"Panaka" or "Paanakam" (in Tamil) means a solution of jaggery and water. Lord Narasimha Swami in Mangalagiri is called as Panakala Narasimha Swami as Pankam is the main Prasadam (offering) to the God. Panakala Narasimha Swami resides on Mangalagiri Hill and the idol of the Lord in this temple is said to be "Swayambhu" (self-existing).
A flight of stairs lead you to the small temple on the hill. While climbing the stairs, you can see a stone inscription by Sri Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar Empire towards you right hand side and a temple of Sri Venkateshwara Swami in the midway. A little further up, you can see the foot prints of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (a monk and a social reformer of Eastern India in 16th century).
Once you enter inside the Panakala Narasimha temple, the energy present there rejuvenates your tiring climb. The temple is not much given to fine sculptures or architecture. A tall Dwajasthambam (erected in the year 1955) is found in front of the temple. Unlike in many temples, you cannot find an idol of the Lord except a wide mouth (of the Lord) opening which is about 15cms in height. This is covered with a metal face of the God to give the devotees a clear picture of the Lord.
One of the amazing things to notice in Panakala Narasimha Swami temple is that when the "archakas" (or the priests) offer Panakam (jaggery water) with a conch to the Lord, a gargling sound is clearly audible. The voice rises to a high pitch and then lessens towards the end of the offering.
Interesting things to note are, only half the quantity of Panakam offered to God goes inside the mouth while the remaining spills out and not even a single ant can be traced though a large quantity of jaggery water is offered.
While the intake of Panakam by the Lord is looked up as a divine phenomenon by some people, some atheists believe that there is a scientific reason behind the intake of jaggery water. It is said that the hill was once a volcanic hill and sugar or jaggery water neutralizes the sulphur compounds present in the volcano, thus preventing the volcanic eruption. Whatever be the reason, the sanctity and divinity present in the temple, makes every devotee visit Mangalagiri again and again.
Sri Lakshmi Devi Temple: Behind the main temple, there is a temple of Sri Lakshmi Devi, the consort of Lord Narasimha. Here, to the west of the temple, you can find tunnel which is said to end at Undavalli on the banks of River Krishna. It was believed that sages used to pass through this tunnel to have bath in River Krishna.
Gandalayam: On a small hillock behind the Panakala Narasimha Swami temple there is a small shrine of Lord Narasimha where He is called as Gandala Narasimha Swami. There is no particular deity inside the temple except a provision to light a lamp. It is believed that this lamp was visible from many villages in good old days. People who suffer from miseries come here and light the lamp with cow ghee which is believed to ward off all their troubles.