Yaganti, in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh in India, is a popular tourist site that is famous for its Sri Yagantiswamy Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the perfect way to get a feel of the Andhra Pradesh tourism. The temple speaks profoundly about our rich culture and traditions even today. Yaganti houses the idol of Shiva and Parvathi, called Ardhanareeswara. This fascinating idol is carved out of a single stone and is a marvellous idol of the deities to behold. The festival of Maha Shiv Ratri which falls around October or November each year is celebrated with great pomp and show at the temple. Tourists and especially devotees of Lord Shiva flock to the temple in huge numbers during this time.
There are different stories revolving around the true origins of the temple. According to one account, the sage Agastya wanted to build a temple for Lord Venkateswara at this site. For some reasons, the statue of the Lord could not be installed be here, and the sage then penanced for Lord Shiva. When Lord Shiva appeared, the sage realised that the place suited him better. He then requested Lord Shiva to appear in the Ardhanareeswara form, to which he obliged, and which is present form worshipped here.
According to a second story, when a devotee of Lord Shiva, known by the name of Chitteppa, was worshipping the Lord; the latter appeared to him in the form of a tiger. Chitteppa recognised that it was Lord Shiva in the tiger form, and he exclaimed 'Neganti Shivanu ne kanti', which means 'I saw Shiva I saw'.
The numerous natural caves in the hills around the temple were home to several saints throughout the ages, and have even housed the Great Telugu saint and astrologer, Potuluri Veera Brahmam Garu.
There are quite a few cave temples in Yaganti, adjacent to the main temple. These caves hardly receive any natural light, but the artificial light provided by the numerous diyas lit inside the caves make them come alive.
Prominent caves include the Agastya cave, which is believed to be the place where saint Agastya performed penance to get Lord Shiva's blessings; the Veera Brahmam Cave, the site where Potuluri Veera Brahmam, who is known as India's Nostradamus, wrote some chapters of his prophecies in the Kala Gnanam and the Venkateswara Cave. All these caves are open for worship from dusk to dawn.
The temple is symbolic of the rich customs and traditions that together constitute a colourful and vibrant nation. The villages near Yaganti are still seen full of colour and festivities all year round, as they must have been since ages. Despite the fact that the temple is located amidst a forest, it is never eerily quiet at any time of the day. In fact, it is buzzing with people and pilgrims all day round; going about their work, preparing for performances of various mythological stories, or celebrating the numerous fests.
1. A fantastic feature of the temple is its 'Pushkarini' with very pure water. No one has been able to figure out the exact reason of how the water flows into Pushkarini in all the seasons. Nevertheless, a bath in the holy Pushkarini before visiting Shiva is considered to be highly beneficial for devotees.
2. According to legends, crows do not fly in Yaganti. This is because when Sage Agastya was meditating here; Kakasura, the king of crows had disturbed him from his meditation. The sage, in turn, cursed the crows not to enter the premises. Since the crow is considered to the vehicle of Lord Shani, even he cannot enter the temple.
3. Perhaps the most famous legend associated with the temple, which has made this place of worship quite known, is about the growing size of the Nandi. This is not just a belief held onto by some people but instead is a fact that has been confirmed by the Archaeological Survey of India. The reason, they state, is that the rock has a growing or enlarging nature associated with it. Anyway, worshipers consider this to be a miracle and not a work of science.
The best time to visit Yaganti is from October to March. The peak season, when most tourists come here, is however from February to March.
If you are travelling by road, Yaganti is located 340 kilometres away from Hyderabad and 70 kilometres from Kurnool, in Karnataka. From Hyderabad, one can take NH7 to Kurnool and then NH18 to Yaganti by taking a right to Banaganapalle. Yaganti is just another 18 kilometres from here.
Buses are also available to Yaganti from Banaganapalli twice a day, once at 7:00 AM and once at 3:00 PM. By rail, the nearest railhead from the temple complex is at Panyam, and there are regular trains to and fro Secunderabad. Yaganti is hence quite easy to reach.
1. The area has decent private accommodation for all those who want to stay here.
2. There are no restaurants near the temple. You can purchase water and snacks from the shops located nearby.
3. The temple provides free lunch and dinner in a large dining hall, and the food quality is excellent.
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