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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

worshipping at Sri Pavana Narasimhar at Ahobilam

Those days films were far different – many were based on Ithihasa puranas and mythologies.  Chenchu Lakshmi produced and directed by B. A. Subba Rao starring Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Anjali Devi was released bi-lingual in Telegu and Tamil, with music composed by S. Rajeswara Rao;   most of the scenes and artists were  same in both the versions,  the same movie had been made earlier in 1943 with different cast and crew.

The Nallamalas range is a section of the Eastern Ghats which forms the eastern boundary of Rayalaseema region of the state of Andhra Pradesh and  Nagar Kurnool  districts of the state of Telangana. They run in a nearly north-south alignment, parallel to the Coromandel Coast for close to 430 km between the rivers, Krishna and Pennar. Its northern boundaries are marked by the flat Palnadu basin while in the south it merges with the Tirupati hills.   The average elevation today is about 520 m which reaches 1100 m at Bhairani Konda and 1048 m at Gundla Brahmeswara. There are also many other peaks above 800m. 

Of its original residents, the Chenchus are important.  Chenchus are Adivasi designated tribe of Andhra, Telengana, Karnataka and Odisha.  Their  traditional way of life been based on hunting and gathering. The Chenchus speak the Chenchu language.  Many Chenchus live in the dense Nallamala forest of Andhra Pradesh and they adore this place, adore this Lord – Sri Chenchu Narasimha also Pavana Narasimha of Ahobilam.  

Triplicane was the seat of freedom struggle –  there are century old educational institutions ~ there are so many Mantaps [marriage halls – some new – some century old !] – recent ones would be Sri Raghavendra Kalyana Mantap; Terapanth bhavan – older ones are Triplicane Fund, Ahobila Mutt, Yadugiri Yathiraja Mutt – and some like Blue house, Bommai chathiram, Chenchu lakshmi kalyana mandapam that are no longer in existence.  Old timers would recall attending some marriage at Chenchulakshmi kalyana mantap in TP Koil Street (on that portion towards NKT Girls School) – a couple of decades it fell to hammer, with new apartment coming in its place – not many of us understood its significance and attachment to a great temple.

Ahobilam is located in Karnool district of Andhra Pradesh in the hills of the eastern ghats, about 400 km northwest of Chennai.  At the picturesque Ahobilam situate amongst dense forests – there are nine Temples of Narasimha – Nava Narasimha darshanam.   It is devout belief that  the entire Nalmalla Hills from Kurnool to chittor is a personification of  Adisesha himself whose tail end is Srisailam,  middle is Ahobilam and  head is holy Thirumala Tirupathi.  The reverred nine shrines to Lord Narasimha in various forms are located around a 5 km circle.  Then there is majestic temple of Sri Prahalada Varadhan in the foothills.  This is the seat of Ahobila Mutt also.    Due to security reasons and the difficulty in performing daily worship, many of the utsava vigrahas of the nine shrines are kept in this temple.  The Nine Narasimhasthalas are :- 1.        Jwala Narasimha; 2.Ahobila Narasimha; 3. Malola Narasimha; 4. Kroda Narasimha; 5.   Karanja Narasimha; 6. Bhargava Narasimha; 7. Yogananda Narasimha; 8. Kshatravata Narasimha and 9.Pavana  Narasimha.

The  shrine of Pavana Narasimha, is situate on the hills around 6 – 7 km away  – difficult to reach in thd dense forests and is on the banks of the river, Pavana.  Garuda wished for a vision of Lord Nrisimha in the form of the Avathara. To fulfill his wish, the Lord settled in the hills around Ahobilam in the midst of dense forests in nine different forms. For this reason this hill came to be known as Garudadri, Garudachalam, and Garudasailam. Ahobilam is the place where the Lord killed Hiranyakasipu and saved Prahalada. Mahalakshmi took avathar as Senjulakshmi among the Senju, tribal hunters of the hills, and married the Lord. After slaying Hiranyakashyapa, Lord Narasimha proceeded to the Nallamala forest in his Ugra Avataram (aggressive form). The devas were worried about this form and prayed to Goddess Lakshmi to pacify him. She took form as Chenchu Lakshmi, a tribal girl, in the same forest, calmed Him completely and got married to Lord Narasimha.

