I got an opportunity to visit Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh during two months stay at Hyderabad in 2010. It is about 230 kms from Hyderabad and two days weekend break was well enough to visit this place. I have already booked bus ticket from Hyderabad to Sri Sailam by a state bus on Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation website. As usual I was again alone for the trip. But at the last moment two of my friends Vishwadeep Meena and Punit Tirkey agreed to join me for the trip. We were three now, but they did not have tickets. We reached the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Stand in Hyderabad at 9 PM. I requested the bus conductor to arrange two tickets for my friends also. The conductor was a kind-hearted man and allowed all three to sit in the bus. Later, he arranged two tickets for us on that crowded night. We started from Hyderabad at 10 PM and reached Sri Sailam in early morning at 4.30 AM. Nothing special was happened in the night. It was an uneventful quiet journey.
Srisailam and Around:
Srisailam is a holy town situated in Nallamala hills (means Black Hills) of Kurnool district. Srisailam is one among the various Jyotirlingas of India.A multipurpose dam has been built across River Krishna and caters to the irrigation and power needs of the state.
Bhramaramba Mallikarjunaswamy Temple
At that morning, town was just waking and very few people were there around. We booked a room in a lodge for two hours just to be got ready for temple visit.
We reached temple around 6 AM and there was already a long queue of devotees waiting for their turns. We enquired at one of the facilitation counter there and they said after getting the tickets of Rs.50, we can get a priority over other normal devotees. What a system is there in the temples of South India? Even god is on sale there. We took three tickets of Rs. 50 each and bypassed the long queue to enter in the temple alongwith 20-30 other people.
The temple complex, whose existing buildings date from the 2nd century AD, is the Bhramaramba Mallikarjunaswamy Temple. It is one of the 12 ‘Jyotirlingas’ in India as well as one of the eighteen most sacred goddess shrines, or Shakti Pithas.The temple is the site of Mahakali in the form of Bhramaramba. It is believed, the Vrishabha, the sacred bull of Lord Shiva performed penance here. Lord Shiva appeared before him, with his consort Parvati in the forms of Mallikarjuna and Bharamaramba. The view inside the temple is fascinating.Photography inside the temple is strictly prohibited. So we couldn’t take photos inside the temple and came outside.
We passed through a long queue of Sadhus sitting on the road in a row to get morning breakfast offered by devotees. There were lot of people selling these breakfast item to the visitors, so that they can offer these to the Sadhus. I was just amazed as it was only about 6.45 AM and these people are eating so much of food. It seemed a lunch time rather than a breakfast time.
We reached the main market and roamed around. The market was still opening. We went to a road side dhaba and took our breakfast. After breakfast we decided to visit a nearby ghat on Krishna River.
We went to the riverside and there is a ropeway offering a ride to the Patal Ganga, where the bathing ghats on the banks of the river are. We took ropeway ride in Rs. 40 per head both ways. The ghat at river was full of devotees. People were taking bath and performing religious rituals there. There were some boats offering a half an hour boat ride to a dam. We took a ride and went upto the dam and came back. It was enchanting to sit in a wooden boat, with water on all sides, framed by the hills.
There we have heard about Akkamahadevi Caves, which is around 18 kms away and accessible by boats only. We registered for Akkamahadevi caves boat trip around 10 AM. The charge was Rs. 160 per person for the round trip. The boat trip was scheduled to start at 10:30 AM . There is only 1 boat that goes to this place daily and the requirement is minimum of 18 people have to register! Though you can also engage a private boat there. The trip to Akkamahadevi caves started off a bit late at around 11:30 AM and it took about 1 hour 15 minutes to reach the place.
The boat trip in that hot weather was not a very good idea but the riverside views gave us courage to hang on the trip. A guide accompanied us through the entire trip. The entire trip is covered by forest area and mountains. We did not miss a chance to enjoy the nature and captured every moment. The caves are quite good – depending on your liking for such places – its absolutely dark inside and we bought a couple of candles over there to go in. Its around 80 meter walk inside the caves and after few meters it was really suffocating. But we managed to offered our prayer at Shiva Lingam there and came back to our boat.
The boat was supposed to be there for an hour.It took another 75 minutess to return back in the scalding heat. Though the boat was covered, the heat was quite exhausting – all in all, in my personal opinion, I did not feel that the effort was worth to visit the cave – so be sure if you want to visit this place.
Return Journey to Hyderabad:
We went to the bus stand at Sri Sailam to catch a return bus to Hyderabad. We got the 3 PM bus to Hyderabad.
On the way, we have passed through the famous Sakshi Ganapati Temple. There is a story about this temple. Shiva told that whoever visits Srisailam will reach Kailash after the end of this birth. Ganesha told Him “You are an asutoshi and hence people will tell you that they have visited Srisailam without visiting and hence I will reside there as Sakshi Ganapati. Whoever visits Srisailam, after the dharshan, should visit me also, so that I will note down”.Hence the Srisailam visit is complete only after having a darshan of Sakshi Ganapati.(Unfortunately we didn’t know this important piece of information beforehand and we didn’t visit – we didn’t have time as well). Hope Ganeshji was able to see us in the bus and recorded our journey to Srisailam.
We have a splendid view of the Srisailam Dam during return journey that we missed last night.The beautiful dam is located in a gorge between two mountains and crossing over the dam is not allowed. You have to descend from the first mountain pass through a narrow bridge to start the ascend of the second mountain. The bridge runs parallel to the dam and at least a couple of kilometers away.
The return journey gave us a pleasant surprise that we missed our onward journey in the night. Srisailam route criss-crosses rustic villages and Nallamala forests which houses Nagarjuna Sagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve. Nallamala forest is the hotbed of Naxal movement and the forest covers are profuse hide outs of naxalites.These are full of Ghats, Jungles and some very beautiful and scenic locations. The bus passed through a dense forest and by the time it was dark outside, I was able to spot some cheetals, peacocks and lot of monkeys along the road.
We reached Hyderabad around 11 PM, went straight to the famous Paradise, ordered two packed Biryani and reached to the hotel. It was a wonderful one day trip to the Lord Shiva’s adobe.