine in a cave) and Ugra Stambha (Stupa/Pillar/hill cleft from where Lord Nrusimha emerged. We saw Ugra Sthambam from a long distance on the way to Malola)
Temples in Lower Ahobilam:
5. Karanja Narasimha
6. Yogananda Narasimha
7. Chatravata Narasimha
8. Pavana Narasimha. (There is a separate route to Pavana Narasimha shrine from Upper ahobilam, but we went in deep forest route via jeep); Senjulakshmi cave, a small trek from Pavana (we did not go)
9. Bhargava Narasimha
Apart from these 9 shrines, there are two more temples in Lower Ahobilam, Sri Prahlada Varada sannidhi and Srinivasa perumal Temple.
Our yatra route:-Ours was a door-to-door package in car. The package included a guide, food, jeep travel and accomodation.
Day 1: Friday - We started from Chennai around 9 pm.
Day 2: Saturday - Reached Ahobilam early morning. Took bath, had breakfast and started to Upper ahobilam at 8 a.m.- Ahobila Narasimhar – Kroda Narasimhar – Jwala Narasimhar – Malola Narasimhar - Karanja Narasimhar (While returning from Upper Ahobilam to Lower Ahobilam, we went to Karanja Narasimha Temple.) back to our rooms for lunch- rest – started again at 5 p.m. yoganandha narasimhar – chatravata narasimhar – back to our rooms.
Day 3: Sunday – Quick breakfast, started at 7 a.m. – jeep ride – pavana narasimhar, bhargava narasimhar, back for lunch at 2 p.m. – prahladha varadhar sannidhi – started to chennai at – enroute to vontimitta Ramar temple & Annamayya museum (not in our original agenda) – back to chennai around 10 p.m.
The rooms could have been better. Except the rooms, the yatra was perfect. As the stay in rooms was for cloak, bath and night stay, we did not mind it.
Note: Ahobilam Nava Narasimmars can be seen in 1 ½ days.
It was 4 of us. Me, my husband, my sister and brother-in-law. We started to Upper Ahobilam by car. It is about 7-8 kms from Lower Ahobilam. It is a Ghat road with tall, big trees and it was very beautiful. We reached Upper Ahobilam and the trekking/walking starts from here. We carried light weight items like glucose toffees, orange mittai, and very small water bottle in a shoulder bag. Try to carry as light as possible else the trekking will be difficult. You need a guide because all temples are inside deep forest. We got a very good guide who was very helpful in the trekking. We started the Nava Narasimha darshan from Upper Ahobilam. We had to climb some steep steps to reach the main temple.
1. Our first darshan was AHOBILA NARASIMHA (Main temple)
DIVYA DESAM - Thirusingavelkundram/Ahobilam/Ahobalam
Perumal: Ahobila Nrusimha (Ugra Narasimha), Swayambu moorthi (self-manifest) - Veetrirundha kolam - Sitting in Chakrasana posture with Thirumugam facing east
Thayar: Lakshmi, Chenchulakshmi - sitting in padmasana posture.
Separate sannadhi for Thayar Senjulakshmi and Sudharsanar.
Pushkarani: Bhavanasini, Bhargava, Indra, Nrisimha, Gaja Theerthams
Vimanam: Guhai (Cave)
Pratyaksham: Prahlada, Adivan Satakopan
Mangalasasanam (Hymns sung by): Thirumangai Azhwar
When Hiranyakasipu asked Prahlada, where is Hari? Prahlada said ‘thoonilum iruppaar, thurumbilum iruppaar’. Immediately, Mahavishnu took the form of Narasimha and was waiting in all the places/things of this world, as HE did not know which place/thing Prahlada will show. So, it is said, Narasimhar is still in all the places/things in the world, and is waiting for people like Prahlada but have not come across one like him. If one sheds fear and ego, and surrenders unconditionaly like Prahlada, Narasimha will surely appear as HE gave Darshan to Bhakta Prahlad.
The local forest tribal hunters are called Senju. They are ardent worshippers of the Lord. It is said that the Lord after killing Hiranyan, remained here forgetting His Consort. Goddess Mahalakshmi who could not be without Her Lord, took avthar as the daughter of tribal chief Chenchu and was named Chenchulakshmi. When the Lord saw Her, HE married Her. Another legend says, when Devas saw the fierce form (Ugra Roopa) of Lord after tearing Hiranyan, they pleaded Mahalakshmi to pacify Him. Mahalakshmi took the form of a tribal girl, Senjulakshmi, pacified the Lord and married Him.