Prior to covid times, when rail transport was normal, one can reach Ahobilam – it is on Chennai Mumbai route – one has to get down at Kadappa,  Ahobilam is about 100 km. There were AP state transport buses to Allagadda, and then from Allagadda one can take another bus to Ahobilam.  From the lower Ahobilam, one can walk – but would find it pretty difficult – now there are jeeps plying – in 2006 when I went, it was only rock boulders but now there are motorable roads, yet one might find it difficult.  After travelling, one has to walk a few steps to see this small beautiful temple of Pavana Narasimha – there is only the main sannathi – there is Lord Pavana Narasimha in seated posture with Chenchu Lakshmi by his side on his left lap. In recent times, there is a similar Pratishta moorthi of Narasimha & Chenchulakshmi too. 

Thirumangai Azhwar has sung 10 pasurams on this divyadesam, addressing this place as ‘Singavel kunram’ – he directs - O good heart, let us worship our Lord who has a thousand arms eager to embrace lotus-dame Lakshmi. He resides in Singavelkunram  where gooseberry trees [Phyllanthus emblica, Amla in Sanskrit - நெல்லிக்கனி ]   break heavy rocks, palm leaves applaud and  cicadas (சுவர்க்கோழி) fill the air with their ‘Chill’ sounds.  Here are 2 short videos showing the path to Pavana Narasimha thirukovil at Ahobilam  & 

உலகத்தில் பல சமயங்களில் அதர்மம் பெருகி கெட்டவர்கள் ஆட்சி செய்த போதெல்லாம், எம்பெருமான் ஸ்ரீமந்நாரணன் அவதாரங்கள் செய்து  விபவ ரூபத்தில்  பக்தர்களை காப்பாற்றுகிறான். எங்கும் நிறைந்துள்ள விசாகயூபனாகிய எம்பெருமான் குறிப்பிட்ட காரணங்களுக்காக விபவ அவதாரங்கள் காண்கிறான்.  ஹிரண்யன் என்ற கொடிய அரக்கனை, அவனது வரங்களையெல்லாம் மீறி அழித்து ஆட்கொள்ள எம்பெருமான் எடுத்த திருவவதாரம் நரசிங்க உருவு.

திருவல்லிக்கேணி திவ்யதேசத்திலே எம்பெருமான் அழகியசிங்கராக சேவை சாதிக்கிறார்.  மூலவர் யோகநரசிம்ஹர்  - உத்சவர் தெள்ளியசிங்கர் அழைத்து, அருள் பாலிக்கும் பெருமாள் - ஒரு கை பக்தர்களை அழைக்கும் 'ஆஹ்வான ஹஸ்தம்' மற்றொன்று - பக்தர்களை பாதுகாத்து அரவணைக்கும் அபய ஹஸ்தம்.  ஸ்ரீநரசிம்மர் என்றால் உக்கிரம் .. அரக்கனை சிம்ம உருவாய் அழித்த அவதாரம் அல்லவா !

மிக முக்கிய நரசிம்ம ஸ்தலம் [நவ நரசிம்ம ஸ்தலம்] - சிங்கவேள்குன்றம் என பிரசித்தி பெற்ற அஹோபிலம் திவ்யதேசம்.  ஆந்திர மாநிலம் கடப்பாவிலிருந்து 90 கி.மீ. தொலைவில் அஹோபிலம் அமைந்துள்ளது. "அஹோ' என்றால் "சிங்கம்', "பிலம்' என்றால் "குகை' என்பதாகும்.  அஹோபிலம் என்றால் சிங்கத்தின் குகை என்பது பொருள். மலையடிவாரத்தில் ஒரு கோயிலும் மலைக்கு மேலே ஒரு கோயிலுமாக இரு கோயில்கள் இத்தலத்தில் அமைந்துள்ளன. அவற்றை கீழ் அஹோபிலம், மேல் அஹோபிலம் என்று குறிப்பிடுகிறார்கள். இவை தவிர நரசிம்மர் திருக்கோவில்கள் உள்ளன.    நீண்டகாலம் தவம் செய்த கருடாழ்வாருக்காக எம்பெருமான் நரசிம்ம ரூபத்தில் காட்சியருளிய தலம் இது. கருடனின் பெயரால் இம்மலைக்கு கருடாத்ரி என்ற பெயரும் உண்டு.  திரேதாயுகத்தில் அஹோபிலம் இரண்ய கசிபுவின் ராஜாங்கமாக இருந்தது. இந்த அஹோபிலத்தில்தான் நரசிம்மர் அரக்கன் இரண்ய கசிபுவைக் கொல்ல ஒரு தூணிலிருந்து அவதாரம் புரிந்தார். பன்னிரு ஆழ்வார்களில் திருமங்கை ஆழ்வார் ஒருவரே இத்திருத்தலம் குறித்து மங்களாசாஸனம் செய்திருக்கிறார். இத்திருத்தலத்தைச் "சிங்கவேள் குன்றம்' என அழைக்கிறார்.  இதோ திருமங்கைமன்னனின் ஒரு பாசுரம் - இந்த திவ்யதேசம் மங்களாசாசனம் பண்ணியது :

நல்லை நெஞ்சே  நாம் தொழுதும் நம்முடை  நம்பெருமான்,

அல்லிமாதர் புல்கநின்ற ஆயிரந்தோளனிடம்,

நெல்லிமல்கிக்  கல்லுடைப்பப் புல்லிலையார்த்து, அதர்வாய்ச்

சில்லிசில்லென்றொல்லறாத சிங்கவேள்குன்றமே.

