Pushpagiri is situated on the banks of Penam
River in Cuddapah district is
well known for its numerous temples. Vaishnavas call it as "Tirumala
Madhya Ahobilam" and Shaivites call it as "Madhya Kailasam"
(midpoint of Chidambaram and Varanasi).
The Legends Of Pushpagiri
There are two legends regarding the origin of the name Pushpagiri and its sanctity according to one a Brahmin desirous of mingling the bones of his father in the holy Ganges, passed this way. He was tired so he set down his luggage including the bones of his father and went to bath in the Pennar.
When he returned from the river he found the bones had been converted into jasmine flowers. The Brahmin felt very happy and determined that his father's soul had gone to Heaven and resolved to go no further. Conscious of this place being more sacred, he cast the flowers in the waters of the Pennar. The place where the miraculous conversion of bones took place gradually assumed the form of a hill, to which the name of Pushpagiri was given to mark its wonderful origin.
According to another legend it is believed that Garuda when taking nectar from 'Devaloka' to relieve the sufferings of his mother had been attacked by Indra with his 'Vajrayudha' and let fall a drop into the pool. An old couple vexed by the attitude of their sons decided to work on their own. They took an old pair of bulls and started working in the fields.
One day he drove the cattle to a large and deep pool nearby to give them water. As soon as the bulls had quenched their thirst, they were transformed into a young and energetic pair. He was astonished by this, and stepped into the pool and on emerging found himself changed in feelings and appearance into a youth of sixteen. After sometime his wife also took a dip in water and she too became youthful like her husband. Gradually the truth became known to others who in their turn bathed in the wonderful pool renewed their youth and became immortal.
The sage Narada discovering this went and reported to Brahma in Satyaloka that his mandates of destiny had become null and void by reason of a pool in the 'Bhuloka', which contained nectar and rendered men immortal. On enquiry, Brahma learnt from Narada that it was indeed a fact, as Being at a loss how to remedy the matter Brahma invoked the help of Maha Vishnu. Maha Vishnu asked 'Anjaneya' to drop a hill into the pool and cover it up.
This mandate was obeyed but the hill, instead of sinking into the water, floated on the surface like a flower. Then the gods all joined together and weighed it down while Vishnu and Shiva clamped it firmly by the imprint of their feet at each end. Thus this hill, which floated like a flower attained the name of Pushpagiri. The imprint of the foot of Shiva is represented in the temple of Rudrapada on the western side of the hill. Instead of the imprint of the foot of Vishnu on the other side of the hill, he has two temples on the same side near Rudrapada.
An Abode Of Temples
This place is well known for its numerous temples. Some of them are of considerable antiquity and a few of artistic sculpture. Many of these shrines lie on or along a hill devoid of vegetation, rising slopingly from the very edge of the Penneru, which has fairly deep banks in this stretch. Actually it is this hill, which is called Pushpagiri or sometimes "Sumagiri".
About the first decade of this century, as many as twenty-eight temples, mostly in ruins, were noted in the area. The largest and the best known among them is situated on the lower slopes of the hill, overlooking the hamlet of Pushpagiri on the other side of the river. It is known as 'Chennakesvara' or 'Chennakesava' Temple and is approached from the river, when it is wadable, by a long flight of steps, laid angularly. Its entrance is surmounted by a lofty five-storeyed 'gopuram'.
The main temple in the yard within has a few attendant temples on either side. The exterior walls containing the sculptures are built of limestone. The sculptures include those of Lord Shiva dancing with four and eight hands, Shiva and Arjuna fighting, Arjuna's penance, Arjuna getting 'Pasupatastra' from Shiva, 'Seshasayana', scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata, dancers, rows of warriors and other carvings with various animal and floral motifs and fancifully engraved pillars.
The Main Festivity
The annual Utsavam of the Chennakesava temple lasts for ten days from "Chaitra Bahula Thrayodasi" (March-April) and attracts a large concourse. Some of the devotees make it a point to walk round the long Pushpagiri hills.
Road: Pushpagiri lies 16-km off Cuddapah town in Andhra Pradesh. It is connected by road from Cuddapah and commands APRTC bus facilities.
Accommodation is available at the hotels in Cuddapah.