After getting blessings from Swayambu moorthi Ahobila Narasimmar, we started our trek again. Here, the yatris are provided with a thick stick which helps in trekking. The guide got some sticks for us. We then proceeded to Kroda Narasimha temple. It is a small trek. On the way, there is a small bridge and a pond. It is said that to calm down the anger of Ugra Narasimha, Akashaganga descended and flowed as ‘Antharvahini’ of Bhavanashini River. Devotees were having a dip in the water as it is considered sacred. We crossed a ruined mandapam. The place was silent with no people around. It was a bit scary small path and I chanted Narasimha, Narasimha. It is said to be the patashala in early days during Sri Adivan satakopa jeeyar period.
2. KRODA (VARAHA) NARASIMHA TEMPLE
3. JWALA NRUSIMHA TEMPLE:
This temple is said to be the toughest to reach compared to other Narasimha temples. It was about 2 hour trek through rocks, waterfalls to Jwala Nrusimha. It was a hard climbing but adventurous. The surface was slippery and rocky. It actually slipped in some places. My sister was finding it difficult and scared. The guide held her hands and helped her throughout the way. I was expecting full flow of the streams, but as there were no rains, the streams were thin. On the way, we saw some Senju tribals. I was told that even now they hear lion’s roar during some nights and it is Narasimhaswamy.
The trekking was a difficult climb to Jwala Nrusimha temple. Though it was like plains, there doesn't seem any way to sit/relax. We had to find our way through the rocks. The stick was a sort of life support, interspersed with space amidst rocks & pebbles here and there. Stick in hand, Orange/Glucose mittai, offerings, water in a small bottle, and purse in the bag was indeed difficult to carry. While it is not as dangerous as it sounds, we had to be careful, watchful in our steps, else we may have a fall/slip into the rocky valley.
The slippery path we crossed is shown by an arrow in the right picture. The picture to your left is the closeup of the slippery way.
Ashtabuja Narasimha is the main deity here. The deity has eight hands, two hands holding Hiranyakasipu tightly without moving, two hands tearing the demon’s abdomen, two hands holding shanku chakram and two hands garlanding Himself with the demon’s intestine. Garudan is at His feet.
This deity is in the standing posture coming out of the pillar. This is said to be a very rare form with 4 hands, the 2 upper hands holding shanku chakram and the lower hands are downwards. Goddess Lakshmi is on the right and Prahlada on the left.
Narasimha chasing Hiranyakasipu:
This deity is in the form of chasing Hiranyan during the fierce fight.
There was heavy rush of pilgrims here. The shrine was small and people pushed each other, but we had a good darshan. People are distributing panakam outside the temple. While climbing down a few steps, we saw a tiny pond called Raktha kundam, the pond where HE washed His lotus hands after killing Hiranyakasipu and hence the water turned red. The water is reddish in appearance, but when we take it in our hands, it is normal.
Few steps further, there is a small way to go to Ugra sthamba. Trekking to Ugra Stamba is tough and challenging. It is a steep climb. Only people with good health will be able to make it. We did not go to Ugra sthamba. There is a belief that ladies should not go to Ugra sthamba. The Lord at Ugra sthamba is said to be more powerful. The pillar which is situated at the edge of the cliff is said to be split into two and stands as a proof that Lord appeared from this pillar.
4. MALOLA NARASIMHA TEMPLE:
After having darshan at Jwala Narasimha temple, we proceeded to Malola Narasimhar temple. On the way, we had a darshan of Ugra sthamba from a long distance.
It was a very long walk/trek. Some places had steps and we had to climb high where there were no steps. We were very tired and felt difficult to walk. The guide was repeatedly telling with patience, ‘only ten minutes ma’, we will reach. It was almost one and a half hours.The way is surrounded by beautiful dense forests, lush green mountaintops of Eastern Ghats and several wild animals are said to be living there. There were plenty of mandharai trees on the way.
|Mandharai leaves and trees|
Dolis are available for elderly and physically challenged. People who could not walk/trek go to Jwala and Malola sannidhis with the help of “Dolis”.
Here also we could see some tribals and their huts.
From there yatris go to Prahlada padi. We did not go to Prahlada padi/mettu. After Malola Darshan, we stayed here for about half an hour and relaxed. Now, we were ready to trek back. We carefully climbed down, returned the rented sticks (they charge 10 Rs. for a stick) and drove back to Lower Ahobilam. Karanja Narasimhar temple was on the way back at about 1 km. from Upper Ahobilam.