ஓ நெஞ்சே ! எனது தன நெஞ்சை விளித்து அருள்கிறார்.  நீ மிகவும் நல்லவன்; நம்பெருமான், நமக்கு ஸ்வாமியாய் பெரிய பிராட்டியாரை அணைத்துக் கொண்டிருப்பவனாய்,  ஆயிரந்தோள்களையுடையனாக மிக்க பலம் பொருந்திய எம்பெருமான் எழுந்தருளியிருக்கு மிடமாய்,  நெல்லி மரங்கள் நிறைந்து, அவை தம் வேர்கள்  கற்களினுள்ளே ஊடுருவி பாறைகளை உடைக்கவும்,  பனையோலைகள் ஒலிசெய்யவும்,  வழிகளிலே சுவர்க்கோழிகளையுடைய சில் சில்  என்கிற ஒலி இடைவிடாமல் ஒலிக்கவும் பெற்ற  சிங்கவேள்குன்றத்தை சென்று  நாம் ஸேவிப்போம் என்கிறார்.  இந்த திவ்யதேசம் சற்று கடினமானது.  முந்தைய காலங்களில் அடர்ந்த காட்டில் கொடிய வன விலங்குகளிடையே செல்வது மிகக்கடினமாக இருந்திருக்கும். 

                 Recently had the fortune of worshipping at this holy divyadesam and here are some photos of Sri Pavana Narasimhar thirukovil at Ahobilam. 

adiyen Srinivasa dhasan
Mamandur Veeravalli Srinivasas Sampathkumar



Monday, April 26, 2021

worshipping at Ahobilam

Years before I started my blog and started posting in it – I had the habit of circulating some of my thoughts / articles to group of friends through e-mail. In 2006, Me, my friends Surendranath Arya & Saravana Sargunam started from Chennai in car and travelled to Ahobilam – here is an email shared with a group on 28.12.2006.

Dear (s)  ................................

(the photos of Lord are to be worshipped.  You may freely download them for worshipping)

Ahobilam  is one of the most important temples for Vaishnavaites and is one of  the reverred 108 Divya desams.  This sthalam is also known as "Singavel Kundram". This sthalam is dedicated to Sri Narasimhar, one of the Avathaars taken  by  Sriman Narayanan to slay   Hiyanyakasipu.  Legend has it that “Ahobilam”   is  the  place  where  the Lord killed Hiranyakasipu and saved Prahalada.   Thirumangai  Azhvaar  has sung ten verses about this temple in Periya  Thirumozhi. This sthalam is also known as "Nava Narasimha Kshetram" since 9 forms of Narasimhar Moorthies are worshipped. 

This  sacred place  is located in Karnool district of Andhra Pradesh in the hills  of  the  eastern  ghats, about 400 KM northwest of Chennai.   363 km from  Hyderabad,  262  km.  from  Tirupati  and 74 km from Nandyal (Kurnool dist).  From lower Ahobilam, one has to travell around 8 Kms to reach upper Ahobilam.   From  there  one has to trek in the forest for darshan of other Narasimhas.  

The  abode of Jwala Narasimha – is reverred to be actual spot where the fierce anger of the Lord culminated in the killing of Hiranyakasipu.  The idol on the left shows Maha Vishnu emerging from the pillar and on the right - Narasimha toring apart the demon on his lap. 

Among the other Narasimhars,  Pavana Narasimha is difficult to reach as one has to walk through  dense forest (around 2 hrs) from Upper Ahobilam.   Here is a photo of Sri Pavana Narasimhar.


from a devotee – S. Sampathkumar

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Praying Sree Ramapiran at Ontimitta .. .. 'బంటు రీతి కొలు'


The Greatest of Ithihasa purana   ‘Sri Ramayanam’  is the undiluted history of the Greatest Person who descended on this Universe, on the banks of river Sarayu, in a prosperous country called ‘Koshala’.   

