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The Annavaram Sri Satyanarayanaswamy temple is located on a hill-top towards the outskirts of Kakinada city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The shrine is one of the most famous holy places in India and second only to the world famous Tirupati temple of Lord Venkateswara. It is dedicated to Lord Satyadev, an Avatar of Lord Vishnu, accompanied by his female counterpart Sri Anantha Lakshmi. A unique feature of this temple is that the image of Lord Shiva is also enshrined within the Sanctum along with Lord Vishnu. Lord Satyadev is portrayed as a unique manifestation of all the three Gods in the Hindu pantheon in a single idol. The base of the lower portion represents Lord Brahma, the middle portion represents Lord Shiva and the top portion represents Lord Vishnu. The four sides of this holy Yantra are flanked by the four deities of Ganapati, Suryanarayana Swamy, Bala Tripurasundari and Maheswara Swamy. The presence of this highly propitious form of the celestial trio in the temple is a one-of-a-kind phenomenon and extremely auspicious. The shrine attracts pilgrims from the Vaishnav and Shaiva sects, giving it a unique and distinctive status.
It is believed that Lord Vishnu settled on the Ratnagiri Hill in Vedic times and took on the moniker Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy. To commemorate this occasion, a temple was built on the site by Sri I.V. Ramanarayana, a zamindar, in the year 1891. The Lord is said to have instructed him to do so in a dream. The idol was recovered from the hill and placed in the spot, which is now revered as Annavaram. The grandeur and glory of Lord Satyadev also finds mention in the religious text ‘Skandapuranam’.
The complex houses a Sun Dial which was constructed in 1943 and displays the Indian Standard Time. This is very similar to the Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
The temple also houses a Mandapam which can conduct one thousand Satyanarayana Vratams at a time, and there is also a Veda Pathshala attached to the premises which provides free boarding and lodging to the Brahmin students studying there. Religious discourses and discussions are also held there during important festival days and other occasions. Like all Divyakshetrams which are in the vicinity of holy rivers, the Sri Satyanarayana Swamy temple at Annavaram is also in the lap of the sacred Pampa River, whose waters flow to the feet of the hill.
There are also temples of Lord Rama, Vana Durga and Kanaka Durga within the premises and these are highly revered by devotees. Many claim the Devis are ever vigilant, going about the temple and perpetually guarding the Lord at all times. There is a temple of Grama Devatha (Village Deity) located at the foot of the hill which welcomes visitors to the Sri Satyanarayana Swamy shrine.
The shrine is a marvel of architecture and built in the South Indian Dravidian style. This magnificent two-storied structure contains the Yantra on the lower one and the Vigrahas of the Lord on the upper. The cylindrical Idol of the Lord is about 4 meters (13 feet) tall.
The main temple is built in the form of a chariot with the four wheels serving as the four corners. The wheels symbolize the inexorable passage of Time and the center of the chariot symbolizes the seat of the Lord who presides over the entire Universe.
The Satyanarayana Vratham Puja is held every day in the temple in the morning and evening and on festivals days, the Pujas continue till late in the night. Every day in the temple is like a festival, but certain occasions like Sri Swamyvari Kalyana mahotsavam, Sri Swamivari Jayanti, Bheeshma Ekadasi and Vysakha Ekadasi are celebrated with great enthusiasm. The Lord’s birthday is celebrated on the second day of Shravana Shukla, when he is said to have descended to earth. All festivals are celebrated with great pomp and fervor, with devotees coming from far and near to participate in the proceedings and attain the Lord’s blessings.
Devotees believe that ‘Annavaram’ is the place to visit for fulfilling one’s desires and wishes. The Lord grants wealth, happiness and peace to all those who pray to him with a clean and pure heart. The Satyanarayana Vratam (fast) is observed by newlywed couples, during house warming ceremonies and on several other occasions.
The temple is teeming with people every day and many come here to admire the natural beauty of the surroundings. One can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the lush green field fields and villages in the vicinity.
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The temple can be reached by steps which are quite easy to ascend. Vehicles are also allowed to go up the hill and there is ample parking space available on the hill surrounding the temple.
Annavaram is accessible by several modes of transport:
By Air: The nearest Airport is in Vishakapatnam, around 100 km away. Rajahmundry Airport is around 89 km away.
By Train: The Railway Station in Annavaram is around 2 km away from the temple.
By Bus: Annavaram is well connected to neighboring towns and cities by bus service.