Drive to Srisailam Temple and nearby tourist attractions
Located just about 250 Km from Hyderabad is the small hill town of Srisailam, famous for the Srisailam or Mallikaarjun swami (Siva) temple. It is one of the 12 Jyortilingams and one of the few where shaktipeeth (mother goddess) is also present at same place. We decided to take a road trip in car to Srisailam. Once you reach close to the new Airport of Hyderabad you will start seeing board to Srisailam and just continue to follow them.
Lord Shiva as Dakshinamurthy
We left very early in the morning hoping to avoid traffic, smart decision there were hardly any vehicles on the road in early morning. Although nobody has warned us of a caravan of Camels was passing by and shepherds taking a stroll on the highway with their sheep. Thus all the advantage of starting early was lost. But I am not complaining as the kids were very happy to see the camels and later the sheep specially the little lambs, soon singing “Mary had a little lamb”, only to be joined by us in the chorus.
Camels on Highway
Though the road signs are good to Srisailam, the road in the plains was not good, fortunately in the ghat section it was recently built and we were able to cover good time.
Traveler tip: No restaurants etc on the winding hill road so better pack your own food as once you enter Nallamalla forest it is very sparsely populated and not many choices to get a decent meal. So it will be a good idea to stock accordingly specially if you have kids with you.
Just before you enter the town there is small Ganesha temple called Sakshi Ganesha,where the devotees stop and offer their prayers to lord Ganesha. It is believed that Ganesha will keep a record of your visit, and if you do not visit the same you will not get the credit to visit the Srisailam temple. So your sins will not be washed away as per the old belief. Going further you are welcomed by huge statues of Nandi the bull, an Idol of Saraswati with her Veena (Indian string musical Instrument), and a few more. They are good to click pictures of, though do not have any historical signification as are all recently built in the hill town.
The main temple is the main attraction of the town and during religion festivals etc there is a minimum of 2-3 hours of waiting time, even on normal days you much need around an hour to have darshanof the lord. Once you have seen the Siva temple right next to is the temple of mother goddess and is a must visit. It is called Bhramaramba Temple and is dedicated to Parvati the consort of Lord Siva. Parvati is believed to have prayed in form of a bee here to lord Shiva. The temple built in Dravidian style. It is also believed that Goddess Durga had taken the form of a bee and worshiped Lord Shiva here and selected this holy place as her abode. After seeing the main temple you can explore the many small shrines in the complex dedicated to Shiva and his various forms.
Neon Sign of Shivalingam
Both the temples are beautifully made of solid stone and the exact origin of them is not clear, but must be easily 1000+ years old.
Once you seen the temples there is not much to see, you can visit some of the other temples that are all around. One of the famous one is Shikaresvara Temple called so as it is the highest point in the Srisailam area and you get a beautiful view of the wwhole valley. There is huge neon sign of Shivalingam on one of the peaks that is visible from miles in the night.
For the kids you can take them on the ropeway on the Krishna River and it goes all the way down in the valley above the reservoir of the 512 meter long Srisailam dam. The view is breathtaking when you are suspended in the air in the rope-way.
We did an overnight stay in Srisailam and stayed in AP tourism’s Haritha guest house, which can be booked online. It is a small basic hotel serving meals and comfortable rooms like in any government-owned property. They add food to chilies and not adding chilies to food but you do not have many choices in the small place. The small bazaar around the temple is the only market for visitors and you will get a lot of trinkets, handicrafts good etc. The tea sold by some of the tea vendors in the market is very refreshing and one of the better IndianMasala tea you will have in small town India.
View From The Rope way
On the return journey we took a longer route back through the back roads via Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, the huge dam that supplies water to a large parts of the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, I will write in some other post about the same.
What To do in Srisailam: The Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple ( Shiva Temple ) in Srisailam is one of the oldest Shiva temple in country and is considered one of the 12 sacred Jyotirling temples of Lord Shiva. Also it has the rare distinction of Brahmarambha a Shakti Peetha Temple in the same complex, making this temple a very rare one where Shiv and Shakti are so close by.
Besides a pilgrimage center you also have other tourist attractions in Srisailam like a Rope Way that extends over the Krisha River. You can take a boat ride and visit some of the ancient caves and temples on the other side of the river. At one time this area was Naxal Hot bed but now the government is trying work on protecting the wildlife specially Tigers in the surrounding Nallamala forest, that extends all the way to Nagrjuna Sagar and area wise the largest Project Tiger National Park in country better known as Srisailam Tiger Reserve, spread over 3586 sq KM. ( compared to this Ranthambore is 392 km² and Jim Corbett National Park is 520km², Tadoba is 625.4 km² and Bandipur is 874 km² , just to put things in perspective )
We were very happy with this visit but my apologies for the poor picture quality as I did not had my camera with me so all pictures were clicked by cell phone. Also you will notice that I have not given any main temple pictures, as they are available at a lot of place on net, I am giving pictures that give a slightly different flavor of Srisailam the temple town. Here is the google map link for driving directions to Srisailam from Hyderabad.