Ahobilam is said to be the place where Lord Vishnu accepted the half-man, half-lion form of Lord Narasimha in order to defeat the demon Hiranyakasipu. Ahobilam is 49km south of Nandyal Railway Station and about 300km south of Hyderabad.
Ahobilam is the only place in India where all nine forms of Lord Narasimha, Nava Narasimha, are worshiped. The nine (nava) forms of Narasimha are: (1) Prahlada-varada Narasimha or Lakshmi Narasimha, (2) Chatravata Narasimha, (3) Yogananda Narasimha, (4) Karanda Narasimha, (5) Krodha Narasimha, (6) Guha Narasimha, (7) Jwala Narasimha, (8) Malola Narasimha, and (9) Pavana Narasimha. The Narasimhadeva Deity in the Ugra Narasimha Temple in Upper Ahovalam is said to be self-manifested (swayambhu). Sri Chaitanya visited this pilgrimage place.
Ahobilam is a small village, and few foreigners visit, because it is out of the way.
Information and Guides
To fully explore both Upper and Lower Ahobilam takes about two days. Regular buses leave Lower Ahobilam every twenty minutes to Upper Ahobilam (8km).
If you want to see the pillar from which Lord Narasimha appeared, it is best to have a guide, as it is difficult to get there without one. You can hire a guide at the small tea stall next to the entrance of the Ugra Narasimha Temple.
The Prahlada-varada Narasimha Temple in LowerAhovalam and the Ugra Narasimha Temple in Upper Ahovalam are major temples with formal worship. The other temples in the area have little formal worship and few visitors. Some are difficult to reach.
The impressive and beautiful 800-year-old Prahlada-varada Narasimha Temple is in the town of Lower Ahovalam, near the bus stand. This temple is dedicated to the aspect of Lord Narasimha blessing Prahlada. To your right when you enter the temple are eight pillars, each intricately carved with one of Narasimha’s nine forms.
The temple dedicated to Chatravala Narasimha is about 2km from the bus stand under a pippal tree. About 4km up the hill to Upper Ahovalam are the Karanda Narasimha and Yogananda Narasimha Temples. It is said that Lord Narasimha taught Prahlada several yogic postures here, which is why the Lord is known here as Yogananda Narasimha. It is best to hire a guide if you wish to visit these temples.
The elaborately decorated temple that contains the fierce form of Ugra Narasimha is located near the bus stand in Upper Ahobilam. This temple is dedicated to the form of Sri Narahari who emerged from the pillar to kill Hiranyakasipu. This temple has a mandapa (hall) and gopuram. A few metres from the Ugra Narasimha Deity is Guha Narasimha, who is in a little cave. Guha means cave. There is also a Sudarshan Yantra to the right of the Deity in another room. There is a small darshan fee charged at this temple.
If you leave from the back entrance of this temple and walk ten minutes, you come to the Krodha Narasimha Temple, where the Lord is worshiped in His boar form. There is a temple cave of Varaha Narasimha here. Varaha, the boar incarnation of Lord Krishna, killed Hiranyakasipu’s younger brother, Hiranyaksa, thus incurring the wrath and hatred of Hiranyakasipu. Thus the two incarnations, Narasimha and Varaha, responsible for destroying the two demon-brothers, have been installed together in this temple.
The Malola Narasimha Temple is about 2km from here. The Deity here is said to be in santa-rupa, in sport with Lakshmi.
About a half-hour walk up the hill on the way to the pillar is the Jwala Narasimha Temple, where the Ugrakala form of the Lord is found. This is said to be the actual spot where Lord Narasimha tore Hiranyakasipu apart. This Deity is located in a cave overlooking a steep cliff. You need a guide to reach the place, which is at the end of a difficult climb.
Looming fifteen stories into the sky over Ahovalam is the ugra-stambha, the pillar from which Lord Narasimha appeared. You receive your first sight of the pillar after walking about a half-hour from where the bus lets you off at Upper Ahovalam. You will need the help of a guide to reach the pillar, as the trek takes about two hours. It is a hard climb directly up the mountain’s side.
To see the Pavana Narasimha Temple where the Shakta form of worship of the Lord is a couple of hours walk (8km) from the main Ugra Narasimha Temple, in a different direction from the other temples.
It is said that at Rakta-kunda, Lord Narasimha washed his hands after killing the demon Hiranyakasipu and interestingly, the water is still red as a result of this pastime. The Rama-tirtha tank is 8km from Lower Ahovalam.