Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba
Srisailam is situated in the thick and inaccessible forests of the Nallamalai hills, in the northeastern portion of the Nandikotkur Taluk of Kurnool District. It is one of the most ancient and sacred places in South India, and this important religious shrine stands on the Rishabhagiri hill, on the southern bank of the sacred river Krishna. Srisailam is referred to as "Sri Giri", "Sriparvata", "Rudra Parvata" and "Seshachalam" in several texts and Puranas.
The presiding deity at the place is Sri MallikarjunaSwami in the form of a lingam, which is one of the twelve 'Jyotirlingams' existing in the country. Another important temple at the place is that of 'Bhramaramba', the consort of Lord 'Mallikarjunaswami'.
It is said the 'Vrishabha', the sacred bull of Lord Shiva performed penance here. Lord Shiva appeared before him, with his consort Parvati in the forms of Mallikarjuna and Bharamaramba. Other shrines within the temple include the 'Sahasra Linga' 'Panchapandava Temples' and 'Vata Vriksha'.
The temple abounds in sculptural beauty and there are about 116 inscriptions in and around it. It is associated historically with such great rulers as the Chalukyan kings, Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara and Chatrapati Shivaji. Adi Shankara is also said to have worshipped the deity at the temple.
The Buddhist pilgrims, Fahiyan and Hieun t`sang have made references to the Sriparvata hill, which is in the Nagarjunakonda valley of the same river Krishna. The sanctity of this place is claimed both by the Hindus as well as by the Buddhists.
A Unique Ritual
The most appealing feature of this temple is that anyone of any cast and creed, can touch the deity and worship here, a custom not found anywhere in Andhra Pradesh. The river Pathalaganga (In Srisailam the Krishna river is known as Pathalaganga, and is regarded as a very sacred river for pilgrims) is about two miles from the temple, with a flight of stone steps leading to it. People bathe in this river before going for the darshan of the Lord. There are several "Teppalu" (small boats in circular shape) and one can enjoy riding on the Pathalaganga.
A Scenic Spot
Apart from its religious importance, Srisailam is also a place of scenic beauty and one of the most important tourist spot in the country. At 'Sikharam', the highest of the Srisailam hills, is 'Sikhareswara Swami', a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Another beautiful temple is Sri Ganapathi temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesh. The 512m long Srisailam Dam and the Paladhara and Panchadhara waterfalls located here are surrounded by natural beauty. Srisailam wildlife sanctuary, which covers areas in five adjoining districts, has tigers, panthers, spotted deer, giant squirrels, great lizards, pangolins, crocodiles, civets and a varieties of snakes.
Maha Shivaratri festival, celebrated at Srisailam, is of all-India importance. This festival usually falls in the month of February-March and is a time to solemnly invoke Lord Shiva through fasts and chants. Lakhs of pilgrims throng to worship the deity and have a holy dip in the river Krishna known as the Pathala Ganga.
Goddess Bhramaramba whose festivals come a month or two after Shivarathri attracts even larger crowds consisting of 'Lingayats'. Goddess Bhramarambika is said to be one of the eighteen leading 'Shaktis' of India.