Sri Nava Narasimha Swamy in Ahobilam, Andhra Pradesh

Out of 108 Divya Desams of Bhagwan Vishnu two are in Andhra Pradesh- Tirupathi and Ahobilam. Ahobilam is a holy site in the Allagadda mandal of Kurnool district in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is located 70 km from Nandyal and 150 km from Kurnool, the district headquarters. 

Sthala Puranam

The Eastern Ghats are likened to the great serpent Adhisesha basking in the sun with its head (or hood) at Tirumala, its middle at Ahobilam and its tail- end portion at Srisailam – all the three with famous temples on them. 

In Mahabharatha and ancient puranas like Koorma Purana, Padma Purana and Vishnu Purana, there is a mention about Ahobilam and its presiding deity Narasimha. Brahmanda Purana says that this place was once the palace of Hiranyakasipu who was slain by Vishnu manifesting as Narasimha from a pillar to bless his staunch devotee Prahlada, the son of Hiranyakasipu. 

On one of the mountains in the Nallamala hills range, around 80 miles from Srisaila Kshetra, Garuda did penance to have a glimpse of the vision of Bhagwan Narasimha who destroyed Hiranyakasipu. Bhagwan Vishnu, after long years of the tapas of Garuda, manifested Himself in the cave of a mountain to fulfil the wish to Garuda and resided in the hills around Ahobilam in the midst of dense forests in nine different forms. This hill came to be known as Garudadri, Garudachalam, and Garudasailam.

Ahobilam is the place where he killed Hiranyakasipu and saved Prahlada. Mahalakshmi took avatar as Chenchulakshmi among the Chenchu, tribal hunters of the hills, and married Bhagwan Vishnu. Thirumangai Azhvaar the last of the 12 Alwar (Vaishnavite) saints of south Bharat has sung ten verses about this temple in his compositions Periya Thirumozhi. 

Nine Temples

The nine Narasimha sthalas in Ahobilam are: 

“Jwala Ahobila Malola Kroda Karanja Bhargava Yogananda Kshatravata Pavana Nava Moorthayaha”.

  • Jwala Narasimha
  • Ahobila Narasimha
  • Malola Narasimha
  • Kroda Narasimha
  • Karanja Narasimha
  • Bhargava Narasimha
  • Yogananda Narasimha
  • Kshatravata Narasimha
  • Pavana Narasimha. 
Source: Pinterest

Upper Ahobliam includes four Narasimha temples: 

  1. Ahobilam Narasimha 
  2. Kroda Narasimha 
  3. Jwala Narasimha  
  4. Malola Narasimha   

Lower Ahobliam includes the following four Narasimha temples: 

  1. Yogananda Narasimha 
  2. Chatravata Narasimha 
  3. Pavana Narasimha. 
  4. Bhargava Narasimha 

Karanja Narasimha temple is situated on the way from lower Ahobilam to upper Ahobilam.  

  1. Ahobilam Narasimha: 

The temple, situated on the Upper Ahobilam, at a distance of 8km from the Lower Ahobilam, is the main temple and the oldest of all the nine temples. Bhagwan here appears in his fierce aspect, called Ugra Narasimha, who is the presiding deity of the temple and is known as Ahobila Nrisimha Swamy.

It is believed Bhagwan Narasimha was ‘Svayambhu’ (self manifest) in this place.  

  1. Kroda Narasimha: 

This temple is 1km away from the main temple of Ahobilam Nrisimha Swamy on the Upper Ahobilam. The image of the deity has the face of a boar (varaha) and he is seen along with his consort, Lakshmi. Hence, deity of the temple is known as Krodakara (Varaha) Narasimha Swamy here.  

  1. Jwala Narasimha: 

The temple of Jwala Nrisimha Swamy lies higher up the above Krodha Narasimha temple, on a hill called, ‘Achalachaya Meru’. This is about 4km from the Upper Ahobilam temple. This place is said to be the actual spot, where the fierce anger of Bhagwan reached its culmination when he tore Hiranyakasipu.

There is a Rakthakundam near this temple. It is stated Bhagwan Narasimha, after killing the demon Hiranyakasipu, washed his hands in this theertham. One can find that the water in this kundam is still reddish in appearance.  

  1. Malola Narasimha:  

Nearly 2 km from the main temple of Upper Ahobilam, is the famous shrine of Malola Narasimha Swamy. The deity in this place appears in ‘soumya‘ (graceful) form. Bhagwan Narasimha is seen with his consort, Lakshmi here. The word ‘Malola’ means beloved to Lakshmi (Ma=Lakshmi, Lola= beloved). 

  1. Karanja Narasimha: 

This shrine is situated at a distance of 1 km from the Upper Ahobilam and one furlong from the road leading to Lower Ahobilam. The image of the deity is installed under a tree, called ‘Karanja Vruksham’. Hence, here he is called Karanja Narasimha Swamy.

