Srikalahasteeswara Temple Kalahasti
Sri Kalahasti Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva , located 36 km away from Tirupathi in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradhesh. Sri Kalahasti has been known as the ‘Kailas of the South' for slightly more than two thousand years and the small river on whose banks it sits, the ‘Ganges of the South.' This ancient Saivite pilgrim centre on the banks of the Swarnamukhi river is dedicated to Sri Kalahasteeswara. His consort is Gnana Prasannambika.
Kalahasti is revered as one of the Pancha Bhutha Sthalas, dedicated to Vayu, the Wind God. There are five oil lamps in the sanctum representing the Pancha Bhuthas (Five Elements), but the flame of one lamp keeps flickering even though there is no movement of air.
This explains the significance of this Vayu Sthala. Pancha Bhutha Sthalas are shrines, where the Lingas are dedicated to the five elements Earth, Fire, Water, Wind and Ether or Akash. The other four such holy places are Kanchipuram (Prithvi Linga Earth) Tiruvannamalai (Jyothir Linga Fire) Tiruvanaikkaval (Appu Linga Water) and Chidambaram (Akash Linga Ether).
The name of the town is a combination of three words, 'Sri' meaning a spider, 'Kala' meaning a serpent and ‘Hasti' meaning an elephant. As per mythology, these three creatures are believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva at the site to attain salvation. The religious centre known as Kalahasti or Dakshina Kailasam is referred to as a spiritual abode of Lord Shiva.
Srikalahasti has an ancient Shiva temple that has several mentions in Skanda Purana, Shiva Purana and Linga Purana. Several Tamil Shaivite saints had visited the shrine for seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva.
Sri Kalahasti is also considered a Navagraha Sthala, dedicated to Rahu and Kethu. Navagraha Sthalas are those places where the nine planets are said to have worshipped Lord Shiva. They are revered as Parihara Sthalas (places where the devout get themselves redeemed of papas or sins committed). There are two hills on either side of the temple, known as Dakshina Kailasam or Kannappamalai and Durgagiri. There are shrines dedicated to Lord Kannappeshwara and Devi Durgamba.
According to Puranas, a spider (Sri), a snake (Kala) and an elephant (Hasti) worshipped the Lord here and attained mukti (salvation). Hence the Linga is known as Sri Kala Hasti Eshwara. This legend is very similar to that of the Jambukeshwaram temple in Tiruvanaikkaval in Tamil Nadu, which is also another Pancha Bhutha Sthala, dedicated to Appu Linga (Water).
The hills are closely associated with a legend on a tribal hunter and an ardent Shiva devotee Kannappa. His original name was Thinna. One day he noticed a priest performing Shiva puja and followed it regularly. In course of time, the hunter became so devoted that he started worshipping the Lord, offering meat of hunted animals. This infuriated the priest, who wanted to teach the hunter a lesson. But the Lord wanted to prove that between Him and a true devotee, irrespective of caste or creed, nothing else can stand. He decided to enact a divine drama. One day, an eye of the Lord started bleeding.
The devout Thinna, unable to withstand this, gorged out one of his eyes and offered it to the Lord. The bleeding stopped and Thinna was extremely happy. But the Lord apparently wanted to test Thinnas devotion further. The second eye started bleeding now.
Thinna was such a staunch devotee that without any hesitation, he scooped out his second eye also, holding the Lords bleeding eye with one of his feet. Moved by this act, Lord Shiva appeared before Thinna, called his devotee by the name Kannappa. (kan in Tamil means eye) and gave him mukti (salvation). The priest, who witnessed this high drama hiding himself in the neighbourhood, realised what true devotion is. In commemoration of this legend, the hill was named after Kannappa and he is immortalised as one of the 63 Saivite saints (63 Nayanmars). Book A tour Package to Srikalahasteeswara Temple Kalahasti