It is situated in the dense forests of Nallamal hills of eastern ghats of Andhra Pradesh and a sacred shrine for the Vaishnavites sect of Hinduism.
Unlike western Ghats these eastern ghats are not a wide range of mountains, it is distanced from the sea coast and its thick forest as in western Ghats beckon a traveller to expose its divinity as well. The Eastern Ghats stretch are house to three frequented pilgrimage centres of hindus , viz. Tirumala Ahobala and Srisailam
Ahobilam is the place where lord Vishnu slayed Hiranyakashyapa by taking the incarnation of Narasimha from a pillar for the sake of his staunch devotee Prahlada according to Brahmanda purana.
Sthala puarana: According to Sthala purana the derivation of the word Ahobala , its stated that the Devas (Gods), while witnessing the terrible aspect of Ugra Narasimha – A fiery Lion faced Vishnu , the lord took in order to tear open Hiranyakashyapa , they sung in his praise as “AHO’ BALA (The massive strength) . Hence this place came to be known as Ahobala and due to Tamil influence became Ahobilam.
Its also called Nava Narasimha shrine ( Nine Narasimha forms ) where the moola viraat (main deity Idols) have self manifested naturally in the caves of these ghats , except the lower Narasimha temple.
The nine Narasimha sacred places are divided into two parts – Diguva (Lower Ahobilam) and Eguva Ahobilam (Upper Ahobilam)
- Diguva Ahobilam (Lower Ahobilam)
Its a single shrine of Shree Lakshmi Narasimha well connected by road .This temple built in Vijayanagar architecture having a large number of mantapas, main entrances, Kalyani (Sacred pond ) Here lord Narasimha is seen wooing his consort Chenchulakshmi
- Eguva Ahobilam (Upper Ahobilam)
- Bhargava Narasimha Swamy
Its situated at a distance of 2 km from the lower Ahobilam, on a hill near the sacred pond called “Bhargava theertha”
- Yogananda Narasimha Swamy
This temple is situated in south east of lower Ahobilam at a distance of 2 Km , after killing of Hiranyakashayapa, the lord taught several yogic postures to Prahalada, hence derived the name as Yogananda Narasimha.
- Chatravata Narasimha Swamy
- Ahobila Narasimha Swamy
Its situated in the upper Ahobilam , at a distance of 8km from the lower Ahobilam, this is the main temple , it’s the earliest to all nine temples. Here the lord appears in fiery aspect-Ugra Narasimha which is the presiding deity of Ahobilam & its believed that its naturally self manifested in the cave of the hill.
- Varaha Narsimha Swamy : The lord in Varaha incarnation along with his consort Lakshmi.
- Karanja Narasimha Swamy
- Malola Narasimha Swamy: Here the deity in Soumya roopam (Graceful) form along with his consort Laskshmi, Malola means Goddess Lakshmi.
- Jwala Narasimha Swamy: This temple is about 4 km from the upper Ahobilam temple. This place said to be the actual spot where the fiercely lord’s anger reached its culmination and he tore Hiranyakashyapa
- Paavana Narasimha Swamy
It is said that these temples were initially built during Chalukyas in the 8th century AD and later the Kakatiyas and the Vijayanagara kings patronised this shrine with enormous donations. Later the lower Ahobilam got partially damaged by Mughals during mid 16th Century AD.
Trek to Ugra-sthambam:
At a 5 km distance from the upper Ahobilam temple, we can spot an extended rocky un-inhabited high-rise cliff atop the mountain It is said that from this cliff , the Lord appeared in the form of Ugra Narasimha and this cliff is known as ‘Ugra Sthambham’.
It is an arduous path comprising of rocky terrain, ups and downs on a steep trekking path to reach this point as the stretch is fully covered by rocks, loose soil, and vegetation.
One should be physically fit to reach this summit point.We had to cross the rocky terrain and the Pennar river tributaries flowing amidst the hilly region.
On the way, we were able to glance variety species of insects , butterflies leading a carefree life on the mountain vegetation.
We were able to spot a wide range species of shrubs and trees and is said they bear medicinal properties. Also the Red sandalwood (Rakta Chandana ) are prosperously placed by nature on these ghats.
The way is a mix of rocky terrain and several frequent crossing of the river and we used to feel relaxed by splashing the pure water onto our faces and sitting for a while.
Finally we reached the Jwala Narasimha temple and we got a chance to reach the temple by crossing a narrow stretch of the rock placed behind a mild waterfall , We managed to collect the fresh mineral water directly from the falls and water was exuberant.
Our final leg of the trek was to reach the Ugra sthabham of Narasimha and we had to indulge in the rock climbing of the extended vertical cliff which spans almost a kilometre.
After treading our own decided zig-zag path, we managed to reach the summit of the mountain. The spectacular view from here opens a wide range of mountains of the easter ghats covered with thick forest with exotic fauna and flora.
The rocks are with irregular slaty formation primarily with Quartzite, sandstones with a soft texture.
These rocks are one among the oldest in the world have been formed as result of large scale volcanic activity over hundreds of millions of years!That is the unique speciality of these rocks.
The fresh water from the springs quenches the thirst of an exhausted trekker naturally along with the mild cool breeze wave frequently.
How to reach: Its about 24 Km from Allagadda Taluk headquarter and 65Km’s from Nandyala , Andhra Pradesh. The nearest Airport- Kadapa(Cudappah) :88 Kms and Bengaluru :312 Kms Approx.
Accommodation: As it is situated in the Nallmala forest range , so the accommodation is bit difficult only the Govt of Andhra pradesh tourism -Haritha Resorts & others are community based Chatras (Community accommodation) It’s better to stay in Nandyal a taluk center with good facilities of hotels which is near to this place. But we were able to relish good hygiene food in Brahmins Annadanam chatram and one can do the charity as they are providing free food to the devotees coming to this shrine.
Best time to visit is from October to January