Sri Kalahasti is one and a half mile from Srikalahasti railway station on Renigunta – Gudur section. The river Svarnamukhi flows on one side of the town. The main temple here is that of Sri Kalahastisvara. The Telugu poet Dhurjati has praised the place, the lord and the river in ‘Kalahasti Mahathyam’. The derivation of the word Srikalahasti is Sri (spider), Kala (serpent) and hasti (elephant). It is said mythologically that in Kritayuga, Lord Siva gave salvation to a spider, a serpent and an elephant as he was pleased with their single minded devotion to himself. The linga contains in it traces of these three.
The Kalahastisvara temple was built at the foot of Kailasagiri by the Pallava kings. Later the Chola kings renovated and built the main temple. Kulothunga Chola constructed the galigopuram in the 11th century A.D. Veeranarasimha yadava raya built the present outer prakaram in the 12th century A.D. The Vijayanagara rulers developed the mandapas inside the temple. From an inscription of Krishnadevaraya, we find that he built the hundred pillared mandapam and the galipuram in A.D. 1516. Achyutadevaraya of Vijayanagara dynasty got his coronation performed in the presence of lord Kalahastisvara in A.D. 1529.
The main entrance of the temple begins from Bikshala galigopuram. Close to this and facing the east is a temple dedicated to Kasi Visvanatha and Annapurna. Passing this one enters the temple prakara through Bala gnanananda gopuram. Close to the turret within the outer prakara, there is a small temple of Subrahmanya facing south. Opposite to this is the temple of Balaprasunamba and Esvara facing west. Passing on from here, one meets the temple of pathala Vighnesvara. The Vighnesvara idol is placed fifty feet below the ground level. Just opposite to this is the tower gate leading to the north. Adjacent to the gate is the temple of Subrahmanya. To the south of the temple, there is hundred pillared mandapa. To the east of this mandapa, there are two small temples built by Akkanna and Madanna. Opposite to this, there are two temples of Kali and Siva. To the north of them there is a small temple of Indra and two Siva temples. Further north to this is a single stone pillar of 75 feet height with a small stone nandi at the top. Next to this is the flag staff. Turning to the north, one can see the small temple of Shanmuga.
The Lord of Kalahasti faces west. Around the lingam there are from top to bottom, nine circular tiny steps indicating as it were the existence of the navagrahams (nine planets). The idols of dvarapalakas are of human size. The idols of Surya, Subrahmanya and Vinayaka have a place outside the sanctum sanctorum. Nandi is in front of the lingam. In the hall just in front of the main shrine, there is an idol of Kannappa. The goddess here is called Gnana prasunamba and is housed in a separate temple facing east inside the main temple close to the sanctum sanctorum of the lord.