Ahobilam, Holy Place of Lord Narasimha


By editor, Jun 12 2014

Ahobilam, located in Andhra Pradesh, is one of the main holy places for Lord Narasimha. According to some Puranas it is the location where Lord Narasimha blessed Bhakta Prahlada and killed the demon Hiranyakashipu. In the pictures below, the tall mountain is the pillar that Lord Narasimha appeared from. Originally it was a pillar in the palace of Hiranyakashipu.

Lower Ahovalam

The impressive and beautiful 800-year-old Prahlada-varada Narasimha Temple is in the town of Lower Ahovalam, near the bus stand. This temple is dedicated to the aspect of Lord Narasimha blessing Prahlada. To your right when you enter the temple are eight pillars, each intricately carved with one of Narasimha’s nine forms.

Upper Ahovalam

The elaborately decorated temple that contains the fierce form of Ugra Narasimha is located near the bus stand in Upper Ahovalam. This temple is dedicated to the form of Sri Narahari who emerged from the pillar to kill Hiranyakasipu. This temple has a mandapa (hall) and gopuram. A few metres from the Ugra Narasimha Deity is Guha Narasimha, who is in a little cave. Guha means cave. There is also a Sudarshan Yantra to the right of the Deity in another room. If you leave from the back entrance of this temple and walk ten minutes, you come to the Krodha Narasimha Temple, where the Lord is worshiped in His boar form. There is a temple cave of Varaha Narasimha here. Varaha, the boar incarnation of Lord Krishna, killed Hiranyakasipu’s younger brother, Hiranyaksa, thus incurring the wrath and hatred of Hiranyakasipu. Thus the two incarnations, Narasimha and Varaha, responsible for destroying the two demon-brothers, have been installed together in this temple. The Malola Narasimha Temple is about 2km from here. The Deity here is said to be in santa-rupa, in sport with Lakshmi.

About a half-hour walk up the hill on the way to the pillar is the Jwala Narasimha Temple, where the Ugrakala form of the Lord is found. This is said to be the actual spot where Lord Narasimha tore Hiranyakasipu apart. This Deity is located in a cave overlooking a steep cliff. You need a guide to reach the place, which is at the end of a difficult climb. Looming fifteen stories into the sky over Ahovalam is the ugra-stambha, the pillar from which Lord Narasimha appeared. You receive your first sight of the pillar after walking about a half-hour from where the bus lets you off at Upper Ahovalam. You will need the help of a guide to reach the pillar, as the trek takes about two hours. It is a hard climb directly up the mountain’s side. To see the Pavana Narasimha Temple where the Shakta form of worship of the Lord is a couple of hours walk (8km) from the main Ugra Narasimha Temple, in a different direction from the other temples.