Someshwara Shiva temple. Bhimavaram - one of the oldest temples in India

Bhimavaram, Andhra: Somaramam Temple:India Divin

Gunupudi Somarama is one of the oldest temples in India dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are five Pancharama kshetras where the presiding deity is Shiva in the form of Shivalinga. Besides this one, the  remaining four are Ksheerarama temple, Palakollu; Draksharama Temple in Draksharamam; Kumararama Temple in Samalkota; and Amararama Temple in Amaravati, state of Andhra Pradesh.
Completed in the 3rd century, it is a well-known Pancharama Kshetras, located in Bhimavaram of West Godavari district, Andhra.  In view of its antiquity, this temple is considered as a National Monument  under the control of the central government. 

Bhimavaram,. Andhra

Though the temple is pretty old, it looks if it was built in the recent past. Thanks to the temple authorities whose periodic maintenance of the temple by way of giving touches to the paintings, cleaning the sculptures, etc., is done with meticulous care and commitments. 

The  main entrance tower - gopuram is a tall one and the temple tank in front of the entrance is called 
Soma Gundam and is covered with lotus flowers.  The main sanctum can be accessed through two halls and the one closer to the sanctum - garbagraha is a small one. The large hall is adorned with a lot of stone sculptures. As in many Shiva temples, Nandi (bull) in sitting posture is  present in the hall, facing the sanctum. The striking feature is there are five nandis in the main area.  The shrine  of Annapurna Matha is above the main garbagraha, a rare feature as per Temple Agama Sastras. She is wearing a sacred thread around her neck and has a baby near her holy feet. 

Gunupudi Someswara temple, Bhimavaram. TripAdvisor

Legend has it that Tarakasura, a fearsome demon had the Shivalingam in his throat through prolonged penance to Lord Shiva and made it invisible.  Endowed with mystical powers, he became  tyrannical  and arrogant. With perverted mind, he committed atrocities and gave trouble to the people. Lord Shiva created Kumaraswamy to kill him to free the people. When Kumaraswamy tore the Asura  to pieces, they would reunite and the dead Asura would come back alive. Lord Vishnu advised Kumaraswamy to break the Shivalinga into 5 pieces and fix them at different places to avoid union of broken pieces of Shivalinga from which the Asura would reappear. . He also asked lord Surya to build five temples over them so that they won't move and fuse together. The five  broken pieces  of Shivalingas stopped moving and became Pancharama Kshetras. All the  five temples bear a scaly mark, believed to be formed by the power of Aegneyasthra. Moon was the first one to worship Lord Shiva here, hence he is called Somarama.  

Shivalinga in  the sanctum is small in size unlike in other Pancharamas. The unique feature of this Shivalinga is  its change of color according to the phase of the Moon. During Ammavasya (dark moon) it is black in color,  whereas during Pournima (full Moon), it will be white in color. Here the lord's consort is Rajarajeswari. The Shivalinga at this place is believed to have been installed by  Lord Chandra, hence Shiva also goes by the name of Someswara Swamy.

Maha Shivaratri and Saran Navarathri are the main festivals held at this temple and are celebrated with religious fervor. Here, Mahashivaratri Chariot festival is quite famous. There is an idol of Goddess  Adilakshmi. At this temple mass weddings are held in  Adilakshmi  and also in Annapurna mandapams.
There are other  idols of Kumaraswamy, Ganesha, Navagraha,etc.,  in this temple.