The hill temple of Simhachalam can be
seen as one approaches Vishakapatnam from Vizianagaram by train. Simhachalam - the hill of
the lion is located at a distance of 18 km from Vishakapatnam. The hill temple is accessed
via a motorable road, up the hill. This temple combines the Orissan and Chalukyan
features of temple construction, and it attracts scores of pilgrims from both Andhra
Pradesh and Orissa.
The presiding deity here is Varaha
Lakshminarasimha, combining the iconographic features of Varaha and Narasimha.
The image resembles a Shivalingam covered with sandal paste. It is only once a year,
during the Chandana Visarjana that the sandal paste is removed, and the
image is seen by pilgrims.
Legend has it that the Ugra form of Narasimha as he killed the demon Hiranyakashipu
was so fierce that the image is kept covered by sandal paste throughout the year.
Temple History: Kulottunga Chola I of
Tamilnadu, made endowments to this temple, as evidenced from inscriptions dating back to
the year 1087. The Vengi Chalukyas of Andhra Pradesh renovated the original shrine in the
11th century. Much of the structure as it stands to day is the result of renovation by
Narasimha I, of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, in the second quarter of the 13th century
CE. Krishna Deva Raya, the Vijayanagar monarch visited this temple in the year 1516,
as seen from inscriptions here. There are as many as 525 inscriptions in this temple.
Noteworthy features of the temple:
This temple boasts of a beautiful stone chariot drawn by horses. The Kalyana Mandapa
within the temple has 16 pillars with bas reliefs depicting the incarnations of Vishnu.
Narasimha, the man lion incarnation of Vishnu is seen in several depictions throughout the
The artwork here has elements of similarity with that
of Konark. Elephants, flowers and plants are portrayed in plenty. The outer walls of the
sanctum depict images of a royal personality (said to be King Narasimha) in various
Dasavataram - The 10 Incarnations of Vishnu
Abodes of Vishnu