Mangalagiri means The Auspicious Hill. Managalagiri, also known as Bhimadri is located about 13 kilometeres from Vijaywada. This is a cave temple and the lord is frequently referred to as Panaka Narasimha swamy. The valiant Bhima of the Panadavas is said to have worshipped this lord. The mountain is in the form of a elephant with the temple located in the mouth of the elephant.
Legends of the Temple :
This shape of the hill looks like an elephant. From all the directions, the hill appears in the elephant shape only. There is an interesting legend to show as to how the mountain came into existence. Pariyatra, an ancient king had a son Hrasva Srungi visited all holy and sacred places to regain normal bodily stature and finally visited this holy place of Mangalagiri and stayed for three years performing penance. All the Devathas (Gods) advised him to stay at Mangalagiri and continue to do penance in praise of Lord Vishnu. The father of Hrasva Srungi came with his retinue to take back his son to his kingdom. But Hrasva Srungi took the shape of an elephant to become the abode of Lord Vishnu in Sri Narsimha form who is locally known as Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy.
The existence of the Lord as ‘Panakala Narasimha Swami’ has an interesting tale behind it. The legend says that Namuchi, a Raakshasa (demon), after great penance, obtained a boon from Brahma that he should not be killed by any thing that is either wet or dry. After the demon was granted the boon, he began to harass Indra and other Devathas. Lord Indra, with the help of Lord Vishnu, commenced destroying the army of Raakshasa Namuchi who hid in a cave in Sukshmaakaaram giving up his sthulaakaaram (Physical manifestation). Indra dipped Sudarsanam, 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 Devathas themselves were unable to withstand the fire of the anger of the Lord and they prayed for appeasement. The Lord took amrutam (nectar) and cooled down. It was in Krithayugam. The Lord said that he would be satisfied with ghee in Threthayugam, with milk in Dwaparayugam and with panakam(Jaggery water) in Kaliyugam. Hence the Lord is called in Kaliyugam as Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy.
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 (when came out of the milky ocean when it was churned by the gods and the asuras), bathed in this pushkarini and married Vishnu thereafter. As it was the auspicious place of Sri Lakshmi Devi’s abode this place is known as Mangala giri.
Threthayugam In Threthayugam, the second of the four yugas, people who enjoyed in heaven as a result of their good deeds in the world are most unhappy 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 Krithayugam, 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 Krithayugam, Thotadri in Threthayugam, Mangaladri and Mukthyadri in Dwaparayugam and Mangalagiri in Kaliyugam affording salvation to sinners also. In Krithayugam, Vaikhanasa Maharshi worshipped the Lord and his vigraham is worshipped even today in the temple. It is also believed that Lord Rama while departing for Vaikuntam after completing his mission in that incarnation advised Anjaneya to stay at Mangalagiri and after obtaining his blessings to remain in this world for ever. Anjaneya took his adobe at Mangalagiri as Kshetrapalaka.
Panakala Narasimha Swamy – God Who Drinks Panakam offered by devoted bhaktas
A flight of stairs lead you to the small temple on the hill. In 2004, ghat road had been constructed through which the pilgrims can reach the temple easily. It is said that here, Lord is self-existent (swayambhu) . A tall Dwajasthambam (erected in the year 1955) is found in front of the temple. Unlike in many temples, you cannot find archa vigraham of the Lord except a wide mouth (of the Lord) opening which is about 15cms in height. This is covered with a metal face of the God to give the devotees a clear picture of the Lord.
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, which was given as prasadam and not even a single ant can be traced though a large quantity of jaggery water is offered. This phenomenon happens not once in a day but is a recurring feature during the course of the day as and when devotees offer panakam (jaggery water).The temple will be opened till afternoon only, with the belief that devatas will perform pujas in the night.
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.
At the foot of the Mangalagiri hills, there is another prominent temple dedicated to Lord Lakshmi Narasimha Swami with is said to be worshipped by Dharmaraja, the eldest of pandava. The very sight of the beautiful temple with lofty gopuram that can be seen from a far distance is the focal point of this temple. “Thoorpu Gali Gopuram” (temple tower on Eastern side), as it is called, is a eleven storied gopuram (tower) of which three storeys were constructed during the time of Vijayanagara Empire and the other eight were constructed by one Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu (a well-known ruler who ruled this place from Amaravati) about 200 years back. It took about two years (from 1807-1809) to complete the construct of the remaining eight storeys. This gopuram is one of its kinds with a height of 153 feet and width of 49 feet, wider at the bottom and narrower at its peak. It s really amazing and rare to find a magnificent lofty tower this width and height. It is said that after the construction of this gopuram, it was leaning towards one direction. An architect from Kanchipuram suggested digging a tank opposite to the tower, after which the tower became straight.
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.
Brahmostavam is celebrated for 11 days commencing from phalguna sudda shasti (february – march). One day before Phalguna Suddha Purnima i.e. on Chaturdasi, here the marriage of Santha Narasimha Swamy, and Sridevi and Bhoodevi will be celebrated. They follow Agama sastra in this celebrations. Before the marriage, Chenchus celebrate on the occassion of Narasimha swamy marrying their daughter Chenchu Lakshmi. On that day night, Swamy comes by Sesha Vahanam and participate in “eduru Kolu”. The next day after the marriage is Purnima, on which the Holi festival is celebrated by indians. The same day, here, people celebrate Tirunalla, and about 1,00,000 people, local and from distant places congregate. On a big chariot , the Lord will go on procession and hundreds of devotees will pull this cart with fervour and enthusiasm. Srirama Navami, Hanumajayanthi, Narasimhajayanthi, Vaikunta Ekadasi are other festivals which are celebrated here on a large scale.
Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple Timings : 7 am to 3 pm
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple Timings: 5am to 12.30pm and 4pm to 8.30pm
How to reach :
Mangalagiri is located on National Highway No.5 that connects Kolkata and Chennai. It is situated on the Guntur-Vijayawada road, 13 km to the south-east of Vijayawada and 21 km to the north-east of Guntur City. One can reach Mangalagiri trough on road by a bus either from Vijayawada or Guntur or Tenali.
It has also a railway station by the same name in Guntur-Vijayawada section of Guntur division under the South Central Railway. Other modes of transport like a taxi services and auto rickshaws can also be used.