Ahobilam – The Adventurous Pilgrimage

12.12.2016:

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There is a pathway onto the left side of the Ahobila Narasimha Swami temple which leads us to the Jwala Narasimha Swami temple on the top of the hill. After ascending a few steps we saw a waterfall, though it doesn’t have much water, I can imagine the flow in it during the monsoons. The waterfall is formed by the River Bhavanaashini which carves its’ way through the jungles. Watch out your steps while walking on the wooden bridge over the waterfall that leads to the trek path, as the bridge was partially broken and a leg can go through those patches!

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The path is covered with dense foliage and many trees all the way. Adding to this was the Vanara Sena (the monkey population). This place is full of monkeys and be careful if you are carrying water bottles, food items and your cameras with you. One careless moment, they can snatch anything from you! After a short while, we came across the Varaha (Krodha) Narasimha Swamy temple, which is on a raised platform, but the idol of the God here, which is also a self manifest is in a small cave. The idol here faces upwards towards his left and the Goddess Lakshmi sits on his left shoulder holding one of his tusks. After a small prayer, we left the temple.

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There are two ways from here. One is through the sideways of the valley, while the other is through a safer side. We preferred the later. The later is comprised of steps through some distance and then a rugged path and again few steps and so on. The real trek starts from here as the steps are steep and we were getting tired. We stopped here and there, but we kept on moving. After a hike of 2 kms, we stopped at the ‘Malola Narasimha Swami temple’. The deity in this temple appears in a graceful form. As the Lord Narasimha is seen with his consort, goddess Lakshmi, he is known as Malola Narasimha Swami. The word ‘Malola’ means beloved to Lakshmi (Ma-Lakshmi, Lola-beloved). This place is also known as Markonda Lakshmi Kshetra.

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There is a path besides this temple which leads us to other interesting place called the ‘Prahalladuni Badi’ (Prahalada’s school) and his cave. It is believed that Prahalada had his schooling here. One can see transcendental letters all over the rocks and these are believed to be etched by Prahalada. We were back on way to continue our forward journey. From the Malola Narasimha Swami temple, we got to see the beauty of those hills covered with the thick blanket of trees. After clicking few photographs, we started walking again. The terrain is getting more rugged. We chose the path through the valley-side from here as we heard that this is like more adventurous and more scenic. Truly, it is!

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The path which we chose is less frequented. There is another way which leads to the Jwala Narasimha Swami temple and most of the pilgrims chose this. The best part is there are sticks available here for the pilgrims for supporting their walk and we can choose one, and for the elderly there are the palanquins made of cloth or wood that will be carried by few people for some money. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that trip is truly a miracle for me and besides we running short of time and without having proper food for a long time, we didn’t run out of our energies. Secondly, we forgot to carry water bottles with us and though we started feeling thirsty at the beginning, this thirst never hindered our foot-steps towards the Lord 🙂 🙂

aho viryam aho shauryam aho bahuparakramah
narasimham param daivam ahobilam aho balam 

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Ahobilam – The Nava Narasimha Kshetra

06.00 hrs – I woke up when my alarm buzzed while my brother and Bilal were still sleeping. I started to get ready and in the meanwhile, they too got up and while Bilal was busy in checking how to reach Ahobilam and all, my brother went for a jog as his physical test for the Police selection was around the corner! We got ready quickly and left for Proddatur’s old Bus station from where we should get a bus to Allagadda and before doing that my brother insisted us to have our breakfast and we did so. We got into the bus and the distance to be covered is around 60 kms. We reached Allagadda around 10.30 hrs. From there, we took another bus which would be leaving to Ahobilam, located in Kurnool district and only then did we come to know that there are two places called the Diguva Ahobilam (Lower Ahobilam) and Eguva Ahobilam (Upper Ahobilam).

The bus-conductor gave us tickets till Upper Ahobilam. It was around 11.20 hrs we were at the Lower Ahobilam. Ahobilam is the place where there are nine different self-manifest (swayambu) deities of Lord Narasimha amidst the Nallamala hills. The sacred ranges of Nallamala hills are believed to be personified Adisesha whose head is Tirumala, middle portion Ahobilam and tail portion is Srisailam.

The nine manifestations are:

  1. Jwaala Narasimha
  2. Ahobila Narasimha
  3. Malola Narasimha
  4. Kroda Narasimha
  5. Karanja Narasimha
  6. Bhargava Narasimha
  7. Yogananda Narasimha
  8. Kshatravata Narasimha
  9. Paavana Narasimha

Aho-bilam literally means “wonderful cave” referring to the caves in which some of the nine self-manifest deities reside. The Puranas indicate that the Devas (Gods) saw the manifestation of Lord Vishnu as half-lion and half-man and shouted as Ahobala (great strength) as well as Ahobila (a huge cave where the current sanctum is present). It is the place where Lord Vishnu appeared from the Stone Pillar or Ugra Stambha to slay Hiranyakashipu and hence this place is called Ahobilam. According to another Purana, Garuda performed intense penance to have vision of Lord Vishnu and realized him here. And hence these hills are also known as Garudadri.

Our bus stopped just in front of the temple complex of Shri Lakshmi Narasimha Swami at Lower Ahobilam. The temple complex was serene and if we have enough time we would be visiting the temple on our way back. The bus soon came to life again and started ascending the hill. The snake-like road is carved in middle of the hills and the lush green trees all along the way makes the journey a pleasant one. Within no time, our bus reached Upper Ahobilam and we got down there. We searched for a cloak room to keep our luggage, but couldn’t find one. But there are few accommodations where the pilgrims can stay and we requested the manager over there to allow us to keep our luggage there.  Once freed from the luggage, we walked to find a route-map and there it was, giving each and every detail. In the meanwhile a guide approached us, but he asked us way too much and we dropped the plan of hiring a guide!

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We started climbing up the hill. Initially there were a few concrete steps and it took us around 10 minutes to climb those. We reached the first temple situated in the Upper Ahobilam. This is the Ahobila Narasimha swami temple where the lord appears in his fierce aspect, called Ugra Narasimha. The temple is the main temple and earliest of all the nine temples in Ahobilam. The architecture is pretty much like the other South Indian temples but as told earlier this was a cave temple and the deity here is a Swayambu (self-manifestation). Just infront of this temple complex there is a mandapa, from where one can get the a nice panoramic view of the hills surrounding this temple. While Bilal stayed back, I went inside and took the blessings of the Lord!

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