One fine weekend we decided to go Annavaram. It was the first time I got a chance to visit this shrine. It is located in one of the very scenic locations on the hill top towards the outskirts of the Kakinada city. This temple is a place which sees immense pilgrim crowd every year. Apart from the fact that the place is sacred, tourists are also attracted to this place because of its immense natural beauty and panoramic views surrounding it. From this hill top you can get a panoramic view of the surrounding green fields and villages."Anna" means whatever you say or you desire and "Varam" means boon, hence whatever you desire will be given as boon by the Deity. So, Annavaram is a place where one´s desire or wished gets fulfilled. There is another theory as per the puranas, the presiding Deity of this place blesses the devotees with Ananya Varam (Countless Boon), that´s why the place is called Annavaram. Annavaram is the shrine to Lord Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy. Now, I heard that the popularity and importance of the temple is second to Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh. Lord Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy is considered to be very powerful in fulfilling the wishes of the devotees and Lord Satyanarayana Swamy´ s Vratam(worship) is done by the newlywed couples, during House Warming and during many other ceremonies.
This sacred Hindu pilgrim center is located on a hilltop called Ratnagiri. There´s a story how the name Ratnagiri came to be called. Meruvu, the lord of the hills and his consort Menaka did great penance and begot two sons by the grace of Lord Vishnu. One was named Bhadra and the other Ratnakar. Bhadra pleased Lord Vishnu with his devotion and penance and with His grace became Bhadrachalam on which Lord Sri Rama had permanently settled. Ratnakara desired to emulate his brother and succeeded in pleasing Lord Vishnu by his penance and with His grace became Ratnagiri (hill) on which Lord Sri Vishnu settled on him as Lord Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy. Later, a temple was built in 1891 by Sri I.V. Ramanarayana, a zamindar, as said to have been commanded by the Lord in his dream. The idol was traced from the hill and placed at the current spot which we now know as Annavaram.
The Temple is built in the dravidian style and the glory and richness of lord satyadeva was widely described in revakhanda of skandhapuranam. The presiding deity is lord satyadeva with his consort sri anantha lakshmi on one side and with lord siva on the other side. He has taken a beautiful manifested form of the divine trinity namely hari hara hiranya garbha thrimurtyatmaka. This place is enriched by the installation of srimathripathvibhuti vykhunta maha narayana yantra, which plays a dominant and important role with the power of attraction of money (dhana janakarsha). The peetham of swamy varu is highly adorned with the installation of panchayatana befitting the glory and sanctity of the deity. The main temple constructed in the form of a chariot with the four wheels at each of the four corners. The akriti of this temple is, according to the agni purana, merely a manifestation of the prakriti. According to this the chariot of the temple is intended as a symbol of the seven lokas and the seven lokhas above with, the garbhalaya of the lord, at the hearts center ruling over the entire universe. The wheels depicting the sun and the moon serve to remind us that this juggernaut (jagannath´s chariot) moves on the wheels of time, and goes on forever and ever, thus, the annavaram temple satisfies both the ritualistic values and the spiritual aspirations of the devotees. The shrine is constructed in two storeys, the lower one containing the yantra and upper one housing vigrahas of the lord. The idol which is about 4 metres; about 13 feet high is in cylindrical form.
"Moolatho Brahma roopaya Madhayathashca Maheswaram Agrathah Vishnuroopaya Traika roopayathenamaha"
It means that the base in the lower sanctum represents Lord Brahma and the top is in the upper sanctum represents Lord Vishnu and the middle portion represents Lord Shiva. The image of the Deity forms a single idol and represents the Hindu Trinity and is of unique attraction. On the four sides of the Yantra there are four Deities namely Ganapati, Suryanarayana Swamy, Bala Tripurasundari and Maheswara Swamy.
Apart from the main temple, there is also a temple of Lord Sri Rama and then the temples of Vana Durga and Kanaka Durga which are held in great veneration. The Devis are said to be seen even to this day in the nights going about the holy precincts perpetually guarding the lord. The temple of Grama Devatha (Village Deity) is in the village at the foot of the hill.
For the benefit of pilgrims there is a Kalyana Mandapam; Gowri Kalyana Mandapam in front of the main temple constructed and decorated with modern pieces of architecture.
There are several other attractions within the temple premises like:
On the North Side of the Compound of the Temple, a Sun Dial was constructed in 1943 in the month of July showing the Indian Standard time within the easy Calculation by everybody. It is similar to the JantarMantar found in Delhi. The Sundial is one the attractive architecture of South India which was calculated and constructed by Brahma Sri Pidaparthi Krishna Murthy Sastry, Rajahmundry, during the time of Sri Raja Inuganti Venkata Raja Gopal Rama Surya Prakasa Rayanam Bahadhur; one of the Founders (Second Dynasty).
