Simhadri or Simhachalam is a Hindu temple located in the Visakhapatnam City suburb of Simhachalam in Andhra Pradesh, South India. It is dedicated to Narasimha (the man-lion), an incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu. The architectural style of the central shrine is Kalinga architecture.
"Simha" means lion; "Adri" or "Achala" means hill. The temple is located at the top of a hill; hence the temple is called Simhachalam. Sri Varahalakshmi Narasimha Swamy, the lion-man incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is the presiding deity of the temple. The temple is one of the eighteen "Narasimha Kshetras", the shrines of Lord Narasimha, in India.
The deity is usually covered with sandalwood paste year round and can be seen without sandalwood ("nijaroopa darshan" – holy appearance in true form) for only 12 hours per year.] On Akshaya Tritiya Day, the deity is re-covered with sandalwood paste. The festival of 'Chandana yatra' or 'Chandanotsavam' falls every year in Vaisakha (May).
The deity is in the tribhangi posture, with two hands and the head of a lion on a human torso. An inscription dated 1098 AD of the Chola King Kuloththunga provides a clue as to its antiquity. Another inscription names a queen of the Eastern Ganga of Kalinga (ancient Odisha) (1137–1156), while a third inscription says the eastern Ganga King of Odisha, Narasimhadeva II (1279–1306), built the central shrine in 1267. More than 252 inscriptions in Oriya and Telugu describe the antecedents of the temple.
The Simhachalam temple faces west. According to religious belief, an east-facing entrance brings prosperity, while a west-facing one brings victory. The temple is situated among hills covered with cashew trees, shrubs, and mango groves. Many pilgrims undertake Giripradhikshana (circumambulation) of the hill on auspicious days. Neighbourhoods near the pilgrimage include Srinivasanagar, Prahladapuram, Sainagar colony, Simhapuri colony, and Simhapuri Layout. The journey often extends into the night, as the route is around 40 kilometres (25 mi). Pilgrims then visit the temple to give offerings to the deity.
Hiranyakasipu was a Rakshasa king and a reincarnation of one of Vishnu's Dwarapalakas (gatekeepers) in Vaikuntha (heaven). The other palaka was born as his brother Hiranyaaksha. The gatekeepers, Jaya and Vijaya, were cursed by Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanathkumara, and Sanathsujatha because the gatekeepers did not allow these four to take darshan of Mahavishnu. As a result, the gatekeepers were reincarnated three times. Hiranyakasipu decided to perform austerities (tapasya) to appease Lord Brahma, which would allow him to become immortal. However, Lord Brahma said that it was not possible.