5. KARANJA NARASIMHA TEMPLE:
Unfortunately, my pictures of Karanja, Bhargava, Chatravata and Yogananda got corrupted. My cousin's wife Chandra and my FB friend Narayanan helped me with these pictures. Thanks a lot both of you.
After worshipping Karanja Narasimha we drove back to our rooms and had lunch. The food they provided for breakfast, lunch and dinner was very delicious. They served hot tasty food for lunch with sambar, rasam, kariamudhu, kootu, vadai, payasam, pickle, appalam and buttermilk. We were really impressed by the freshness of the food. Indeed we feel very happy if someone cooks for us. After the refreshing break for a couple of hours, we started again to Yogananda and Chatravata temples by car.
6. YOGANANDA NARASIMHA TEMPLE:
There is one Bala Yoga Narasimha sannadhi here.
There is one Nava narasimha temple in the same complex. The associated planets (Navagraha) are seen below the Nine Narasimhas. Kasi nayana statue is inside the temple complex. There is one Ashram near this temple named Kasi reddy nayana avadhootha ashram, and we were told they provide food for free.
From Yogananda narasimha temple, we proceeded to Chatravata narasimha temple.
7. CHATRAVATA NARASIMHA TEMPLE:
Having seen 7 temples on the first day, we drove back to our rooms, had dinner and relaxed. The guide informed us that we had to start at 6 A.M. next morning to Pavana and Bhargava temples and it would be a jeep ride. He requested to get ready before that. We were extremely satisfied with the darshans as we were blessed with 7 Narasimhars on first day. Again, I prayed HIM to get HIS other 2 darshans, which were supposed to be the toughest of all. Our legs pleaded mercy. We rubbed some balms and slept.
We took bath and got ready as instructed. We were provided with a simple quick fix breakfast and coffee, and informed that this ride would involve about 3 hours of jeep drive to Pavana Narasimha temple and then to Bargava temple. There was some delay with the jeep drivers. When the jeeps arrived, we were shocked to see the condition of the jeeps. It was very old model of jeep, not much maintained etc. The jeep ride was on a sharing basis. We asked for a separate jeep for 4 of us, but the jeep drivers said the jeep should have full weight, if not it will be difficult for them to drive in that path. Hesitantly we agreed. Our guide also accompanied us. We started our jeep adventure at 7 AM.
Pavana Narasimmar temple can be reached through walk but it would take too much of time. As said earlier there is a separate route to Pavana Narasimha shrine (trek is 7 km. one way) from Upper ahobilam, but we preferred the deep forest route via jeep. The jeep route was 20 km +20 km to Pavana Narasimha temple. On the way to Upper Ahobilam route, there is a diversion to Pavana temple. The area is under the control of Forest Department. There is a check post at the entrance. Nobody was there, but the driver went and signed in the notebook and came. The rides are allowed until 3 pm and entry into forest area after that is not allowed. After completing the formalities, the ride started to Pavana. It was actually in jungles, the path is jeepable only. You cannot go by cars or any other vehicles. I would say the toughest part of travel was the way to Pavana. Jeep and travel guide is a must. Otherwise you will get lost in the forest zone. It was so scary and adventurous as there is no road or proper path. It was a jerky, jolty drive. The bones in my body interchanged their spaces at times. The path was muddy and full of huge potholes and boulders. We were already informed by relatives who went to Pavana, that the jeep will get struck on the route. But luckily, there were not much big streams as there was no rain. The route was a bit dry. So we did not have the problem of getting struck. But if one goes on a rainy season, the jeep will surely get struck. The jeep drivers are almost youngsters. Our driver was also a youngster and he was driving confidently. The curves in the path are wheel-threatening, the climbs and deep slopes were also scary and threatening. Now, I understood why the jeep driver insisted on full weight. Initially, I was screaming. The speed with which the driver was driving the jeep was really scary, there were bamboo, trees, thorny bushes and trees on both sides, and we had to be really careful with our eyes and body as there was no window in the jeep. I was scared but he seemed to be in total control. Half the way, there was another check-post. Here they get signatures from the drivers and allow. Really, the drivers need appreciation for their driving skills in this forest. The driver were really tackling the path well. He did not speak a word even if we said to drive slowly. He was just concentrating on the path, though he knew the route well. Our guide told us not to worry and only this way of driving can be done in this path. It was a dense forest surrounded by trees and streams dividing the path in some places. The drive is not advisable for faint-hearted! Do not visit this temple after 5 pm as it gets very dark in the forest.