A Mandapam has also been constructed to provide space to conduct one thousand Satyanarayana Vratams at a time.
There is a Veda Pathshala attached to the temple where free boarding and lodging is provided to the Brahmin students admitted there. Religious discussions are arranged during Kalyanam days and other important festival days at this place.
FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION
For the convenience of the casual visitors the pilgrims and the tourists, the Devasthanam provides Lockers, Annadanam, facilities. There is also water treatment plant operated and owned by the Devasthanam. The Devasthanam has taken all the measures for the pilgrim's comfortable stay on the Ratnagiri. Different kinds of accommodation ranging from Normal rooms to A.C Suites in various choultries and guest houses on the hill are offered. Below is the list of stays one can book as per their convenience.
|SL.No||Choultry's Name||Rent per Day in Rs|
|1||Sri Sita Rama||150|
|3||Sri Vana Durga||150|
|5||Satya Niketan(Annavaram Town)||150|
|6||Satya Surya||For Hospital|
|Guest House Name||Sri Satya Deva||Donor Cottage||Eshwar Lake View(Suite)||Vinayaka(Suite)||Main Guest House||Paying Guest House||V.I.P Guest House(6)||T.T.D V.I.P Rooms|
|Rent per Day in Rs||250||150||3000||Protocol||For V.I.P's||150||700||150|
There are other poojas also being performed in the temple which are:
|SL.No||Prakash Sadan V.I.P Cottages||Rent per Day in Rs|
Separate puja halls are available for offering special pujas. Below is the list of halls available for the pilgrims and tourists for these purposes.
|SL.No||Choultry's Name||Rent per Day in Rs|
|1||Sri Seeta Rama Choultry Halls||1175|
|2||Sri Seeta Rama Stage||1000|
Advance reservation facility is available for all accommodations except Prakash Sadan. Reservation will be done by paying one day rent + 50% of additional amount for the guest house of their choice. The devotees are requested to pay in advance 1 day Rent + 50% additional amount for the reservation of the Choultries of their choice. Prasadam counter is also available on the national highway for those who are not able to visit the temple.
It is said that Annadanam is greatest of all of all Danams. It is so true because we cannot satisfy mankind with other contributions as we do with Annaprasadam. Sri Satyadeva Annaprasada Distribution Trust believes in "Athidhi Devobhava" and has been implementing Annadanam scheme to facilitate Annadanam to the devotees of Sri Satyanarayana Swamy coming from all parts of the country. Every day free Annadanam is being implemented, depending upon the interest on the amount of Rs 7crores from the kind hearted devotees.
Though every day is a festival day at the Ratnagiri shrine, there are certain special celebrations which are dear to the devotees, which the Devasthanam celebrates with great devotion, sanctity, and eclat i.e. Sri Swamyvari Kalyana mahotsavam, Sri Swamivari Jayanti, Bheeshma Ekadasi and Vysakha Ekadasi. The second day of the Shravana Shukla being the day of the Lord's descent is celebrated as the Lord's birthday with great clat.
Sri Swamyvari Kalyana mahotsavam is a 5 day celebration of the Lord's Kalyanam (Wedding) with his consort Sri Anantha Lakshmi which commence on the Vysakha Shudda Ekadasi. During the Kalayanam celebrations, various cultural programmes processions with beautiful decorations etc. are arranged. Grama sevas(Village festivals) are also conducted on every Ekadasi day on every during Dhanur Masam. Apart from these, 'Satyanarayana Vratam' are performed daily by devotees (only couples should perform the 'Vratam') to fulfil their wishes. Around one lakh vratams (fasts) are being performed here every year.
