There are several legends that have been formulated around Srisailam and its Deities. The most significant among them are the stories related to Parvatha, Chandravathi, Vasumathi and Vriddha Mallikarjuna
The Story of Parvatha: Parvatha, the son of Silada Maharshi did severe penance seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva. Pleased by his devotion, Shiva appeared before him. Parvatha prayed Shiva that the Lord should live on his body forever, and also all Deities and sacred waters of all theerthas should remain on his top permanently. He also prayed to the God that all devotees, irrespective of their cast or creed, visiting the scared abode should be blessed with salvation. God Siva granted Parvatha all his desires. Parvatha took the form of a big Hill called ‘Srisailam’ and Lord Shiva lived on its top as Sriparvatha Swamy.
The Story of Arunasura: As per Hindu Mythology, Goddess Adisakthi took the form of a Bhramaram (bee) to kill demon Arunasura and subsequently settled at Srisailam as Bhramaramba Devi. It is also believed that the neck portion of Sati Devi fell here after her self-sacrifice during Daksha Yagna and hence this place became one of the 18 Sakthi Peethas.
The Story of Chandravathi: Another legend narrates the story of Chandravathi, the daughter of King Chandragupta Pattana near Srisailam on the opposite bank of River Krishna. One day Chandravathi ran away from her palace and went up the hill and settled there with few servants.
There was a natural rock formation on the hill that resembles Sivalinga and one day Chandramathi noticed that one of her cows was shedding its milk over it. She had a vision in her dream that the piece of rock was nothing but a self-manifested Linga of God Sriparvatha Swamy. She started worshipping it, offering garlands of Jasmine (Mallika Pushpam) regularly. One day God Siva appeared before her and she prayed God to wear the Jasmine garland (Mallika Pushpamala) on his head forever. From then onwards, Sriparvatha Swamy became known as Mallikarjuna Swamy (he who wears Mallika flower).
The Story of Vasumathi: According to another legend, Vasumathi the daughter of a sage did penance on this Hill, meditating God Brahma. Pleased by her penance, Brahma appeared before her. Vasumathi prayed Brahma that she should be known by the name ‘Sri’ and also in association with the hill be known as Srisailam. Brahma agreed with her desire and hence this Kshetram became known as ‘Sri-sailam’.
The Story of Vriddha Mallikarjuna: There was a princess, who with her deep devotion, desired to marry God Siva and she always worshipped him. One night God Siva appeared to her in a dream and told her to follow a bee and stay where it settled, till his arrival. She woke up and found a bee, and followed it till she reached the mountain of Srisailam. The bee finally settled on a jasmine plant and the princess waited there. She waited for several days with a hope that Siva would come one day and meanwhile the tribal people Chenchus fed her with honey and fruits every day.
And finally, Siva came there in the form of an old man (vriddha) with wrinkled face and told her that he had been searching for her for a long time and became old. Then the princess married him.
That day the tribal people Chenchus invited the couple for a dinner and offered them meat and drinks. Siva did not like to eat that food but the princess insisted him to have it. Finally Siva left that place ignoring the words of the princess. Then the princess cursed him to become a stone (Linga) and he became known as Vriddha Mallikarjuna Swamy. Seeing this, Goddess Parvathi cursed the princess to become a Bhramaram (bee).
Still, in the temple complex of Srisailam, there is a Shrine of Vriddha Mallikarjuna Swamy and it is believed that the Vriddha Mallikarjuna Linga might be a fossil of Arjuna Vriksham. It appears to be the oldest structure in this place, having approximately seventy thousand years old.
The Story of Chenchu Mallayya: As per the belief of the local tribal Chenchus, once Siva came to Srisailam forest as a hunter and fell in love with a Chenchu girl. He married her and settled down on the Sreesailam hill. Because of this relation they called Mallikarjuna Swamy as Chenchu Mallayya. This story is portrayed on the Prakaram wall of the temple.