Vacations need not be stressful and/or expensive. That being said, there are a lot of places in the state that can be explored. Ahobilam is a Vaishnava Kshetram located at the foot of the Nallamala hills, dedicated to Lord Narasimha. Ahobilam is about 347 kms from Hyderabad and 134 kms from Kurnool. The best way to travel is by road. The road-ride is not the most convenient but the scenery along the way definitely makes up for every inconvenience experienced.

Ahobilam: Holy trail in the Nallamala
Ahobilam: Holy trail in the Nallamala

           On our way from Kurnool to Ahobilam we saw quite a few stone-cutters and artisans at work. It was amazing to see them work on a lifeless boulder and make it speak volumes after sculpting it. It was an absolutely lovely drive from Kurnool to Ahobilam. Long stretches of the road welcomed us, decked up with red carpets of chillies.

The APTDC Haritha Hotel in Ahobilam has 8 rooms, 4 a/c and 4 non a/c. It is strongly suggested that one gets hold of the contact numbers given on the APTDC website and talk to the managers directly. We visited Ahobilam twice, both times in summer. Despite the heat, we had a fabulous experience each time. We lost ourselves in the beauty of the Nallamala forest as we hiked up to Jwala Narasimha Swamy Temple and higher upto the Ugra Sthambham.

                         If there was anything to complain about it was the poor quality of food served by APTDC hotel in Ahobilam. Fortunately, during our second visit, we discovered a very modest Udipi hotel not very far from where we booked our rooms. We attest the healing powers of aromatic Bisibelabaath, ghee-laden Pongal and soothing curd rice after a long trek to Ugra Sthambham and down to lower Ahobilam!

Legend has it that Lord Narasimha came out of a stone pillar and slayed Hiranyakasipu. Narasimha Avatar has special significance for being the only incarnation of Lord Vishnu to appease and protect his Bhaktha, Prahlada. There are 9 Narasimha Swamy temples in Ahobilam. Apart from the Eguva (Upper) Ahobilam and Diguva (Lower) Ahobilam temples they are Bhargava, Chatravata, Jwala, Malola, Pavana, Varaha and Yogananda, Narasimha Swamy temples.

The Ugra Sthambham from which Lord Narasimha is believed to have emerged from is 3 kilometres further from the Jwala Narasimha Swamy temple. The trek is very steep, but I guess enthusiasm does not have any limitations! There were many like us –brave at heart but weak in the knees – who started the trek, had serious misgivings half way through, forced themselves to stretch their inner reserves of physical stamina and accomplished it. Since we started the trek at 6 in the morning we made our way down before the mid-day heat hit us.

            We could not visit all 9 temples in either of our trips. The first time we visited Ahobilam we took a long time to go over the architectural detail of the temple. On the first day we visited Bhargava Narasimha Swamy temple. There were about a hundred and fifty steps or more in addition to a short jungle stretch to go the temple. There is a beautiful lotus pond at the foot of the hill. When we stopped walking on the dry leaves, we felt the forest talked back to us. It was refreshing to be in the lap of nature. We felt the walk brought us closer to Lord Narasimha Himself. The climb was a primer to the trek we had scheduled for the next day.

As we made enquiries for the trek to the Ugra Sthambham we were told (reassured) that for those with less physical stamina, a Doli service is available where in, strong able bodied teams carry pilgrims in a Doli. The Doli team effortlessly manoeuvred their way through the treacherous terrain. We found hiring a guide’s services just made things easy. In addition to explaining the “sthalapuranam”, our guide Mr Subbayya, also helped us hire a jeep to have a darshan of the Pavana Narasimha Swamy temple, which is hidden deep in the forest. The jeep ride took us about three hours, to and from.

We started our trek from the Eguva Ahobilam temple. There were quite a few happy trekkers along the way as we progressed slowly but surely. As we climbed higher we felt the forest was growing in size around us. After an hour, we only had pristine nature, the sounds of birds, and the smell of wood and interesting road companions for comfort.

Mid way we found a Mandapam in the forest. The rough terrain definitely did not stop the kings from constructing mandapams for the rest and relaxation of pilgrims. The deity in Varaha Narasimha Swamy temple is unique with the attributes of both Varaha avatar and Narasimha avatar.

        Small waterfalls and fossil imprints on trees surprised us. As we approached the wooden bridge that took us across from one hill to the other over a tranquil water stream, our guide pointed out that we had already traversed half the distance to Ugra sthambham.

        From the bridge we caught sight of the Jwala Narasimha Swamy temple – the site of Hiranya Kasipu Vadha – nestled between trees and lush growth. On our way down we visited the Malola Narasimha Swamy temple.

We feel Ahobilam is the kshetram where we earn both Punyam and Purushartham. The physical exertion did us much good and elevated the joy of darshan. The main temple is believed to have been begun by Kakatiyas and after a few centuries taken up again by Sri Krishna Devaraya. We feel the temple can be better preserved. We hope informed tourists will mount up pressure to preserve our heritage and monuments.

            Amidst all the beauty we were very sad for all the damage our irresponsible behaviour can cause to the environment. At many places, water streams were logged by plastic bags, bottles and trash left behind by tourists. If one is planning to go to Ahobilam, please make it a point to take an extra bag to collect your trash. After all, marring nature’s pristine beauty is the biggest sacrilege one can commit.










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