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A holy visit to Srisailam Mallikarjuna Swamy temple in Kartika Masam

A road trip to Srisailam from Hyderabad on the ghat roads of Nallamala forests is too exciting. Mallikarjuna Swamy temple in Srisailam is one of the Dwadasa Jyotirlingas (12 holy places having the Jyotirlingas). And it is also one of the Ashtadasa Saktipeethas (18 holy places with the seat of Mahashakti). Lord Mallikarjuna and Bhramarambica Devi are the presiding deities of the temple. This ancient / famous pilgrim place is located in the Nallamala Hills in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh.

Travel Guide

There is no direct rail route to Srisailam. Markapur in the Guntur-Hubli line is the nearest Railway Station and is 91 Km away from Srisailam. There are frequent buses from this place. There are direct buses run by the RTC (Road Transport Corporation of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana) from all corners of the state. There are also buses from Bangalore and Chennai.

The main temple opens for devotees with Suprabhata seva at 5 a.m. From Monday to Friday, devotees are allowed to directly touch the Lingam in the sanctum sanctorum irrespective of caste and creed. Suprabhata seva is followed by various other sevas like pratah kala pooja, gopuja, abhishekam, archana etc. The temple closes at 10 p.m with ekanta seva.

There is free darshan in general lines at scheduled times. There is also seeghra darshan (quick darshan) at a different entry point. The ticket cost is Rs.150/- per person. Children below 12 years have free entry. However, pilgrims need to sit in different compartments, even for seeghra darshan till darshan time.

Pilgrims can perform abhishekam to Shiva Linga on purchase of special abhishekam ticket either online or a day in advance at the counter near seeghra darshan entry. Cost of the ticket is Rs.1500/- per couple (two persons). Pilgrims need not carry any pooja items as these are provided by the temple authorities. Pilgrims performing abhishekam should enter from Gate 2 of the temple. Abhishekam is performed in a hall (mandapam). Priest will chant the mantras in mike and keep instructing the devotees. After the pooja is over, the couple carry water in the provided brass pots, go in a separate line to enter garbhalayam i.e the sanctum sanctorum of Mallikarjuna Swamy temple and perform abhishekam to the Lingam just for a section and move quickly as there will be long lines. Abhishekam timings are 8.30 a.m to 12.30 p.m (afternoon) and from 6.30 p.m to 8.30 p.m.

Devotees who perform abhishekam are given a small bag containing two big laddu prasadam and one small laddu prasadam, one small box of vibhuti (holy ash), a small box of kumkuma (holy vermilion), a small box containing holy thread (raksha), coconut prasadam, a small packet containing dry fruits prasadam and a post card photo of Lord Mallikarjuna and a magazine of the Srisaila Devasthanam.

From Mallikarjuna Swamy temple, the devotees go for the darshan of Ammavaru i.e Goddess Brahmarambica Devi. Devotees can perform kumkumarchana to Ammavaru. Those who wish to perform the same sitting right in front of Ammavaru in the sanctum sanctorum can book ticket online or buy one a day in advance. Ticket cost is Rs.1000/- per couple. This archana is performed from 6 a.m to 1 p.m and  6 p.m to 8.30 p.m.

For kumkumarchana devotees are given a small bag containing one laddu prasadam, Ammavari raksha toram (holy thread to tie around one's wrist), coconut and a packet of kumkuma for performing archana.

After entering the garbhalayam of Ammavari temple, the devotees are seated in lines in front of Ammaru. The women are given a plate and are asked to open the kumkuma packet and fully pour it in the plate. A small stool with the impression of Sri Chakram is placed in front of two couples sitting face to face. As the priest starts chanting Devi Khadgamala Stotram, the couple should perform kumkumarchana to the Sri Chakram. After the pooja is over, the priest gives a pair of glass bangles to the women and a packet full of pooja kumkuma.

For performing most the special poojas / sevas like abhishekam, pilgrims must visit in traditional attire. Men should compulsorily wear pancha and uttariyam (i.e traditional white dhoti and upper wear).

Accommodation

Srisailam being one of the important Jyotirlingas, there is no dearth for private hotels, cottages, chaultries and modern complexes owned by Devasthanams. The hotels and restaurants in the temple town mostly supply local South Indian spicy foods and vegetarian stuff only. There are even a good number of santrams of various communities which offer comfortable accommodation.

After a holy visit to the shrine / Mallikarjuna temple, pilgrims visit tourist attraction in and around Srisailam

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