Srikalahasti

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Srikalahasti is a holy town and a municipality in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is located on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi. It is famous for lord siva temple known as Sri kalahasti temple. It is also informally and wrongly referred to as Kalahasti. Recently it has included in the TUDA (Tirupati Urban Development Authority) region.

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Sri kalahasti temple is the only Hindu temple opened in the times of Solar Eclipses and Lunar Eclipses in the whole world. It is one of the important ancient Shiva Kshetras (Shiva Temples) of Southern India. The Srikalahasti Temple occupies the area between the river bank and the foot of the hills and is popularly known as Dakshina Kailasam. The three lofty Gopurams of the temple are remarkable for their architecture. This temple was originally built during Pallava period and current structures are built by Chola king Kulothunga Cholan I, II and III during the 11th century. A huge hundred pillared mantapam was built by Krishnadevarayar during the 16th century, which is another important feature of this shrine.

It is one of the ancient temples included in the Saiva pilgrimages and is fairly close to the famous hill temple of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirupati, one of the richest and famous temple cities in the world. It is also the origin of the popular textile painting art called kalamkari. The 500-year-old ‘Rajagopuram’ or main gate of Srikalahasti Temple in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor District collapsed on 26 May 2010. Srikalahasti is popularly known as “Dakshina Kaashi”.

History

Srikalahasti which is situated on the banks of Swarnamukhi River and picturesque surrounding of hillocks is a famous Saivite Temple in South India. Thousands of pilgrims visits the temple to have darshan of the almighty Sri Kalahasteeswara and Sri Gnanaprasunambika Devi. Sri Kalahasteeswara showers grace to wipe out the sins and obstacles of devotees. Seers and sages worshipped lord Srikalahasteeswara and praised with hymns.

Sri Adi Sankara visited this Kshetra and praised the bhakti of Kannappa in his Sivanandalahari.

The historical reference to this temple occur in the works of Nakkeerar, a Tamil poet in the 3rd century BC during the Tamil Sangam Dynasty. He called it as Southern Kailash. Nakkeera composed hundred stanzas to praise Srikalahasteeswara. Dhoorjati a Telugu poet native of this place and one among the ashtadiggajas of Sri Krishnadevaraya’s court composed hundred stanzas on Sri Kalahasteeswara.

It is one of the panchabhoota sthalam – representing five basic elements. This is the Vayu Sthalam among the Pancha Bootha Sthalams representing Air. The others are – Tiruvannamalai (Thejo sthalam – Fire) Kanchipuram (Prithvi sthalam – Earth) Tiruvanaikaval (Appu sthalam – Water) Chidambaram (Akasa sthalam – Space).

Legend has it that Lord Shiva disguised as Vayu (Air) observed that The Spider (SRI), Cobra (KALA) and Elephant (HASTI) worshipped Him very devotedly. So Lord Shiva made them to relieve from the curse and attain salvation, hence this place is called Srikalahasti.

Many more Tamil Saivite saints like Sambandar, Appar, Manikkavasagar, Sundaramurti, Pattinathar and Sri Ramalinga Swami of Vadalur have also visited this place.

The hill adjacent to temple has still carvings in Pallava style. The Cholas renovated the old Pallava temple in the 11th century. Kulottunga Chola I constructed the Galigopuram, the main entrance facing south and Kulottunga Chola III constructed few other temples. In the 12th century A.D., King Veeranarasimha Yadavaraya built the present Prakaras, and the four Gopurams connecting the four entrances. According an inscription of Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara empire dating back to 1516 A.D., he constructed the Hundred Pillared Mantapam and the other tall Galigopuram that faces west to east. In 1529 A.D., King Achutaraya of the Vijayanagara empire got his coronation performed here, before he celebrated in his capital City. The Natukottai Chettiars of Devakottai gave the final shape to the temple in 1912 by donating then around nine lakhs of rupees.

