Ahobilam Andhra Pradesh: Ahobilam has a major religious significance and is the major centre of pilgrimage in south India located in Nandyal in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. Also known as "Singavel Kundram", Ahobilam is the abode of Lord Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu in man-lion form. The temple is located in the dense forest of Nallamala. The place consists of ten shrines of Lord Narasimha located within 5kms of radius between the hills and valleys of volcanic origin. The nine forms of Lord Narasimha swami that resides in Ahobilam are Jwala Narasimha, Ahobila Narasimha, Malola Narasimha, Kroda Narasimha, Kaaranja Narasimha, Bhaargava Narasimha, Yaogananda Narasimha, Chathravata Narasimha and Paavana Narasimha. As all the nine forms of Lord Narasimha are worshipped here, this place is also called as Nava Narasimha kshetram (abode of nine forms of Lord Narasimha).
The temple is divided into two parts - upper Ahobilam and lower Ahobilam, called as Eguva and Diguva Ahobilam respectively, in local language. Of these nine shrines, Yogananda, Chathravata and Bhargava Narasimha swami shrines are in lower Ahobilam and the remaining six are in upper Ahobilam. There is also another temple of Lord Narasimha Swami, called as Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swami temple, in the lower Ahobilam where the idol of the Lord is believed to be installed by Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati. The Lord in this shrine can be called as the tenth form of Lord Narasimha Swami. Later, the temple was built by the rulers of Vijayanagara Empire. A local tribe called ‘Chencu’ inhabits the place.
It is the only place where all the nine forms of Lord Narasimha are worshipped. At lower Ahobilam, there is a temple of Prahalada Varadhan or Lakshmi Narasimha, in the foothills of the mountain. The upper Ahobilam is a home to Lord Ahobaleswar and this beautiful shrine is located at the western side of the sacred stream known as Bhavanasini that merges with River Krishna. A few kilometres away from Prahaladavarda Varadhan, there is a drinking water lake called Alwar Koneru.
Each of the nine temples of Lord Narasimha, located in the upper and lower Ahobilam, has an interesting tale behind it.
Best time to visit Ahobilam is between August to December as the forest is in its full bloom and lush green with many water streams and waterfall flowing full fledge. On the whole there are twelve shrines to see in Ahobilam including the Ugra Sthambam. Generally one cannot visit all the nine shrines in one day, unless you are in a hurry and physically fit. Of the nine temples, Jwala and Pavana are most difficult while the others can be reached by road or trekking.
From the Ahobila Narasimha, you can cover Kroda, Jwala and Maalola in about 3 hours approximately. Maalola is about 100 steps from the left side of Kroda and the way to Jwala is still steep and narrow. The starting point for Pavana is also Ahobila Narasimha temple, but the route is on the opposite side of Jwala Temple. One has to climb some 250 very steep steps in the beginning and then walk for about 4 KM on fairly plain ground. The round trip may take about three hours. Recently, a path has been made for Jeeps to go to Pavana. It is a very rough 2 hour drive from Lower Ahobilam.
After covering these five temples, the remaining temples are very easy. Karanja is on the way to Upper Ahobilam from Lower Ahobilam, just on the road side. Yogananda and Chatravata are on plain ground about a couple of kilometre from Lower Ahobilam. You can drive on paved road for these two temples. Then you have Bhargava temple. This temple is also on plain ground about 2 Km from Lower Ahobilam, but there is no paved road. You have to hire a Jeep or Auto rickshaw to reach here.
Apart from these nine shrines, you have Ugra Sthambham (Ugra- Fierce, Sthambham- Pillar). It is said that the Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Narasimha from this mountain in response to his devotee Prahalada’s prayers and hence the name Ugra Sthambham. It is called as ‘Achalachaya Parvatha’ since its shadow doesn’t fall anywhere. We can see a cleft of the mountain dividing it into two parts. This part is said to be the part of the kingdom of Hiranyakashipu. You get a panoramic view of the entire Ahobilam from here with a clear view of Garudadri and Vedadri hills. One has to go trekking to this spot as the way is unusually steep. Its generally difficult for ladies to go there and impossible if you are with family. While on the way, one has to be extra cautious with the slopes and slippery narrow path. There is a an iron pillar on the top of this Sthambam and it is believed that one attains salvation if he/she makes three pradakshinas around the iron pillar.
There is food available at some small hotels and canteens in this place. There is a Brahmana Nitya Annadana Satram in the Upper Ahobilam where food is provided daily for nearly 400 people. You get pretty good food here, served hot if you go around 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM. In addition, Sri Ahobila Matham has established a trust called Annamacharya Nitya Annadana Trust. Food is provided free of cost to the devotees of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swami. Free prasadam is offered three time a day. Dadiyannam (Curd rice) is offered morning and evening. At noon time Tadiyaradhanam (full course meals) is offered.
Every month on Swati Thirumanjanam, Abhishekam is performed for all the nine deities of Narasimha. It is said to be a special day to visit Ahobilam. Brahmothsavam is celebrated in the month of February to mid March which is the time when Ahobilam looks bustling with festive mood. The celebration last for 10 days and it is the best time to have the glimpse of the Lord. However, you will have to bear the heat and crowd during this time. Some important numbers are railway enquiry, Cuddapah: 8562-44349, Nandyal: 8514-43028, Kurnool: 8518-20110. To reach places like Jwala Narasimha and Ugra Sthambha you will require a guide as the way is difficult to find.
Overall, Ahobilam provides best opportunity for trekking and you can also walk around for some beautiful captivating scenic beauty with plenty of water ponds, streams and resting places. Also there are several caves on the way. All-in-all, a visit to Ahobilam rejuvenates your devotion with a package of adventure and fun.