Popular as Kailash of the South among the 12 Jyotirlingas in India; Srisailam Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga temple is located atop Shri Saila Mountain, on the banks of River Krishna. The temple of Mallikarjuna consists of deities of Shiva and Bhramaramba or Parvati and is listed as one among the 52 shakti peeths of Sati. Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga is one of the greatest Shaivite shrines of the country. The sanctum enshrines Lord Mallikarjuna in the form of a linga protected by a three-hooded cobra. This ancient temple built in the Dravidian style with lofty towers and sprawling courtyards is one of the finest specimens of Vijayanagara architecture. Though the exact origins of the temple are not available, the Satavahanas of the 2nd century AD have referred to it. The Kakatiyas and the Vijayanagara kings have made several endowments here. Adi Shankara is said to have visited this shrine and composed his immortal Sivananda Lahiri here. Lord Dattatreya and many revered saints like Akka Mahadevi are associated with the Srisailam temple.
At a distance of 87 Km from Markapur, 160 km from Nandyal, 181 km from Kurnool, 229 km from Hyderabad, 263 km from Vijayawada and 527 km from Bangalore – it looks close but is difficult to access. Drive time from Bangalore is 14 hrs, Going Via Hyderabad – Overnight Train then a 6 hr drive is equally challenging. There are trains from Bangalore to Markapur (Closest station to Srisailam) but the timing is not convenient and Markapur doesn’t have good accommodation. The train journey is almost 12 hrs. After much deliberation we decided to take a train to Kurnool. 12786 Kachegowda Express departs SBC at 620 PM and reaches Kurnool at 1 AM. We stayed at Triguna Clarks – a 1 Km auto ride from Kurnool station, next morning after breakfast we were ready to leave for Srisailam by car.
From Kurnool you have two routes. The highway is longer by 100 Km – suggest you take the shorter route thru the forest – more scenic, roads are in good condition. There is a significant ghat section but the hairpin bends are not challenging. The distance of 180 Km can be covered in 4 1/2 hrs. There are no major restaurants / stop by on either of the routes so finding ladies restroom will be challenge. We stopped at a place called Andhra Ruchi at Dornala for lunch – it was a spicy veg buffet and the rest rooms were decent.
Stay at Srisailam
Best place to stay is the APTDC hotel Haritha – which is right next to the temple – 5 min walk. Rooms are AC – clean and breakfast is part of the package. You need to book rooms in advance online through the APTDC portal.
The best time to visit Srisailam is from September to March while the peak season is September to December & February to May. Usually it takes 1-2 days to visit major places in Srisailam.
Visiting the temple
Temple Timings: 5 AM to 3:30 PM & 6 PM to 10 PM
The belief is you start your trip with a visit to the Sakshi Ganapathi temple. That’s how the Gods acknowledge your visit to Srisailam and credit your share of blessings. Its a small temple easily accessible with no major crowd. Close to this is the Hatakeshwara temple which also has some legends associated with it . We covered both these temple before 4.30 PM.
Srisailam is probably the first Shiva temple which felt like a Vishnu temple – with separate Q’s for 150 / 350 / 500 Rs tickets. We could not spot a free Darshan Q – even though the temple looked empty. The Tirupathi effect is clearly visible. When we reached the temple at 3.30 PM we were told that the ticket counter opens only at 5 PM. The counters finally opened at 5.15 PM and we got our 500 Rs ticket – only to be told that this ticket entry is at 9 PM and entitles you to a special Darshan where you can touch the Shiva Linga and offer your prayers. (For the 9 PM visit you need to wear Dhoti/Saree). We finally got a Rs 150 ticket and walked in. It was June 2nd – fortunately it had rained heavily a few hrs back and the weather was cool and pleasant. We reached the Sanctum Sanctorum in less than 15 minutes and had an excellent Darshan.
The temple courtyard is beautiful, well maintained with many small shrines and a Goshala. But the main attraction where you must spend time is the Triphala Vriksha.