நற்பண்புகள் அனைத்துக்கும் சிகரம் ஸ்ரீராமபிரான்.  அற்புதமான நகரம் திரு அயோத்தி.  தசரத சக்ரவர்த்திக்கு இக்ஷ்வாகு குலத்தனமாம் இராமனும் இலக்குவண பரத சத்ருக்கணனும் பிறந்த  செய்தியை அரசவை காவலர்கள்  யானைமீதேறி முரசறைந்து அறிவித்தனர்.  மக்கள் அளக்கமுடியாத இன்பம் கொண்டனர்.


Sree Rama Navami – is  the day on which Lord Sri Ramachandramurthy,  the supreme avatar of Maryada Purush  was born in the blessed land of Ayodhya.  Lord Rama descended on earth for the purpose of upholding righteousness and rewarding virtue.  Among the thousands of temple dedicated to Him – some that readily come to mind could be :  Thiru Ayodhya, Chitrakoot, Badrachalam, Rameswaramn, Thriparayar, Thillaivilagam, Vaduvur, Maduranthakam, Thiru pullampoothangudi, Thiruvelliyangudi,   .. … … and more.   This is not a post on any divyadesam but on a beautiful ancient temple associated with Lord Sree Rama.  

Carnatic music to us is all about keerthanas sung by Vocalitsts and instruments such as Violin, Mridangam, Kadam, Veena as accompaniments .. .. ever heard Cajon ?  - read it to be  a popular percussion instrument.   Sheets of 13 to 19 mm (1/2 to 3/4 inch) thick wood are generally used for five sides of the box. A thinner sheet of plywood is nailed on as the sixth side, and acts as the striking surface or head. The striking surface of the cajón drum is commonly referred to as the tapa. A sound hole is cut on the back side. The modern cajón may have rubber feet, and has several screws at the top for adjusting percussive timbre. Bizarre it sounds, but the sound of music is enthralling. 

Bammera Pothana (1450–1510) was a Telugu poet best known for his translation of the Bhagavata Purana from Sanskrit to Telugu. He was a Telugu and Sanskrit Scholar. His work, Andhra Maha Bhagavatamu, is popularly called as Pothana Bhagavatam in Telugu.  He is associated with this place.

For sure, you have heard many famous singers singing this Thiyagaraja keerthana ‘ Bantu reethi kolu ’ - In this beautiful keerthana , Sri Thyagaraja swamy pleads with Lord Rama to give him the post of a sentinel  for Sree Rama. The symbolic meaning is that he always wants to be in His presence always (just as Sri Kulasekara Azhwar pleaded Lord Venkateswara to be in holy Thirumala and infront of Lord Thiruvengadamudaiyan)

బంటు రీతి కొలువీయ వయ్య రామ

తుంట వింటి వాని మొదలైన  !  మదాదుల బట్టి నేల కూలజేయు నిజ

రోమాంచమనే, ఘన కంచుకము ! రామ భక్తుడనే, ముద్రబిళ్ళయు

రామ నామమనే, వర ఖఢ్గమి ! విరాజిల్లునయ్య, త్యాగరాజునికే


baNTu rIti koluv(i)yya(v)ayya rAma

tuNTa viNTi vAni modalaina mad(A)dula ! goTTi nEla gUla jEyu nija (baNTu)

rOmAncam(a)nu ghana kancukamu ! rAma bhaktuD(a)nu mudra biLLayu

rAma nAmam(a)nu vara khaDgamivi ! rAjillun(a)yya tyAgarAjunikE (baNTu)


O Lord Rama, as an orderly sentry,  Into your service, may I gain entry, O Lord rAma! Bestow on me (Thigayya) the privilege (“kolu”) of being in Your service as a servitor (“Bantu rIti”). In the Anupallavi, Sri Thyagaraja Swamy says that, the guard’s post should be such that he is empowered to destroy all the demons which are Arishadvargas (Arishad Vargas are the six passions of the mind: Kama - lust, craze, desire; Krodha - anger, hatred; Lobha - greed, miserliness, narrow minded; Moha - delusory emotional attachment; Mada or Ahankara - pride, stubborn mindedness; and Matsarya - envy, jealousy, show or vanity, and pride) and since the guard is empowered to do so, he needs such a guard's post.

For those interested in Carnatic music here is a rendition by Dr PN Prabhavathy, accompanied by Cajon.    The word cajon is literally Spanish for box (drawer, crate, even coffin), and the cajon as a drum shows up in many cultures, on several continents, and over generations of time. have never seen or heard this instrument, leave along imagine it to be part of a Carnatic song rendition.  The Peruvian cajon in its purist form is a six-sided instrument, with a sound hole cut into the back panel. The front panel, or tapa, is made from thin wood for resonance, leaving the other five sides to provide the structure. The sound is dry, the root tone is bass, and its primary role is as an accompaniment instrument.


