PUSHPAGIRI A SPIRITUAL SPLENDOUR
There are eight temples on the hill together called as Pushpagiri temple, namely Kasi Viswanatha, Rangaswami, Vaidhyanatha, Trikoteswara, Bhimeswara,...
There are eight temples on the hill together called as Pushpagiri temple, namely Kasi Viswanatha, Rangaswami, Vaidhyanatha, Trikoteswara, Bhimeswara, Indranateswara, Kamalasambhaveswara and Kesava Swamy J HANUMATH SATRI Pushpagiri, 16 kilometres to the north-east of Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh, is a holy place both for the Saivaites and the Vaishnavites. There are as many as twenty eight temples at Pushpagiri though parts of them are in a dilapidated state. While the twin temples of Siva and Chenakesava are the main temples, eight prominent shrines on the hill together, called the Pushpagiri temple complex include Kasi Viswanatha, Rangaswami, Vaidhyanatha, Trikoteswara, Bhimeswara, Indranateswara, Kamalasambhaveswara and Kesava Swamy. The temples of Pushpagiri are believed to be the contributions of the Chola kings. The inscriptions in the Sanathana Malleswara temple mention the existence of five shrines dedicated to Vaidyanathaswamy. Pushpagiri or Sumagiri has many legendary accounts tracing its name. While Garuda, the divine kite was carrying a pot of nectar from heaven, he was attacked by Indra. In that scuffle, a drop of nectar fell into a tank straight below on the earth. The drop of nectar turned the water it is believed, into elixir of life. With the result that the ruler of Hell had to remain idle and Brahma was in an embarrassment. On the advice of sage Narada, Hanuman dropped a hill to cover the tank. The hill, instead of sinking began to float on the waters like a flower. This is one reason why the place is called Pushpagiri. Another legend says that an old man who was plowing the nearby lands wanted to bathe in the tank. He got into the tank and to his utter surprise, he found himself changed into a handsome young man. Lured by the charm of waters, he drove his bullocks into the tank and to his wonder the two old bullocks emerged young and strong. The farmer narrated these wonders to everyone around and people from all parts of the land poured into the place to have a dip in the rejuvenating waters. It was once a great seat of the Saivaites; Aghora Saivacharya, a great seer is said to have lived here. As a centre of learning it attracted many scholars and poets. Pushpagiri Thianna was a great Telugu poet from this place. On the eastern bank of the river, there is the famous Chennakesava temple with a lofty five-storied tower. One has to walk up a long flight of steps in order to get into the twin temples of Chennakesava and Siva, in one main temple with a wall partition. There are temples of Goddess Durga and Anjaneya also in the same compound. The figure of Anjaneya here is in the form of an ascetic. He is in a standing posture with folded hands. He has no crown on the head; instead we find a tuft of hair around bound by his tail. Anjaneya here wears only a loin cloth. On the exterior, the walls of the temple are built of limestone. We find a row of exquisitely carved sculptures. It is an astonishing display of art depicting divine and semi-divine characters drawn from Hindu mythologies including the sculptures depicting the story of the gift of pasupatastra by Siva to Arjuna and the one that shows Krishna teaching Gita to Arjuna. The sculptures of Nataraja are excellent pieces of art. Many scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are delicately carved on the panels. Representation on stone of warriors and other carvings with animal and floral motifs are very attractive. The temple Bheemeswara close to Vaidyanatheswara's has also several mythological scenes carved on walls and pillars. The Srichakra in the temple of Goddess Parvathi is believed to have been worshipped by Adi Sankarachaya and later by Vidyaranya Swamy, the founder of the Vijayanagar Empire. Krishnadevaraya's visit to the Pushpagiri temple has brought to light some of the interesting social conditions then prevailing. The priests at the temple were Tambalas by caste, but Krishnadevaraya discovering that they were Tambalas and not Brahmins replaced them with the latter and granted them Goturu and Pushpagiri as Agraharams (Kadapa District Gazetteer-page 87) The annual festival of Chennakesava Swamy which is celebrated for ten days in March and April is an occasion of great rejoicing. Large number of people gather from surrounding villages and towns to participate in the festival merriments. Pushpagiri is an important seat of Advaitha Mutts that have large following both within and beyond Rayalaseema region. It has as many as 24 Sarva Agraharams and several other imams dispersed over various districts in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The veneration in which the shrines at this place were held by the chiefs and commoners of the days gone by is known from the large number of inscriptions dating from 10th century AD. The fame of the Pushpagiri shrines, which had received the obeisance of kings and Commanders for over five centuries, suffered an eclipse with the end of the Vijayanagar Rule (Kadapa District Gazetteer Page No 795-796). Sri Vidya Nrisimha Bharathi Swamy, the present pontiff of this Advaitha Peetha is evincing keen interest in developing this area. The Mutt had many Agraharams. It had Imam lands spread over the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamilnadu. Pushpagiri is a priceless gift of indulgent nature. River Pennar (Pinakini) flows throughout the year. The hillocks, the sandy shores and lush green vegetation provide a panorama of nature's plenty. The tourist department of the Government of Andhra Pradesh is taking steps to develop this as a tourist centre.