Triphala Tree is the Sthala Vriksha – the main tree of this temple. It is not a single tree, there are three trees all wound around each other to form one tree, hence it is called Triphala. This is the co-existence of three sacred trees belonging to Ficus species. They are Ashwatha (Raavi), Oudumbara(Medi) and Plaksha (Juvvi). It is believed that Lord Dattatreya performed penance under this tree. Devotees chant Shri Gurucharitra parayana as “EKAAHA” (completion of the book in one day from morning to evening) under this tree to fulfill their wishes. It is believed that the great Rishi Agastya resides in hidden form below this tree
The courtyard is so beautiful and serene you dont feel like leaving the place. After a relaxed and spiritually charged 1 hr we walked up a few steps to reach the shrine of Devi Bhramaramba. A wonderful darshan and we were able to spend some time in the vicinity of the sanctum.
Dinner was in a small tent like shack on the way back to the hotel where you get fresh Idli’s and Dosas. The main Srisailam town is a few kms away – and that is where you have the cluster of hotels and eating joints.
A Few More points
Adi Shankara is said to have written the Sivananda Lahari, a composition of hymns in praise of Lord Shiva at Srisailam. For this you need to visit Phaladhara – Panchadhara, the location of the twin waterfalls, where Adi Sankara is believed to have meditated during his stay in Srisailam. To reach the spot, one has to climb down at least 200 steps, the climb down and up is not very tough but beware of monkeys.
Shikaram is the highest point of Srisailam range from where you can get a view of the temple and the Nallamala Hills. If you ever manage to view the Shikaram of the temple from the distance, Moksham will be yours, so goes the belief ! This is also the place from where you can get a jeep drive to the Ishta Kameshwari shrine that is located deep inside the forest. Tickets are issued at 7 AM and people Q up from 6 AM.
The great Lingayat saint Akka Mahadevi mediated at Srisailam. She was madly in divine love with Mallikarjuna. A visit to the Akka Mahadevi caves is a must. It’s a 1/2 day journey – a ropeway to Patal Ganga and then a boat ride to the Cave and a small trek takes you to the cave.
The cave is full of bats and pitch dark. Its a 100 m walk and the last 30 feet you need to sit and move. Limited tickets are issued every day – you need to buy the ropeway ticket at 7 AM and then list your name for the boat ride to the caves. Once you reach Patal Ganga the boat ticket counter issues you the ticket. Boat ride starts at 9.30 AM and is about 1 hr each way. You will be back by 1.30 – 2 for lunch at Srisailam.
After the visit to Akka Mahadevi caves we were back in Srisailam by 2 PM. A quick lunch and then we headed back to Srisailam with an intent to cover the Jogulamba Devi temple near Kurnool. This is also a Shakti Peeth. However the evening traffic was dense around Kurnool and our driver messed up the route. So this we have to leave for a later date. Our train 12785 from Kurnool was at 10.30 PM and we were back in Bangalore at 6.25 AM.
- Trip Summary : 1 Night by Train, 1 night at Kurnool, 1 night at Srisailam
- Kurnool Cab Contact – + 91 91779 84272 (Ask for a driver who knows a little Hindi – our driver knew only Telugu)
List of Jyotirlingas
- Somnath – Gir Somnath In Gujarat
- Nageshwar – Daarukavanam In Gujarat
- Bhimashankar – Pune In Maharashtra
- Trimbakeshwar – Nashik In Maharashtra
- Grishneshwar – Aurangabad In Maharashtra
- Vaidyanath – Deoghar In Jharkhand
- Mahakaleshwar – Ujjain In Madhya Pradesh
- Omkareshwar – Khandwa In Madhya Pradesh
- Kashi Vishwanath – Varanasi In Uttar Pradesh
- Kedarnath – Kedarnath In Uttarakhand
- Rameshwaram – Rameswaram Island In Tamil Nadu
- Mallikarjuna – Srisailam In Andhra Pradesh