About the Temple
Simhachalam Temple, dedicated to the Lord Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is located in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The ancient temple was built on top of the hill known as Simhachalam or Simhadri. This temple of Lord Vishnu is one of the eighteen “Narasimha Kshetra” in India. The Main deity is Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. The Idol of Sri Narasimha Swamy is in the tribhangi posture, with hands and the head of a lion on a human torso. The Idol is usually covered with sandalwood paste for the whole year. During the annual ritual of “nijaroopa darshan”, the deity can be seen in his holy appearance in true form. This nijaroopa darshan seva lasts for 12 hours and the deity is covered again with sandalwood paste on the day of Akshaya Tritiya.
The temple history begins from 2nd Century A.D. The central shrine of this was constructed according to the Kalinga architecture. Several inscriptions can be seen in this temple which shows the influence of Chola King Kuloththunga and the Eastern Ganga queen of Kalinga dynasty. Several inscriptions also indicates the visit of Gajapati ruler of Odisha and Sri Krishna Deva Raya. Sri Krishna Deva Raya has also offered help to maintain this temple. An “emerald necklace” offered by Sri Krishna Deva Raya is still preserved in the temple. The last King of Vizianagaram has also donated lakhs of acres of land to Simhachalam Devastanam.
According to a common belief this temple was built at the place where the Lord Vishnu appeared in his Narasimha avtar to save his devotee Prahlad. Narasimha avatara is a lion-man incarnation of Lord Vishnu. As per the legend, Lord Vishnu’s two gatekeepers at Vaikuntha,“Jaya” and “Vijaya” were cursed by three devotees of Lord Vishnu as they were not allowed to take darshan. Hence, the two gatekeepers Jaya and Vijaya reincarnated three times as antagonists of Lord Vishnu as they were cursed by the devotees. In one of the three Incarnations, Jaya and Vijaya took birth as Hiranyaksha and Hiranya Kasyapa. In this incarnation, Hiranya Kasyapa was Prahlad’s father. Hiranya Kasyapa used to punish Prahlad for worshipping Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu took the incarnation as Narasimha, a combination of man and lion and rescued Prahlad from Hiranya Kasyapa at this place. The place where the Lord Vishnu put his leg on the earth to save Prahlada is known as Simhachalam.
Festivals and Celebrations
Several festivals and pujas are celebrated in this temple. The most popular festivals celebrated are Nijaroopa Darshanam and Chandanotsavam. Chandana yatra’ or ‘Chandanotsavam’ is celebrated when the deity is covered again with sandalwood paste after nijaroopa darshan which is conducted during Akshay Tritya. Millions of devotees visit the temple during this festivals. Laadoos are distributed as prasadam to the devotees along with free food known as annadanam.
Similarly, various other special pujas are also performed at this temple.
How to reach
By Bus: Simhachalam is 20 km away from Visakhapattanam Town. The temple can be reached from Visakhapatnam by buses or taxis.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Visakhapatnam which is located at 7 km
By Air: Vishakhapatnam airport is the nearest aiprort, which is situated at 10 km.