Located at a distance of 50 kms from Rajahmundry, East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh and on the banks of the mighty river Godavari. The history of this sacred pilgrimage is dealt with in the ‘Skanda Purana’ of Hindu mythology (Bheemesaatha uttahmam daivam sapta Godavaraata shrestam theertham, chana maheetate) which means that there is no other temple greater than Draksharama in Dhakinapadam (South India).
Draksharamam is a Shivite shrine. The deity Shiva is thought as the Bhimeshwara Swamy here and his consort is the Goddess Manikyamba. This holy pilgrimage is one of the rare, where the God and Goddess are equally important. In India, some of the other temples where God and Goddess are equally important are the Varanasi in North India and Sirsailam in South India.
Legend behind Manikyamba Devi:
The Goddess is an incarnation of Shakti (the Mother God). The popular belief is that the left cheek of the Goddess Sati Devi, wife of Lord Shiva has fallen here after her death. This is the 12th peetah among the Ashta Dasa Shakti Peetahs. Another important aspect of this temple is the idol of Manikyamba Devi being placed on the Shree Chakra and the tilting of the idol to left side. And the belief is that earlier she was worshipped in Vama Marga (Left route).
Legend behind Bheemeshwara Swamy:
According to the Hindu mythology, a demon king “Tarakaasura” was killed by Shanmuka, the son of Lord Shiva and during the battle, the Shiva linga in the throat of the demon king was broken into five pieces and had fallen in five distinct locations, which are currently known as “Pancharamas”. One of them is Draksharamam. As per the local narrations, this temple was constructed by the Sun God.
According to the local legends, the temple as built by angels in one night. Unfortunately, the construction of the perimeter wall couldn’t be completed before sunrise and still stands incomplete. Several attempts have been made to construct the uncompleted part of the wall, but all these efforts have failed with the constructed wall collapsing within a few months.
The specialty of this Shiva Linga is that, the early morning Sun rays fall on the Linga in the sanctum and probably this is also one of the tallest lingas (10 feet) in India. The Sanctum is two storied. There are some 800 odd inscriptions on the temple walls. The other interesting fact is that there are eight other shiva temples around this temple. Legend is that Lord Chandra (Moon God) enshrined these eight shiva lingas in all the 8 directions around the main temple to absorb the powerful rays emanating from the main linga.
The temple is noted not only for its sanctity and holiness, but also for its architectural beauty and historical importance.
Most of the terms like linga, shakti peetah, puranas might not be very familiar to many of us. Stay tuned as I am going to explain these things at detail in my upcoming posts.. 🙂