Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamyvari Devasthanam, Annavaram is the holy village of East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, situated at a distance of two miles from Annavaram Railway Station on the Vijayawada-Vizag broad gauge section of the South coast railway zone. It is on the National Highway No.16, in between Kathipudi and Tuni. It is 80 KMs from Rajahmundry, 120 KMs from Vizag and 50 KMs from Kakinada.
The temple is built in the Dravidian style. The glory and richness of Bhagwan Satyadeva was widely described in Revakhanda of Skandapuranam. The presiding deity Bhagwan Satyadeva with his consort Sri Anantha Lakshmi on one Side and with Bhagwan Shiva on the other side took his abode on Ratnagiri, which is named after Ratnakara, son of Meru the king of holy mountains. Like in all Divya kshetras that are surrounded by holy rivers, Sri Satyanarayana Swamy at Annavaram is also followed by sacred Pampa River touching the feet of the hill.
Meru, the lord of the hills and his consort Menaka did great penance and were blessed with two sons by the grace of Bhagwan Vishnu. One was named Bhadra and the other Ratnakar. Bhadra pleased Bhagwan Vishnu with his devotion and penance and with his grace became Bhadrachalam on which Bhagwan Sri Rama had permanently settled. Ratnakara desired to emulate his brother and succeeded in pleasing Bhagwan Vishnu by his penance to settle on him as Veera Venkata Satyanarayanaswamy, Ratnakara remaining as Ratnagiri (hill).
It is said that Sri Krishadevaraya of Vijayanagar used the secret underground passages in the Annavaram hills to attack the enemy from both sides during his invasion on Kalinga kings. The Andhra revolutionary freedom fighter late Alluri Seetharama Raju had some of the secret quarters for himself and his followers in these hill ranges, when he rebelled against the British Rule. There are also a temple of Sri Rama and the shrines of Vana Durga and Kanaka Durga in this sacred place. The temple of “Nerellamma” (village deity) is in the village at the foot of the hill.
The main temple was constructed on the hill with the pleasing and distant view of Bay Of Bengal (11 miles) on one side, the row of Eastern Ghats on the other side, the green fields all-round the hills and the Pampa river encircling Ratnagiri. The hillock itself is about 300 feet above the sea level. Around 460 well laid stone steps lead to the top of the hills. Pilgrims travelling by vehicles can go by Ghat road.
Initially a small shed was constructed on the hill in 1891 when the idol was found. Later a temple was built in course of time with the cooperation of villagers and other devotees of the nearby villages. Subsequently, the temple was reconstructed during 1933-34, with locally available stone. Later when the same reached dilapidated condition, it was reconstructed during 2011-2012.
The main temple is constructed in the form of a chariot with the four wheels at each of the four corners. The idol is about 13 feet high in a cylindrical form, the base being in the lower sanctum representing Bhagwan Brahma and the top is in the upper sanctum representing Bhagwan Vishnu. The middle portion represents Bhagwan Shiva.
The temple is divided in two floors; the ground floor contains the Yantra (known as Srimathripathvibhuti Vykhunta Maha Narayana Yantra) and the peetham of the Bhagwan. On the four sides of the Yantra, there are four deities, namely, Ganesh, Suryanarayanswamy, Bala Tripurasundari and Maheshwaraswamy which constitute along with Bhagwan Vishu in the middle as Vishnu Panchayatanam. On the first floor, the main deity of Bhagwan Satyanarayana Swamy is in the centre, accompanied by Devi Anantha Lakshmi to his left and Bhagwan Shiva to his right.
Shiva, Vishnu, Surya, Ganesh and Devi are the five deities that are placed and worshipped in Panchayatana puja. In Shiva Panchayatanam, the murti of Bhagwan Shiva is placed in the centre surrounded by the other four deities. Depending on the deity who is placed in the centre the Panchayatanas are classified into five, viz., Shiva Panchayatana, Vishnu Panchayatana, Surya Panchayatana, Devi Panchayatana and Ganesh Panchayatana.
Panchayatana puja is the essence of smartha sampradaya, a liberal or non-sectarian tradition of Vedic concept that accepts all major Hindu deities as forms of one Brahman. Smartha sampradaya is based on the Smriti, or texts derived from Vedic scriptures.
Adi Shankara is considered to be instrumental in propounding the Panchayatana puja. Adi Shankara is said to have propagated this Panchayatana puja based on the Advaita philosophy that has its roots in the three texts- Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagavad Gita, collectively known as Prasthanatrayi. Advaita philosophy says the self (Atman) is the same as the highest metaphysical reality (Brahman), a non-dualistic approach to spirituality and self-realization.
Annavaram prasadam is very famous. This prasadam made of cracked wheat, milk, jaggery, sugar, ghee, cashew, cardamom and raisins and can be preserved upto 15 to 20 days. This prasadam is available for sale, apart from the temple on the hill, also at the downhill near the steps as well as on the Highway road for the pilgrims.
Devotees perform Sri Satyanarayana Vratam at the Annavaram temple for wealth, education, prosperity, off spring, relief from troubles and all round success. Temple cottages and guest houses are available for the pilgrims to stay.
Annavaram is abode of the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar. With its pristine beauty, serenity and spiritual aura, this divine place is a pilgrim centre one must visit in one’s life time.
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