There is an important Siva temple located at this site. It is on the
right bank of the Suvarnamukhi River, 27km northeast of Tirupati, between
the two hills, Sripuram and Mummudicholapuram, which form part of the
Sesha Sailam Hills.
This important temple, dedicated to Lord Siva, has one of the elemental
lingas, the Vayu (air) Linga. There is a lamp inside the inner sanctum
that is constantly flickering, despite the lack of air movement inside.
The air-linga can be observed to move even when the pujaris close off
the entrance to the main deity room, which has no windows. You can see
the flames on several ghee lamps flicker as if blown by moving air.
The linga is white and is considered Swayambhu, or self-manifested.
The main linga is untouched by human hands, including the priests’.
Abhisheka (bathing) is done by pouring a mixture of water, milk, camphor,
and panchamrita. Sandal paste, flowers, and the sacred thread are offered
to the utsava-murti, not the main linga.
This temple is one of the most impressive Siva temples in India. It
features an enormous, ancient gopuram over the main gate. The tower
is 36.5m (120 feet) high. The entire temple is carved out of the side
of a huge stone hill. King Krishnadeva Raya built it in 1516.
Inside the temple you will find the tremendously ornate and splendid
architecture for which South India is famous. Elaborately designed pillars,
altars, and paraphernalia abound.
The temple’s main entrance faces south, although the deity faces
west. There is an interesting underground temple dedicated to Ganesh
(Ganapati) named Patala Vinayaka, which is 10m (33 ft) beneath the ground.
The goddess here is called Jnana Prasannambha and is said to be the
sister of Lord Venkateswara at the Tirumala temple. She is said to give
supreme knowledge (jnana) to those who worship her.
The Suvarnamukhi River is a sacred river, said to have been brought
to earth by Agastya Muni. It is also called Uttara Vahini, because at
this place it flows south to north, which is unusual. It is dry most
of the year. You can climb to the top of the nearby Nagor Hill (1040
m) and get a good view of the area.
By purchasing a special darshan ticket (Rs 10) you wait about 10 minutes
instead of an hour on a normal day to view the Vayu Linga.
The main linga is in the shape of an elephant trunk, with tusks on each
side and a figure of a spider at the bottom. If you look at the linga
from the top, it resembles a snake with five hoods. The spider is call
“Sri,” the snake “Kala,” and the elephant “Hasti.”
The three names combine together to form the name “Srikalahasti.”
It is said that the spider wove a web above the linga to protect it
from the sun and rain. The elephant would get water with its trunk and
bath the linga (perform abhishek) and the snake would also worship the
Lord. The snake was not aware that the elephant and spider were also
worshiping the Lord. One day the snake found bilva leaves and water
near the Lord. He thought that someone was trying to harm the Lord,
so he surrounded the Lord to protect him. When the elephant came the
next day to worship the Lord, the snake thought he was trying to harm
the Lord, so he entered his trunk. Unable to handle the pain, the elephant
dashed his trunk against the linga, killing both the snake and the spider.
Then the elephant himself died. Lord Siva was satisfied with the devotion
of all three and offered them all liberation.
Kalahasti is surrounded by two sacred hills. The Durgamba Temple is
on the northern hill. On the southern hill is the shrine of Kannabeswara,
a memorial to the sage Kannappa, who offered Lord Siva one of his eyes.
When he tried to offer his other eye as well, the Lord mercifully stopped
him. There is also a temple dedicated to Subrahmanya on one of the surrounding