After about one and a half hours we reached the temple. Wow!!!! Such a beautiful calm place!!
8. PAVANA NARASIMHA TEMPLE:
Reaching temples after hard prayathnam and hurdles bestows greater benefit. The temple is located amidst dense forest and mountains with a Sthamba in front. This temple is on the banks of the river Pavana and hence the Lord is known as Pavana Narasimha. This moorthi is said to be the most peaceful form among the Nava Narasimhars. This is also said as Kshetra Ratna (jewel among the Kshetras). The Lord here liberates HIS devotees from the all the sins of past lives and the present lives which has been committed knowingly or unknowingly. It is said that, Sage Bharadwaja got rid of the great sin brahma-hathi at this place. The local hunters and tribals call HIM as Pamuleti Narasimha Swamy, which means the Lord with a snake above His head.
The Lord gives darshan in sitting posture with seven headed Adisesha behind his head and Lakshmi (Senjulakshmi) on his left lap. Chaturbhujam-four hands with shanku chakram on upper hands, right hand as Abhaya hastham and left hand embracing Lakshmi who is seated on His left thigh.
The priest was doing daily poojas to the deity. After that, he told the puranam and sanctity of the temple. We worshipped HIM twice and prayed Pavana Narasimha to clear our sins. There is a small Venugopala and Anjaneya sannidhi in the praakaram. The priest asked us to wait for a while and gave us Sakkarai pongal prasadam. He is residing in a nearby house adjacent to the temple premises, which is the only house there. Staying in that jungle, with no people or houses around??!! What a ‘Faith in Lord’ !!!! Senjulakshmi cave is a small trek from Pavana temple. But we did not go.
It is said that Animal sacrifices are made to this Narasimha deep inside the forest. Some people were cooking outside the temple. They said they stayed there overnight. Must be a sort of prayer (venduthal). We couldn’t understand more due to language problem.
After having Pavana Narasimmars blessings we started and our return drive was also adventurous. There was some problem with the vehicle. The gear was not working or something. In fact, some jeeps were having a rope in place of gear and I should say we chose a good vehicle. Another jeep was also in trouble. Surrounded by forest, the drivers have no other go but to be trained and help among themselves if they have problem in between. The jeep ride was an adventurous, bumpy, heart thumping experience. We came out of the forest and proceeded to the nineth Narasimha darshan.
9. BHARGAVA NARASIMHAR TEMPLE:
This temple is also surrounded by forest with no paved roads. Ours jeep ride was combined with Pavana temple. This road was also bumpy and muddy. This temple is just 2 kms. From Lower Ahobilam. Autos/share autos are available from Lower Ahobilam to Bhargava temple. The temple is located on a hill. It was a small trek and a climb of about 100 stone steps to the shrine. The surroundings were very beautiful and there were many monkeys. The guide did not come with us and I was a bit tensed to see monkeys running along with us. Chanting Narasimha and Anjaneya we went up the hill. The temple pond/pushkarini is called Bhargava theertham as Parasurama performed his penance and punaskarams here. Hence the name Bhargava Narasimha for the Deity. The temple pond is also called 'Akshaya theertham' as it never dries even during hot/dry seasons. Parasurama wished to see Hiranya samharam darshan of the Lord and did penance. Pleased by His penance, Lord Narasimha gave Him the desired darshan. So the Lord here is seen in the fierce form of tearing Hiranyan. Two hands of the Lord holds shanku chakram, and two hands tear Hiranyakashipu’s abdomen. Prahlada is seen with folded hands at the lotus feet of the Lord. We worshipped Bhargava Narasimha and thanked HIM for all the Nava Narasimha darshan.
We climbed down. We did not have a stick here. The monkeys were running here and there. Again, Narasimha and Anjaneya Naama saved us from these mischievous monkeys. Monkeys are there in all places, especially in Bhargava and Prahladavaradhar temples.
We returned back in jeep. The ride was hectic and we were hungry. So we said we would see Prahlada Varadhar sannidhi while returning to Chennai. The driver dropped us at our rooms. We appreciated his driving skill and gave some money. We had our lunch and took rest for some time. After that, we packed our things, had some hot coffee, thanked the mami who provided good food to us and left for Chennai. And ofcourse, on the way to Prahlada Varadhar sannidhi.
