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SIMHACHALAM - Tourist Places in Vizag (Visakhapatnam)

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Simhachalam is a place of pilgrimage in Visakhapatnam mandal.  It is situated on  the Simhachalam range of hills about 16 km. from Visakhapatnam connected by both rail and road.  The Simhachalam temple, the man lion  incarnation   of  Vishnu  is  the most  famous, the

richest and the best sculptured shrine.  The word Simhachalam etymologically means the hill of lion.
The temple of Varaha Lakshminarasimha is situated on the hill which is 244 meters above the sea level.  The way up to the temple runs through the glen covered with pineapple fields besides mango, jack and other fruit trees.  Architecturally this ancient temple deserves high praise.  It contains a square shrine surmounted by a high  tower, a portico in front with a small tower, a square sixteen pillared mandapam facing the portico and an enclosed verandah, all made of dark granite.  All these are richly and delicately carved with conventional and floral ornaments and scenes from the Vaishnavite puranas.  One of the pillars locally known as the Kappa stambam is believed to possess great curative powers.  There is a stone car with stone wheels and prancing stone horses.

The image of the diety is small and always kept covered with sandal paste   In May every year  the sandal paste is removed ceremonially at the festival called chandana yatra which is attracted by thousands of people allover the country especially from surrounding areas of Orissa state.  On the north side of the temple there is an excellent Natya mandapam  where Kalyanotsavam is performed.  This mandapam is supported by 96 pillars of black stone, exquisitely carved and arranged in sixteen rows of six each.  The exact age of the temple is not known, but it contains an inscription dated as far back as AD 1098-99 of the Chola King Kulottunga-1 who conquered the Kalinga territories.  Another inscription shows that a queen of the Velanadu Chief Gonka 111(AD 1137-56) covered the image with gold.  A third says that the eastern Ganga King Narasimha-I built the central shrine the Mukhamandapam, the Natya mandapam and the enclosing Varandah in black stone and the other grants inscribed on its walls make it a place of historical importance.  The most important festivals celebrated here are 1) The Kalyanam of Varaha Lakshminarasimha (March-April) 2) Chandana Yatra (May) and 3) Visakha Poornima (May) and large number of devotees congregate here during these festivals.  Apart from the religious importance attached to the place, Simhachalam is a place of enchanting scenic beauty.



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