Samalkot is home to Sri Kumararama Bhimeswara Swamyvari Devasthanam, one of the five Pancharama (five important Shiva shrines) temples in the Andhra area. Known as Chalukya Bhimavaram, in the past, Samlkot is 37km southwest of Annavaram, and express trains take about thirty minutes to cover the distance.
According to the sthala purana, te asuras, angry at being deprived of the amrit by the devas and armed with the power bestowed on them by Shiva inflicted untold miseries on the gods. The devas then sought Lord Shiva's help. The Lord, also known as Tripurantaka, then destroyed the demons with His pasupathastra. A huge stone Lingam, which was left behind after the encounter, was then cut into five pieces and installed in five temples. Samalkot was one of them.
The white limestone-Lingam at Samalkot might e just one of the five pieces of the original, but it is still of considerable length. It rises from the ground floor and pierces through a hole to the upper storey, where the poojas are conducted and darshan can be had. The temple was built by the EAstern Chalukya, Bhima I, between 892 and 922 CE. The presiding deity, Sri Kumararama Chalukya Bhimeswara, is named after the king. An inscription, in neighbouring Pithapuram, which narrates this, also states that Bhima, the son of Vikramaditya, ruled for thirty years and that he had won more than 360 battles in his lifetime.
The temple has two prakaras. It was renovated extensively during the Kakatiya period in the 14th and 15th centuries. The main shrine is a free standing monument in the middle, in which stands the 4.25 metre (14 feet) Lingam. The temple, a designated National Heritage site, however, has seen better days. The balcony around the outer prakara, especially, is in a very bad shape. Repair work is ongoing.
The temple is in an isolated place, some way from the hustle and bustle of Samalkot town. Not far away, and not nearly so isolated is Sri Mandavya Narayanaswami temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple appears to be in a far better shape than its more famous Shiva counterpart, though it is older than the Bhimeswara temple.
How to get there
Samalkot is on the Vijayawada-Howrah railway mainline. Some express trains stop here. It is only 50km from Rajamundry, while Kakinada, the port city, is 10km from here. APSRTC, Kakinada depot, runs circular tours, every Sunday, covering all the five Pancharama kshetras. Rajamundry is the nearest airstrip, while Vizag, the proper airport, is 151km.
Budget hotels are available in Samalkot, or you could stay in Rajamundry or Kakinada, both big cities.
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