Karanja (i.e., Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre) is a species of tree in the pea family. Common names for this Karanja include Indian beech, Pongam oiltree, karanj (Hindi), kānuga (కానుగ in Telugu),naktamāla (नक्तमाल in Sanskrit).  Karanja oil is most prized and used for its antiseptic and insecticidal functions. It is most often used externally.  

  1. Yogananda Narasimha: 

This temple is to the south-east of Lower Ahobilam at a distance of 2 km. The popular legend is that after killing Hiranyakasipu, Bhagwan Narasimha taught Prahlada several yogic postures. Therefore, at this place he is called Yogananda Narasimha.  

  1. Chatravata Narasimha: 

About 3 km from lower Ahobilam, the image of the deity is installed under a peepal tree, surrounded by thorny bushes. Hence, he is called as Chatravata Narasimha Swamy.  

  1. Pavana Narasimha: 

Pavana Narasimha temple is on the banks of the river, Pavana and it is about 7 km from the Upper Ahobilam temple. It is said that after Bhagwan took the incarnation of the most ferocious form of Sri Jwala Narasimha, even the Gods were afraid and they feared that his anger would bring about the end of the world.

Devi Lakshmi who was born in a local Chenchu tribe then approached him to pacify and calm him so that his anger was controlled and he could bless the people. Bhagwan then marries Devi Chenchu Lakshmi and bestowed His divine grace on his devotee Sri Prahlada and the whole mankind.

To date, the local Chenchu tribe treat the Bhagwan as their ‘son in-law’ and Devi Chenchu Lakshmi as their own daughter. The idol in this temple in the form of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha under the canopy of His celestial carrier, the Adisesha (King of Snakes) is mesmerizing.  

  1. Bhargava Narasimha: 

The Bhargava Narasimha Swamy is situated at a distance of 2 km from the Lower Ahobilam, on a hill, near the sacred pond, known as ‘Bhargava Theertham’, where Bhargava Rama (Parashurama) performed his penance. Hence the deity of the temple is known as Bhargava Narasimha Swamy.  

In addition to the shrines mentioned above, there is a famous shrine dedicated to Bhagwan Narasimha Swamy in the Lower Ahobilam, which is popularly known as Prahlada Varada Sannidhi.  

Ugra Sthambham 

On top of the hill, we can see a cleft of the mountain dividing it into two visible parts. It is believed that from the cleft, Bhagwan appeared in the form of Narasimha and this cleft is known as ‘Ugra Sthambham’.    

Prahlada Mettu  

The small shrine, situated in a cave on the hill, is in between Ugra Sthambham and the Upper Ahobilam. It is dedicated to Prahlada Narashimha Swamy. The image of the Prahlada is installed in a small cave. There are a number of holy ‘theerthas‘ (water ponds) in the Hills of Ahobilam. 

The Nava Narasimhas in Ahobilam also represent the Nava Grahas as under-   

  • Bhargava Narasimha – Sun / Surya 
  • Karanja Narasimha – Moon / Chandra 
  • Jwala Narasimha – Mars/ Kuja / Angaraka 
  • Kroda (Varaha) Narasimha – North node of Moon or dragon’s head / Rahu 
  • Paavana Narasimha – Mercury / Budha 
  • Ahobila (Ugra) Narasimha – Jupiter / Guru 
  • Malola Narasimha – Venus / Shukra 
  • Yogananda Narasimha – Saturn / Shani 
  • Chatravata Narasimha – South node of Moon or dragon’s tail/ Kethu 

The thick Nallamala forest cover in Ahobilam Hills is a beauty to be seen and the holy water ponds/ water falls add a serenity in the pilgrims’ path in pursuit of spirituality. The author was particularly overwhelmed by the journey to the temple- Pavana Narasimha, which took nearly two and half hours (both to and fro) in the thick forest by walk.

How to reach? – By road from Nandyal 40 KMs, Kurnool 150 KMs, Hyderabad 347 KMs. Nearest town is Allagadda 20 KMs from where regular buses are available to Ahobilam. Nearest airport is Bangalore 173 KMs. Nearest railway station Nandyal 68 KMs.


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About the Author

Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Ex- Senior Banker, Financial and Management Consultant and Visiting faculty at premier B Schools and Universities. Areas of Specialization & Teaching interests - Banking, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Global Business & Behavioural Sciences. Qualification- M.Com., M.B.A., A.I.I.B.F., PhD. Experience- 25 years of banking and 14 years of teaching, research and consulting. 100 plus national and international publications on various topics like- banking, global trade, economy, public finance, public policy and spirituality. One book in English “In Search of Eternal Truth”, two books in Telugu and 20 short stories and 27 articles published in Telugu. Email id: [email protected]