Srikalahasti Temple or Tirukkāḷatti 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.
This temple is one of the most impressive Siva temples in India. Vishwakarma Brahmin Sthapthis who sculpted this temple need to be eulogized for their excellent architectural cognizance. 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 outer walls and the four gopurams were constructed in the period of Sri Veera Narasimharayar in 12th century. The 120 feet (37 m) high main gopuram and the 100 pillar mandapam were constructed by Krishnadevaraya, the Vijayanagara king in 1516. Mr.Ramanathan Nattukkottai Chettiyar of Devakkottai, developed the structure as it is today by spending one million dollars in 1912. Tamil saints Nayanars like Appar, Sundarar and Sambanthar praised the deity in their hymns-the tevaram.
The temple is also associated with Rahu and Kethu (of the nine grahams or celestial bodies in the Indian astrological scheme). The river Suvarnamukhi takes the northerly course at Sri Kalahasthi almost washing the west wall of the famous temple. Inside this very large temple, situated between two steep hills Sripuram and Mummidi-cholapuram, is the Sivalinga set to represent the element of Vayu. This temple is considered as the Kailash of the South or Dakshin Kailash. Saivaite saints of the first century sang about this temple.
This ancient temple dedicated to Lord Siva is one of the five Panchabhootha stalams (temples celebrating Lord Siva as the embodiment of the five primary elements), air (wind) being the element in this case; the other elements being water at (Thiruvanaikaval), fire at (Annamalaiyar Temple), earth at (Ekambareswarar Temple) and space at (Chidambaram Temple) that Siva embodies. There is a lamp inside the inner sanctum that is constantly flickering despite the lack of air movement inside. The air-linga can be observed to move even when the priests close off the entrance to the main deity room, which does not have any windows. One can see the flames on several ghee lamps flicker as if blown by moving air. The linga is white and is considered Swayambhu, or self-manifested.
Kalahasti is surrounded by two sacred hills. The Durgama temple is on the northern hill. On the south hill there is the shrine of Kannabeswara, in memory of the Sage Kannappa, who offered his eyes to the Lord. There is also a temple dedicated to Lord Subramanya on one of the surrounding hills. The main linga is untouched by human hands, even by the priest. Abhisheka (bathing) is done by pouring a mixture of water, milk, camphor, and panchamrita. Sandal paste, flowers and the sacred thread are offered to the utsava-murti, not the main linga.
Sri Kalahasti is named after the staunch devotees of Lord Shiva. They were the Spider (Sri), the Serpent (Kala) and the Elephant (Hasti). Appeased with their unflinching devotion, Lord Shiva gave them a boon that their names be merged with the Vayulinga and called as Sri Kalahasteeswara or Sri Kalathinathan. According to Hindu mythology, the elephant or Hasti used to clean the Shiva deity by watering the idol with the help of river-water carried in his trunks and pray for him by placing Vilva leaves. The spider or Sri tried to protect the deity from external damage by weaving his web and to provide shelter for the Shiva lingam. The snake or Kala used to place its precious gem on the linga to adorn the lord.
In this way, they all worshipped the Vayu linga separately without knowing what the other was doing. One day, the spider had built a very big and thick web around the deity to protect it from dust and weather while the snake places its gem. The elephant not knowing this and assuming that this form of puja by Sri and Kala is a desecration by the seeming miscreants, pours water on it and cleans it up. This causes a war between the three. The snake punishes the elephant by entering its trunk and in the process kills itself while the elephant runs amok and hits its trunk and head against the shiva linga. During this struggle, the spider is squashed against the linga by the elephant's trunk and the elephant dies due to the snake's poison.
Lord Shiva then appeared and gave moksha to all three of them for their selfless devotion. The spider takes rebirth as a great king while the elephant and the snake reaches heaven for satisfying all its karma. This king continues his good work from his previous birth and builds a variety of temples that seeks to protect the underlying deity with tons of stones. It is interesting to note that all his temples, keep the deity beyond the access of an elephant. In this temple, access to the deity is through a narrow passage in the side of the building that prevents an elephant from extending its trunk over the lord from any side.
Mahasivaratri is an important festival when lakhs of people offer prayers to seek the blessings of the Lord to attain Mukti.
Rahu - Kethu Sarpa Dosha Nivarana Puja:
Srikalahasteeswara Swamy Temple is reputed as the Rahu Kethu Kshetra, If the People who have Rahu Kethu Doshas and Sarpa Doshas, the unmarried and No children and those who are facing various problems for long period and perform the most effective Rahu - Kethu Sarpa Dosha Nivarana Puja in this Temple all the Doshas get removed and desired results occur. Thousands of Devotees from the country and abroad perform this puja and fulfill their vows again and again after receiving good results. (The Devastanam will arrange all Puja Materials).
Nithya Kalyana Seva is conducted to Sri Siva-Parvathi daily in the name of the donors along with abhisheka aradhana payment of Rs.550/-. The devotees who make permanent endowment of Rs. 5500/-, for Nithya Kalyanotsavam, can perform this seva on any day chosen by them (except on 12 days of maha sivaratri Brahmostavam), The devotees who perform their puja will receive swamivari prasadam, Seshavastram, Lamination photo and Special Asirvachanam.