Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
The Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple is one of the Jyotirlingas, one of twelve Hindu temples of particularly special importance to the deity Shiva. It is traditionally the second temple of the list, though not necessarily in either importance or in order to be visited. Per the Jyotirlinga legend, Shiva appeared on the spot as a beam of light. More specifically, the Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple is associated with a legend concerning two of the children of Shiva and Parvati. Although it is one of the smaller Jyotirlinga, it is nevertheless one of the most sacred and most visited temples in Andhra Pradesh.
Srisailam has been a sacred site in India for at least two thousand years, and important temples have been located here for much of its history. Its not exactly certain how long the city has been associated with the Jyotirlinga tradition, but a number of stories and deities have been tied to Srisailam since time immemorial.
The most important tradition holds that the deities Shiva and Parvati came to the area to seek brides for two of their sons, Kartikeya and Ganesha. When arguing who would be married first, it was decided that the first son to journey around the world would receive the honor. Kartikeya actually traveled around the world first, but Ganesha won the contest by traveling around his father (symbolically the world).
Sulking, Kartikeya rested where the Mallikarjuna Temple now stands. According to tradition, Shiva visited Kartikeya here, an event celebrated annually on Amavasya. Another local tradition associates the goddess Bhramarambha with the city, as this was one of her major centers of worship. Her temple stands nearby the Mallikarjuna Swamy.
The history of Srisailam is relatively quiet compared to many other cities in Central India. Worship here was halted for a time during the reign of the Mughals throughout the 18th century, but was restored in stages with the arrival of the British in 1800. However, it wasn’t until after Indian independence that the temple was restored to its former prominence.
The Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple can trace its roots as far back as the 2nd century AD, though most of the current structure dates from the Middle Ages It is relatively small compared to most of the other Jyotirlinga temples, but one of the more impressive temples by the standards of Andhra Pradesh. It boasts a traditional carved pyramid dome over the main shrine.
The temple interior is one of the better preserved in Andhra Pradesh, thanks in part to the region’s minimally invasive history. It is adorned with some of the best carving work to be found in the greater province.
The Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple is located at the center of the small town of Srisailam, tucked away between a bend in the Krishna River a little under a hundred miles south of Hyderabad. As of this writing no visitor information was available. Web: www.aptdc.gov.in (official tourism website of Andhra Pradesh).
Right next door to the Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple is the Sri Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna Temple (the two are often confused for one another), one of the 18 sacred temples of the goddess Bhramaramaba.