The Shri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Simhachalam is a South Indian Hindu temple situated on the Simhachalam hill, which is 800 metres above the sea level at a distance of ten miles to the north of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. It is dedicated to one of the Hindu trinity deities Vishnu, who is worshipped there as Varaha Narasimha. As per the temple's legend (which is divided into 32 chapters), Vishnu manifested in this peculiar form, with a boar head, human torso and a lion's tail, after saving his devotee Prahlada from a murder attempt by the latter's father Hiranyakashipu. Except on Akshaya Tritiya, the idol of Varaha Narasimha is covered with sandalwood paste throughout the year, which makes it resemble a Shiva Lingam.
Simhachalam is one of the 32 Narasimha temples in Andhra Pradesh which are important pilgrimage centres. It was regarded as an important centre of Vaishnavism in the medieval period along with Srikurmam and others. The temple has been recognised by historians with the help of a 9th-century AD inscription by the Chalukya Chola king Kulottunga I. In the later half of the 13th century, the temple complex underwent radical physical changes during the reign of the Eastern Ganga king Narasimhadeva I. It later received patronage from many royal families, of which Tuluva dynasty of Vijayanagara Empire is a notable one. The temple underwent 40 years of religious inactivity from 1564 AD to 1604 AD. In 1949, the temple came under the purview of the state government and is currently administered by the Simhachalam Devasthanam Board.
Majority of the donations made to the Simhachalam temple are related to the conduction of festivals. The festivals are referred to with the name utsavas. Except for Kumara Punnami, almost all the utsavas are celebrated even today. The utsavas are divided into two categories: those governed by the Agama texts and the ones regulated by the customs and traditions (sishtachara). The performances and festivals are also classified into daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, and annual ones. These are meant for the material and spiritual progress of humans apart from their yogakshema (well being).
After 11:00 AM, the temple's mid day worship begins. After half an hour, rajabhoga (main offering) is offered to the deity. The pilgrims are not allowed to visit the sanctum for the next half an hour. Rajabhoga consists of cooked rice, dal, soup, cooked vegetables, ghee and curd. Another half an hour break is given to the deity at 2:30 AM. Devotees are then allowed to visit the sanctum up to 7:00 PM. In the evening worship, which begins at 6:00 PM, begins with the Divviti Salam (salute with torches) ceremony. Two men go round the temple; one holds a torch and the other plays a drum. The rituals offered in the evening are similar to that of the morning worship. The importance given to music is the major deviation. Night offering is provided to the deity. Devotees are allowed to have a glimpse of the deity for half an hour from 8:30 PM. At 9:00 PM, sayana seva (sleeping ritual) is performed an the temple is closed.
How to Reach
Regular buses ply to and from Simhachalam temple and are quick and affordable ways to reach this destination. If you are at the Waltair Railway Station, you can visit Simhachalam by bus number 6A, or you can take bus number 55 and 40 from Gajuwaka and Dwarka Bus Stand respectively. You can also hire a cab to drop you at the temple.