10. PRAHLADA VARADHAR SANNIDHI
Prahladavaradhar sannidhi is in Lower Ahobilam. This temple is accessible by road. There was a Yagna in Lower Ahobilam that day, so the place was crowded.
While entering the temple premises one can see a tall sthambam. It is called Jayasthambham and erected in the spacious ground outside the temple to mark the victory of Krishnadeva Raya.
The temple has three prakarams in Lower Ahobilam. The main deity is seen alongwith Thayar on His lap, blessing Prahlada. Hence, Perumal is known as “Prahalada Varadar”. Moolavar is Lakshmi Narasimha in ‘Santha’ form. HE gives darshan in sitting posture with Adisesha behind his head and Senjulakshmi on his left lap. Chaturbhujam - four hands with shanku chakram on upper hands, right hand as Abhaya hastham and left hand embracing Lakshmi who is seated on His left thigh. Utsavar Prahladavaradhar has a merciful and beautiful face and seen alongwith Sridevi, Bhoodevi. HE is in ‘Nindra Thirukolam’ (standing posture) with upper hands holding shanku, chakram and right lower hand with ‘Abhaya hastham’ and the left lower hand holding the mace. Pillai Perumal Iyengar in his108 Thiruppati Andhadhi says “Only Narasimha can show two impossible emotions in HIS face, anger and compassion”. Processional idols (utsavar) of Nava Narasimhars (except Malola, the Utsavar of Malola Narasimha temple is the Aradhana idol of the Ahobila Mutt) are kept in this temple. A small idol of the first Jeeyar, Sri Adivan Satakopan is seen before them. There are separate shrines for Amirthavalli Thayaar, Andal and Azhwars. There is a shrine for Srinivasa, the deity was in Balalayam for the proposed samprokshanam.
The Kakatheeya king Prathapa Rudra is said to have contributed towards improvement in structures and maintenance of the temple. Prahlada varadha temple is full of architectural marvels. The main temple has many mandapams namely Mukhamandapam, Rangamandapam etc. All the mandapams have many intricately carved sculptures. The inscriptions reveal the contributions made by Vijayanagar kings. In most of the pillars, Narasimha is seen embracing Chenchulakshmi Thayar, emerging out of a pillar, tearing Hiranyan, blessing prahladan etc. Many monkeys are seen in this temple.
Thirumangai Azhwar describes the place as very hard to visit (சென்று கண்டார்க்கு அரிய கோவில், sendru kandaarkku ariya kovil) but due to the efforts of the 44th & 45th Azhagiyasingars, this place is now ‘sendru kandaarku eliya kovil’ (சென்று கண்டார்க்கு எளிய கோவில், easy to visit). Thanks to the Jeeyars’ efforts.
With Nava Narasimmars divine blessings, we left to Chennai and enroute we went to Vontimitta Ramar temple and saw Annamayya museum from outside and reached Chennai at 10.30 p.m.
Narasimha Jayanthi, Annual Brahmotsavam, Pavitrotsavam, Kalyana Utsavam and Swathi thirumanjanams on all swathi nakshatra days. It is considered sacred to visit Ahobilam temples on a Swathi Nakshatram day. The local tribals celebrate the marriage of Chenchulakshmi and Lord Narasimha.
Notes and tips:
- Ahobilam Nava Narasimmars can be seen in 1 ½ days.
- Apart from 9 Narasimhas, there are few more sthalas. Ugra sthamba, Prahlada padi, Prahladavaradar temple in Lower Ahobilam, Senjulakshmi cave near Pavana.
- Going in a group is advisable. Also it makes your yatra enjoyable.
- Travel guide is a must in deep forest trekking and Ugra sthambam.
- Start as early as possible for the trek. Otherwise you may become tired in hot sun.
- Take much needed tablets for emergency. There are no shops in the trekking path. Carry small water bottles, biscuits etc. Drinking more water will also be a problem as there are no rest rooms. Glucose toffees in case of low sugar, orange mittai for wetting the tongues and lips.
- Go prepared for trek. It is a rough terrain. Wearing shoes would help a lot.
- Carry light luggage while trekking.
