Annavaram

Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swami temple

Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swami temple is one of the most celebrated shrines on the East coast, is in Annavaram.

Annavaram is less than two hours form Rjamundry by superfast trains on the Vijayawada-Howrah train route.  The temple is located on the Ratnagiri Hill.  The hill gets its name from sage Ratnakara, the brother of sage Bhadra (of Bhadrachalam), both sons of Meru, the Lord of the Hills and his wife, Menaka.  Sage Ratnakara, like his brother, invoked Lord Vishnu's presence.  The Lord agreed to grace the hill as Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana.  "Anina" is desire, while varam is boon.  Since the Lord here grants the wishes of His devotees, the place has come to be known as Annavaram.

The present temple was built in 1891 by Sri I.V.Ramanarayana, a zamindar, as commanded by the Lord in a dream.  He traced the idol on the hill and installed it at the present spot.  Ratnagiri is a small hill, less than a hundred metres in altitude, encircled by green fields and the Pampa River.  Those inclined to walk, can take the 460 steps that lead to the shrine.  The temple is in the form of a chariot, with four wheels at its four corners.  The temple has been so constructed that it embodies the seven lokas (worlds), with the sanctum of the Lord at the heart's centre ruling over the entire universe.  The reason why the Meru is on the floor, the pillar at the centre and the idols are on top.  The wheels of the chariot are the sun and the moon, symbolic of Time, the juggernaut, that rolls on forever.

This double-storeyed temple is one of the most popular shrines in Andhra Pradesh.  It is built in the unique Yantra method, according to which the lower level contains the Yantra, while the upper storey housed the idol of Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy.  The Yantra is based on the Tripad Vibhuti Narayana Upanishad of the Atharva Veda, and is seen only in this shrine in India.  Another school says that the lower level houses the feet of the Lord.

The shrine is associated with the famous Satyanarayana vrata, performed by devout Hindus all over the world.  The vrata (fulfilment) is basically performed for wealth, education, offspring, relief from illness, and for general prosperity.  Lord Satyarayana is invoked during this vrata.  It is said that at one time sage Narada was very distressed at the sufferings of humans, and prayed to Vishnu for relief.  The Lord then informed him that performance of this vrata would relieve humans of their sufferings and ensure them worldly prosperity, and salvation in the world beyond.

Murals on the temple walls, inside, depict scenes of the successful conduct of the vrata, by the high as well as the low.  Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy is considered the manifestation of the Trimurthis, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.  This factory explains the presence of priests of the Shaivaite order, in a temple where the deity has the Vaishnava mark on His forehead.  There are separate enclosures in the temple, where the Satyanarayana vrata can be performed.  Up to 2,000 vratas can be conducted in these spacious halls at a time.  The vrathas are conducted between 6 am and 6pm, and sometimes, during the pilgrim rush, even at night.  There are also shrines here for Rama, Vana Durga and Kanaka Durga.

How to get there

Annavaram is 87km from Rajamundry on the Vijayawada-Visakapatnam rail route.  All express trains pass through this sector, but only a few stop here.  The distance between the station and the Annavaram temple is three km.  The Devasthanam has its own bus service, and the buses pick up/drop pilgrims at the railway station.  Some of these buses run as far as Rajamundry and beyond, in the south and Visakhapatnam to the north.  Though the Rajamundry airstrip is serviced by some airlines, Visakhapatnam to the north.  Though the Rajamundry airstrip is serviced by some airlines, Visakhapatnam (114km) is a better option.

Accommodation

The Devasthanam has plenty of choultries, old and new, besides AC and Non-AC cottages, on the hills.

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