Apart from these above festivals, there are other festivals also which too are celebrated with great devotion, sanctity, and clat. These are:
|2||Sri Rama Navami||Sri Seetha Rama Kalyanotsavams|
|3||Chaitra Bahula Shashti to Amavasya||Sri Kanaka Durgamma Vari Jatara Mahotsavams|
|4||1st April||Sri Saraswathi Puja|
|5||Sri Krishna Jayanti||Utla Sambaram|
|6||Sri Vinayaka Chavithi||Ganapathi Navaratri Utsavams|
|7||Devi Navaratri||Mahanyasa Abhishekam, Laksha Kumkumarchana|
|8||Vijaya Dashami||Jammi Puja|
|10||Karthika Shuddha Dwadashi||Boat Festival at Pampa River|
|11||Karthika Pournami||Giri Pradakshina Jwala Toranam|
|13||Mahashivaratri||Mahanyasa Purvaka Abhishekam, Laksha Bilwarchana|
For the benefit of pilgrims the Devasthanam performs sevas and pujas daily to the Deity. Below are the lists of Sevas and Pujas:
|SL.No||Daily Sevas Schedule||Timings|
|1||Sri Swamy Vari Suprabhatam||3.30 A.M|
|2||Abhishekam and Archana||4.00A.M to 5.15 A.M|
|4||Panchaharathulu&Neerajana Mantra Puspamulu||5.30 A.M|
|5||Swamy Vari Sarva Darshanam||6.00 A.M to 12.00 P.M
12.30 P.M to 9.00 P.M
|6||Ashtothhara Shatanama Puja&Sahasranamarchana||8.00 A.M to 12.00 P.M|
|7||Abhishekam by devotees for Rs.100||8.00 A.M to 12.00 P.M|
|8||Sri Vari Nitya Kalyanam||9.30 A.M|
|9||Raja Bhoga Maha Nivedana||12.30 P.M to 1.00 P.M|
|10||Darbar Mandapam for devotees who have worth Rs.40 tickets||6.00 P.M to 7.00 P.M|
|11||Sri Swamy Vari Darbar Seva||7.30 P.M to 8.30 P.M|
|12||Sri Ammavari Ekanta Seva||9.00 P.M to 3.30 A.M|
|1||Sri Swamy Vari Suprabhata Seva||Rs.116||3.30 A.M|
|2||Sri Swamy Vari Vratham||Rs.125||6.00 A.M to 6.00 P.M|
|3||Sri Swamy Vari Special Vratham||Rs.200||6.00 A.M to 6.00 P.M|
|4||Sri Swamy Vari Vratham at Dhwajasthambham||Rs.500||6.00 A.M to 6.00 P.M|
|5||Sri Swamy Vari Vishishta Vratham||Rs.1,116||6.00 A.M to 6.00 P.M|
|6||Sri Swamy Vari Nitya Kalyanam||Rs.750||9.30 A.M|
|7||Sri Swamy Vari Vratham after puja(Prasadam by post)||Rs.150||-|
|8||Sri seetha Ramulu(kshetra paalakulu)Pattabhishekam||Rs.116||Full Moon Day|
|9||Sri Swamy Pavalimpu Seva||Rs.50||2.00 P.M|
|10||Sri Swamy Laksha Patri Puja||Rs.2,500||8.00 A.M|
|11||Sri Ammavari Laksha Kumkumarchana||Rs.2,500||8.00 A.M|
|12||Sri Swamy Vari Abhishekam(Makha)||Rs.1,116||One Day Only|
There are two other types of Darshans also which the pilgrims can opt for:-Sarva darshanam Seegradarshanam. Sarva darshanam is free and allowed between 6:00AM to 12:30PM and 1:00PM to 9:00PM. Sheeghradarshanam means 'Speedy Darshan'. Pilgrims who want to avail Sheeghradarhan, have to purchase a ticket costing Rs. 25/- per head. For every Sheeghradarshanam ticket, one packet (100Gms) of Bhogam prasadam will be provided. Timings for the Sheeghradarshan is same as Sarvadarshanam but allowed through a different queue.
HOW TO REACH
Annavaram is well connected by both Rail and Roadways. Annavaram is situated at a distance situated 32 Km from Pithapuram, 51 Km from Kakinada and 72 Km from Rajahmundry, 125 Km from Visakhapatnam. The National Highway no. 5 passes through Annavaram. The bypass road (NH - 5) goes straight and to visit the temple take right turn in the junction near the Annavaram. It takes two and half hours from Visakhapatnam and from Rajahmundry side it will take 2 hours.
By Road:There are 2 Devasthanam buses that run from Rajahmundry to uphill both sides from 1pm to 2pm There are A.P.S.R.T.C Buses every half an hour via Annavaram to and fro from Rajahmundry, and to and fro from Visakhapatnam and for every 15 minutes from Tuni to Kakinada via Annavaram and surroundings villages.
By Train:Most of the trains passing between Kolkata - Vijayawada line will stop at Annavaram Station.
By Air:The nearest Airport from the east side of Annavaram is situated at Visakhapatnam which is at a 3 hrs distance from Visakhapatnam.
The nearest Airport from the West side of Annavaram is situated at Rajahmundry which is at a 3 hrs distance from Rajahmundry.
Once one reaches Annavaram they can have a Darshan of the temple, which is situated on the hill top is about 200mts away from its base. It can be reached either by steps which are altogether 460 in number and are covered with canopy, via ghat road or trekked through a rusty stone paved trail road. Vehicles are allowed to climb up the hill where there are many parking places for private vehicles on the hill surrounding the temple.
For any information, enquiries, bookings etc. please contact:
The Executive Officer,
Annavaram - 533406.
East Godavari District