Sri Kalahasti Kalahasteeswara Swamy temple is located 36 km away from Tirupathi in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. The inner temple was constructed around the 5th Century, and the outer temple was built in the 12th Century.
According to ancient Tamil sources, 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.’ Kailas is India’s most revered spiritual symbol. It is the abode of Shiva, from whose head, according to legend, the Ganges is said to flow. Shiva, ‘that which is auspicious at all places, times and in all circumstances’, is a symbol of the Self and the Ganges flowing from his head represents the spiritualized or awakened mind. A mind sourced in Spirit is a river of immeasurable power and life-giving goodness. The claim that Kalahasti is the ‘Kailas of the South’ means that the small hill near the temple is to be taken as the spiritual equivalent of the Himalayan Kailas. Likewise, the small river flowing in a northerly direction beside the temple will be taken as the mighty Ganges.
Even the cardinal directions have assumed symbolic significance in Pauranic culture. Context should be taken into account when divining the meaning of a symbol, but north, for example, is said to be the abode of the Self because, from the immortal ‘northern’ position, the Self looks out on the ‘southern’ world of time and death. The idiom “head south’ means to go downhill, to decay. The God Dakshinamurthy, whose name means ‘the one facing south’ and whose idol (Murthy) is installed in the Kalahasti Temple, sits in the North and faces south. East often represents the dawning of wisdom, the sun being another common Self-symbol. The symbolic use of direction culminates in the idea of building temples at the point on a river where its meandering points it back to its source. The holiest city in India, Benaras, is built on a stretch of the Ganges that flows northward, the idea being that when the mind turns back toward its source, the God/Self, it realizes its innate divinity. So, the small river on whose banks the Kalahasthi temple is situated is meant to remind us of the Ganges and the wealth of spiritual associations it conjures.
The Vedas posit four ends for which human beings strive in their search for happiness: pleasure (kama), security or wealth (artha), duty (dharma) and freedom (moksha). In the temple at Kalahasti, these four universal motivations, which may take any worldly form, are converted into spiritual impulses, according to temple literature. They are represented by four deities facing in the four cardinal directions. In the form of Dakshinamoorthy, Shiva represents desire, in this case, the desire for liberation. However, he is more commonly said to represent the feeling of wealth (Dakshina) that comes when you know who you are. At Kalahasti, the Goddess Gnanaprasoonamba (the giver of knowledge or the mother of all knowledge) represents the ‘wealth’, i.e. freedom from limitation conferred by Self-knowledge. The deity Kalahastishwara (the Lord of Kalahasti) faces west and symbolizes liberation. Liberation, the death of ego upon the rediscovery of the Self, is the final stage of life, just as setting is the sun’s last act before it disappears over the horizon. Unfortunately, the temple literature from which this information was gleaned neglected to mention the fourth deity.
The most revered and universal symbol of the Self is the human form, ‘man cast in the image of God, and its spiritual significance is difficult to overestimate. Rather than conceive of us as tainted, sinful human creatures, the Upanishad tells us we are divine. It says, “That which you worship there is this that you see here.” The ineffable, formless God/Self-perceived by mystics is this whole world and everything in it. While Hindu deities often sport dozens of arms and animal heads, their essential forms are recognizably human. Probably no other idea accounts for the astonishing fact that one billion people stuffed into a landmass one-third the size of the United States undoubtedly handle their lives more confidently than their prosperous Western counterparts.
Sri Kalahasti got its name because, in the days of yore, a spider (Sri), the serpent (Kala) and the elephant (Hasti) elephant worshipped Lord Shiva with great devotion. A spider lived in the inner sanctum and worshipped the Lord by weaving elaborate temples and images of Shiva. A breeze caused the altar fire to destroy the spider’s offerings one day. It became angry and was about to gulp down the flame (realize the Self), endangering its (ego’s) life. Appreciative of its devotion, Shiva appeared and granted the spider a boon. The spider requested moksha, release from the cycle of births and deaths. Accordingly, it became one with Shiva, the Self.
A cobra worshipped Lord Shiva by offering rare gems, pearls and rubies from Nagaland, a mythical place where Nagas (serpents) dwell. Serpents are one of India’s most visible symbols of the spiritual power of the Self. The spiritual power of the Self, called Kundalini, the latent electricity of Consciousness, is hidden in the dark recesses of the unconscious like a snake hidden deep within the earth. After the snake had worshipped, an elephant, fresh from its purifying bath in the nearby river, came to worship. In preparation, it sprayed the altar with water from its trunk, scattering the gems. It then proceeded to decorate the altar with leaves from a holy tree. When the cobra returned, it was angered to see its offerings disrespected and replaced by mere leaves. So, it replaced the leaves with gems. This charade repeated itself every day until the cobra became fed up and decided to punish whoever was destroying its offerings. When the elephant returned to worship with its leaves, the cobra slithered up its trunk and injected its venom. In agony, the elephant dashed its head on the stone altar to kill the snake. The snake fell out of the trunk and died from its wounds, and the elephant succumbed to the poison.