- BEWARE OF MONKEYS. Monkeys are there in all places, especially in Bhargava and Prahladavaradhar temples. No eatables in carry bags. Backpack is advisable. Persons wearing spectacles be careful. Ladies do not keep any flowers in your plaits. DO NOT FORGET TO CLOSE THE DOORS AND WINDOWS OF YOUR ROOMS BEFORE LEAVING FOR THE TREK/DARSHAN.
- Of the nine, Jwala and Pavana are most difficult.
- Trek is very tough for Ugra sthamba.
- Ahobila, Karanja, Yogananda and Chatravata temples are accessible by road.
- Bhargava temple can be reached by auto/share auto.
- Upper Ahobilam can be reached by share autos.
- “Doli” service is available for those who can't trek. People who are physically challenged, old people and also who cannot trek can avail of this facility.
- Travel guide and Jeep can be hired at Lower Ahobilam. One can reach Lower Ahobilam on their own and hire guide and jeep.
- Doli facility is available at the entrance of Ahobila Narasimha Temple
- Pilgrims/trekkers are given stick for support at Upper Ahobilam near Ahobila Narasimha temple.
- Just recite Narasimha, Jai Narasimha while trekking. Chanting HIS name makes it possible to climb, have darshan and get blessed.
- After 3.00 p.m. jeeps are not allowed into the forests of Pavana Narasimha. Plan accordingly. Elders and pilgrims with back ache may avoid Pavana and Bhargava jeep ride.
- Accomodations to be booked in advance.
- Most important of all, for any tour/yatra, being adaptive is a must.
About tour packages:
Ours was a door-to-door package in car. The package included a guide, food, jeep travel and accomodation.
Contact: Badri mama – Mob. No. 09789802914. The rooms could have been better. Except the rooms, the yatra was perfect. As the stay in rooms was for cloak, bath and night stay, we did not mind it.
Chinna thambi – Our driver cum guide – 09566452888
There are many tourist operators who conduct week end tours from Chennai and Bangalore. Several tourist operators also frequently arrange religious trips to Ahobilam from major cities. See Ranga padhuka and Narasimhapriya for details and choose according to your affordability and need. Some tour operators have contacts with people who make home-made food and hence there will not be any problem for food and stay. Some package tours include a guide, food, jeep travel and accomodation with a door to door pickup and drop. You can choose according to your need and might.
Food and accomodation:
Ahobila Mutt at Lower Ahobilam. Malola guest house. One can book in advance for the stay. AC rooms, single/double rooms, dormitory are available.
Contact number and address:
Manager, Malola Guest House
Sannithi Street, Ahobilam 518 545, Kurnool District, A.P
The manager of the guest house can also be contacted to hire a guide.
Annamacharya Nitya Annadanam Trust of Ahobila Mutt provides free food to devotees.
Arya Vysya Nityanna Satram at lower Ahobilam
Udipi Hotel near the temple
Few small canteens at Lower Ahobilam.
TTD Choultry Lower Ahobilam
Couple of rooms and dormitory are available at a choultry in Upper Ahobilam.
ALL ACCOMODATIONS HAS TO BE BOOKED IN ADVANCE.
Lower Ahobilam: 6 AM - 1 PM and 3 PM - 8 PM
Upper Ahobilam: 7 AM - 1 PM and 2 PM - 6 PM
Our guide told that the deep forest temples Jwala and Malola are opened a bit late by about 9 AM closed by 5 PM. due to the difficulty in reaching.
How to reach the temple:
By Road: The nearest place to Ahobilam is Allagadda 24 km away.
65 km from Nandyal
110 km from Cuddapah
120 km from Kurnool
Nearest railway stations are Nandyal (on Bangalore-Visakhapatnam route) and Cuddapah (on Mumbai-Chennai route)
Chennai Egmore-Cuddapah (Kacheguda Exp), Chennai Central-Cuddapah (Bombay mail). From Kadapa to Allagadda there are many buses and vans. From Allagadda, one can take another bus to Lower Ahobilam (24kms). You can also hire a taxi from Cuddapah.
Buses every evening from Chennai Koyembedu bus stand to Allagadda via Tirupati- Kadapa and return buses from Allagada back to Chennai. (Check for timings)
I would feel honoured if you visit Ahobilam after reading this travelogue. Do share if this post was useful for your ‘Ahobila yatra’ and also your divine experiences in the ‘comments section’ after visiting the temple. I also pray Lord Narasimha to make it possible for His devotees who wish to have HIS Darshanam and get HIS blessings. JAYA JAYA NARASIMHA!!