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When it comes to the religious places, Andhra Pradesh is no doubt one of the most visited locations in all India. Millions of people visit Tirupati located at Chittoor district every year for religious significance of the place. Srisailam, Ahobilam, Mahanandi and Mantrayalam located in Kurnool district are the other major pilgrimage sites of Andhra Pradesh. Puttaparthi located at Anantpur district is also a very famous divine destination of the state. Srikalahasti, Simhachalam, Dwarka Tirumala, Kanipakam, Annavaram, Vijaywada and Draksharamam are other major religious sites of the state.
Divine Destinations of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh is home to several temples and churches, which attract million of devotees every year not only from India but also from foreign countries. Some of these temples are highly visited by politicians, celebrities and players for fulfillment of their wishes. These temples are some of the richest temples of India and attract huge donations from the people. Let us take a look at some of the most renowned temples of entire Andhra Pradesh:
Located in the Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh, Tirupati is among the most visited divine destinations of our country. Its significance can be understood from the fact that it lures more devotes than the holy sites of Mecca and Jerusalem every year. It is home to many temples; however the most famous of them all is Sri Venkateswara Temple. The temple is full of natural beauty and is surrounded by seven picturesque hills. Many waterfalls and natural sceneries are situated amidst these hills.
Located amidst the picturesque Nallamalla Ranges, Srisailam is one of the most famous religious destinations of Andhra Pradesh. People not only visit this place for its religious significance but also for the great forest sanctuary situated around the temple. Situated on the banks of Krishna River, Srisailam is known for its Bhramaramba Mallikarjunaswamy Temple. This temple is dedicated to the Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy and is located at a height of 457 meters. The temple was built in the era of Vijayanagar Dynasty around six centuries ago and is one of the twelve Jyothirlingas found in India. Shiva shrine located here is also popular among the followers of Lord Shiva.
Mantralayam is located in Kurnool district and is known for its religious significance among the followers of Lord Vishnu. Samadhi of Saint Raghavendra Teertha is one of the main attractions of the place as many people believed him to be the incarnation of Bhakta Prahlad (An ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu). Saint Raghavendra Teertha Swamy was famous for some great miracles and was a great scholar. The temple of Mantralayam has a beautiful architecture and is full of great sculptures and murals. Many inscriptions and carvings of the temple makes it more stunning and charming to the visitors.
Mantralayam Temple Timings: 06-00 AM to 14:00 PM, 16:00 PM to 21:00 PM Meal Timing: 11:00 AM to 15:00 PM Contact Address : Mantralayam, Shri Raghavendra Swamy Mutt, Mantralayam, Andhra Pradesh. Phone : 08512-279429 / 59. Shri Vijayendra Swamigal Mutt, Kumbakonam. Phone : 0435-2425448.
Puttaparthi is known on the world map for being the residence and Ashram of the spiritual guru Sathya Sai Baba. It is a small town located in the Ananthapur district of Andhra Pradesh state of India. It is surrounded by undulating hills and is located on the banks of Chitravathi River. Prasanthi Nilayam located here is one of the main attractions of the town and is also known as abode of peace among the tourists. It was constructed in 1950. Other attractions of the place include a mosque, Hanuman temple and Sathyabhama temple.
Ahobilam is considered to be one of the 108 Vaishnava Divyadesams in the country and is located in the Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh. It has total nine temples dedicated to the Lord Narasimha, situated within a radius of 5 Kilometers from the town of Ahobilam. The region is famous for its two beautiful temples located in lower Ahobilam and upper Ahobilam. According to local legend, this was the spot where Lord Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, blessed Bhakta Prahlada and slayed Hiranyakshipu. The temple of Prahalada Varadhan is located at the foothills of the mountain and is easy to reach. However, some of the temples are located inside the caves in the mountain and are difficult to reach. People not only visit the place for its religious importance but also for the trekking purpose as the same is required to visit some of the temples of Ahobilam.
Several other temples have high significance among the visitors of Andhra Pradesh. Almost every city of the state offers various beautiful temples of different eras to the vacationers and locals both. Different architecture styles can be seen in the temples of the state. Let us take a look at some of the most famous temples of Andhra Pradesh:
Simhachalam temple is located at Simhachalam in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. Main deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu and it is built in Dravidian and Oriya style of architecture. The temple has beautifully carved Natya mantapa with 16 pillars and the Kalyana mantapa with its 96 pillars and is considered as one of the eighteen shines of Lord Narasimha. The most amazing thing about the temple is that the main deity remains covered in sandalwood paste almost for all the year except for 12 hours. The temple is also known as Simhadri.
Dwarka Tirumala is renowned for its temple of Lord Venkateswara and is located at a distance of about 40 Km from Eluru in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Some people call it by the name of Smaller Tirupati. The temple has two main idols including the complete form and only upper part of Lord Venkateswara. The second idol was placed here by the Saint Dwarka, on whose name the village has been named. However, ancient priests did not believe in praying God without worshipping his feet and hence the other statue was installed here.
Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple
Another famous temple from Chittoor district after Tirupati, Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple is located on the banks of Bahuda River in Kanipakam village. It is an ancient temple dedicated to the Lord Ganesha. There are several legends are associated with the temple. One of the most famous of them is that the idol of Lord Ganesha situated here grows continuously. As per the other story, the temple was built after a self-manifested idol of Lord Vinayaka made an appearance in the local well waters. The idol is still situated in the same well and the water of this well is always constant and is known as holy water among the locals. The temple was built by the King Kulothunga Chola I in 11th century.
Kanaka Durga Temple
Kanaka Durga Temple is one of the most famous temples of Andhra radish and is located in Vijayawada district of the state. The temple is located on Indrrakiladri Hills amidst the picturesque natural beauty. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Kanak Durga. As per the legends associated with this temple, Arjuna (A mighty worrior from the epic Mahabharatha) received the Pasupatha (divine weapon) at this site only and later constructed a temple to honor goddess Kanak Durga for the same. There are two ways to reach the temple and both have ancient inscriptions on them.
Annavaram is renowned for its shrine to Lord Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy. It is situated on Ratnagiri Hills and is dedicated to Lord Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swami Temple and Goddess Anantalaxmi Satyavathi Ammavaru both. There are two ways to reach at the top of the hill where the temple is located. One can choose between the steps covered with canopy and stone path for trekking. The temple is located at a distance of about one kilometer from the base of the hill. A lot of festivals including Kalyanam, Navaratri, , Kanakadurga Yatra, Prabha Utsavam, Teppa Utsavam and Jalatoranam are celebrate here all around the year. This is the second most famous temple of the state after Tirupati.
Draksharamam is located on the banks of Godavari River at a distance of about 28 Km from Kakainada in Andhra Pradesh state of India. It is Abode of Daksha Prajapathi, Father of Sati and Father – in – Law of Lord Shiva. The temple has its mention in the great 'Skanda Purana' of Sri Vyasya.
Mahanandi is located amidst the Nallamalla ranges at Nandyal in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. There are nine shrines located in the vicinity of Nandyal and Mahanandi is the most famous among all of them. All of these nine shrines are located within an area of 15 Kms and are known as Mahanandi, Prathamanandi, Garudanandi, Shivanandi, Vinayakanandi, Somanandi, Suryanandi, Krishnanandi (also known as Vishnunandi) and Naganandi. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva. The temple is 1500 years old and is built in North Indian style of architecture. The Shivalinga situated within the temple is formed by a rough, uncut rock containing two cavities and there is a huge Nandi (bull) in front of the main shrine.
Dakshina Kailasam is located on the banks of Swarnamukhi River in Srikalahasti. It is an ancient Shiva temple situated between the foot of the neighbouring hills and banks of Swarnamukhi River. There are three major towers inside the temple. The temple has a rich history associated with it, starting from its construction during the Pallavas dynasty to its present form built in Cholas dynasty (11th century) and finally to the 16th century when 100-pillared mantapam was constructed by Krishnadevaraya.
Mangalgiri is situated between Guntur and Vijayawada and is known as the temple town. It falls in the vicinity of Guntur district and is an abode of Lord Narasimha. Presiding deity is offered prayers in the form of Jaggery water ( Panakam) here.
Kotappakonda is also located in the vicinity of Guntur of Andhra Pradesh. Presiding deity of the temple is Lord Shiva and hence millions of devotees of Lord Shiva visit the temple on the occasion of Mahashivaratri every year. The temple is located on a hill and offers some breathtaking views of nature.
Amareswara temple of Lord Shiva is the main attraction of Amaravati. It is located in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh and is one of the famous Pancharamas. The place gas its historical importance as well as it used to be a site of great Buddhist Stupa and was also the capital of Satavahanas.
Samalkota is located in the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh and is known for its Sri Chalukya Kumararama Sri Bhimeswaraswamy temple. The temple is dedicated to the Lord Shiva, known as Kumara Bhimeswara here. It is one of the Pancharamas and is filled with devotees on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri.
Palakol is famous for its Ksheera Rama Lingeswara Swami Temple and is located in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.The temple was constructed by Reddy Rajulu in 15th century. It is dedicated to the Lord Shiva and is one of the five Pancharamas. The temple has a Gopuram of the height of 36. 6 Mts.
Bhimavaram is located in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh and is one of the Pancharamas (Somaramam) in the name of Moon god. He was behind naming Lord Shiva as Someswara Swamy and this place as Somaramam.
Yaganti is most famous for Lord Venkateshwara Swamy Temple and is located in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. One of the most stunning feature of this temple is the growing Nandi, which has increased about 20 inches in past 20 years.