Understanding that both had sacrificed their lives for their love of the Lord, Shiva resurrected them, gave them liberation and took them into his own body. At the foot of the linga, one can see a spider, two elephant tusks and a five-headed (the five elements) serpent to remind the devotee of these acts of supreme devotion.
Uniqueness of Sri Kalahasteeswara Swamy :
- The uniqueness about the Idol of Sree Kalahasthi Temple is that Lord Siva manifested here having all the 27 Nakshatras (stars) and 9 Rashis in his Kavacham.
- Sri Kalahasti temple is the only temple that is kept open during Grahanam (Solar and Lunar Eclipse) also.
- Even Priests don’t touch the Sivalingam here with hands.
- Famous Temple for Rahu Kethu Pooja, Kala Sarpa Dosha Nivarana Pooja, Manglik Dosha Or Kujha Dosha, Sani Disha and Pitru Dosha.
Sri Gnanaprasunambika Devi
Lord Shiva taught Goddess Parvathi the Sacred Panchatkhari (Five Letters) mantra and told her to do Japa with concentration. But Goddess Parvathi did Japa but without concentration. So Lord Shiva became angry and cursed Goddess Parvathi to be born as an ordinary woman. Goddess Parvathi realized her mistake and prayed to Lord Shiva to relieve her from the curse given by him.
So God Shiva said to Goddess Parvathi that on her human birth, she should pray to Shivalinga, who is near Mount Kailas, to come out of the curse given by him. Goddess Parvathi requested Sage Naradha to help her to go to Dakshina Kailas to perform penance. Goddess Parvathi performed penance and prayed to Lord Shivalinga. Lord Shiva was pleased with the penance and prayer of Goddess Parvathi, and again, he taught her with Sacred Panchatkhari Mantra. Then, she accepted her as his consort after Goddess Parvathi attained Panchatkhari Japasiddi. From that time onwards, Goddess Parvathi was called Gnanaprasunambika and showed her devotees supreme knowledge.
If you are planning on visiting the temple here are some tips:
This temple itself is a great architectural piece of art. Spend some time exploring the temple. You can see that the inside pillars are as fresh as they were hundreds of years back because they were hidden from degradation by nature.
Please plan your trip so that you can spend some time exploring the physical and spiritual beauty of the temple.
In the outer temple, as soon as you enter the temple gates (after the shops)on your left, you will see the old idol of Sri Gnanaprasunambika Devi (the original one), which was placed outside for some reason. Still, a lot of people pray to it.
By the way, do not forget to see the Pathala Ganapathi who is associated with the old Siva lingam beneath the temple. You cannot see the Old Siva Lingam (related to the old Story of Sri Kalahasti) beneath the temple but you can imagine it (and the real story) when you see the Lord Ganapathi. Patala Ganapati is a small underground temple located in the temple complex. Pilgrims should make it a point to visit this interesting place. One has to bow down carefully to worship this Ganesh 20 feet below on a very narrow staircase.
Sri Kalahasti Temple Timings: 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Other Dieties inside the Temple:
Kasi Viswanatha Swamy Temple
Bala Gnanambika Devi Temple
Pathala Ganapathi Swamy
Anji Anji Vinayaka Swamy
Vendi Balli (Silver Lizard)
Kala Bhairava Swamy
Battala Bhairava Swamy
Addala Mandapam (Glass Mandapam)
Sri Kalahasti Temple Address:
Sri Kalahastiswaraswamy Vari Devastanam
Andhra Pradesh – 517644.
Telephone: 08578-221655, 222787
Temple Executive Officer Info:
Contact Telephone Numbers:
08578-222240,221336, 9949491764(Public Relations Officer) and 9889908382
1) The Executive Officer,
Sri Kalahastheeswar Devasthanams,
Sri Kalahasti, PIN 517640
2) The Executive Officer,
Sri Kalahastheeswar Devasthanams,
Inside Temple Office,
Sri Kalahasti, PIN – 517640.
Other Rahu Ketu Pooja Temples:
1) Sri Naganathaswamy Temple Thirunageswaram, Kumbakonam.
2) Sri Raja Rajeshwari Temple In Nellore.
3) Sri Valli Devasena Sametha Sri Subramanya Swamy Temple Chittoor.
4) Japali Anajaney Swamy Temple Tirumala.
5) Sri Thathaya Gunta Gangamma in Tirupati.
6) Ghati Subramanya Swamy Temple.
7) Kukke Subramanya Swamy Temple
8) Nashik Trimbakeshwar Temple