Srisailam, one of the twelve Jyotirlingams in India, is couched in the Nallamala Hills and the serpentine river Krishna, about 232 kilometers south of Hyderabad in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. The name Srisailam is derived from the name of the pillar located on the mountain. Here, Lord Siva is popularly known as Mallikarjuna and is accompanied by his wife Bhramaramba, the goddess Parvati. Srisailam is one of the holiest places India has to offer and is also one of the eighteen Mahasakthis.
Hindus believe that Lord Sivaâ€™s first manifestation was in the form of a Jyotirlingam, the lingam of light, on the night of the Arudra Nakshatram. Ellipse, the first form manifested in the universe, is also Lord Sivaâ€™s symbolic representation, symbolizing the universeâ€™s primordial force. It is believed that a person can see these Jyotirlingams as columns of fire piercing through the earth once one reaches a higher level of spiritual attainment. Thus, Hindus have a special reverence for the Jyotirlingams, and Srisailam is one such prominent shrine.
Srisailam is one of the holy shrines of India where legends are abound about those who worshipped here. Siva's sacred bull Vrishabha is said to have performed penance at the Mahakali temple until Siva and Parvati appeared before him as Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba. Even today, one can hear the buzzing noise of a bee through a tiny hole in the Bhramaramba temple, where Parvati, in the form of a bee, slew the demon Mahishasura. Lord Rama is supposed to have installed the Sahastralinga, while the Pandavas lodged the Panchapandava lingas in the temple courtyard.
Skanda Purana has a chapter called Srisaila Kandam. Srisailam is also referenced in the epic Mahabharata as Sri Parvata â€“ the blessed hill. Heroic legends from the Mahabharata and Ramayana are sculpted in stone on the temple walls. In more recent times, Sri Adi Sankara (788 CE - 820 CE), the consolidator of the doctrine of Advaita, composed his famous sivananda Lahiri (wave of auspicious bliss). Many Tamil saints of the past millennia have sung praises of this temple.
Srisailam is a shrine in the craggy ridges, serene forests, mountain springs and ancient sculptures displaying a blend of natureâ€™s beauty with architectural splendor. The origins of this temple are quite antique. Several Shaivite sects such as the Pasupatas, Kapalikas and Lingayats hold this shrine in highest reverence. Epigraphically, the earliest known historical mention of the hill, Srisailam, can be traced in Pulumaviâ€™s Nasik inscription of 1st Century A.D. The Satavahanas who were the first empire builders in South India, the Ikshavakus, the Pallavas, the Vishnukundis, the Chalukyas, the Kakatiyas, the Reddy Kings, the Vijayanagara dynasts and Chatrapathi Shivaji are among the famous emperors who worshipped God Mallikarjuna Swamy at Srisailam. Local folklore lovingly call Lord Mallikarjuna as Cheviti Mallanna, meaning deaf Mallanna, ascribing to his inability to hear properly.
In recent times Srisailam found prominence in the form of a 514 meters irrigation dam with 12 crest gates and hydro electric power generators. Srisailam sanctuary boasts of 3568 square kilometers for breeding tigers, leopards, deers, sloth bears, hyenas, jungle cats, palm civets, bonnet macaques, pangolins and a variety of crocodiles. There are several places of tourist interest in and around Srisailam such as the Pancha Mathams, Sikharam, Hathakeswaram, Phala Dhara-Pancha Dhara, Sakshi Ganapati, Kailasadawaram, Bheemuni Kolanu, among others.