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Mangalagiri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple

Mangalagiri is a small temple town and fabric / textile town in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. It is located on  Guntur-Vijayawada Road on National Highway 5. The town is closer to Viyayawada than Guntur. The place / temple is easily reachable from Vijayawada and Guntur by road.

The town gained popularity due to the temple of Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. The temple is located in the midway of a mountain in the Eastern Ghats.  Mangalagiri is also famous for hand woven saris and fabric. The cotton hand woven saris and dress materials of Mangalagiri are unique. The small temple town of Mangalagiri dates back to 300 B.C.E. (Before Current Era).

There are steep rocky steps to reach the temple of Panakala Narasimha Swamy on the mountain. There is also ghat road to reach the temple. As you reach the temple, you can see the entrance board, a paid shoe stand to your left and a couple of shops to buy flowers and other offerings to the lord.
 From the hill top, you can see the view of Mangalarigi town and the sprawling city of Vijayawada.
 The 'Gali Gopuram' i.e the entrance tower gate in the East, is an imposing structure which can be viewed from a distance. Few storeys of  'gopuram' were built by the Kings of Vijayanagara and the remaining storeys wer built by Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu. The temple remains open for devotees from 7 a.m to 3 p.m.

'Archanas' are not performed in the evenings as it is believed that 'mukkoti devatalu' (gods) and 'mahamunulu' (sages) descend to offer their prayers to Panakala Narasimha Swamy.
 There is a single window ticket counter to your right as you enter the temple. You can buy tickets for performing pooja, offering 'panakam' (specially prepared jaggery solution) and for performing pooja in the Rajya Lakshmi temple.

As you step inside the temple, it is rocky with very less space and ventilation. While going in line, each devotee is given a steel pot full of 'panakam' (on purchase of ticket at the counter) which is offered to the Lord. The temple priest pours some 'panakam' into the open mouth of Narasimha Swamy and returns the pot to the devotees with remaining 'panakam' as prasadam. You can carry this 'panakam' prasadam home in a bottle, if you have one. If not, you can buy 1 litre bottle in the temple to carry the 'panakam'. As this is jaggery solution it spoils fast.

The rocky idol of Narasimha Swamy resembles with the idol in Jhira Narasimha Swamy temple, Bidar, Karnataka. From here you have to climb steep rocky steps to go to Rajya Lakshmi Temple. You can see a small idol of Goddess Rajyalakshmi inside this small rocky cave temple. To the right of this temple, there is a deep / long natural cave tunnel. The other end of this cave is said to open at Srisailam. However, the cave is currently closed and not in use.
That was quite interesting to know. It is also believed that Chenchu Lakshmi - a tribal woman from the Srisailam forest, is an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi married Narasimha Swamy - one of the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu. There is a mythological story on Chenchu Lakshmi - stay tuned to read the story in my blog. 

On the top of the hill, there is a small temple of Narasimha Swamy. There is no idol / deity in the temple and it is known as Gandalayam. Devotees just light up lamps with cow's ghee. And there is a temple of Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy at the foot of the hill. Altogether, there are three Narasimha Swamy temples here. It is said that the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple at the foot hill is the original one. As per GSI (Geological Survey of India) records, the temple of 'Panakala' Narasimha Swamy is situated on a dormant volcanic mountain. And locals believe that 'panakam' / jaggery solution is offered to counter the heat produced by sulphur fumes inside. 

However, there is no record of volcanic eruption here. People believe 'Panakala' Narasimha Swamy as their savior from any unseen natural calamity.