Ahobilam Pilgrimage is located at Ahobilam village in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. It is surrounded by the dense Nallamala Forest. It is the one of the 108 Vaishnava Divya Desams in the country. The presiding deity of this holy abode is Lord Narasimha. It is believed that this is the same place where Lord Vishnu saved his true devotee Prahlada by killing the demon Hiranyakashipu. As Prahlada was an avid follower of Lord Vishnu, this fact was not acceptable to his father Hiranyakashipu. Therefore, he tried to kill his son many times but before he could succeed, Lord Vishnu took the Narasimha avatar and kills the devil. Lord Vishnu had nine forms. That’s why, Ahobilam is also known as “Nava Narasimha Kshetras”.
According to the legends, when the Devas saw the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as half lion and half man, they whooped “Ahobala” which means great strength as well as “Ahobila”, means a great cave. Hence, this place got its name as Ahobalam and later came to be known as Ahobilam. The stone pillar from which lord Vishnu appeared to kill the demon can be seen in this place today also and is known as “Ugra Stambham”. It is located on the edge of the cliff. You can reach there by a vertical climb up the hill. It is said that the impact of pillar getting shattered by God was so massive that the entire hill split into two parts. In between the two separated hills, there is a deep canyon like a cleft.
One legend also says that after killing the demon, Lord Narasimha proceeds in his Ugra Avataram towards Nallamala forest. On seeing this form of Lord, all the Devas prayed to Goddess Lakshmi to calm him. Goddess appears in the form of Chenchu Lakshmi, a tribal girl of the forest. On seeing the girl, Lord Narasimha asks her to marry him. She put him through a lot of tests to pacify him down completely before agreeing to marry him.
There are nine temples depicting the nine forms of Lord Narasimha, located in the 9 km radius around the temple at different heights. Therefore, this town got divided into two parts namely Upper Ahobilam and Lower Ahobilam. These nine shrines is said to be worship nine planets which decides the fate of the human life. It is believed that the nine Narasimhas assisted the planets to get relief from the curses and demons.
These temples were rebuilt by the Vijayanagara Kings in the 16th century. There are 3 temples in Lower Ahobilam and 6 temples in Upper Ahobilam. The distance between the Upper and Lower Ahobilam is approximately 9 km.
The temples situated at Upper Ahobilam are:
It is the main temple and is situated 9 km away from the Lower Ahobilam. It was the first to be built among the nine temples and is located on a high hill. Lord appears here in his fierce form called Ugra Narasimha, the presiding deity of whole Ahobilam shrine. It is believed that Lord Narasimha was self-manifested at this place. Goddess Lakshmi Chenchu is the Lord’s consort here.
It is situated 1 km away from the main temple of Upper Ahobilam and the statue of the deity has an image of Varaha. It is near the small rock cut formation which faces the eternal stream of water.
It is 1 km away from the Upper Ahobilam. The image of the deity is installed beneath the tree called Karanja Vruksham.
It is located 2 km away from the main temple of Upper Ahobilam and the deity of Lord Narasimha installed here appears in a gracious form with his consort, Goddess Lakshmi.
It lies higher up the main temple of upper Ahobilam, nearly 4km away. It is located on a hill called Achalachaya Meru. This place is believed to be the actual spot where the fierce form of Lord Narasimha reached its peak when he killed Hiranyakashipu. You will also come across a blood-colored pond where it is believed that the Lord had washed the blood off his hands after killing Hiranyakashipu.
It is the most peaceful form among the nine forms. It is 6 km away from the main temple of Upper Ahobilam and is located on the banks of Pavana River. It is also referred to as Kshetra Ratna.
The three temples situated at Lower Ahobilam are:
It is located 2km away from the Lower Ahobilam, near the sacred pond known as Bhargava Theertham, on a hill. It is the same place where Bhargava Rama did his penance.
It is located at a distance of 2 km towards the south east of Lower Ahibolam. It is said that Lord Narasimha taught several yogic posture to Prahlada at this place. It is the best place for meditation.
The main deity here is installed beneath the sacred Peepal tree. It is surrounded by thorny bushes and is 3 km away from the lower Ahibolam.
Each of these nine forms of Lord Narasimha has many legends and epic myths related to it. Apart from these nine temples, there is also a small temple dedicated to Lord’s ardent devotee Prahlada, known as “Prahlada Mettu”, which is situated in the cave on the hill between Ugra Stambham and Upper Ahibolam. There is a small lake near the temple which is believed to be created by the Lord himself by making a hole in the rock. All the temples are bestowed with beautiful sculptures. The carving works on the pillars are exquisite.
There is a tall Jayasthambham located in the spacious ground outside the temple walls to mark the victory of the famous Vijayanagara King, Krishnadeva Raya over the Kalingas. The Kakatiya Kings especially Pratapa Rudra had also contributed towards additional structures and maintenance of this holy complex. There is also a small temple devoted to Lord Venkateswara on the southwest of Narasimha temple. You can see the carvings on the wall where Lord Narsimha is blessed by Lord Narasimha on his wedding with Padmavathi. There are also some inscriptions in the temple which depicts the Chalukyan style of art. Ahobilam complex boasts a very rich history and is a place of historical and spiritual importance. Thousands of pilgrims come here in large number every year to offer prayers and seek blessings from the Lord.
Taluka: Allagadda Area: Kurnool
State: Andhra Pradesh District: Kurnool
Languages: Telugu, English Weather: 21°C to 45°C (Max.)
Best Time to Visit: August-February
STD Code:08519 Pin Code: 518543
Nearest airport is at Tirupati, 244 km away from the temple and has daily flights to Hyderabad. The major international airports are at Bangalore (341 km) and Hyderabad (347 km), which are well connected to major cities of India and abroad.
The nearest railway station is at Nandyal, 62 km away and is well connected to major cities of India. It lies on Bangalore- Visakhapatnam rail route.
APSRTC runs regular bus services to Ahibolam from Nandyal, Kurnool, Hyderabad and other major cities of the state.