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Simhachalam Temple

 

Simhachalam Temple, also known as Simhadri Temple, is located in the city of Vishakhapatnam. The temple derives its name from two Sanskrit words, “Simha” meaning lion and “Achala” meaning hill. Built on top of the hill, the Simhachalam Temple is dedicated to the incarnation form of Lord Vishnu. Simhachalam Temple is revered as one of the most important temples in the region. The edifice is perched atop a hill 800 metres above the sea level and is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, who is an incarnation of Vishnu himself.

History
Although the exact age of the Simhachalam Temple is not known, it contains scriptures belonging to 1098-1099 AD belonging to the kingdom of Chola King Kullotunga-I. Another inscription suggests that the Eastern Ganga King of Orissa Narasimha Dev built the main sanctum of the temple. Around 252 texts in Oriya and Telugu have described the history of the Simhachalam Temple; therefore, the construction of this façade cannot be credited to one single entity.
It is also believed that the temple was visited twice by Sri Krishnadeva Raya around 1516 AD and 1519 AD. The temple still contains inscriptions left here by Sri Krishna Devaraya of Vijayanagara Empire.

Architecture of Simhachalam Temple
Simhachalam Temple has a square sanctum with a tower, a front porch with a smaller tower over it and a sixteen pillared mandapam. The verandah of the temple is made out of dark granite carved with traditional designs of floral decoration and scenes from the Vaishnavite Puranas. The verandah also houses a statue of a horse driven chariot. The verandah is supported by 96 black stone pillars arranged in sixteen rows.

Festivals
One of the most important festivals of the Simhachalam Temple is the Akshaya Tritiya or Chandanotsava. The festival is also known as Chandan Yatra, therefore on this day the idol of Lord Narasimha covered in the sandalwood paste is unveiled among the devotees in its original form for a period of 12 hours.
As part of the preparation, sandalwood paste is applied to the idol on full moon days of the Vaisakha, Jyeshta, and Ashadha months. On the day of Akshay Tritiya, the idol is unveiled at around 4:00 AM in the morning while prayers and 'Abhishek' are completed by 6:00 AM. The devotees are then allowed to enter the sanctum and catch a glimpse of the Lord.



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