Simhachalam Temple

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Weather:

Time Required: 1-2 hrs

Timings:

7:00 AM - 4:00 PM, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Entry Fee:

Free
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Simhachalan Temple, Visakhapatnam Overview

Situated in the city of Vishakhapatnam, the Simhachalam temple is an ornate shrine which is revered to be one of the most important temples in the region. The edifice is perched atop a hill 800 metres above the sea level and is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, who is an incarnation of Vishnu himself. Simhachalam Temple is embellished with extremely detailed stone carvings and design and can be spotted from a distance. This is the only temple in the country where Shri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swami- who is a combination of the third and fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu- appears. Lord Narasimha appears here in the tribhanga posture and has two hands with the head of a lion on a human torso.

A shrine which follows strict discipline, the Simhachalam temple has detailed prayer routines for all days of the year which are undisturbed by the influx of pilgrims. This place is a treasure of traditional Vaishnavite culture, and you can study the same in the routine of the temple and the various inscriptions that it houses. Interestingly, the statue of the deity appears in its true form only for 12 hours per year on the day of Akshaya Tritiya. On any other occasion, the idol is covered with sandalwood paste. Simhachalam Temple has been a source of inspiration to many poets such as KuchimanchiTimma Kavi, Adidam Sura Kavi and the likes, owing to its rich history and strong traditional values.

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The legend of the temple is based on the story of Hiranakashyap and Prahalad. Hiranakashyap and Hiranyaksha were demon kings and adversaries of Lord Vishnu. Hiranayaksha seized the earth and carried it to the nether region, from where it was rescued by Vishnu in Varaha form after he killed Hiranyaksha. The loss of his brother made Hiranakashyap livid, and he vowed to kill Lord Vishnu and assume absolute power over the earth. 

Hirankashyap prayed incessantly to Lord Brahma and gained a boon which made him safe against death either by day or night, either in the morning or the night, and either by a human or a beast. Hirankashyap's son Prahalad however, turned out to be a devout worshipper of Vishnu, which angered the demon king to no end. As a last resort to kill him, Hirankashyap had Prahalad pushed off the Simhadri hill at which point Lord Narasimha appeared, saved Prahalad and killed Hirankashyap and ended his tyranny. Eventually, Prahalad built the Simhachalam Temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha, which is believed to be the same one that stands here today. 

The exact age of the Simhachalam Temple is not known, but it contains scriptures belonging to 1098-1099 AD belonging to the kingdom of Chola king Kullotunga-I. Another ancient text illustrates a queen of the eastern Ganga of Kalinga covering the image, and yet another inscription suggests that the eastern Ganga king of Orissa Narasimha Dev built the main sanctum sometime around the 1267 AD. As many as 252 texts in Oriya and Telugu have described the predecessors of the Simhachalam Temple, hence the construction of this mighty facade cannot be clearly attributed to a single entity.

It is believed that Sri Krishnadeva Raya had visited the temple twice around 1516 AD and 1519 AD after he defeated Gajapati ruler of Orissa Gajapati Prataparudra Dev on two different accounts. The Simhachalam temple still contains inscriptions left here by Sri Krishna Devaraya of Vijayanagara empire.

This temple has a square sanctum mounted by a tower, a porch in front with a smaller tower above it and a sixteen pillared mandapam. Overlooking this is the verandah, all made out of dark granite carved with traditional designs of floral ornamentation and scenes from the Vaishnavite Puranas. The verandah houses a statue of a horse driven chariot as well. Outside the inner enclosure is the marvellous natyamandapam, where God's marriage rites are performed. This is supported by 96 black stone pillars arranged in sixteen rows, each of which bears unique and astounding stone carvings. An ancient marvel, this temple is worth a visit for its architectural details itself.

Perhaps one of the most important festivals at the Simhachalam temple is Akshaya Tritiya or Chandanotsava. Also known as Chandan yatra, on this day, the sandalwood paste that covers the idol of Lord Narasimha is removed and the deity appears to its devotees in its original form for a period of 12 hours. In preparation for the festival, sandalwood paste is applied to the idol on full moon days of the Vaisakha, Jyeshta, and Ashadha months. On the day of Akshay Tritiya, the sandalwood covering Narsimha's idol is removed at around 4:00 AM in the morning while prayers and 'Abhishek' are completed by 6:00 AM. The devotees are then allowed to enter the sanctum and catch a glimpse of the Lord.

In the evening, a number of bathing services are performed starting with Chandanabhisheka (abhisheka with water mixed with sandalwood powder) and Sahasrakalasabhisheka (abhisheka with water from thousand metal pots). Three different kinds of 'Prasadam' are offered to Lord Narasimha, which marks the end of the celebrations.

Regular buses ply to and from Simhachalam temple and are quick and affordable ways to reach this destination. If you are at the Waltair Railway Station, you can visit Simhachalam by bus number 6A, or you can take bus number 55 and 40 from Gajuwaka and Dwarka Bus Stand respectively. You can also hire a cab to drop you at the temple.

Top Hotels near Simhachalam Temple

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Latest questions by travellers on Simhachalan Temple

Pls suggest a good place for two senior citizens for stay. The purpose is to visit Simhachalam temple and Visakapattanam. How many steps I have to climb to reach the temple and what would be the ideal time to visit the temple on a Saturday? Besides Simhachalam temple what other temple I can go at Vizag and nearby places?

Answer: There are many decent 3-star hotels around Vishakapatnam that you could choose to stay at, which would provide a comfortable accommodation experience to two senior citizens. The Keys Select, Clarks Inn, and Fortune Inn are good examples of such hotels. Please refer to the Hotels Tab above for more information on the different types of hotels available in Vishakaptanam. To reach the temple, you will need to climb 40 - 50 stairs, but the climb is easy and can be made by senior citizens as well. It is advisable to go in the morning on a Saturday. Apart from the Simhachalam Temple, you could visit temples like the Sri Kanaka Maha Lakshmi Temple, the Ram Krishna Kali Temple, and the Varahalakshminarashima Temple. Please refer to the Places to Visit Tab above for more information on places to visit in Vishakapatnam.

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