On 26 May 2010, the 136-foot ‘Rajagopuram’ of the Srikalahasti temple, which has been in a precarious condition due to a deep fissure along its face, collapsed.
Immediately (27 May 2010), The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Konijeti Rosaiah promised to reconstruct this ancient gift with exactly the same brick to brick dimensions as the one constructed by Sri Krishna Deva Rayalu. However due to financial constraints the Government is looking for donors in order to proceed with rebuilding the collpased Gopuram.

About Kalahasti

The town depends mainly on agriculture and tourism. The main crops are paddy, sugar cane and ground nuts. Hundreds ofKalamkari artists also bring some revenue. Pilgrims visiting the Tirumala temple also visit the SriKalaHasti temple, rendering it many footsteps each day and thereby making it the second famous temple in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

As of 2001 India census, Srikalahasti had a population of 1,20,000. Males constitute 50% of the population and females 50%. Srikalahasti has an average literacy rate of 67%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 75%, and female literacy is 59%. In Srikalahasti, 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Cricket is the most watched and played sport. Local clubs sponsor annual Lawn Tennis tournaments. Traditional games likekabaddi, kho-kho also played by school and college students.

Major Telugu news papers like Eenadu, Vaartha, Andhra Jyothi and Sakshi and local magazines like Kalahasti Zone are read, which are published from Tirupati.

It is located under the administration of Chittoor district. The Srikalahasti mandal headquarters are located here.This mandal headquarter is very popular for all aspects.

Geography

Srikalahasti is located at 13°45′N 79°42′E on the bank of river Swarnamukhi. It is located 38 km north of Tirupati central. It is one of the assembly constituencies in Chittor District.

Education

Srikalahasthi has educational institutions  from Elementary schools to Engineering & Degree Colleges.Srikalahasteeswara Institute of Technology is an engineering college organized by Srikalahasteeswara Trust board. It is affiliated to J.N.T.U, Anantapur.It offers various Bachelor of Technologe courses (B.Tech) & various Master of Technologe courses (M.Tech) Srikalahasteeswara Institute of Technology Polytechnicis also organized by Srikalahasteeswara Trust board. It is affiliated State Board of Technical Education, Govt of Andhrapradesh.It offers various Polytechnic courses. Sri Vidya Prakasananda Degree college offers various bachelor courses like Bachelor of Science (B.Sc), Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com), Bachelor of Arts (B.A) etc. This college is affiliated to Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati. In recent years, the Srikalahasteeswara temple trust board started a nursing college also in Kasa Gardens.

For Intermediate education, there are separate Government junior colleges for Boys and Girls. Government boys junior college is near to Panagal, and the girls junior college is located at Ayyala Nayudu Lake, near to the Government Hospital and the APSRTC Bus station.

Government High Schools
  1. R.P.B.S Z.P. Boys High School, B.P. Agraharam
  2. Z.P. High School for Girls, Near Government Hospital
  3. Government High School, Panagal
  4. Municipal High School, Bhaskarpet,
  5. A.P. Welfare Residential High School for Girls, Kasa Gardens

 

Industries

In the last few years some large scale plants and factories have started in & around the town like Vishnu solvay Barium ( Chemical Plant). In 2012 Prakash Group started their long products rolling mill adjacent to Urandoor Village in Srikalahasti by the name of Prakash ferrous Industries pvt. Ltd.

Transport

The nearest airport is about 20 km from here at Renigunta, the Tirupati Airport. It is reachable by road from Tirupati,Chennai or Gudur. It is on the Renigunta-Gudur section of Guntakal (GTL) Division of the South Central Railway (SCR). All trains from Vijayawada to Tirupati halt at Kalahasti.

The local transport is by taxis or autorickshaws and city buses. Shuttle buses between Tirupathi and Srikalahasti run every 10 mins.

Andhra Pradesh State owned Bus services (APSRTC) are available from Tirupati central bus station, at a frequency of 10 minutes and other tour operators provide religious tour package visits to the temple in Srikalahasti from the City centre at Tirupati. Taxicabs are also available from Tirupati.

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