India | Andhra Pradesh

Kalahastiswara Temple

Kalahastiswara Temple is a revered Saivite shrine at Kalahasti near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. The main deity is Lord Shiva, with the goddess Gnana Prasannambika. Manikanteswara is also worshipped. The adjoining hills, adorned with exquisite Pallava style sculptures, form the natural walls of the temple. This region is called Dakshina (South) Kailasa. The Svarnamukhi River flows past the temples.

This age-old monument, which contains inscriptions of Chola and Vijayanagar rulers, finds mention in Sangam literature. The poet Dhurjati, of Krishna Deva Raya’s times (15th century), has recorded the rich tradition of this temple in his works.

The structural plan keeps to the contours of the hill that walls it in. Raja Raja Chola I built the Manikanteswara shrine in early 11th century AD, later given a stone edifice by one of his successors, Koluthunga III. The impressive gopura (temple tower) was built by Krishna Deva Raya in the 15th century. There is an underground shrine of Lord Ganapati. The artistry of the rock-hewn structure built into the hill is truly magnificent.

The main festival of the temple is the Maha Shivratri in the month of Maasi (February-March). Processions of deities, a play of colors and music are a regular feature, culminating on the fifth day in a spectacular finale that coincides with Maha Shivratri. The Tirupati airport is 30 km away. Well-connected roads to every major town facilitate easy access. Getting to Sri Kalahasti from Chennai will take under five hours. Local transport can be hired from the spot.

There are also other shrines in the vicinity. The Adityeswara and Virirunda Perumal temples in the adjacent village of Tondamanad were built by the Cholas. The nearby Gudimallum village has the Parasurameswara Temple.

Updated on 7th June, 2005
District: Chittoor


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