Sri Kalahasthi is an important temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
It is situated in Chittoor district of Andra Pradesh. The
Sivalingam is said to be a 'Vayu lingam' representing one
of the five elements, air, (vayu-air) and is one of the
Panchabootha sthala of Lord Shiva. This temple is also called
'Thakshina Kailash' meaning the abode of Lord Shiva in
the south. The river Swarnamuki running near this temple gives
this place an added sacredness.
The temple is about 3 km from Kalahasthi railway station but
the easiest way to travel to this temple is by road either from
Chennai or Tirupathi. There are frequent bus services from both
The temple occupies an area of about 5 acres and the tall
towers are visible from miles around. The presiding deity is
called Sri Kalahatheeswarar and the consort is worshipped as
Gnanaprasunambika. There is also a small shrine to Lord Vinayagar
that is reached by descending steep steps through a narrow
opening. As the deity is installed below ground level the deity
is known as 'Pathala Vinayagar'
There are many legends associated with this temple. A spider,
an elephant and a snake were living in the vicinity of the
temple. All three were devotees of Lord Shiva. The spider wove
beautiful objects with its silk like web and offered them to the
Lord in prayer, the elephant brought flowers and water and washed
the idol and offered the flowers, while the snake brought
precious stones from underground and adorned the idol with
The elephant seeing these precious stones adorning the Lord
cleared them away and after washing the Lord decorated Him with
flowers and leaves. From this ensued an affray between the
elephant and the snake. The snake bit the elephant and the
elephant trampled the snake. The spider got caught in the middle
of this brawl and all three died. Because of the devotion with
which each one of them had spent their days worshipping, the Lord
made these three souls to merge in Him and took the name
Sri-Kala-Hasthi which denotes the conjoining of the spider (Sri),
the snake (Kala), and the elephant (Hasthi) thus becoming Sri
The Story of Kannappa Nayanar
Kannappan was a hunter but an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He
never failed to perform his daily worship. He brought water from
the river in his mouth and 'bathed' the image of the Lord
by emptying his mouth on the lingam. Then he would chew bits of
meat to ascertain its suitability and offer it to his deity. He
would only proffer the choicest pieces of meat. One day he saw a
yellowish discharge from the left eye of the image. He in his
deep devotion wanted to cure the defect in the eye of his Lord.
So he gouged out his eye from its socket and put it on top of the
eye of the idol. He then noticed the same discharge from the
other eye. He then decided to offer his other eye too, to the
Lord. He realised that he would not be able to see once he had
pulled out his other eye. So he put his shoed leg to mark the
spot where the other eye would go and was about to pull out his
eye when the Lord appeared and stopped him from self mutilation.
The Lord pleased with his devotion granted him eternal bliss.
The goddess in this temple is worshipped as Gnanaprasunambika.
This name was given to her for receiving the 'Panchaksara
manthra' from the Lord himself. Before receiving this
hallowed and potent 'manthra' she had to undertake severe
penance and meditation.She arrived in Kalahasthi and started Her
penance. Pleased with Her penance Lord Shiva imparted to Her the
supreme knowledge and the 'Panchaksara manthra'. Goddess
Parvathy who was in the mortal form then attained her original
form and stayed in Sri Kalahasthi as Gnanaprasunambika .
Opening Hours and Festivals
The temple opens its doors in the morning at 6 am and closes
at 9 pm. The major festival takes place in February/March spread
over 13 days. The other major festivals take place during
December/January and during 'Navarathry' in
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