Andhra Pradesh is an illustration of the diverse styles of temple building in the Indian subcontinent. The Chalukyan, Dravidian, Nagara and the Odisha idiom are seen in the construction of temples in this southern State.Visit to the temples in Andhra Pradesh is a learning in history, exposure to art and sculpture, an adventure in philosophy and a lifetime experience. In pursuance of Section 152 of the Endowments Act, the Government has constituted Andhra Pradesh Hindu Dharmika Parishad. It is the highest governing body for all matters pertaining to the administration of Hindu religious institutions like temples, mutts and peethams in the State of Andhra Pradesh.
Thousand pillar temple at Hanumakonda The famous Thousand Pillar Temple, built in 1163 AD, by king Rudra Deva is an important monument situated near the Hanamkonda-Warangal highway. One thousand richly carved pillars and a magnificent black basalt Nandi bull are unique to this temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. The temple is in shape of a star and has three shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. The temple is built on a 1m high platform on the slopes of the Hanumakonda Hill, and has a majestic monolithic Nandi.There are many small lingam shrines surrounding the gardens. The temple is famous for its richly carved pillars, screens and detailed sculpture.
Lepakshi Temples The Vijayanagar Empire caused a number of monuments to be built and patronised in the State of Andhra Pradesh. The ornate Lepakshi temples being one of the popular temples of that era. Lepakshi is a small village, which lies nine miles east of Hindupur in Anantapur District of Andhra and is famous for its temple of Veerabhadra, and is also a renowned place where the best specimens of the mural paintings of the Vijayanagar kings are available.
Tirupati Temple This ancient temple enshrining Balaji or Venkatachalapati is the most visited temple in India. The ancient and sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatachala (Venkata Hill) of the Tirupati Hill, and lies on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini.It is by the Lord’s presidency over Venkatachala, that He has received the appellation, Venkateswara (Lord of the Venkata Hill). He is also called the Lord of the Seven Hills. The temple of Sri Venkateswara has acquired unique sanctity in Indian religious lore. The Shastras, Puranas, Sthala Mahatyams and Alwar hymns unequivocally declare that, in the Kali Yuga, one can attain mukti, only by worshipping Venkata Nayaka or Sri Venkateswara.
The benefits acquired by a pilgrimage to Venkatachala are mentioned in the Rig Veda and Asthadasa Puranas. In these epics, Sri Venkateswara is described as the great bestowed of boons. There are several legends associated with the manifestation of the Lord at Tirumala.
Sri Raja Rajeshwara Kshetram is one of the very few temples devoted to Lord Shiva, located at Vemulawada, about 36 kms, on the Karimnagar – Kamareddy bus route, in Andhra Pradesh in the southern part of the India, popularly known as Dakshina Kasi. The presiding deity is Sri Raja Rajeswara Swamy (Lord Shiva), also called Rajanna. To the right of the presiding deity is the idol of Sri Raja Rajeswari Devi and to the left is the idol of Sri Lakshmi Sahitha Siddi Vinayaka (Lakshmi Ganapathi).
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple is a famous Vedic temple in the hill town of Tirumala, near Tirupati in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Venkateswara, an incarnation of lord Vishnu. Venkateswara is known by other names: Balaji, Govinda, and Srinivasa. The temple is the richest pilgrimage centre, after the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala.
Suryanarayana Temple The famous Sun God Temple situated in Arasavalli Village which is at a distance of about 1 K.M. east of Srikakulam Town District head quarters of the North Coastal Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the ancient and all among two Sun God temples in our country. According to Padmapuranam , Sage Kasyapa installed the idol of Surya at Arasavalli for the welfare of mankind . Therefore , the Surya is of Kasyapasa Gotra . He is also termed as planetary King. According to the ‘Sthalapuranam’ of the temple, Lord Devendra found this temple and installed the existing idol of the Sun God commonly known as Lord Suryanarayana Swamy Varu.
Besides the above mentioned temples one can also visit the following the following temples/places:
Sree Sailam – one of the Jyotirlingas of Shiva Sree Sailam near Kurnool enshrines Mallikarjuna in an ancient temple. Aadi Sankaracharya composed his Sivanandalahiri here.
Sree Kalahasti – one of the Pancha Bhoota temples of Shiva Kalahasti enshrines the Vayu Lingam – representing the element wind – of the five elements of Agni, Vayu, Aakasam, Jalam and Prithvi.
Ahobilam – The Nava Narasimha shrine. Ahobilam is one of the most venerated Vaishnava shrines of Andhra Pradesh, enshrining nine forms of Narasimha.
Akiripalli near Vijayawada is home to a hill temple with a shrine to Narasimha. The city of Vijayawada is home to the Kanakadurga Temple, the Malleswara Temple and the Vijayeswara Temple.
Bhadrachalam enshrines a temple to Sri Ram at a spot believed to be where Sri Ram crossed the Godavari as he proceded southwards in search of Sita.
Mukhalingam – the ancient capital of the Kalingas houses three exquisite temples built in the Odisha style of architecture.
Kotipalli (Kumararama) in coastal Andhra Pradesh is an ancient pilgrimage centre, housing a shrine to Someswara.
Alampur Nava Bhramma Temples – Gateway to Sree Sailam Nine ancient temples built from the 7th century CE onwards, dedicated to Shiva constitute the Alampura Nava Bhramma temples.
Dharmapuri near Karimnagar enshrines the Yoga Narasimha manifestation of Vishnu. It also enshrines the Ramalingeswara temple which alludes to legends from the Ramayana.
Palampet The Ramappa Temple dating back to the Kakatiya period is full of ornate sculpture.
Bhimarama or Kumararama at Samalkota houses a temple to Bhimeswara with interesting sculptural work.
Draksharama – one of the five Panchaarama temples. Legend has it that the Shivalingam held by the demon Taraka, splintered into five pieces and fell at the five Panchaaraama kshetrams one of which is Draksharama.
Mangalagiri near Vijayawada houses a hill temple bearing a shrine to Pankala Narasimha and Lakshmi Narasimha.
Yadagirigutta near Bhongir is home to an ancient hill temple enshrining the Narasimha manifestation of Vishnu.
The Modern Birla Mandir at Hyderabad The Birla Mandir hill temple, built entirely of marble is a prominent landmark in the city an Hyderabad.
Other important temples in Andhra Pradesh are:Srisailam Temple – Kurnool ; Mukhalingam Temple – Sri Kakulam ; Chennakesava Temple – Anantapur; Gunupudi Someswara Temple – Godawari; Chennakesavaswami Temple – Cudappah; Gundala Mallikarjuna Swami Temple – Vijayawada; Manthani Temple – Karimnagar; Devi Kanaka Durga – Vijayawada; Devi Bhramarambika – Kurnool; Iskcon Temple – Hyderabad; JaganMohini Keshava Swami Temple – Rajahmundry; Kurma Temple – Sri Kakulam; Lord Malleshwara Temple – Vijayawada; Sri Sri Radha Madhan Mohan Mandir – Hyderabad; Srikalahasti Temple – Chittoor and ISKCON Temple – Tirupati .
(With inputs from Andhra Pradesh Tourism )