Rich in lore and sculptures

This is the concluding part of the article on Pancharama Kshetrams in Andhra Pradesh.

Draksharamam, referred to as ‘Dakshin Kasi’ and located near Ramachandrapuram, is 40 km from Rajahmundry and 17 km from Kakinada. The ASI-protected monument lies in the midst of a mammoth lawns — well-manicured and lush.

Inscriptions in the temple reveal that it was built between the 9th and 10th centuries CE, by the Eastern Chalukyan king, Bhima. Architecturally and sculpturally, it reflects a blend of Chalukyan and Chola styles. The dual storeyed shrine has four entrances in the outer circumambulatory path, each with a towering gopuram pointing in the four cardinal directions.

It is believed that Surya, the Sun god, installed the Lingam, and that Lord Rama worshipped Siva here. Worship and abisheka of the tall 10 ft tall lingam here, takes place from the first floor of the two-tiered edifice. The pillars and walls of the temple have gorgeous sculptures, depicting the ethos of the deities in myriad forms. Parvati is worshipped here as Manikyamba.

According to folklore, the seven or Sapta Maha Rishis divided the sacred Godavari at Draksharamam into seven streams, in order to successfully complete their penance. Three of these — Bharadwaja, Viswamitra and Jamadagni — known as Antarvahinis — disappeared underground. The temple, however, has a tank known as ‘Sapta Godavari Kundam,’ a confluence of the seven streams.

Somaramam

Historical records point to the East Chalukyan king, Chalukya Bhima, as having built the Somarama Temple in Gunupudi village in Bhimavaram.

The freshly painted temple overlooks the sacred Chandra Kundam or pond, also known as Somakundam or Chandra Pushkarani. Soma or Chandra, the Moon god, is believed to have rid himself of his sins by bathing in this tank. He worshipped Siva here after consecrating a broken piece of the Amrutha Lingam.

A distinct feature of the Someswara Swamy lingam is that it changes colour according to the lunar month. While it is white during Pournami (full moon) , it is brownish white on Amavasya, (moonless night).

The two-storied temple has Annapoorna Devi on the first floor, which is a speciality. The common belief is that the goddess is a representation of River Ganga flowing eternally from the tresses of Lord Siva, a symbol of abundance.

The temple also has shrines dedicated to Hanuman, Karthik and the Navagrahas. Since the guardian deity or kshetrapalaka of the temple is Janardhanaswamy, it is staunchly believed that those getting married in this temple are blessed with a happy marital life.

Ksheeraramam

Pedda Gopuram dots the city skyline of Palakollu. The ninth century Ksheera Ramalingeshwara temple is simply referred to as Pedda Gopuram on account of its towering gopuram, which was built in the 14th century, though its courtyard was designed and constructed in the 10th century. The temple, which rises 120 ft high, is held aloft by 72 sturdy black stone pillars. The presiding deity is believed to have given Sudarshana Chakra to Lord Vishnu who consecrated the Lingam, when it fell here.

The Siva Lingam can be seen from all sides through windows in the sanctum. While Parvati is the reigning consort here as in the other Pancharama temples, there are shrines for other gods too. The temple that lies in the heart of Palakollu, has a pair of courtyards.

The outer courtyard has a tall Dwajasthambam in front of which is an idol of Siva facing the temple’s entrance. It is also here that sage Upamanya obtained boons and milk from Siva, giving rise to Ksheera (milk) Ramalingeshwara. It is widely believed that a day’s stay at Ksheerarama is equivalent to spending a year in Varanasi!

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