Temple name – Varaha Narasimha Swamy Temple, Simhachalam
Main Deity – Varaha Narasimha Swamy
Location – Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India
Located at the hill top of Simhachalam in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, the Varaha Narasimha Swamy Temple is dedicated to Varaha Lakshminarasimha, a combination of Varaha and Narasimha. It is believed that the temple is the residence of Lord Narasimha and he provides ‘Nijaroopa Darshan’ (holy manifestation) only for twelve hours in a year. For the remainder of the year, the Lord is enveloped in sandalwood paste. The temple is also believed to be one of the Narasimha Kshetras or the shrines of Lord Narasimha.
The principal deity of the Varaha Narasimha Swamy Temple is Lord Varaha Lakshminarasimha. It is essentially Lord Vishnu in the combination of Varaha and Narasimha avatars. The deity covered with sandalwood resembles a lingam and it is only for twelve hours in a year that the Lord manifests himself in his true form i.e. during the Chandanyatra festival. Also known as the Great Protector, the original form of the deity is in the tribhanga posture with two hands, the head of a lion on a human torso.
Some of the Tamil and Telugu inscriptions state that King Krishnadevaraya had made huge donations to the temples of the region, especially in the name of his mother, Nalamba. But no excavation or archaeological findings testify this as fact. Recent archaeological studies of the region have also discovered that there were a number of settlements on the hill tops of the Simhachalam Hill Range.
There are numerous inscriptions found on the walls of the temple, which provides us with glimpses of the past of the Varaha Narasimha Swamy Temple. The Chola King Kuloththunga’s inscription can be dated back to 1098 A.D. An inscription from the Queen of Eastern Ganga, Kalinga depicts the image of her covering the image of Lord with Gold. As per another inscription, the Eastern Ganga King, Narasimha Deva is believed to have built the central or the main shrine of the temple.
As per these inscriptional records, King Krishnadevaraya after defeating Gajapati Prataparudra Dev had visited this temple twice during 1516 and 1519 A.D. respectively. With a treasure trove of more than 252 inscriptions, the Varaha Narasimha Swamy Temple is a very significant historical monument.
As per the belief of the locals, the original deity of Lord Shiva was removed by the Vaishnavite apostle, Sri Ramanuja and replaced with the deity of Lord Vishnu’s avatar, during the 11th Century A.D. The replacement of the deity by Ramanuja, also the founder of Visistadhvaitam of Hinduism, is marked by the celebration of the Kamadahana festival (burning of the God of Love). Currently the Government of Andhra Pradesh has undertaken the initiative to transform the region into a Divyakshetram.
As per legend, Jaya and Vijaya, the two gatekeepers of Lord Vishnu, had disallowed Sanaka, Sanandana and Sanathkumara to get the darshan of Mahavishnu and therefore were cursed by them. As a result of the curse, Jaya and Vijaya were born as demons Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksha respectively to Sage Kashyapa. Angered by the atrocities and destruction propagated by Hiranyaksha, Lord Vishnu in the avatar of Varaha (Boar) killed him. Meanwhile, Hiranyakapisu wanted to avenge the death of his brother and therefore to attain immortality, he performed severe penance to Lord Brahma.
One of the servants of the Lord, Sumukha, was born to Hiranyakapisu as Prahalada, who became an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu from his childhood. Angered by his devotion, Hiranyakapisu wanted to kill Sumukha by throwing him, from the top of a mountain. However, Lord Vishnu rescued Prahlada by jumping over from the Garuda. The very place from which he saved Prahlada is the location of the temple and after jumping from the Garuda the feet of Lord Vishnu sunk in the ground. Therefore, the feet of the Lord are hidden beneath the idol. Lord Vishnu, in the Narasimha avatar, killed Hiranyakapisu. Prahalada ardently prayed to Lord Vishnu, to appear in both the forms of Varaha (which killed Hiranyaksha) and Narasimha (which killed Hiranyakapisu). Thereafter, Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of a deity, in both his Narasimha and Varaha avatars. Prahalada, built a temple around the deity, which was later neglected.
One day when Purvasa was travelling on an aerial chariot, with his spouse Urvashi, he was drawn towards the ruins of the temple and an Aakashvani directed Purvasa to cover the idol with sandal paste. The Aakashvani also stated that the Lord would be visible in his Nijaswarupa form only for twelve hours in a year, on the third day of the month of Vysakha. Purvasa rebuilt and renovated the temple.
The abundance of inscriptions on the walls of the temple makes the Varaha Narasimha Swamy Temple a site of extreme cultural significance. The Varaha Narasimha Swamy Temple also epitomizes the Chalukyan and Orissan style of architecture. The donations available to the temple are only second to Tirumala.
Unlike other major temples, the Varaha Narasimha Swamy Temple faces the western side (it symbolizes victory). Situated at about 800 feet above sea level, a flight of steps from the foothills of Ratnagiri directly leads to the Varaha Narasimha Swamy Temple. A number of choultries are available on the foothills which houses a number of pilgrims. There is also large amphitheater-like wooden hollow at the entrance of the temple, which is the Lord Narasimha Temple of the Northern Circars. There is also a very bold portal at the entrance of the temple, which is also known as the Hanuman’s Gate. A beautiful Natyamandapam hosts the Kalyanotsavam festival every year.
Kappam Stambham – The Kappam Stambham is one of the pillars of the Mukha Mantapa. The pillar is believed to posses magical powers, which can cure diseases and also bless childless couples with fertility. The word ‘Kappam’ means offerings and the pillar is called so because of the abundant offerings made by the ardent devotees. The temple complex also hosts a square shaped shrine with tall gopuras and a Mukha Mantapa.
- Chandanolsavam: This is the most important festival of the Varaha Narasimha Swamy Temple when the deity is covered with layers of sandalwood paste, to calm down the rage of the Lord after killing Hiranyakapisu. This coating of sandalwood paste is removed from the deity on the third day of Sukla Paksham of Visakham i.e. in the month of May. On this very day the Lord manifests himself in the Nijaroopa Darshan.
- Giri Pradhakshina: This festival is celebrated in the months of June-July every year. On this occasion, fasting devotees circumambulate the temple and they accept food only after having a glance of the lord. A more simplified version of the practice i.e. 108 Pradhakshinas of the main shrine, is also performed by physically weak devotees.
- Ugaadhi: This festival is celebrated on the occasion of Telugu New Year day and is also known as Pandhiri Paata Utsavam. On this occasion, the Lord is decorated as a bride groom and just before the symbolic marriage ceremony, the Ratholsavam is also celebrated.
Address and contact details
Executive Officer Joint Commissioner
Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Vari Devasthanam
Email ID – jc_eo_simhachalam@ yahoo.co.in
Uphill Reception 91 + 0891 – 2715242
Uphill Office 91 + 0891 – 2715264
Downhill Office 91 + 0891 – 2715435
Fax 91 + 0891 – 2764949