''Pancharama Kshetras'' pilgrimage of Andhra - 01

Draksharama (Draksharamam),AP. rhymesofmythoughts.blogspot.com/

Pancharama shetrams, locations, Andhra .uparnidevi.blogspot.com/

Pancha lingas, Andhra.  templesinindiainfo.com

Pilgrimage in Hinduism, as in other religions, is the practice of undertaking a trip to one or more holy places with a view to fulfilling  a desire or as part of a religious commitment. Rooted in ancient scriptures,  a sacred journey is  undertaken for a spiritual purpose - to seek values or inner  truth, a sort of self-realization. One can find the earliest reference about pilgrimage in the  Rigveda. Example: Going on a pilgrimage to 108 Divyadsams - dedicated to Sri Vishnu (glorified by the Tamil Azhwar saints in Nalaera Thivya prabandam) is popular among the vaishvavites. Lots of Hindus, according to their horoscope -jathagam  undertake a pilgrimage to the  nine Navagriha shrines mostly located in the delta district of Tamil Nadu. Likewise pilgrimage to the Pancharama kshetrams (dedicated to God Shiva)  in Andhra is common.  

Endowed with mystical powers got from God Shiva and an invisible  Shiva linga (Atma linga)  worn around his neck, Tarakasura, a terrifying and menacing demon terrorized the people and saints with perverted mind and ego.  His atrocities, having reached the limit of tolerance,  infuriated Shiva created Kumaraswamy to kill the demon to free the people from pangs of pain and suffering. 

The Assura's mystic power was such that every time Kumara Swamy tore him  into pieces, they would reunite and the dead Asura would come back alive. Upon this God Lord Vishnu advised Kumaraswamy to use Agni Astharam and  break the Shivalinga into 5 pieces and settle  them unmoved at different places to avoid the fusion of  broken pieces  from which the Asura would reappear.  He also asked lord Surya to build five temples over them so that the broken pieces of Shiva linga would stay fixed in the same place.   The five  broken and scattered  pieces  of Shivalingas stopped moving and became Pancharama Kshetras; all are in the  the coastal region of Andhra.  At all these  five temples, the lingas  bear a scar that  is said  to have been  formed by the power of Aegneyasthra. Moon (Chandra) was the first one to worship Lord Shiva here, hence he is called Somarama. 

Visiting  Pancharama kshetras on the same day itself is important and it means  devotees are worshipping 5 parts of a single Shiva linga  that was worn by the Asura  King Tarakasura   Worshiping at all five kshetras  will give the benefit of offering prayer to the Shiva  linga as a single entity or in one form. In the state of Andhra,  particularly, among the Telugu speaking people, going on a pilgrimage to all the five kshetras called   Pancharama kshetra yatra is  a committed  religious undertaking and normally, it is done in the month  of Karthikai (November-December). The belief has been that a visit to all  kshetras will usher in a new year of prosperity, welfare and peace in the family.  

The five  Pancharama kshetras are:   

01. Someswara Temple, Somarama, Bhimavaram.

02. Sri Kumararama Bhimeswara Swamy Temple, Kumararamam, Samalakota.

03. Bhimeswara Temple, Draksharama, Ramachandrapuram .

04. Amareswara Swamy Temple, Amararama, Amaravati.

05. Ksheera Ramalingeswara Swamy Temple, Ksheeraram, Palakollu.

01. Someswara Temple, Somarama, Bhimavaram. chandra West Godavar:. 

Somarama temple, Bhimavaram  hindupad.com

Gunupudi Somarama temple, Bhimavaram of West Godavari district,  one of the well-known Pancharama Kshetras, was built in   in the 3rd century. A temple of great antiquity,  this and other Pancharama kshetra temples are  considered as the National Monuments  under the management of the ASI.

The striking feature of this temple  is there are five nandis in the main area.  The shrine  of goddess Annapurna  is above the main garbagriha, 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.  God Somarama' consort here is Rajarajeswari Ammavaru.

What is special about this ancient temple is  there is a change of   Shivalinga' 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. The Shivalinga at this place is believed to have been installed by  demi god Chandra, hence Shiva also goes by the name of Someswara Swamy



02. Sri Kumararama Bhimeswara Swamy Temple, Kumararamam:

Kumararama or Bhimarama temple,Amaravati, temple purohit.com

Nandi Kumararama or Bhimarama temple,Amaravati, temple
Lingam, Kumararama or Bhimarama temple,rvatemples.com

This ancient  temple located one  kilometer from Samarlakota  near  Kakinada is known for one of the tallest Shivalinga in Andhra. In the small garbagriha there is 14.3  foot tall lingam made of limestone. In the sanctum  it rises from the pedestal on the ground floor through  the second floor up to the roof, where the Rudrabhaga is worshipped. 

 Characteristic features are a  large  mandap supported by 100 ornate pillars and  a big monolithic bull - Ekasila Nandi  in sitting posture facing the shrine of Shiva and guarding the deity. The temple  was built by Chalukyas - King Chalukya Bhimawho reigned over this location. The construction of the temple was started in AD 892 and was completed during 922.   Subsequently, additions were made by the Kakatiya rulers ( 1340-1466 CE) and by Musunuri Nayaks  and  the temple pillars have  very fine sharp finishes.  Kala Bhairava  and goddess Balatripura sundari Ammavaru  are important deities. 

Stone inscriptions  dated  1147-1494 on the pillars  have recorded a list of gifts the temple received through ages.  Recent excavations in the compound of the temple has yielded Many idols dated back 1000 years were brought to light in the recent past when excavations were made within the temple premises.  This  temple resembles the other Pancharama temple at Draksharama which is also called Bhimeswara Alayam. Temple Pushkarni: Koneru lake near-by..

Kalyana Mahotsam during February–March (Magha Bahula Ekadashi day) time,  Maha Sivarathri are major temple festivals here. 


03. Bhimeswara Temple, Draksharamam,  E. Godavari: 

Bhimeswara Temple, Draksharam Andhra , gotirupati.com

Bhimeswara Temple, Draksharama india.blogspot.com/

Situated on the eastern bank of the river Godavari, Bhimeswara Swamy temple in Draksharamam in E. Gadvavari district is not only a pancharama kshetram, but also one of the Ashta Shakti peethas and trilinga kshetram.   The presiding deity Bhimeswara consort: Manikyamba Ammavaru.  Eight lingas are consecrated in eight directions (cardinal and ordinal) of Draksharama. These temples are known as Ashta Someswaras.The main deity is a spadika lingam made of pure quartz crystal about 2.6 m tall. It is believed to be one of the largest lingas made of pure crystal, a major component of granite rocks.

Built by eastern Chalukya ruler Vengi-Bhima  during the 9th and 10th century when the ruler had a strained relation with Rashtrakutas the temple has  innumerable stone inscriptions made during the reign of the Chalukya.   Besides other festivals, Shivaratri and Navaratri are major festivals here.

Yet popular name of the temple is Dakshina Kasi Kshetram -  Draksharamam meaning an ‘Abode of Daksha Prajapathi’ (son of Brahma), the father of Sati and the father in law of Lord Shiva. Sati was the wife of Lord Shiva. Daksha when conducted an  yagna refused to invite Shiva and insulted his daughter Sati. heir growing enmity resulted in the death of Sati and Shiva killed egotistical Daksha. The Draksharama Temple is one of the important Shiva temples in Andhra.