“ सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके । शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥
 

Srikalahasti Temple

Srikalahasti Temple is located in the town of Srikalahasti, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is one of the most famous Shiva temples in South India, and is said to be the site where Kannappa was ready to offer both his eyes to cover blood flowing from the Siva linga before the Lord Siva stopped him and granted him mukti.
Sri Kalahasti temple, situated 36 km away from Tirupati is famous for its Vayu linga, one of the Panchabhoota Sthalams, representing wind. The inner temple was constructed around 5th century and the outer temple was constructed in the 12th century by the Chola kings and the Vijayanagara kings. Vayu is incarnated as Lord Shiva and worshiped as Kalahasteeswara.

History
This temple is one of the most impressive Shiva temples in India. This temple features an enormous, ancient gopuram (entrance tower) over the main gate. The tower is 36.5 m (120 ft) high. The entire temple is carved out of the side of a huge stone hill. The initial structure of this temple was constructed by the Pallava dynasty in the 5th century. The Chola kings and the Vijayanagara kings also gave great help for the temple development. Like other great temples, the construction period of Sri Kalahasthi temple lasted centuries. Around the 10th century, the Chola kings renovated the temple and constructed the main structure. The 120 feet (37 m) high main gopuram and the 100 pillar mandapam were constructed by Krishnadevaraya, the Vijayanagara king in 1516.
Temple Constructions during Chola dynasty According to R. Nagaswamy, former Director of Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, Sri Kalahastiswara temple has a recorded history that goes back to a minimum of 1600 years and is closely associated with the “unparalleled devotion” of hunter-prince Kannappa to Lord Siva. “Kannappa’s devotion is an outstanding story in the Saivite literature and he is VENERATED as one of the 63 Saivite nayanmars (saints),” said Dr. Nagaswamy, who is a scholar in Tamil and Sanskrit, and an epigraphist of international repute
Srikalahastiswara temple held a special appeal for the Chola kings, who lavished it with gifts and kept expanding it with additional structures and converted it into a big complex that it is today. The temple complex abounds in lithic records (stone inscriptions) of Chola kings such as Rajaditya (regnal years 947-949 CE), Raja Raja Chola (regnal years 985-1014 CE), his son Rajendra Chola (1012-1044 CE), his son Rajadhiraja (1018-1054 CE), Kulottunga I (1070-1120 CE) and Kulotunga III (1178-1218 CE).
The temple is also replete with the inscriptions of later Pandyas and almost all the rulers belonging to the Vijayanagara dynasty. While the inscriptions of the Chola and the Pandya kings are in Tamil, those of the Vijayanagara dynasty are in Telugu. The story of Kannappa is fully told in a long inscription of the Cholas. The inscriptions of the Chola and Pandya rulers provide a wealth of information on the donations they made to the temple for its maintenance, for performing pujas and celebrating festivals. During the Chola rule, Sri Kalahasti fell under the revenue division of Attrur Nadu of Perumbanaipadi, which was a sub-division of Tiruvenkata Kottam (Tiruvenkata Circle) under the larger division of Jayamkonda Cholamandalam. Raja Raja Chola had a soft corner for the Srikalahastiswara temple, and according to Dr. Nagaswamy, the emperor sent a golden diadem to the deity from his capital of Thanjavur, which was carried with VENERATION by his army commander and officials. The temple has bronze portrait sculptures of Chola Mahadevi, one of the queens of Raja Raja Chola, and of Kulotunga III, with inscriptions on their pedestals. Raja Raja Chola founded a big commercial centre near Sri Kalahasti under the name Mummudi Cholapuram. This commercial centre was in existence for more than 500 years and was active even up to 1600 CE – till the decline of the Vijayanagara empire. The temple has an interesting inscription which refers to a Brahmin from a village called Tiruindalaur, near Mayiladuthurai (Tamil Nadu), who made donations to the temple. Recently, an 85-copper plate charter issued by Rajendra Chola and 12 exquisitely beautiful bronzes were unearthed from the Kailasanatha temple premises at Kazhukkanimuttam in Tiruindalur.
Dr. Nagaswamy said another interesting inscription is about a local chieftain who killed 150 tigers in the forests around the hills and protected the people from attacks by the animal. This inscription in Tamil, dated to Saka year 1289 (that is 1367 CE), refers to “Valli Arasan, the lord of Ayodhyapuram,” who killed 150 tigers and also assumed a title.
What is of relevance now is an inscription in Telugu, of Krishnadeva Raya, which clearly states that it was he who built the Rajagopuram of the temple. This lithic record is inscribed on the western wall of the second prakara (corridor) and is dated to Saka year 1438 (that is, 1516 CE). The dhamma sasanam (inscription) talks about how Sri Krishnadeva Maharayalu built the peddha gopuramu (the big tower) for the Lord in “Sri Kalahastiswarani temple.” There are inscriptions that talk about local chieftains who had the title “Yadavaraya” and controlled the area around Sri Kalahasti. Called “Sri Kalahasti deva,” they were proud that they were devotees of both Sri Venkatachalapathy of Tirumala and Sri Kalahasti Natha. The Nagarathar community (Nattukottai Chettiars) of Devakottai in Tamil Nadu have liberally donated for Sri Kalahastiswara temple’s maintenance. There is a temple called Sri Mani Gangisvara (Sri Manikanteswara) temple behind the main temple complex and it dates back to the Raja Raja Chola Chola period, said Dr. Nagaswamy. On the rock surface near this temple is a series of beautiful bas reliefs, representing various manifestations of Lord Siva. Unfortunately, they have been garishly painted over in a riot of polychromatic colours.
 
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