Those used to travel by train in the Chennai – Mumbai rail line, would have got out at this station Cuddapah after Renigunta and perhaps could even have observed a small station called Vontimita slipping by. Kadapa, a place normally associated with faction fights, bombs and violence. Thanks to countless Telugu films, Kadapa has come to mean, fierce looking, scowling factionists, who hurl bombs, kill people without batting an eyelid and eat red hot chillies for fun.

Though this is what perhaps Telegu tinseldom has portrayed – Kadapa is the birth place of Tallapaka Annamayya who composed all those wonderful keertanas in tribute to Lord Venkateswara.  Kadapa district (formerly: Cuddapah) is one of the thirteen districts of Andhra Pradesh. It is also one of the four districts in the Rayalaseema region of the state.  Kadapa has historical importance since BC era. It was ruled by the Mauryan Empire and the Satavahana Empire (Andhras). It was part of the area ceded to the British by Nizam. The District was formed by splitting the Ceded Districts into two in 1808 during the British rule, the other district being Bellary.  The British spelt the district as Cuddapah. The district is part of Rayalaseema, commemorating the name of Rayulu (Kings) of the Vijayanagar Empire, who ruled the area in the 16th century.  

The old records of the district reveal that Kadapa previously called Gadapa which means in Telugu language threshold. The ancient village of Kadapa with its large tank and temple of Lord Venkateswara at Devuni Kadapa was convenient camping place for the myriads of pilgrims travelling to the holy shrine of Tirupathi.  Devotees would first visit Devuni Kadapa, before going to Tirupathi to pray to Saint Annamacharya and Saint Potuluri Veera Brahmam who foretold the future and advocated a classless society. The ancient temple at Vontimitta which inspired Pothana to compose Andhra Maha Bhagavatham is also in the district. In the olden days Kadapa was also called "Hiranyanagaram". According to puranas, the big temple at Vontimitta – was   constructed by two devotees named ‘Vontudu’ and ‘Mittudu’ who were once burglars and were transformed into devotees of Lord Rama. After constructing the  temple, they sacrificed their lives and turned into statues.

Kishkindakanda one of the 7 kandas of the Ramayana is believed to have occurred in this region.   The beautiful Moolavar vigrahams of  Sree  Rama, Lakshmana and Sita in the garbhagriha of the temple are  carved from a single rock. Saint-poet Tallapaka Annamacharya  visited the place and sung in praise of the deity in his keerthanas.  It is -  Vontimitta, village in Vontimitta mandal of Rajampeta revenue division.  At Vontimitta stands the imposing Sree Kodandarama Temple,    an example of Vijayanagara architectural style, darting back to  16th century.   It is located at a distance of 25 kilometres (16 mi) from Kadapa and is close to Rajampet.  

The temple, the largest in the region is built in Vijayanagara style of architecture, in the "Sandhara" order within a rectangular yard enclosed by walls. The temple,  is architecturally elegant and impressive. It has three ornate Gopurams (towers) of which the central tower, which faces east, is the entrance gateway to the temple; the other two towers face north and south. This central tower is built in five tiers, and a number of steps are provided to access the approach gate of the tower.

The mandapa or the Rangamantapam, the open-air theatre, has exquisite sculptures. As the mandapa is supported over 32 pillars it is known as Madhyarangaradapam.  The colonnades in the mandapa have carved figurines of attendant apsaras (nymphs).  The roof of the central part is built up with many decorative brackets or corbels. The sanctum sanctorum or garbhagriha is approached from the mandapa through an antaraalayam or inner chamber, which is adorned with sculptures.  In the garbhagriha, stands most beautiful Sree Rama, His consort Seetha devi and Lakshmana.  Opposite to the temple is a separate temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman.

The Administration of the Temple is with the  Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD).  After the carving out of Telengana, Sree Rama navami,hitherto officially celebrated by Govt of Andhrapradesh in Bhadrachalam is not celebrated at Vontimitta as Bhdarachalam is now in Telengana.   As the surge of Covid-19 cases continued in state, several temples under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), including this  famous Vontimitta Kodandarama temple in Kadapa, have been  shut down for devotees from 23.4.2021. For now the temple is closed and would not allow  devotees till May 15, 2021.

We had very good darshan at this beautiful temple, returning after Nava Narasimha darshanam at Sri Ahobilam.

adiyen Srinivasa dhasan
Mamandur Veeravalli Srinivasa dhasan

PS : the photos of  Uthsavar & Thirumanjanam taken from the site of ‘’ – rest were taken during my visit.