Mosques have been an integral part of Andhra Pradesh culture due to the popularity of Islam here. It is the second most famous religion in the state and hence various mosques have been built by different Muslim rulers from time to time. However, with the latest partition of the state in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, most of the famous mosques have become a part of Telangana state as Hyderabad is part of the same now, there are still some popular mosques left in the state. Let us take a look at some of these mosques:
One of the most famous mosques of Andhra Pradesh is Jumma Masjid. It is located at Adoni in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. The mosque was built in 1680 by Madu Qadiri, a governor of the Kingdom of Adil Shahi. An elevated terrace is located at the entrance of the mosque and depicts a marvelous architecture. Jumma Masjid is known for its great Muslim architecture among the tourists.
Shahi Jamia Masjid
Shahi Jamia Masjid is another beautiful mosque located in the vicinity of Adoni. Adoni is located at a distance of about 103 Km from the city of Kurnool and is easily accessible by road and rail both. It is believed ti be built by the Siddi Masood Khan, Governor of Adoni at the time of BijapurSultan's rule in the area. It is built in exact same area of Holy Kaaba in Makkah, Saudi Arabia and was built in 33 months of time.It is located in the heart of the city near the market place itself.
Hazratbal Mosque Vijaywada
Hazratbal Mosque is another famous mosque s of the state and is located in Vijayawada district of Andhra Pradesh. The mosque is renowned for the housing a holy relic of Prophet Mohammed. Mohammed is considered as the founder of Islam and hence this mosque has special place in the heart of the people of Muslim community. The holy relic is displayed once a year to all people including Muslims and people of other religion.
Churches in Andhra Pradesh
However, temples and mosques are located in abundance in Andhra Pradesh; some very beautiful churches have also found their place in this wonderful state. And just like the other religious sites of the state, these churches have also been built in a grand manner showcasing some marvelous architecting techniques. Let us take a look at some of the renowned churches of Andhra Pradesh:
St. Mary's Church
St. Mary’s Church is located around Vijayawada in Krishna district and is a popular religious destination of Andhra Pradesh. The church is also known as The Mother of Good Health, Mary Matha's Shrine and Gundala Matha Shrine. The church is constructed on a hillock and houses a museum of valuable gifts and ancient relics. The church celebrates an annual feast every year on February 11 to commemorate the appearance of Mother Mary at Lourdes and people of all the religions take part in the same.
Rose Hill Church
Rose Hill Church is located in the vicinity of Visakhapatnam. The church is located on a hill and attracts various vacationers due to its location and beauty both. The church is more than 150 years old and has port in its backside. The church is not only visited for its historical importance but also for the natural beauty of the place.
Manna Church is one of the most visited churches of Andhra Pradesh and is located in Eluru. It is a beautiful church and lures many followers of the Christianity religion along with other visitors.
Though Hyderabad is now a part of Telangana, yet when one is in Andhra Pradesh, should not muss visiting some of the important religious places which are not too far away. Of all the important places, Mecca Masjid is one of the most important places in Hyderabad. It is the oldest and biggest mosque in Hyderabad and one of the most scared places of the Muslims. The Chilkur Balaji Temple and Sanghi Temple in Hyderabad should also be a part of your religious tour itinerary.
Religious Tours in Andhra Pradesh
Various religious tours are available for the visitors of Andhra Pradesh as there are many religious destinations located in the state. Different tours are organized on a regular basis by the Andhra Pradesh Tourist Department Corporation and private tour operators both. Some of the tours are organized on a daily basis while others are organized on different frequencies such as bi-weekly and weekly. Let us take a look at some of the religious tours of Andhra Pradesh:
Daily Local Sight Seeing Tour
This tour is organized by the APTDC and runs on a daily basis from 9:15 in the morning to 5:30 in the evening. It covers various religious destinations including Srikalahasti, Tiruchanur, Kanipakam, Sreenivasa Mangapuram, Kapilateertham and Govindaraja Swamy Temple of the state. Cost associated with this tour is INR 340 for an adult and INR 280 for a child from Tirumala.
Daily Sripuram Golden Temple – Kanipakam Tour
This is another tour operated by the APTDC. The tour starts from Tirumala at 8:00 in the morning and ends at the Kanipakam. Cost associated with this tour is INR 410 for an adult and INR 330 for a child. The tour is operated by a Non Air –Conditioned coach and one can choose to start from Tirumala or Tirupati both.
Apart from these, various tours for Tirupati are organized by APTDC from different cities on a regular basis. Some of these tours include Daily Karur – Tirumala Tour, Madurai – Tirumala Tour, Daily Kumbakonam – Tirumala Tour, Neyveli – Tirumala Tour and Salem – Tirumala Tour. Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation Address: 3-5-891, Tourism House, Himayatnagar, Hyderabad - 500 029 Andhra Pradesh, India. Phone: +91-40-23262151, +91-40-23262152, +91-40-23262153, +91-40-23262154, +91-40-23262157, Fax: +91-40-23261801 Website: http://www.aptdc.gov.in